Business risk

I was privy to a conversation recently about the risks involved in working with a customers IT systems.
The scenario is as follows: you are called in to a new customer who wants a backup solution for their business. You quote and install such a system. The customer doesn’t want you to maintain the system, they say they’ll maintain it themselves. You dutifully provide the instructions on doing this, get paid, and hear nothing further from this them.
A few months later you receive a letter in the mail from a law firm representing this customer. They claim that you did not install and configure the backup correctly. As a result, when the customer needed to recover from a disaster they couldn’t. You are therefore being asked to make good the substantial losses that customer has sustained in their business due to the failure.
So now what do you do? Well, the very first thing you should be doing is contact your business insurance representative to see what assistance they can provide. A good business insurance policy will generally take care of all this for you. However, let’s say that you decided (unwisely) that business insurance doesn’t provide any value, now what? The word ‘panic’ springs to mind.
Let’s say that the matter does end up in court in front of a judge, What are they going to ask you? They are going to want to know what evidence you have to support your case. If everything was done verbally then it comes down to your against the customer’s. That is pretty risky isn’t it? Even if you have business insurance you may still need to testify and provide evidence as to what actually happened. Can you? You may be in a spot of bother if you can’t.
It is important to remember that you can NEVER eliminate risk you can however MINIMISE it.
So in this situation how can you do that? Well, even before you start work for the customer you should have some sort of signed agreement with the customer that spells out exactly how the relationship operates. But beyond that you must DOCUMENT what you do.Yup, I know it is a pain and takes extra time but you know what? You’ll be glad you did id you ever need it.
In this case you should create documentation around exactly what you did, what the customer agreed to, and who was responsible for what. If the customer decides to take responsibility for their own backup, then that should be noted and agreed in writing by both parties. Even if the customer doesn’t want to sign something to that effect, you should still have documentation on your side to confirm the fact that this is what transpired.
If the matter does go before a judge and you can point to wealth of documentation and process around how you handled this job then you certainly have a lot of positives on your side. That doesn’t mean the matter will be decided in your favour but it certainly provides you with much firmer ground to stand on.
I’m sure that plenty of resellers THINK they have good processes but do they? Ask yourself whether you documentation and processes would stand up to scrutiny in court? Ask yourself whether others in your business are being as thorough with information and documentation? Even though they may move on, it is still up to you to ensure that the information about each and every job is maintained, irrelevant of who performs the work, because at the end of the day it is YOUR business on the line.
No insurance policy will relieve you of business risk and as such you should be doing everything in your power to minimized such risk. My question to you is, are you doing everything you can to ensure risk is minimized in your business? What processes and procedure do you have around relevant documentation and record keeping? Is it something you do casually or is it a central part of the professional way you conduct business?
Chances are, if you treat risk minimization as a central part of your business you will never need to worry. A self-fulfilling prophecy!

Microsoft double shot exam available

If you planning on taking a Microsoft certification exam between now and May 31, 2014 then you should sign up for the double shot offer from Microsoft at:
http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en-us/second-shot.aspx?WT.mc_id=MSLS_secondshot
This means that you can take an exam and if you don’t pass then you can retake that exam again at no cost.
I would commend all resellers here in Australia to take up this offer because I’ll have some news soon on a new round of exam cram sessions that I will presenting.

Review–Belkin trifold iPad case

Full disclosure – the review unit was supplied by Mobilezap. You can find this device and others at the Mobilezap category page at:

http://www.mobilezap.com.au/34516-belkin-suede-trifold-case-for-ipad-4-3—black.htm

Initially I had the ‘magic’ Apple iPad cover which was fine until it ripped and I dropped my iPad and it ended up scratching the back which that cover doesn’t protect. I then moved to using the Apple iPad ‘magic’ cover and a hard shell back. Problem there was the hard shell tended to snap where it was thinnest (i.e. around the speaker and other parts that needed to be exposed.

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The Belkin trifold iPad case is a pretty good option if you are looking to protect your device. Firstly, it look very professional and includes an elastic strap on the inside to hold a few pieces of paper.

The cover is a neoprene like material which is quite spongee and does a pretty good job of protecting the unit.

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The iPad clips very securely into the holder on the inside of the cover, being held in place in each corner. All the device button, connections and ports are still easily available even when the unit is in the cover.

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Like the original Apple cover you can fold the case cover around and stand the iPad up as shown above.

I would have liked to have seen the cover made a little stiffer to give it some more rigidity when propping up the device. I would have also liked to have seen some form of pocket or shelve in which I could have put my business cards. That way I’d always have my important business information when I have my device.

These however are minor downsides to what is a very nice case that will well protect your iPad in the wild.

CIAOPS Virtual Technology Meeting September–Resources

Thanks to everyone who attended the meeting yesterday. I hope you received value for your time. As promised here is the Yammer presentation in glorious YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ea1iuYe1Amw

Here is also the list of links and other resources mentioned in the part of the meeting not recorded:

Microsoft buys Nokia

SkyDrive Pro upgrade

Inbox upgrade

Issues at Google with people leaving

Steve Balmer leaving

Lync Q&A

Troy Hunt on 4 Corners

New exam for Office 365 for SMB

Make Yammer your Office 365 default social network

New Apple phones

Stay tuned for details on the October meeting.

If you would like to present or would like to see something specially presented please don hesitate to contact me directly (director@ciaops.com).

New Office 365 74-325 exam available

You knew that it was coming but now it is finally here! Microsoft have released the updated Administering Office 365 for SMB exam to incorporate all the least Wave 15 information. The exam details are here:
http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en-us/exam.aspx?ID=74-325
The new 74-325 replaced the older 74-324 exam which was based on Wave 14 of Office 365 and is still around. I don’t however expect the older 74-324 exam to last much beyond the end of 2013 when all upgrades to Office 365 should be completed.
I plan to take the exam soon and am looking at developing some exam cram material as I did for the 74-324 exam, so stay tuned.
If you want to get started then look at the updated 74-325 Jumpstart video series already available in the Microsoft Virtual Academy.

Troy Hunt on security–again!

Troy Hunt has featured on a recent Four Corners episode – In Google We Trust.
http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2013/09/09/3842009.htm
For those that may not know Troy has also done a podcast with me as well as been part of the CIAOPS Virtual Technology Group where he did a presentation on web security that is available on my YouTube channel here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxu5qYCtv1s
This Four Corners episode is a good watch and reveals how widespread tracking is now becoming. From traffic lights and garbage bins to shopping centres, if you carry you mobile phone with you MUST assume you are being tracked constantly.
Whether tracking is a good or a bad thing is up to you. It can certainly provide you with more targeting offerings but the big question is what happens to that data and what would happen if it is abused?
Clearly the biggest consideration is that people need to far more aware of the how they are being tracked and be far more proactive in asking questions about how their data is being used.
Again, a great program and I commend it to everyone.

Shared not siloed

In my experience most businesses have more than enough technology. The biggest failure is that they are not using the technology to be more productive. What I see as the biggest inhibiter to improved productivity is ‘old world’ thinking around siloing information rather than sharing it.
Take a look at all the correspondence you made today, emails, phone calls, faxes, the lot. Now most of these are siloed conversations between two people. However, if you closely examine these conversations I would suggest to you that at least one other party, not in the conversation, would have benefited from the information in that siloed conversation.
As an example, let me take just one email I sent today. In that email I shared some links about working with external users in Office 365. Such information would have certainly helped many others looking to answer the same question. However, that information is now only accessible by myself (in my sent items) and by the recipient (in their inbox). That means if someone else asks me the same question I have to forward the email. Luckily, I write this blog and share such information with everyone.
Now wouldn’t it make much more sense if I had posted that information publically and then told people to look there? Doing so also allows people to discover it via search. Best part about it? I don’t have to recreate the information because it is now available for all to see and use. Even better, they can add to and build on what I initially created to make it even better. Inside email the information simply dies a digital death.
Yes, email is a handy business tool but it has its limits. The overuse of email has effectively trapped much of the information within a business, much of which could and should be public. Don’t believe me? Take a look inside your own business, inside your own inbox. How of what you see there should be available publically and could help others? Lots, I’ll bet.
I can’t tell you the number of businesses I see where you hear people asking the same questions al the time. “Where is this?”, “How do we do that?”, “Why is it done this way?”. If you hear such questions more than once inside a business you know that not enough information is being made available publically.
There are so many tools available to businesses today to make information public. Social media, blogs, Twitter, Wikis, FAQs, etc, etc. Yet very few I see actually make it a point of their business to SHARE. Most business people seem intoxicated with accumulating as many unread emails as possible, viewing that as some badge of honour.
Welcome to the new world of ‘sharing’ people. Successful businesses share information within and outside their business. With their customers, employees, the public and even their competitors and you know what? Doing so gives them a competitive advantage. Why? Because they are more productive and more trusted. Ask yourself, why do you do business with certain companies? Typically because you trust them in some way shape or form.
Take an honest look at your business and ask yourself if it is being a productive as it could be? I’ll bet the answer is not it isn’t. Now ask yourself whether your business is sharing or siloing its information. Again, I’ll put my money on siloing.
Want your business to be more successful? In a word, SHARE!

CIAOPS Virtual Technology Meeting on Wednesday

Don’t forget to register for the CIAOPS Virtual technology meeting this Wednesday the 11th of September from 4pm Sydney time. You can do so via:
https://ciaops0913.eventbrite.com.au/
At the event you’ll learn about what Yammer is and how important it will be going forward. I’ll even show you how to get started with your own Yammer account so you can get a better feel of what this product is all about.
Aside from that you’ll learn about the latest updates to Office 365, Windows and what’s happening in the technology industry. There’ll also be plenty of time for questions and general discussions with other attendees.
To get the best from the even make sure you register and attend in person.