Archives for February 2012

The Most Useful Keyboard Shortcuts

Not all of us are typing pros. If you’ve ever found yourself typing the same thing over and over again or feeling like there’s got to be a faster way to save or print, it’s time for keyboard shortcuts! Here are some of the most commonly used keyboard shortcuts (also known as hotkeys) that work in many programs.

Cut, Copy, and Paste

If you need to repeat something a million times—don’t type it out! Just select the text you want to copy, and hit Ctrl+C. If you want to cut it and move it somewhere else, hit Ctrl+X. To paste your selection, hit Ctrl+V.

These shortcuts are especially helpful if you typically right click on selected text to copy or cut it and then right click again to paste. You may use a program that doesn’t support the right-click option menu, but you can use shortcuts instead.

Undo Last Action

This is probably the handiest shortcut and can be a real lifesaver. Ctrl+Z will undo the last action you made. You will really want to know this one if you just deleted pages of text!

Select All

Want to select all the text in a document or text box, without awkwardly scrolling? Hit Ctrl+A.

Open, Save, and Print

To bring up the Open window in many programs, hit Ctrl+O. Ctrl+S is a very quick way to save, and Ctrl+P will bring up the Print dialog box.

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Making the Most of “Voice”

by Bob Hochmuth, VP SLPowers

How Hosted VoIP can benefit your business

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), a protocol optimized for the transmission of voice through the Internet or other packet switched networks, is a hot concept in today’s business world.

The first IP software, released in 1995, remained with large corporations that could afford the benefits that the innovative technology provided. In 2006, however, with the expansion of lower cost broadband, VoIP successfully hit the mass market and became popular with small and medium-sized businesses. With today’s availability and affordability of VoIP services, integrating this technology has become an essential in industry competitors, both small and large.

VoIP is now a mature, well developed offering. Even major carriers like AT&T use VoIP to transport traditional voice traffic between their offices and other carriers, so, in a way, you are already using VoIP.

Why are companies switching to VoIP?

Companies are moving to VoIP because of the benefits. Companies are simplifying their business by leveraging low cost data lines instead of higher priced phone lines and supporting one data transport instead of two. Voice is simply another type of data. This can save businesses the service call for any changes to the system, such as new users, office moves, etc. Adopters also gain the enterprise features like four-digit dialing between their offices, no long distance charges between offices, and remote dial tone to help lower costs and increase efficiency. With the find me follow me feature, you now have one point phone number to publish, allowing you to stay in touch as if you never left the office. This will help save valuable time and money, increasing customer satisfaction and enhancing employee productivity.

How is VoIP delivered?

With the growth of VoIP, an advanced method of delivering the technology has emerged: the concept of a hosted solution. A hosted solution takes the phone switch out of your office and phone service is delivered across the Internet as an application service. The business model follows SAAS (Software As A Service). It’s the outsourcing of your voice system, lowering your costs, adding benefits and increasing your ROI.

What are the additional benefits of a hosted solution?

With the growth of VoIP, an advanced method of delivering the technology has become available

Switching to a hosted IP solution means no longer investing thousands of dollars into a system that requires hands-on management and gives little room to grow. With a hosted solution, the system grows along with the company by simply moving or adding seats and bandwidth as needed — anytime, anywhere. You are sharing the use of an enterprise switch with enterprise capabilities. Its scalable too. You can rapidly deploy new phones at offices as you grow and just as easily scale the service back to save money in a downturn or changing environment. It also adds disaster recovery and business continuance. The switch is housed in a tier one facility — you have the ability to continue to use your phone sys tem in a disaster by moving your phone to any working Internet connection. Also, should you ever need to move your office for any reason, you don’t have to plan a target transfer date of phone service — just move and plug your phone in at the new location with Internet connectivity. Finally, it saves money, increases productivity, and you are not locked in to a hosted vendor.

Are there any downsides?

As with all innovative ventures and new technologies, VoIP had a few hurdles to overcome when it first hit the mainstream market. 911 services were an issue, but the industry has developed e911 to address the problem. There has also been some apprehension regarding voice quality or Quality of Service (QoS). But, throughout the last few years, voice quality technology can be on par or even surpass the original (PSTN) phone system. Hosted IP services are also dependent on high-speed connections, making some uneasy over the allocation of voice versus data and connectivity quality. Many infrastructure devices like switches, routers and firewalls are now voice-aware to mitigate the quality issues.

How can companies stay ahead of the game?

Business customers will continue to migrate toward VoIP’s connectivity and cost efficiencies. Tighter operating budgets during a weakened economy means that as business travel becomes less practical, and as VoIP phone systems evolve to offer greater functionality, customers will find more reasons to migrate. IP telephony in one form or another will give competitors the edge with its wide range of benefits and ROI opportunities. As with all technology, know what you are buying and choose a respected vendor. Adopting an IP telephony system may put you ahead of the game in your industry.

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Hire and inspire all of your mobile employees

reprinted with permission from the HP Small Business Center

The economic downturn that sent financial shivers through all businesses and the unemployment rate skyrocketing has a silver lining especially for small and medium businesses. With the economy turning around, and your business poised for growth, you have access to perhaps the world’s greatest talent pool ever.

The new era of connected mobility collapses time and distance; you can tap the potential of motivated and highly skilled individuals located almost anywhere! 

The ‘perfect’ candidate three time zones away may prove a better choice for your business than the ‘very good’ candidate located in the same city as your operations. Outsourcing repetitive tasks and some functions offers many benefits. But other times your business demands having the sustained contribution of a full-time employee.

So how do you find, equip, and maximize the potential of these mobile workers? Here are a few ideas to consider:

To find them, think like them. . .

Make sure the job description on your web site stands out! What intangible qualities do want your employee to possess? One music-related business in search of a marketing manager wanted to know which song they’d play at the office. Be creative. 

Put your social network to work. Spread the word to your LinkedIn connections. Your employees may be willing to do the same to their connections. Increasingly, Twitter is used to match employers with potential employees. 

Check references, as well as your candidate’s online presence. Arrange a video teleconference rather than only a phone interview. Some businesses rely on firms such as PI Worldwide that use surveys to make science-based decisions on individual’s potential. 

Provide the right tools, the right mobile infrastructure 

Now that you’ve made an important investment in human capital, it’s time to make the right technology investment. Technology, simply put, is the lifeblood of your mobile workforce. It enables them to connect, collaborate, create, report, print, prospect, code, propose, and much more.

The specific function of an employee will determine whether she requires a laptop, a desktop PC or a powerful workstation.

The ability to print high quality color or black and white documents, locally and remotely, is often a key requirement.
A support plan can minimize downtime.

Inspire! 

Despite having access to the best technology, working remotely is sometimes isolating. Engage your extended, mobile workforce as you do your employees who sit nearby.

Face-to-face meetings, even once a year, promote relationship building among team members. 

Be aware of the challenges your mobile workers face. If they participate in meetings by phone, for example, it is difficult to hear soft-spoken individuals, and impossible to participate in side conversations.

Set goals and objectives together and ask for regular status updates in writing—a best practice for all employees.

Take advantage! 

Incredible talent is out there! Find, equip, and inspire the newest members of your mobile team, and your business will reap the benefits of the potential you unleash.

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Empty your inbox: 4 ways to take control of your email

used with permission from Microsoft at Work by Sally McGhee

If your email Inbox is out of control, you might want to rethink your methods for organizing your email and emptying your Inbox. Developing a new approach to processing your Inbox can help you to gain more control, improve your response time, and keep up with critical actions and due dates.

This article covers four key factors that can help you process your email more efficiently—both at home and at the office. Although some of the productivity tools mentioned here are specific to Microsoft Outlook (Outlook 2010, Outlook 2007, and Outlook Web Access), most of the techniques—and even the organizational attitude described here—can help you to more efficiently process email and empty your Inbox, even if you use an email application other than Outlook.

1. Set up a simple and effective email reference system

The first step toward an organized Inbox is understanding the difference between reference information and action information.

  • Reference information is information that is not required to complete an action; it is information that you keep in case you need it later. Reference information is stored in your reference system—an email reference folder, your My Documents folder, or a company intranet site, for example.

  • Action information is information you must have to complete an action. Action information is stored with the action, either on your to-do list or on your Calendar.

Most people receive a considerable amount of reference information through email. Sometimes as much as one-third of your email is reference information. So it is essential to have a system that makes it easy to transfer messages from your Inbox into your email reference system—a series of email file folders where you store reference information to ensure you have easy access to it later. Learn more about setting up a reference system.

After you take care of filing your reference information, you can use the next three steps to handle the email that you have to do something with—your action information.

2. Schedule uninterrupted time to process and organize email

How many times are you interrupted every day? It’s nearly impossible to complete anything when there are constant interruptions from the phone, people stopping by your office, and instant messaging. So it’s critical that you set aside uninterrupted time to process and organize your email.

Many email messages require you to make a decision. The best decisions require focus, and focus requires uninterrupted attention. Establish a regular time each day to process your email so that you can empty your Inbox. Of course, you can scan your email during the day for urgent messages or requests from your boss.

Book yourself a recurring appointment for an hour a day to process email, and mark that time as “busy.” During that hour, don’t answer the phone or take interruptions, and work only on processing your Inbox. You can also turn off the audio alert that sounds each time you receive a new email—which can be a distraction in itself. In Outlook, click the File tab. Click Options. On the Mail tab, under Message arrival, clear the Play a sound check box.

At first, keeping these appointments will take discipline. But over time, the discipline becomes habit. And after you completely empty your Inbox, you’ll see the value of this one hour a day and you’ll stick to it like glue.

Microsoft Outlook 2010 makes it easier to keep this email appointment and to process your Inbox. The new anywhere access features of Outlook 2010 mean that you don’t have to be at home or at the office to keep your daily email management appointment.

Conversation view in Office 2010 enables you to organize email folders by date and conversation. When Conversation view is turned on, messages that share the same subject appear as conversations that can be viewed as expanded or collapsed, helping you to quickly review and act on messages or complete conversations.

Also, improved search tools in Office 2010 make it easier to narrow your search results by using criteria, like sender or subject keywords, and other information, such as attachments. The Search Tools contextual tab includes a set of filters that efficiently focus your search to isolate the items that you want.

Search Tools tab of the Outlook 2010 Ribbon

Instant Search in Outlook 2010 provides many ways to search
your email for specific messages.

3. Process one item at a time, starting at the top

When you sit down to process your email, the first step is to sort it by the order in which you will process it. For example, you can filter by date, by subject, or even by the sender or receiver of the email message. In Outlook 2010, on the View tab, in the Arrangement group, click the arrangement option you want.

View tab in Outlook 2010 with the Arrangement group displayed

From the View tab, you can filter your email by date, category, sender or receiver, and more.

You can also change the arrangement directly from your Inbox. To display the list of options, under the Search box, right-click the Arrange By: box.

Arrange By: box in Outlook 2010 with shortcut menu

The Arrange By: box in your Inbox gives you convenient access to even
more options to arrange your messages.

TipTip:  If you use Outlook 2010, enable the reading pane (called the preview pane in Outlook 2007) so that you can view your messages without having to open them. To enable the reading pane, on the View tab, in the Layout group, click Reading Pane. To enable the Outlook 2007 preview pane, on theView menu, click AutoPreview.

Resist the temptation to jump around in your Inbox in no particular order. Begin processing the message at the top of your Inbox and only move to the second one after you’ve handled the first. This can be hard at first, when you might have thousands of messages in your Inbox. But as you reduce the number of messages over a few sessions, eventually you’ll get to the point where you can process the 60–100 messages you get every day and regularly get your Inbox down to zero.

4. Use the “Four Ds for Decision-Making” model

The “Four Ds for Decision-Making” model (4 Ds) is a valuable tool for processing email, helping you to quickly decide what action to take with each item and how to remove it from your Inbox.

The expanded Ribbon in Office 2010 is designed to help you quickly find the tools that you need to complete your tasks. Features are organized in logical groups collected together under tabs. You can also customize the Ribbon to include tabs you personalize to match your own style.

Expanded Ribbon in Outlook 2010 with the Home tab displayed

The expanded Ribbon in Outlook 2010 replaces Outlook 2007 menus,
giving you easy access to tools on conveniently organized tabs.

The Quick Steps feature, new in Outlook 2010, speeds up managing your email even more. This feature enables you to perform the multi-stepped tasks you use most often, such as moving email to a specific folder or moving a message and replying to it with a meeting request, with a single click. The Quick Steps gallery includes buttons for one-click file and flag, sending messages to your team, and other popular commands. For more information, see Automate common or repetitive tasks with Quick Steps.

The Quick Steps group on the Home tab of the Outlook 2010 Ribbon

The Quick Steps feature turns your most frequent tasks—
whether forwarding messages to your co-workers or
copying messages to a specific folder—into one-click operations.

TipTip: Learning a few basic keyboard shortcuts in Outlook 2010 can make performing these tasks even easier and faster. Read our article on how to save time with quick computer shortcuts.

Decide what to do with each and every message

How many times have you opened, reviewed, and closed the same email message or conversation? Those messages are getting lots of attention but very little action. It is better to handle each email message only once before taking action—which means you have to decide what to do with it and where to put it. With the 4 Ds model, you have four choices:

  1. Delete it

  2. Do it

  3. Delegate it

  4. Defer it

Delete it

Generally, you can delete about half of all the email you get. But some of you shudder when you hear the phrase “delete email.” You’re hesitant to delete messages for fear that you might need them at some point. That’s understandable, but ask yourself honestly: What percentage of information that you keep do you actually use?

If you do use a large percentage of what you keep, your method is working. But many of us keep a lot more than we use. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you decide what to delete:

  • Does the message relate to a meaningful objective you’re currently working on? If not, you can probably delete it. Why keep information that doesn’t relate to your main focus?

  • Does the message contain information you can find elsewhere? If so, delete it.

  • Does the message contain information that you will refer to within the next six months? If not, delete it.

  • Does the message contain information that you’re required to keep? If not, delete it.

Outlook 2010 helps you get rid of the “noise” in your Inbox by providing two new commands: Ignore Conversation and Clean Up Conversation. If a conversation is no longer relevant, you can prevent additional responses from appearing in your Inbox. The Ignore command moves the whole conversation and any future messages that arrive in the conversation to the Deleted Items folder.

The Delete group on the Home tab of the Outlook 2010 Ribbon

Easily delete an entire conversation so that no new
responses to it will appear in your Inbox.

When a message contains all the previous messages in the conversation, you can click Clean Up to eliminate redundant messages. For example, as people reply to a conversation, the response is at the top and the previous messages in the conversation are below. Use the Clean Up command to keep only the most recent message that includes the whole conversation. For more information, see Use Conversation Clean Up to eliminate redundant messages.

The Delete group on the Home tab of the Outlook 2010 Ribbon, with Clean Up command options displayed

Cleaning up your conversations makes it easier to
stay focused on the task being discussed.

Do it (in less than two minutes)

If you can’t delete the email messages, ask yourself, “What specific action do I need to take?” and “Can I do it in less than two minutes?” If you can, just do it.

There is no point in filing an email or closing an email if you can complete the associated task in less than two minutes. Try it out—see how much mail you can process in less than two minutes. I think you will be extremely surprised and happy with the results. You could file the message, you could respond to the message, or you could make a phone call. You can probably handle about one-third of your email messages in less than two minutes.

Office 2010 helps you respond to email messages faster. You can view the availability of a person and instantly reach out to them using a variety of communication methods—all on a new easy-to-access contact card. You can even customize the context menu of the contact card to include tasks you perform most often, saving you more time.

Delegate it

If you can’t delete it or do it in two minutes or less, can you forward the email to an appropriate team member who can take care of the task?

If you can delegate it (forward it to another team member to handle), do so right away. You should be able to compose and send the delegating message in about two minutes. After you have forwarded the message, delete the original message or move it into your email reference system.

Defer it

If you cannot delete it, do it in less than two minutes, or delegate it, the action required is something that only you can accomplish and that will take more than two minutes. Because this is your dedicated email processing time, you need to defer it and deal with it after you are done processing your email. You’ll probably find that about 20 percent of your email messages have to be deferred.

There are two things you can do to defer a message: Turn it into an actionable task, or turn it into an appointment. When you’re using Outlook, you can defer emails that require action by dragging the messages to your Task List to turn them into tasks. Name the task to clearly state the required action so that you don’t have to reopen the email message. The result is a clearly defined list of actions on your Task List that you can prioritize and schedule to complete on your Calendar. Or you can turn the message into a meeting request by dragging it to your Calendar.

TipTip: Use the To-Do Bar in Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2007 to drag an email message from an email folder to a date on your Calendar or to your Task List. On the View tab, in the Layout group, click the To-Do Bar. When the bar appears, drag the message to your Calendar or to your Task List. This copies the message to the new location; it doesn’t move it out of the original mail folder, so you’ll still be able to find what you need.

Use the 4 Ds model every day

Using the 4 Ds model on a daily basis makes it easier to handle a large quantity of email. Our experience shows that, on average, people can process about 100 email messages an hour. If you receive 40 to 100 messages per day, all you need is one hour of uninterrupted email processing time to get through your Inbox. Our statistics show that of the email you receive:

  • Fifty percent can be deleted or filed.

  • Thirty percent can be delegated or completed in less than two minutes.

  • Twenty percent can be deferred to your Task List or Calendar to complete later.

Of course, if you have a backlog of hundreds of messages, it will take time to get to the point where your daily routine keeps you up to date. It’s important to get that backlog down, so I would suggest setting blocks of time aside to work through it. Then, you can really enjoy processing your messages every day using the 4 Ds.

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NMGI in MSPmentor top 200 North America

The MSPmentor annual report from Nine Lives Media has ranked Network Management Group, Inc. (NMGI) – Hutchinson, Kansas as #137 of the top 200 Technology Managed Service Providers in North America.  A managed service provider, or MSP, is responsible for strategic and efficient operations of information technology services it provides to help keep the networks of their client organizations running smoothly.  This first-ever list by MSPmentor ranks the top 200 managed service providers in North America.

 All of the honorees can be found by visiting: http://www.mspmentor.net/top-managed-services-providers-2012-msp-list/

 “Being selected as one of the ‘Top Managed Services Providers’ in North America further validates our services model. The dedication and commitment of our staff, to providing World Class services to our clients nationwide, is the key to making this all possible.” said Steve Harper, President and CEO of NMGI. “We are honored to have been selected for this award.”

The MSPmentor 200 North America Edition is based on data from MSPmentor’s global online survey, conducted October-December 2011. The MSPmentor 200 North America Edition recognizes top managed service providers based on a range of metrics, including annual managed services revenue growth, revenue per employee, managed services offered and customer devices managed.

“Nine Lives Media and MSPmentor congratulate Network Management Group, Inc. for its leadership position in North America,” said Amy Katz, president of Nine Lives Media, a division of Penton Media. “In the fiercely competitive IT services market, these MSPs represent the best of the best.”

“MSPs on this year’s North America 200 list lifted their annual recurring revenues 25 percent to US$1.05 billion, an impressive feat,” said Joe Panettieri, editorial director of Nine Lives Media. “Those MSPs are now managing 4.1 million desktop and mobile devices for customers, up 33 percent from 2010.”

NMGI is a national provider of consultative services with a delivery and infrastructure management model of computer networking, business continuity, and technology services for small and midsize businesses with an emphasis in the CPA business sector.. We design, implement, and manage business technology solutions for our clients . located throughout the United States. Founded in 1984, NMGI is headquartered in Hutchinson, Kansas.

For more information on Network Management Group, Inc.:

http://www.nmgi.com
Attn: Tom Hammersmith – Marketing Director

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