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Posts by Sarsfield Technology (page 39)

Inbox Rules

Reading this article will help you take control of email by reducing unwanted email and making your email time more productive. If you’ve never experienced the feeling of drowning in emails, then you are an exception. If this has never happened to you, publish your email address in a couple of sites where spambots get emails for spamming from and you will see how it feels to get dozens of junk emails a day. However, even if you are not drowning in spam, you still can receive many other unwanted messages a day, and soon you will discover that if you don’t know how to manage your inbox, the information overflow can be enormous. Here are some tips on how to manage your inbox effectively: Create separate folders for separate projects/people . One of the ways to deal effectively with information overflow is to separate the different streams of information. If you keep all your messages in your Inbox folder, soon it will contain thousands of messages, and it will be more difficult to find the message you need. You can create separate folders for different projects/people and file the emails into these folders. Create rules . Rules are one more way to optimize the flow of emails. Different email programs have different rules available, so you may want to check with your particular program to see which it offers. Almost always you can at least set rules for automatically moving/copying messages to/from a certain person to a separate folder. Use new message alerts . Very often you can configure alerts for new messages. If your email program does not have this feature enabled by default, you should consider enabling it. Manage spam filters . Spam filters are also part of inbox management, and depending on the amount of spam you receive, managing spam filters could take a lot of time. However, one of the important issues you must have in mind is that if your spam filters are not properly set, they could cut legitimate messages as well. So, set your spam filters with care. Use flags . Flags are a really useful way to separate a message from the rest. As with many of the other advanced inbox tricks, different email clients offer different flag systems, but almost any program offers flags for marking incoming messages as important, urgent, etc. If you have never used flagging, you will be surprised how easy and effective it is. There are many more tips, all of which are good to know. Actually, we are just scratching the surface and we could add more ways to optimize your inbox use! But if you apply even the tips above, you will experience significant improvement in terms of effective email use. Isn’t it time you took charge of you email?

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Email Best Practices

Why you should care… Email is perhaps the most important productivity tool available – yet its potential as a time waster is well known. It’s essential that you master this critical business tool and make it work of you. Email is one of the most indispensable collaboration tools for any business. Email has become such an integral part of our lives that we can hardly imagine life without it. Using email is not difficult. Using it effectively, though, is not easy. Everybody has experienced spam and how unwanted emails clutter up our inbox. Likewise, many of us have overlooked an important message that has gotten lost in an overflowing inbox. However, these are not the only cases when people are using email ineffectively. Here are some tips that will help you use email more effectively: Keep several email accounts . Having only one account means that generally you will be receiving dozens of messages a day, much of which is spam or is otherwise unwanted or unimportant. But even if your spam filters are working properly, you still should have several accounts. For instance, you should have a business company domain and be careful of using this to register or subscribe to services, and you should have another account for personal use with Gmail, Yahoo, MSN or another similar email service. Answer emails quickly . Good communication etiquette requires that you don’t keep people waiting for your reply. While you can’t be expected to answer emails immediately (unless it is an urgent matter, but then you’re better off using the phone), answering within a reasonable timeframe –one business day or less – is acceptable and increasingly expected. Manage your inbox . Even if you have several accounts and each of them is for different kinds of emails, your inboxes still will get cluttered. Managing your inbox effectively is one of the greatest improvements you can make in email use, so you may want to check this article on using email rules for advanced tips on effective inbox use. Use Folders . There are many emails that you want to keep after you have read them. Create a system of folders that makes sense to you so that after you’ve read and responded to an email you can move it out of your Inbox where it will distract you, to a folder where you can find it later if necessary. Distribution lists rules . Spam wouldn’t exist if there were no people who sent it. So, give your contribution to having a world with less spam and do not send unsolicited mails in bulk. Make sure that you are sending your emails only to people who want to receive them. Even better, check that you comply with the provisions of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. Do virus checks . Actually, the place for this tip is not near the bottom of the list — but let’s hope that your corporate security policy takes care of this and that you are not solely responsible for protecting your email against viruses and other malware. It might sound obvious that you should do virus checks, but even though email is a primary channel for virus distribution, many people still forget about virus checks. Don’t be one of them. Use advanced email tools . Going beyond the basics is always a challenge and as your experience with email grows, you will discover that it can offer much more than just sending and receiving emails. For instance, many email programs have a calendar function, which you could also use to improve your scheduling and collaboration within your team. Or saving emails that you need to act on later as a Task with a reminder so you can move it out of your Inbox. Using email is simple, yet in some ways difficult. The more you learn, the more questions you have. However, it’s a business fact of life today that you can’t live without email and you need to master it.

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Collaboration Technologies to the Rescue

Reading this article will give you an overview of tools and technologies that will help you and your teams collaborate effectively and productively. Collaboration and teamwork can make or break a company. Long gone are the days when your employees could work independent of each other. In today’s market, if you want to stay competitive you need to use collaboration to the fullest. Thanks to various tools and technologies, this task is simple. Which Basic Collaboration Technologies Are Right for Me? Every business needs to use some kind of collaboration technique. In fact, there is no business in today’s world that can survive without basic collaboration technologies such as a company Intranet , email server, a fax/print server, or a time management functionality (for instance, electronic calendars). These technologies are so fundamental that most likely you have been using them for ages. So, as you might be surprised to learn that you are actually already using collaboration technologies but you just didn’t know it! However, you may also be surprised to learn about additional tools that you may not be using today that will help improve your company’s collaboration efforts. In addition to the basic collaboration technologies you have used for years, new ones are emerging all the time. Below is a list some of the most popular groups of collaboration technologies you can use in your day-to-day operations. To learn more about each collaboration tool, just click on each link to read our related articles. Conferencing tools . Audio and video conferences become a daily necessity for many companies. No matter whether you use audio and video conferencing to communicate with your distributed team or with suppliers and clients from all over the world, these collaboration technologies can be very useful. Document and application sharing . When many people work with the same document at the same time, it is very inconvenient when you have to wait for your colleagues to finish his or her tasks with that document, so that you can proceed with your work. Document and application sharing make that inconvenience history since it’s now possible for many people to work simultaneously on the same document. Workflow and project management . Workflow and project management technologies will help you manage your business more effectively by minimizing downtime and increasing the performance of your employees through organizing tasks better. Online collaboration . Even if you don’t have many (or any) tele-workers and remote workers, online collaboration tools are great because you can access them from everywhere and you can work at any time you please. Additionally, you can share these tools with your suppliers and clients and further improve your sales and customer service process. Change management . Maintaining multiple versions of the same document is too much of a hassle, but not when change management technologies handle this for you. When you use these technologies, you can maintain as many versions of a document as you like, and all of them will be neatly organized and readily accessible. Knowledge management . Knowledge is power, and there is hardly a company that will not benefit from a company wiki or other form of knowledge management system. The collaboration technologies listed here are just a sampling of what’s available. There are literally hundreds of collaboration technologies and depending on your particular needs you may choose one or another. Of course, it is best if you can find an all-in-one solution, such as Windows Small Business Server (SBS), which includes many or all of the technologies you need.

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How to Choose an IT Consultant

In business today the choice of a technology advisor can be a critical success factor in this article you’ll learn how to make the right choice. Maintaining your small company network in good shape is not an easy task, and you are probably perfectly aware that doing it on your own is not the best way to invest your time. When you want to hire somebody to maintain your company network for you, basically you have two choices – to employ somebody onsite (as a full-time or part-time employee) or to outsource the task to an external IT Consultant . After you have decided that your small company does not need onsite IT staff and you will need an IT Consultant, the next step is to choose one. Choosing an IT Consultant is not so different from choosing an onsite employee, but still there are specifics you need to be aware of. Sometimes this task is a very easy one when you can ask your business associates to recommend somebody. But if you want to choose the IT consultant on your own, here are some points to consider: 5 Key Steps in Choosing an IT Consultant Technical competencies . Needless to say, this is the most important factor because if you hire somebody whose technical competency is not satisfactory, this will certainly lead to a lot of trouble. If you are a non-technical person, you are hardly in a position to judge the technical skills of the candidates, but if you ask them about the certificates, degrees, diplomas, and other similar documents they possess, this will give you a clue if they are technically competent or not. For instance, IT Consultants with Microsoft Small Business Specialist certification have passed rigorous exams on small business technology. Ability to work with people . Sometimes technical people are not the best communicators. But IT Consultants are supposed to be half techies, half business consultants, so for them being technical is not an excuse for lacking basic business and communication skills. That is why it is key to choose someone who can communicate with you, explain things in a way you understand, answer all your questions, and not just talk in jargon — someone who can help you understand how technology matters to your business and can help it grow. Availability . Availability is a key factor for your decision because if you hire somebody who is not available when you need him or her most, what’s the point of having an IT Consultant if you can’t rely on him or her? Usually it’s best to hire locally, because when their office is near, they are more likely to be able to arrive quickly on your premises an emergency. Also, very often problems can quickly be solved remotely, so it is equally important that the IT Consultant you choose provides remote support as well. Recommendations from clients . It’s always good to know how the candidate has handled previous clients, so feel free to ask for recommendations from their clients. Can they handle all your IT needs? When you choose an IT Consultant, you would like him or her to be the single point of contact for all your IT needs. While it’s not always possible for your IT Consultant to necessarily complete all of your technical needs him or herself, he or she should be able to manage the process on your behalf. (For example, if you want a software application to be developed especially for you, you’d better contact a dedicated software development company, but your IT consultant could be the one to handle the process for you.) Therefore, it’s best if the consultant you choose can meet all (or at least most) of your IT needs – from purchasing new hardware, to maintaining the network, to providing support for the applications you use on a daily basis. Wrapping Up These are some of the points you need to have in mind when choosing an IT consultant. It is important to choose carefully. If you want to establish a long term “trusted advisor” relationship with your IT Consultant, just like with your attorney or accountant, you must choose the best — not necessarily the cheapest — IT Consultant. Remember, your IT Consultant is a key partner in the viability of your business and your success! What Next? Sit down with your team and become clear on your IT needs and goals. Ask associates or key advisors such as your accountant for recommendations Interview and select carefully. The best IT Consultant should be a trusted advisor just like your accountant or attorney. Take your time and find someone you can trust and work with for the long term

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Don’t Leave Your Business Open to Cyber Attacks

Simple Steps Businesses Can Take to Protect Themselves from Cyber Crime “When the World Wide Web launched almost 20 years ago, it generated a lot of buzz about how it would revolutionize the way we do business, but many questioned whether these projections were fact or just grand words. Today, few can argue that the Internet has transformed business operations. For example, it has changed the way we share information, talk to employees, advertise jobs and sell services and merchandise to customers. It has opened the door to resources from all over the word. It has become such an essential tool for business success that few can afford not to have a Web presence. But the Internet has done more than change the way we work; it changed the way criminals commit crimes. Cyber criminals view the Internet as a tool they can use to launch daily cyber attacks such as computer viruses, worms, spam, phishing and identity theft, and the Web presence that businesses need to be successful is what makes them vulnerable to these attacks.” Read the story on SmallBizTechnology.com

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Microsoft Rolls Out New Small Business Server Options

“Microsoft has announced new server software that it said provides small and medium businesses with enterprise-quality capabilities while helping them to save money, increase productivity and grow their businesses. While designed specifically for small and midsized companies, Windows Small Business Server 2008 (SBS 2008) and Windows Essential Business Server 2008 (EBS 2008) include Microsoft’s high-end server technologies delivered in a way that smaller companies can make the most of them.” Read the story on Small Business Computing

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Making the Most of Your Intranet

“Lower costs and ease of use mean companies of any size can create their own intranets. Here’s how to get the most from this technology. Seven years ago, INK, Inc., a pay-for-placement media relations firm, needed a way for its staff to quickly share information about potential opportunities for clients. E-mail was too awkward and restrictive, especially where images or video materials were concerned. The answer was for INK to create its own intranet.” Read the story on Inc Technology

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Microsoft Offers 0 Percent Financing to New Microsoft Dynamics ERP and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Customers

Microsoft Dynamics is committed to helping credit-approved customers gain access to capital and invest in their businesses even in uncertain times. REDMOND, Wash. — Nov. 13, 2008 — Microsoft Corp. today announced 0 percent financing for 36 months for new, qualifying customers of Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM solutions. The limited time offer is available to Microsoft Dynamics customers who receive Microsoft Financing credit approval on all purchases of $20,000 (U.S.) up to $1 million (U.S.). Read more

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Microsoft Announces General Availability of Windows Small Business Server 2008 and Windows Essential Business Server 2008

Solutions designed to help small and midsize businesses save money and compete in a global marketplace. REDMOND, Wash. — Nov. 12, 2008 — As part of Microsoft Corp.’s $6.5 billion annual investment in products, support programs and incentives for small and midsize businesses, the company today announced the general availability of Windows Small Business Server 2008 (SBS 2008) and Windows Essential Business Server 2008 (EBS 2008). These solutions bring the power of Microsoft’s enterprise-class server technologies to small and midsize companies in a way that companies can best consume them. They are designed and priced to help customers save money and compete more successfully in the global marketplace. Read more

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