Archive for the 'Systems' Category

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A tag cloud. You may have seen them? They are these floating words next to a web page or blog.

How would you describe a tag cloud to a non tech savvy client or relationship? What is their purpose and how would you use them?

Your comments are encouraged.

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WordPress

I am sure much has been written about WordPress.

We have rebuilt our advisory site around it The Investors Center.

If you are considering a self maintained site, check it out!

Eliot

Software – Should you upgrade?

 

Upgrading software can be both painful and expensive:  the learning curve of new features can slow you down and the monetary outlay can make you scratch your head!

There are the costs: of purchase, the consultant, the training, the training materials, the resulting upgrades of software that work WITH this software such as add-ins, etc.

Upgrading as you go means you are not left behind and future upgrades are incremental instead of horrific.

So what to do?

I recommend you always upgrade mission critical programs that run your business.  Examples might include your CRM system, tax software or your planning software.  Optional upgrades might include email software or office applications such as word processors. 

However, make sure you upgrade anything that is no longer supported by the authoring company.

I am a big fan of staying as current as possible, but you might consider waiting for the first round of patches or hot fixes so you stay away from the “bleeding edge.”

Also evaluate the competitors’ products during an upgrade cycle.  If you are not really happy with your current tool, then it is time to consider changing vendors.

Guide: Software upgrades are generally a positive, adding capability and productivity.

Action Item: Strongly consider upgrading carefully.  Mission critical applications are usually a must purchase.

© 2010 The Advisors Center, LLC – All Rights Reserved

Please leave comments to share with others by clicking the comment link below the title of this article.

Can You Run the Machinery?

 

Are you over delegating? Is there really such a thing? Does it matter?

I recently read story of an business owner who found himself nearly out of business when three of his four staff people quit and left over a very short period of time. This mass exodus caused great strain on the operation of the business and caused great concern for the owner’s clients.

Are you and your small business prepared for such a possibility? What would you do? Could you survive? Why did this professional’s business nearly fail?

The author of the above referenced article suggested that this was a clear cut case of over delegation. Our business owner had become so far removed from the day to day technology and systems of his business that he was unable to run them in the absence of help. The systems were also of such a proprietary nature that temporary help wouldn’t work. In the short run, outsourcing was also out of the question. However, after immersing himself for a sufficient period of time, the systems were quickly learned and the business did survive.

Was the author correct or was there more going on here? The owner may have been over delegating or there may have been other possibilities might including: Understaffing. Poor pay. Poor employee morale. Lack of cross training or any number of normal employee issues

In the story, we never find out why the employees left but there are clearly some lessons to be learned.

Take a look at your business and realize that it is vulnerable to all sorts of risks and perhaps knowing how to “run the machinery” is a really good idea. Carefully consider your critical systems and ask: Can I run these?, Should I know how to run these?, Do I want to know how to run these? What training will I need?

Also ask: Should I change these systems so they are less proprietary? Can I get temporary help if needed? Can I outsource these functions if needed?

Realize that nothing can take the place of a well run business where your skills are best used where YOUR talents lie.Also, the “care and nurturing” of your staff can be as important as any other business function just like customer service or marketing.

Guide: Oil the machinery: take great care of the staff as well as the hardware, software and systems they use every day.

Action Item: Know which machinery you don’t know how to run and consider what you would do if someone else was not there to run it.

© 2010 The Advisors Center, LLC – All Rights Reserved

Please leave comments to share with others by clicking the comment link below the title of this article.

A quick iPad review for Advisors

 

I am writing this blog using my new Apple iPad. 1.5 lbs of marvelous portable technology.

It all works as advertised. Some basic tools for advisors including the ability to connect back to my main PC sitting behind a VPN. Little security risk as this device has no client data on it. I store no documents locally but work on them on the remote machine.

About the size on a small hard cover book, this will be a nice device to travel with and will include my music and reading. I can access all web based apps using Safari. It is certainly easy to use and sync to iTunes. If you have an iPhone, you will find the iPad a natural extension of that OS.

All said, the Apple iPad is a keeper that will see daily use.

Guide – Using an iPad makes for a lightweight versitile traveling companion.

Action Item – Go out and try an iPad for browsing and remote control – it just works!

© 2010 The Advisors Center, LLC – All Rights Reserved

Please leave comments to share with others by clicking the comment link below the title of this article.

Tech Spotlight on: Network Attached Storage (NAS)

 

With this Guide, I will begin a new discussion centered around the use of technology in the practice of the professional advisor.  I will cover the basics to expose some of the options available for you to run your practices more efficiently.

This Guide will focus on hardware and specifically a device called a NAS (pronounced NAZ) – Network Attached Storage or in some older circles, Network Appliance Servers.

Here is what Wikipedia says about them: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network-attached_storage

Put simply, a NAS is a low-cost shared hard drive.  It requires NO PC.  It just plugs into a hub or switch or port on your router (could be your wireless access point).

These devices are wonderful for central file storage to be shared by staff. Any office document like a word processing file, a spreadsheet or a PDF can be saved on the NAS.  One would normally place several folders on the NAS just like a PC and then store the appropriate document in the proper folder.

You do not need a VERY tech savvy worker to set one up.  After plugging it in and turning it on, you access it through a browser and set up security/user rights for each of the folders, allowing some to be private and others to be public.

Simple drive mapping in Windows would then allow each user to attach to the device.

And then there is cost.  Well, these devices are pretty darn cheap!  Here is a link to several examples at Amazon.com http://tinyurl.com/y88khxv

Prices start under $200 and go up from there.  In my office we have used products from Linksys, Seagate, Snap and Buffalo.  Each has performed as advertised with no failures or issues.

They can be used as primary storage or backup for PC’s and servers.  They are small, light and can be carried off-site easily (good and bad news). A NAS at home is a great way to share files with your family.

Guide – A NAS is an inexpensive, easy to use, reliable way to share files on a network.

Action Item – If you currently have an office where you are emailing each other files all the time or are using peer-to-peer networking to share files, consider a NAS.

© 2010 The Advisors Center, LLC – All Rights Reserved

Please leave comments to share with others by clicking the comment link below the title of this article.


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