Microsoft Bookings Lake Charles, Louisiana

Microsoft Bookings: Your Ultimate IT Solution for Client Scheduling

Microsoft Bookings Is the Scheduling Solution You've Been Looking For

The verdict is in: business teams of all shapes and sizes want a better way to get appointments on the books for their clients. Outdated paper schedules and appointment books are constantly getting edited and rearranged. Conflicts between team member availability and client preferences cause confusion, and clients end up waiting longer than necessary to get an appointment. More and more, business leaders are asking us for a better way to streamline appointment bookings and put an end to client frustration.

That’s where we come in. We’re in the business of connecting professional teams with strategic technologies. When it comes to appointment scheduling, we’re happy to tell business teams of all shapes and sizes that there is a better way. Booking client appointments doesn’t have to be a nightmare – especially when you have the right technology in place. We recommend Microsoft Bookings – a strategic and easy to implement scheduling solution that takes the trouble out of booking client appointments.

 

Why Now Is the Time to Implement Microsoft Bookings

In today’s day and age, scheduling client appointments shouldn’t cause frustration. It should be one of the most seamless and easy parts of the day for your team. The fact of the matter is, the days of the constantly changing and rearranging appointment book on the receptionist’s desk are long gone.

Today, the most efficient business teams are the ones who put strategic technology to work for the most tedious tasks. When it comes to appointment scheduling, Microsoft Bookings is the ultimate tech solution for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Microsoft Bookings is an online and mobile application that helps business teams streamline their appointment booking process with clients.

The app works by allowing your clients and customers to schedule appointments directly in your business calendar without any effort or involvement required on your end. Clients can easily access your calendar, view available time slots, and then book an appointment that fits their preferences and your schedule. The best part? The app is already included in many Office 365 business subscriptions, meaning implementing the solution is easy.

Microsoft Bookings is the ultimate scheduling solution for:

  • Dental and healthcare offices
  • Spas and salons
  • Law firms
  • Financial service providers
  • Any businesses that need to regularly schedule appointments with clients

Want Consultation On Strategic Scheduling Solutions? We’re Here for You!

Whether you already have an Office 365 subscription or not, the National Networks team can offer consultation and help you find the right solutions to reinvigorate your approach to appointment scheduling. Give us a call anytime at (409) 724-0440 to book a consultation.


Microsoft Office Lens

Microsoft Office Lens: A Pocket-Sized Scanner for Your Smartphone

Microsoft Office Lens Is Your Solution for Centralized Organization

Let us set the stage for you here. You go to a brainstorming meeting with colleagues or clients and as ideas are firing off, they get scribbled down on whiteboards or notepads. When the meeting is finished, you want to capture everything on the whiteboard before it's wiped away or upload your handwritten notes to share with team members. We hear from clients all the time about this tedious challenge in their offices and we bet you can relate.

It’s not just a challenge in meetings either. Perhaps you’re on an important phone call and take down some critical information on a post-it note that you don’t want to forget or lose. Maybe you want to edit a paper document digitally in Microsoft Word. In all of these situations, organizational leaders are looking for a strategic tool that will allow them to not only capture important information, but centralize it for easy access, editing, reference, and sharing. Luckily, such a solution already exists. Read on to learn all about it.

Microsoft Office Lens: Your Fool-Proof Capture + Scan Smartphone App

Here’s the scoop. Microsoft Office Lens allows you and your team members to snap a quick photo of important notes or documents and then store, share, and edit those documents digitally. The application is so useful because it’s basically like carrying around a handheld, automatic scanner in your back pocket.

Microsoft Office Lens helps you avoid all the tedious problems we mentioned above. Want to save a phone number you took down on a post-it note? Need to edit a paper document that you don’t have a digital version of? Want to preserve the brainstorming session from your meeting room whiteboard? The app works like magic to digitize any important notes and reminders in the blink of an eye.

There really are endless opportunities to boost productivity and efficiency here. Never lose a business card or post-it note reminder again. Streamline access, sharing, and editing of important documents. Quickly brainstorm and sketch out big plans and capture them for later use and development. Easily capture and store quickly scribbled ideas so you're never left scratching your head trying to remember. The best part? The app is easily downloadable from the Apple, Android, and Microsoft app stores.

Have Questions About Other Strategic Microsoft Tech Tools?

Wondering what other Microsoft tools might drive productivity in your office? Whether your questions are big or small, we can help. Reach out to the team of IT experts from National Networks anytime or give us a call at (409) 724-0440 to chat with a live agent or book a consultation. We’re committed to helping organizations like yours do more with technology and we’re always standing ready to get started!


Microsoft FindTime Lake Charles, Louisiana

Book Team Meetings Easily with Microsoft’s FindTime Tool

Is Coordinating Team Meetings in Your Office an Up-Hill Battle?

Why does coordinating team meetings always end up being a huge pain in the neck? All you need is 60 minutes of availability from each member of the team to review performance metrics or discuss upcoming business objectives. You frantically try to coordinate the meeting by calling team members, sending out the odd email, and asking about availability as teammates walk by your office. By the time you’ve coordinated everyone, the back and forth of trying to get the meeting arranged ends up taking more time than the actual meeting itself!

Does this frustration and tediousness sound familiar? Do you find yourself insisting that there must be a better way to streamline the coordination of team meetings with coworkers? Don’t stress. Our clients ask us for help on this issue all the time, and luckily, there is a better way. With the right IT solutions in place, you can streamline the tedious coordination process and get team meetings arranged in the blink of an eye.

Say Goodbye to Coordination Chaos with FindTime from Microsoft!

We’re in the business of helping professional teams find the right strategic technologies to optimize operations. When it comes to organizing team meetings, the most strategic tool available to business owners is, without a doubt, FindTime from Microsoft. FindTime is a time-saving, efficiency-optimizing, and productivity-generating tool that helps business teams coordinate meetings easily.

Microsoft’s FindTime tool is straightforward and easy-to-use. The FindTime solution shows what days and times work the best for all required meeting attendees. When you use FindTime, everyone you’re trying to coordinate for a meeting will get a say in what dates and times work best for them. Once everyone has selected their preferred date and time, FindTime coordinates the best meeting time and generates an invite to be sent to all attendees. It is that simple.

Here’s how to easily get started with Microsoft’s FindTime tool:

  • First, keep in mind that you will need a valid Office 365 or Microsoft 365 subscription
  • Visit www.findtime.microsoft.com and click the install button
  • Once the install is complete, restart Outlook
  • Once you have restarted Outlook, FindTime will be installed and ready for use

We Speak Microsoft: Reach Out for Consultation or Support Anytime!

If you have questions about how you can start using FindTime or the most strategic ways to use it, don’t hesitate to reach out to the team of business IT experts at National Networks.

The team of strategic IT professionals from National Networks will help you download, install, and optimize Microsoft’s FindTime tool. We can also consult with you and discuss other strategies and solutions that might help your team work more efficiently and productively together. Give us a call anytime at (409) 724-0440, or visit our website at www.ntwo.com to book a consultation. We’re standing by, ready to help you better coordinate your team.


Hurricane Season Lake Charles, Louisiana

Prepare For Hurricane Season

Don’t Let Hurricane Season Shake Up Your Operations

You’re already navigating uncharted waters with the coronavirus pandemic. The last thing you need is a hurricane that impacts your ability to operate from the office - yet again. 

It’s that time of year again. Hurricane season has already begun and is set to continue through November 30, 2020. But here’s the thing: you’ve already had your operations shaken up during the coronavirus pandemic. If you’re like many organizations, you’re finally starting to open up your doors and embrace a hybrid approach: some employees in the office while others are at home.

Finally, right?

But one bad storm could set you back another few days. History shows us that even if a storm is brewing far away, it’s easy for it to become a severe threat to the Louisiana and Texas shoreline. After all, these things happen fast, and they escalate even faster. So what are you doing to prepare for the upcoming storms?

What happens if a storm hits near your office?

We all know that a large enough storm can destroy homes, businesses, and livelihoods. But take a moment to think about it.

The storm is brewing nearby, and it hits the area your office is located overnight. You hope for the best and wait it out until it’s safe to stop in and assess the damage. It’s not devastated, but you’ve got some property damage, but it’s nothing insurance won’t cover. But then your revenue takes a serious hit because you can’t work as productively for a few days to a few weeks while you wait for the damage to be fixed. Your computers won’t turn on, they’re damaged from the water, and you don’t have backups of your data. Many, many years of hard work - gone.

Domino effect of data loss

Business plans, financial records, customer data - it’s all integral to the day-to-day operations of your organization. It’s been widely studied: data loss costs an average of $150 per record. This is because many organizations simply can’t operate without their data, and in worst-case scenarios, will be charged fines for losing it in the first place. You don’t want to deal with any of this.

It’s time to prepare

Fortunately, preparing for hurricane season doesn’t have to be difficult. You simply need the right guidance to ensure you’re covering all of the bases. Over the years, we’ve helped many organizations minimize the risk of experiencing any sort of data loss during a bad storm. And we’re proud to say our efforts pay off - every single time. None of our clients have ever had long-lasting consequences from a storm of any sort.

Here’s what we recommend organizations of all types and sizes do BEFORE hurricanes start hitting:

Make upgrades to the property  

Although this isn’t technology or data related, your property can go a long way in protecting what’s housed in it. We recommend the following:

  • Replace gravel or rock landscaping with something lighter, such as shredded bark that won’t cause harm.
  • Assess any trees or branches that may fall onto your property and cut them down right away.
  • Install storm shutters on windows to protect against any sort of breakage from storms.
  • Use the right precautions for exterior doors, including at least three hinges and a deadbolt lock.

Keep backups of your data  

If you don’t already have backups, start keeping them. You will need onsite backups, as well as offsite backups that keep them stored in a data center. This way, if anything happens to your office, you still have copies of all of your information.

Create an emergency response plan

Outline your plans for recovering from a disaster ahead of time. This should include the following:

  • Information on where backups are stored
  • Emergency contact information for employees, suppliers, and vendors
  • Information on what steps to take in terms of contacting insurance, etc.
  • Information on how to recover essential systems

You should have a clear understanding of how you will recover systems, who is responsible for recovering them, and how you will continue operations from home. This may mean you’re prepared to work from home with cloud-based access to your systems, data, and applications.

Review your business insurance policies

Lastly, make sure your business insurance policies are clear and cover everything you need. You should have a thorough understanding of what’s covered, and if you don’t, contact your provider to ask. 

If this seems like a lot, go ahead and get in touch with us

We’re here to help. You can sit back and relax while we make sure you’re prepared for any storm that comes your way.

  1. Book a meeting with our team of technology professionals
  2. Get a personalized business contingency plan created
  3. Never spend another storm stressing about your business again

Yep, it’s that easy.

 

 

 


Developing New Habits During COVID-19: Data Backup Essentials

Running your business during COVID-19 is hard, period. The last thing you need to experience during this crisis is a devastating loss of data—in fact, there’s a chance that a significant breach could damage your reputation or even put you out of business. Now is the time to make sure you have a plan in place that handles data backup for your employees and ensures information on your devices remain safe no matter where they are.

It’s time for secure and affordable data backup services. Contact us today.

Here are four ways to improve your data backup strategies during COVID-19:

  1. Get into a New Routine – Default settings might be good enough most of the time, but not during COVID-19. If you want to ensure you never lose data again, you’re going to need to optimize your parameters for automatic backups, making specific adjustments to the settings that suit your business needs. While you’re at it, you might want to revert to backing up some of your most important personal and professional files outside of the cloud.
  2. Adjust Your Settings – As your digital footprint grows, your data backup strategies should become more sophisticated, too. Everyone has experienced a time when they’ve lost something important, but honestly thought that they’d backed it up correctly. Whether you want to admit it or not, there are probably some default settings that your employees have never even looked at on their work devices. Failing to adjust your default settings could cost you time and money, so be sure to update them as your company’s needs change.
  3. Train Your Team Members– Chances are you’re going to experience some turnover in the next few months due to circumstances outside of your control. While some employees are used to working remotely and can operate with little-to-no tech supervision, others will need education about best practices for storing and backing up information in a way that is both secure and accessible. Setting aside time to educate your employees about some data backup essentials now could prevent you from suffering the pain of a major disruption down the road.
  4. Encrypt Your Data- By now, you’ve probably guessed that backing up your data is only one piece of the puzzle. If you want to make sure that your data is not only stored properly, but that it couldn’t be accessed even if it was lost or stolen, it’s time to invest in better data encryption. Being able to retrieve and restore your sensitive information is important—but making sure it stays secure is another story. It’s time to start asking questions about where your data is stored and how it is being protected.

In a time of crisis, your staff will be turning to you for direction—and your customers might, too. Don’t get caught off guard by something you can easily avoid, like losing data due to human error or a failed automatic backup. That’s why, as a managed services provider, we’re prepared to guide you through the COVID-19 crisis with trusted IT advice that will help you back up your data today and keep it secure well into the future. Contact our team of experts today to learn more about data backup essentials that support your business continuity plan.


Planning and Budgeting for Your Company's IT

Everything You Need to Know About Planning and Budgeting for Your Company's IT

How to Plan and Budget for Your Company's IT

Are you in charge of your company’s IT budgeting? If so, it’s time to take a closer look at how you allocate your funds. Here are some tips to get started.  

As a C-level executive, you set the tone for your company’s IT budget. In other words, your vision of IT will decide whether it’s an area you’re ready and willing to invest in or something you still see as a periphery necessity.

Naturally, seeing IT as a periphery necessity is not preferred. This can be a dangerous mindset. IT is so vital to any business’s substructure that without it, you may not have a business at all. As we move forward in time, this will continue to be the case. Automation and increased dependence on the digital world are only increasing.

The bad news is, IT budgeting can be tricky. The complexities of your IT needs will inevitably be complicated. Knowing how to allocate funds will be similarly so.

The following article comprises critical tips for planning IT funds within your company. Use this as a framework to follow when preparing your IT budget in the future.

Planning and Budgeting for Your Company's IT

How to Plan and Budget for Your Company’s IT

Use these tips to create a successful budget for your IT department.

1. Make the transition to rolling forecasting.

Most businesses plan their budgets yearly, but while this may have worked in the past, it's no longer a useful planning strategy for IT budgets. Instead, we recommend enforcing a rolling forecasting strategy for planning your budget. This means reassessing your budget at the end of each quarter as opposed to doing it annually. The option provides much more flexibility and allows you to react quickly to market or security changes when necessary.

2. Plan ahead for the implementation of automation.

Great strides can be made in efficiency and returns on investment when you implement IT automation tools. A tremendous amount of time and money can be saved. On the other hand, investing in these strategies won't give you results overnight. You must plan for these tools — both where finances and a learning curve are concerned. Your

MSP can help you come up with the best automation tools for your industry and business. They can also help you plan for investing in these tools and rolling them out.

3. Cross-reference your plans with other departments.

Unlike some departments within your business, IT must interact outside of itself regularly. Its primary purpose is arguably to serve other departments in a myriad of ways. For this reason, you must cross-reference your budgeting plans with the other departments you oversee. Speak with other department heads about what they foresee in terms of IT needs and changes. Many of these specifications will alter your plans for a budget.

4. Remember that your IT plans will change almost constantly.

Rolling forecasting will allow for more frequent budget changes where your IT is concerned, but there are other steps you can take to keep up with ever-changing IT needs as well. Essentially, you need to maintain the mentality that your IT budget is not a stagnant, permanent fixture. Instead, it is something that will need near-constant alterations.

Even if you continue to allocate the same amount of money to your IT department overall, where precisely each dollar goes may change. For example, one quarter, you may require more budgeting for marketing, advertising, data storage, or security.

Speak to Your MSP About Budgeting Recommendations

As a final tip, use your MSP as a resource when it comes to your IT budgeting. Their experience and expertise in IT services can help you make more informed decisions that will support your business long-term.


Microsoft Teams in Lake Charles LA

Microsoft Teams: Go Remote, Safeguard Health, Improve Success

How to Use Microsoft Teams for Remote Collaboration

Learn how Microsoft Teams can support remote collaboration. Check out tips for using this powerful collaboration app. Be safe and healthy with remote team working tools.

When you're trying to facilitate collaboration and communication between remote team members, Microsoft Teams can provide the solutions you need. Available with an Office 365 subscription, Microsoft Teams also offers a free version with scaled down features, available to anyone. You can access these tools through a web browser or using a desktop or mobile app.

Microsoft Teams lets you efficiently work with a remote team of people on documents, spreadsheets, and other files, and it eliminates the need to email files to each other. Keep reading to learn how your organization can leverage this very powerful collaboration app to enhance productivity whether you're all in the same office or different corners of the world.

Creating Teams

When you create a team in Microsoft Teams, it automatically gets Planner, SharePoint, Office 365 Group, and OneNote. You can also add in other apps as desired. Teams supports all Microsoft applications and offers integration for a constantly growing number of third-party apps as well.

With Planner, you can assign tasks, track what your team members are doing, and keep big projects organized. SharePoint provides you with the capabilities to build websites together or create internal sites. At the same time, Office 365 Groups gives you the ability to collaborate using the Office 365 tools you're accustomed to using on your own. Of course, OneNote lets you create notes, share them with team members, and edit collaboratively as desired.

Setting Up Channels

Once you set up your teams, you can divide them into a variety of channels. Depending on your needs, you may want to have everyone in your business be on the same team and then create a separate channel for each department, or you may want to have a team for each department and narrow further down into specific channels.

For instance, if your marketing department makes up a team, you may want different channels for social media management, product launches, content, or other projects or areas of focus.

Chatting With Your Team

When you open Microsoft Teams, you see three tabs for every channel, and one of the tabs is Conversations. One of the app's most critical features, Conversations streamlines communication and saves a record of everything so you can effortlessly search conversations or review old messages as needed.

When you want to reach a particular team member, you simply use the "@" symbol plus their username. Then, they see your comment when they sign into the app or they get an instant notification if they have alerts set up on their device.

Team members can also like or react to comments. For instance, if you want to ensure everyone has seen a particular comment, you can ask them to leave a thumbs up or another indicator. GIFs and emoticons help to add personality and levity into team conversations.

Sharing Files

In addition to Conversations, Files is one of the other three tabs that gets instantly created when you set up a channel. You can open your files right in the Teams app or through your browser. You don't have to close Teams and open the app for the type of file you want to use.

Then, you can make edits, which your entire channel can see in real time. You can delete, move, or copy files. You can also get links to share the file with people outside your team or channel. To foster communication, you can create a group conversation next to the file or leave comments within the file itself.

Administering Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams offers a host of features that can boost productivity, improve communication, and streamline collaboration. Still, you also need to manage this app to ensure it meets your organization's policies and practices.

In the control panel of the admin settings, you can establish who can create teams, and you can also set parameters on which features you want accessible to individual teams or channels. For instance, you can control who can use video meetings or screen sharing, and you can create rules related to animated images or using extensions.

Shifting to a remote workforce can be challenging, but tools like Microsoft Teams help to keep you on track, regardless of where your team members are located. To learn more about how to foster remote workers, contact National Networks today.


Preparation Is Key

Your employee just opened an email that looked like it was from you and clicked an attached link. Your data has been infiltrated, and you are under a cyberattack. According to CSO Online, 92 percent of malware is delivered by email. Considering that email is a major tool for your business, you may have an attack waiting to happen right now. If this scenario seems a little too plausible, then you need a digital risk management plan.

Don’t wait till after the attack, start building a plan now.

 

Digital Risk Management

You may be asking yourself, what is digital risk management? It is a security solution made to fit each unique business. You may have threats specific to your industry. There may be certain local, state and federal regulations to follow. You may even have certain budgetary restrictions. An MSP will create a digital risk management plan that addresses each of these concerns, along with creating an action plan that changes as your business does. By being vigilant of threats to your system and having a plan in place for an active attack, you can rest easy knowing that your MSP is there to protect your business.

 

Evolving Technology, Evolving Threats

You know that technology is evolving at an incredible speed. With that comes the evolution of threats to that technology. Email phishing scams, cybercriminals, ransomware and good old-fashioned human error are just a few of the risks your business faces every day. By assessing your vulnerabilities, an MSP can provide your business with the specific security solution your business needs. If you can invest in new technology, why not invest in a protection plan that grows with your business.

 

Invest in Your Future

We know that you want to spend your money wisely. From improving your employee's workspaces to a new coffee maker in the breakroom, every decision has been carefully thought out. Why not devote that same energy into a security solution? Your MSP will work with you to make a tailored action plan for your business, that’s within your budget. They will guide you through what is necessary in a plan, and what types of protection your business may or may not need. Investing in a quality digital risk management plan now will save you money later.

 

We’re Here to Help

Running a company can be overwhelming. Let us take something off your plate. With our expertise on your side, you can rest easy knowing that your information is protected. Contact us today to start building a plan and be one step ahead of the hackers.


Every Second Counts: What to Do Following a Cyberattack

Nobody wants to think about the worst-case scenario, but if a cyberattack hits your business, every second counts when it comes to figuring out the extent of the damage and stopping it from spreading and costing you more in damages.

According to the National Small Business Association, from phishing scams to data breaches, the average attack costs $9,000. This number can get a lot higher the longer your network remains down. One of the ways to help minimize the damage is by having a technology service provider (TSP) working with you. Let’s break down the essential steps you and your TSP will do following a cyberattack. 

Stop wasting time. Get your network safe and secure. 

Contain the Breach

The very first step you and your tech team need to take after confirming a cyberattack occurred is isolating the compromised serversFigure out which servers are affected and quarantine them. You can do this by disconnecting the servers from the internet, disabling remote access and changing all passwords.

Determine the Extent of the Cyberattack

Once the hacked servers are isolated from your network, it’s time to figure out whats compromised. Also, find out who was affected by the breach, including the personal data of your employees, customers and professional partners. 

If You Have Data Backups, Use Them

After completing your assessment of what data and pieces of your infrastructure are affected, you need to use your backup data to keep your business operational. The longer your IT is down, the more money your business will lose. However, check to make sure the hackers haven’t compromised your backups before turning them on. Otherwise, you’re back to square one.

Inform Everyone Affected

When things start to settle down, you need to let people know your business was hacked. This step can be difficult for many business owners because sharing bad news is never easy. However, you must inform your business partners, customers and everyone else on what happened because trying to cover it up will only make things worse. Also, keep in mind that you should also inform your local authorities and governing bodies within your industry to stay compliant with any regulations.

How We Can Help

Now that you know what to do during a cyberattack, hopefully, you never have to follow these steps. The best time to stop a cyberattack is before it occurs. If you realized while reading this that you don’t have data backups, a contingency plan or a disaster plan in place, then we can help save your data. Our team of cybersecurity experts can audit your network and determine what you need to meet and exceed industry data compliance regulations. Keep your essential data safe.

Don’t Wait Until After the Hack

Get your network protected with the latest cybersecurity tools. Contact us today 


4 Tips for Protecting Your Small Business from a Ransomware Attack

Cybersecurity attacks are becoming more common as the business world continues doing more online. It can seem like every time you turn on the news, theres another major company announcing they were hit by a ransomware attack or data breach

These stories of high-profile companies being the victim of hacks can give small business owners a false sense of security, thinking criminals only go after big fish. However, small businesses need to be on the lookout for ransomware attacks, too. According to Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report, 43 percent of breaches involved small businesses. 

While the thought of trying to defend your business from hackers can feel overwhelming, there are ways to reduce the risk of becoming a victim. Here are four tips for keeping your small business safe from ransomware attacks. 

   1. Educate Your Employees

All it takes for a hacker to gain access to your network is one employee opening a phishing email and clicking on the wrong link. By teaching your employees safe web surfing practices, they’ll be less likely to open those unsolicited emails or download software from shady websites

   2. Limit Administrative Access

How many employees have administrative access to your entire network? If that number is more than a select few, then you need to start limiting privileges. No users should be granted admin access unless they need it.

   3. Keep Your System Updated

Don’t ignore the prompts to update your software. Hackers often target vulnerabilities in older versions of computer programs. The easiest way to prevent that from happening is to keep your system patched and updated with the latest program version. 

  4. Audit User Access

Whenever an employee leaves your company, it’s good practice to remove their user accounts from your network. Many businesses forget to clean up their user account lists. Develop a routine of deleting user accounts on the employee’s last day. This will help prevent hackers from using these accounts to spread malware or cause data breaches. 

By following these four tips, you can immediately reduce the risk of your small business being affected by a cybersecurity attack. However, keeping your network safe can be a time-consuming task. If time is an issue, then let us take care of your tech.

How We Can Help

We are the IT experts you need to keep your essential data safe from digital threats now and into the future. We’ll create a customized security package that best fits your needs while staying within your budget. Don’t wait until you’ve lost your data in a ransomware attack. Call us today to find out how we can keep your business safe.