Entrepreneurship, Leadership

What is a Business Continuity Plan, and Why Do I Need One?

Rocket IT

Between natural catastrophes, unfortunate accidents, and cybersecurity threats, it’s not a question of if something will happen to your organization, but when.

Does your organization have a business continuity plan in place? Do you know how your team will respond?

A business continuity plan is a documented strategy outlining the steps and processes to ensure your business operations continue to run should disaster strike. In case of significant data loss or even loss of leadership, this plan gives your organization the support and tools it needs to recover.

How do you know if you need one?

If you have a business, then you need a business continuity plan. When calamity hits, you don’t want to scramble around trying to decide how to handle it. The more time you spend choosing an action path and reacting, the more downtime your organization is going to have. And with the average cost for end-user productivity downtime at over $740k in 2016 (and rising), the less downtime you have, the better.[i]

Who needs to be involved?

Typically, your leadership team, IT, and head of Accounting/HR should be included in the creation and execution of your business continuity plan. Their roles need to be defined in the documentation of the plan so everyone knows who the point person is on each task. This way your team won’t be stumped on who should be doing what and who has the authority to approve decisions.

You should also clearly define who has final authority should you or others not be available and able to carry out a leadership role. In some cases, this may mean that you need to legally name someone who can make important choices in your absence.

Do I need to test it?

Yes. You need to test it. You’re not going to be simulate perfectly an unexpected event (thus is the nature of unexpected events), but you can make sure your team is familiar with it and there aren’t any preventable kinks in the process.

Think about it this way – If you built an emergency bunker (not that you should need one for your business continuity plan!), you would want to test that your ventilation sources were functioning properly and any radio equipment you had functioned while the bunker was sealed. Testing your plan won’t go exactly the same way as it will in true action, but you’ll see what parts work well and what others need some improvement.

Should anything happen to your organization’s data, systems, or even to a member of its leadership, a business continuity and disaster recovery plan will help ensure that the organization will be able to recuperate and continue thriving, enabling you to build a legacy to last.

If you’d like strategic insight on security vulnerabilities and expert advice on how to build your own business continuity plan, contact us. We’d love to help you.

 


[i] http://files.server-rack-online.com/2016-Cost-of-Data-Center-Outages.pdf

 

About the Author-

Eric Henderson is Rocket IT’s virtual Chief Information Officer. He is also the tallest person at Rocket IT (by a fraction of an inch).

 

The average cost of unplanned downtime per minute in 2016 was nearly $9,000 per incident.

Your organization doesn’t have to eat the cost of dead time. Download our free whitepaper now to learn five easy steps you can take to capture dead time.

 

 

 

 

 

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Best Practices, Entrepreneurship

I Was Sold the Right Service at the Right Time

Rocket IT

Salespeople. I am one, so I’m keenly aware of the truth in this statement:

“No one likes to be sold, but everyone likes to buy.”

Recently, I went to an oil change place near my office. Why did I go? Because I needed my oil changed. Also, they had good online reviews and were convenient.

While I was there, they politely informed me of other things they noticed, including some things they could do for me right there. Now I’m keenly aware that this is a key part of their business model, and if I shopped around for some of these add-on services they offer, I could certainly find them cheaper elsewhere. The two services they mentioned to me that my car could use were a tire rotation and new air filter.

Now paying someone else to change my air filter sounds about as attractive as paying someone else to put a Christmas tree air “freshener” on my rear view mirror. I can certainly change it myself in 2 minutes and probably pay less for the filter itself.

However, spending $20 at that moment to get my tires rotated quickly was much more valuable to me than any of my alternatives (either doing it myself at home or paying a little less to go spend a lot more time drinking bad coffee in a musty waiting room). Knowing they were prepared to do it in record time, I was a little flustered thinking about paying the equivalent of hundreds of dollars per hour for this simple service, but they had made an investment in infrastructure to allow this to be a quick and easy “Yes” from me.

The point? Being a pesky sales guy who is always working an angle guarantees that you will drive away customers and friends alike (how many people do you know whose Facebook feed has become a wall of posts selling this amazing new home business they just got in?). Instead, just focus on offering value to the right person at the right time.

And if you’re in a buying role, don’t be the person who refuses to listen to any salesperson at any time. You might just miss out on your next insanely valuable purchase.

 


 

RBAbout the Author-

Ryan Bonilla is very active both professionally and personally in the Gwinnett community. He is a Gwinnett Chamber ambassador as well as serving on several committees and boards related to leadership and education. He lives with his wife and two daughters in Sugar Hill, GA.

 

Newsletter AugustWant technology and leadership content sent directly to your inbox? Subscribe to Rocket IT’s monthly newsletter!

 

 

 

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Best Practices, Entrepreneurship, Leadership

Train for the Full Run

Rocket IT

We’ve all heard the sage wisdom that life is a marathon, not a sprint.  This is true about so many aspects of life.  In business, this can be a perfect analogy.  We have large goals and visions for the future.  We can see it come together in our heads, and it all makes sense.  It’s such a simple fix or shift; it can’t be that difficult.  It’s the perfect plan- foolproof even.  But, for some reason, it just never quite translates the same into reality.  What we think should be a sprint often becomes a marathon.  Even if the plan works, it just seems to take longer than we want.

One of my favorite quotes does a great job of dissecting this phenomenon.  I first saw it hanging above a friend’s kitchen sink where it was credited to Anonymous.  I have since seen the quote, or something very similar to it, credited to Bill Gates, Glen Livingston, Chip Lowell and many others.  The quote is this, “We often overestimate what we can accomplish in one year and underestimate what we can accomplish in five.”  Regardless of who said it first, the truth of it rings loud and clear

Both our analogy and quote are singing the same song, but each with its own take away.

When it comes to running, training is fundamentally different for sprinters and marathon runners.  People who expect to run a sprint train for a sprint, not a marathon.  In life, at some point, we realize that we are not running a sprint, but a marathon.  When we find out we are running a marathon, we are not prepared.  Even if we finish the marathon, the journey is smothered with pain and struggle.  Sprinting can be part of your marathon strategy, but whatever it is, the strategy must be able to sustain you for the full race, not just part of it.

Once you find you have overestimated what you thought you could accomplish in a year, you can’t give up.  Consistency is the magic of years 2, 3, and 4.  Momentum builds and gets stronger as you continue to function in regular rhythms.  If you keep starting over when you don’t reach your year goal, you never build up to see year 5.  Flexibility allows for adjustments without jumping ship.  Set heroic long-term goals and let momentum work for you, not against you.

Train for the full run, and adjust as needed, but don’t stop.

Photo courtesy of Georgia Race for Autism at http://www.georgiaraceforautism.com/


 

Peter WyngaardAbout the Author-

Peter Wyngaard is in New Business Development at Rocket IT. He also owns a photo booth company in Richmond, VA, and he typically participates in about 3 mud runs each year.

 

 

Newsletter AugustWant technology and leadership content sent directly to your inbox? Subscribe to Rocket IT’s monthly newsletter!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Leadership

The Power of Recognition

Rocket IT

We’ve talked before on this blog about the importance of personal touch. You can make these connections in many different ways- inviting someone for coffee, having lunch with a friend, etc.. But few methods are more powerful than simple recognition.

A recent Entrepreneur.Com article cited lack of recognition as the Number Two reason good employees leave a company.[i] It’s a simple thing, but it often goes overlooked. Ranked higher than leaving due to the lack of challenges and development, acknowledgement of employee contribution clearly needs to take more precedence in companies.

How can you do this easily? Let your employees know you appreciate how hard they’re working when they report to you during a project. Or, when you see them in your next one-on-one meeting, tell them what a great job they’re doing. You’d be surprised how much a pat on the back means to your employees!

And the recognition doesn’t just have to be up to the Executive suite. At Rocket IT, we set aside time during every all-staff meeting to publicly acknowledge our colleagues for their contributions. You’re not required to recognize anyone- this is on a voluntary basis- so it means even more when someone recognizes you during the meeting. Praise often crosses departmental lines. Our Service Team has been known to give kudos to Sales, and vice versa.

This is also an additional opportunity for executives and managers to laud employee contributions when the team is all in one place. It’s good to recognize excelling employees publicly as well as privately.

You don’t have to wait for your team members to meet with you either. Often, Matt Hyatt, Rocket IT’s CEO, will come over to someone’s desk to let them know he thinks they’re doing a great job. A little praise at the right time or a thank you for their work can go a long way in letting employees know how appreciated they are.

Recognition is such a simple thing, but we should never forget how incredibly powerful it can be.

 


[i] http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/249903

 

JMAbout the Author-

Jacque McFadden is the marketing specialist at Rocket IT. She graduated from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, and returned to Georgia after spending a year in Austin, TX. 

 

CTA Infographic 7 Ways PreviewWe’ve all heard stories of wayward IT consultants holding critical company information or other resources for ransom. This is one of the biggest concerns we hear from potential clients. There are several ways you can protect yourself and your business when you outsource your IT. Download our FREE infographic to learn the 7 Ways to Avoid Being Held Hostage by Your IT Consultant here.

 

 

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Best Practices, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Teamwork

Attracting and Retaining Employees: Offering the Right Benefits

Rocket IT

In a growing discussion of company culture and employee engagement, today’s top talent is looking at benefits as clear differentiators.  Studies and news
articles alike are discussing the tight rope walk of work/life balance.  Mobile technology is creating a connectivity that extends beyond the walls of the office and blurring these lines.  Much of the work force is fighting to succeed and grow in their careers only to find that it is coming at a cost in their homes.

How do companies continue to be competitive, yet establish benefits that keep the workforce balanced and thriving?

The most extravagant versions of this include Google’s onsite daycare for employees, free lunch and carwashes.  Netflix has done away with official work hours altogether, choosing to focus solely on productivity.  Zappos gives employees $50 to freely gift to other co-workers.  Boston Beer Co. has a monthly cake-and-beer party along with 2 free cases of beer to take home each month.  SendGrid goes a little further by having a fully stocked beer fridge in the break room to complement the unlimited free Chipotle for employees.  Southwest Airlines gives free unlimited flights to employees, spouses and partners, including 4 free “buddy” tickets per month.  The list goes on.

So how does this work for a company who doesn’t have a 7 figure budget for employee benefits and perks?

You start with high impact, low cost benefits.  Almost every survey done in the past decade has shown that benefits and enjoying work have ranked as more important than income in choosing or staying at a job.  This means that if you are having a hard time attracting or keeping top talent, it likely has little to do with their direct financial compensation.  As long as you are paying industry standard pay, your benefits become the most important asset you have.

I want to take a deep dive into just one possible benefit that has high impact for everyone, one that we’ve mentioned before on this blog- working from home.  According to the Harvard Business Review article “To Raise Productivity, Let More Employees Work from Home” by Nicholas Bloom, working from home actually increases productivity.  According to Bloom’s survey of Chinese travel website, Ctrip, “… we found that people working from home completed 13.5% more calls than the staff in the office did-meaning that Ctrip got almost an extra workday a week out of them.”[i]  It goes on to talk about workplace distractions and employees working longer hours from home due to the lack of a commute.  A quick Google search of “employee productivity working from home” will reveal a barrage of articles citing different studies that support this practice’s value.

What value does working from home have to the employee?  Let’s say we have someone that works 20 miles from home, driving a car that gets 20 mpg at a gas price of $2.69 per gallon.  It’s a true cost of $6.73 a day, $33.63 a week and $134.50 a month just to drive into work.  This doesn’t include the wear and tear on the car.  Let’s also look at the time-cost of traveling into work every day.  What if we started to look at an employee’s time from when they stepped out of their house to the time they return home?  Someone who makes $40,000 a year, spends 35 minutes one way driving to work and works 40 hours a week, would take about a $5,000 pay cut.  Instead of making $19.23 an hour, the additional time in the car would decrease the hourly pay to $16.87.

While it’s not time to empty the offices and cancel your lease, it is time to start small. As long as your team has the necessary technology to perform their duties at home, begin with employees that are meeting performance goals and have them take a work from home day once a week.  Dip your toe in and see how your team responds.  It could be one of many benefits employees seek that make them feel engaged and valued.

 


[i] https://hbr.org/2014/01/to-raise-productivity-let-more-employees-work-from-home

 

Peter WyngaardAbout the Author-

Peter Wyngaard is in New Business Development at Rocket IT. He also owns a photo booth company in Richmond, VA, and he typically participates in about 3 mud runs each year.

 

 

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Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Productivity

Mitigating the Cost of Long Commutes

Rocket IT

Have you ever done the math on the cost of a long commute? For those of us with employees that travel to and from work every day, the costs are staggering.

Consider this very common scenario:

Scott has a 45 minute commute to work. That’s 1.5 hours per day, or 7.5 hours per week. Assuming he works 50 weeks per year, he spends 375 hours per year fighting traffic in his car. That’s the equivalent of almost 10 work weeks every year! Unpaid. Now add in fuel and maintenance expenses, increased auto insurance costs, increased stress, and decreased productivity. Wow!

As an employer, there are many ways to improve the circumstances for our commuting employees. We can offer alternative work schedules that avoid rush hour traffic, encourage or incent our employees to move closer to work, or if many of our employees are commuting, we might even consider moving our offices to a more convenient location. These measures may seem expensive, but their costs pale in comparison to the real costs associated with long commutes.

Fortunately, technology provides an attractive solution to the commuting problem. With appropriate, affordable technology systems in place, employees can work from home or almost anywhere and be just as productive as they are at the office. Emails, important documents, and business applications can be accessed in a secure fashion from a laptop, home computer, or in some cases, a mobile device. Mobile phones and webcams ensure everyone stays connected. Employers get happier, less-stressed employees and employees enjoy more time with their families. Win-win.

I’m not advocating that we all close our offices and send everyone to work from home. Perhaps a blended approach is better (i.e. employees work from home a certain number of days per week or month). Whatever the case, I do think it’s smart to understand the costs associated with lengthy commutes and to take steps towards mitigating those costs. As an employer and the leader of my organization, it’s my job to find ways to cut costs and increase productivity. As usual, technology offers a compelling way forward.

 

 


 

About the Author-

Matt Hyatt is the Founder and CEO of Rocket IT, the IT department for all kinds of organizations around Gwinnett. His award-winning firm provides both the strategy and support needed to help businesses thrive.

Matt currently serves on the Executive Board of the Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce as the Vice Chair of Entrepreneurship & Small Business, is an active supporter of Gwinnett County Public Schools, and is a member of several peer groups (like Entrepreneurs’ Organization) in addition to cofounding two of his own. In 2014, Matt was awarded the Pinnacle Small Business Person of the Year. 

Outside of work, Matt enjoys spending time with his wife, Maureen, and their two teenage children pursuing their shared passions for photography, travel, and food. He also regularly runs with a team in ultra-long distance relay races.

 

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Best Practices, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Productivity

What Gets Measured Gets Done

Rocket IT

There are apps for almost everything. Some wonderful. Others less so.

Several play to the recently created insecurity in us all – the strange desire to get “Likes.” These apps are designed to make you strive to boosts the number of approvals your posts receive. Which begs the question: Who cares?

Teenagers and millennials, mostly. What these apps and Facebook and Instagram have discovered is that people see Likes as a measurement of their worth. Yes, it’s absurd. But they look at the numbers daily and, in some cases, nearly every minute. And this response causes them to post more and seek more Likes. They try to find pictures that will elicit a greater number.

As ridiculous as it is, the teens are reacting to a natural stimulus: “What gets measured gets done,” a phrase often recited and attributed to many philosophers of business. It works on teens and young adults in the world of social media, and it works on men and women in the world of business. We don’t always seek Likes, but we sure enjoy growing numbers. And we cringe when the numbers go down.

Most adults recognize that measuring Likes is unhealthy and, as a million parents have opined, “A complete waste of time.” Similarly, businesses need to carefully consider what it is they need to measure.  In some cases, an outside source can best cut through the clutter and identify what should be measured and how.

But here’s where we can learn from the “Like” craze: When you reward a result, it gets repeated. The same adrenaline that runs through a 15-year-old girl who gets 800 Likes for the picture of her purple hair flows through the veins of a salesman who gets an immediate payoff for a close. Too many businesses wait until things have broken down and go into repair mode. Be aggressive. Be strategic.

The technology is there to measure Key Performance Indicators and display them like a live scoreboard. We use a specific display like this to measure our weekly client satisfaction rate, our weekly progress towards our service level objective goals and our support engineers’ weekly utilization. But it can be tailored to handle a variety of variables. What do you need to measure? What should you measure?

 

 


 

About the Author-

Matt Hyatt is the Founder and CEO of Rocket IT, the IT department for all kinds of organizations around Gwinnett. His award-winning firm provides both the strategy and support needed to help businesses thrive.

Matt currently serves on the Executive Board of the Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce as the Vice Chair of Entrepreneurship & Small Business, is an active supporter of Gwinnett County Public Schools, and is a member of several peer groups (like Entrepreneurs’ Organization) in addition to cofounding two of his own. In 2014, Matt was awarded the Pinnacle Small Business Person of the Year. 

Outside of work, Matt enjoys spending time with his wife, Maureen, and their two teenage children pursuing their shared passions for photography, travel, and food. He also regularly runs with a team in ultra-long distance relay races.

 

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Best Practices, Technology

Has Technology Rendered Personal Connections Obsolete

Rocket IT

Technology provides some amazing tools. We can contact friends and co-workers around the world with a push of a button. We can instantly send and retrieve data that once required trucks to deliver. We can monitor our business or home from nearly anywhere on the planet.

But is there a downside?

One of the most viral videos in the terminology’s short history features a woman who walks straight into a fountain in a mall while blissfully texting. Unfortunately for her, a security camera caught the blunder. While the visual is entertaining, it also serves as a metaphor for our businesses. Sometimes we become so engrossed in technology that we plunge our business relationships into the water.

It’s great having the ability to create a virtual meeting – using video conferencing to pull in those who otherwise cannot make it to a gathering. It saves time and money. In some cases, a meeting that would otherwise require weeks of advanced notice to hold in person needs only mere hours or even minutes virtually.

But we forget what’s lost when we begin to put all meetings together with mobile devices and laptop screens. Nothing can replace face-to-face time. The cold feel of technology can be damaging in the workplace, especially with clients. We live in an age where people use text messages to announce major business decisions, client deals and even marriage proposals.

The art of a friendly hand shake, direct eye contact and even a little one-on-one personal advice is vanishing. But clients feel the difference between the companies that reach out to them via technology and those who connect the old fashioned way. It’s nearly impossible to appreciate a person who sends an email as much as you would someone who drops by the office with a smile. An emoticon grin just isn’t the same.

Technology is our livelihood. We love to see it make our jobs quicker and our connections easier. Our goal at Rocket IT is to make your technology so smooth and transparent that you barely notice it’s there. But real human relationships require more than what technology alone can offer. Nothing is as powerful as a personal connection.

 

 


 

About the Author-

Matt Hyatt is the Founder and CEO of Rocket IT, the IT department for all kinds of organizations around Gwinnett. His award-winning firm provides both the strategy and support needed to help businesses thrive.

Matt currently serves on the Executive Board of the Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce as the Vice Chair of Entrepreneurship & Small Business, is an active supporter of Gwinnett County Public Schools, and is a member of several peer groups (like Entrepreneurs’ Organization) in addition to cofounding two of his own. In 2014, Matt was awarded the Pinnacle Small Business Person of the Year. 

Outside of work, Matt enjoys spending time with his wife, Maureen, and their two teenage children pursuing their shared passions for photography, travel, and food. He also regularly runs with a team in ultra-long distance relay races.

 

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Entrepreneurship, Leadership

Planning for 100 Years of Change

Rocket IT

A couple months from now, Rocket IT will be 19 years old. As that anniversary approaches, I’ve found myself thinking more and more about our legacy. No, not legacy. Legacy is the wrong word. The future. I’ve been thinking more and more about the future of Rocket IT.

One thing that is certain is that the future will eventually arrive. Another certainty is that change will happen. The future will arrive and it will be different than today. We can wait and see what happens, or we can plan for it. I’m not a big fan of the “wait and see” model, so we’re planning. And that’s the point of this article.

We’re planning for the future and we expect it to be different. I want you to plan for your future and to expect it to be different, too.

What do you think it would take to keep a company running for 100 years? Think any changes would be required during that time?

You bet! Major changes! Transformations, even.

Since founding Rocket IT in 1995, I’ve made thousands of changes. In fact, we’ve completely transformed and improved our business model 3 times in the past 19 years. The company that exists today is radically different (and better!) than the one that I started.

Today, Rocket IT is just shy of 19% of the way to its 100 year anniversary. At this rate, I should plan for tens of thousands of additional changes and 12-13 more major transformations over the next 81 years. And yes, friends, I realize that it’s highly unlikely that I’ll live long enough to see them all. That’s part of the plan.

How many times do you think you’d have to change your business model to create an organization that will still be relevant in 100 years? What plans do you need to put in place to ensure success?

What are you waiting for?

 


 

About the Author-

Matt Hyatt is the Founder and CEO of Rocket IT, the IT department for all kinds of organizations around Gwinnett. His award-winning firm provides both the strategy and support needed to help businesses thrive.

Matt currently serves on the Executive Board of the Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce as the Vice Chair of Entrepreneurship & Small Business, is an active supporter of Gwinnett County Public Schools, and is a member of several peer groups (like Entrepreneurs’ Organization) in addition to cofounding two of his own. In 2014, Matt was awarded the Pinnacle Small Business Person of the Year. 

Outside of work, Matt enjoys spending time with his wife, Maureen, and their two teenage children pursuing their shared passions for photography, travel, and food. He also regularly runs with a team in ultra-long distance relay races.

 

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