January News:

On The Calendar If you haven't heard the exciting news, The Fulcrum Group has been chosen as a finalist for the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce 2017 Small Business of the Year  Find our press release on the subject, here. Our January webinar, 10 Steps to User Experience Success: Microsoft Office 365, is scheduled for Wednesday, January 25th from 10 a.m. to 10:30.  If you are interested in exploring the features which make Office 365 a great fit for your organization, register today! Good news for some of our clients who need us beyond typical working hours - our help desk is now accessible from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. See our article below, for more details about how we serve our clients! Quick links to our social media pages are accessible right from our website and in every monthly newsletter email you receive from us. If you're new to our newsletter and you'd like to subscribe, let us know.
Experiencing Success With...Office 365

More and more business applications are moving to the cloud and taking their clients with them. By 2017, Gartner estimates that 33% of all users will be on cloud-based business office systems like Office 365. Are you considering such a migration?  If so, you aren’t alone.

Large and small businesses alike are taking part in the transition from critical on-premises applications to cloud-based SaaS applications. There are some compelling reasons. Cloud applications offer improved efficiency, greater ease of use and better access to user data, all while being more cost-effective than traditional on-premises applications. SaaS applications offer tremendous benefits but can be complex and can introduce challenges your team is unfamiliar with. These Cloud challenges can lead to a poor user experience and a potential business slowdown or shutdown. This article will introduce some steps we'll explore in more detail later this month in our Office 365 online webinar on 1/25 (and in an upcoming White Paper) to help you begin to understand, plan and optimize your migration to combat these challenges and deliver a successful user experience in the cloud.

The steps we'll be discussing include:

1. Communicate the value of Office 365. Be aware of potential sticky points (monthly fees vs costs of on-premises, capacity limitations in the Cloud vs. on-premises, plus on-premise hidden costs), but know the compelling pros that outweight them.

2. Understand and ensure the strength of your connections. Know the basics of the foundation on which you plan to run Office 365 including: bandwidth and connectivity specifics, data loss latency and round-trip time.

3. Understand who does what and who consumes what on your network.

4. Understand your existing SaaS and Cloud application performance. 

5. Minimize Office 365 migration impact on your critical applications.

6. Plan for email archive migration. You have options.

7. Run a lab test (but remember its limitations). Know the other factors that are at play in your actual migration.

8. Confirm adoption. Be aware of the tools that will help monitor usage of the new system.

9. Explore user experience in the Cloud. Measure performance.

10. Prepare for the road ahead. Fine tune and set up alerts for optimal user experience, to get the most from your investment.

Ultimately, your goal should be complete visibility that empowers your organization to get the most out of your strategic cloud investments. Ideally, that will come with happy users, fewer service tickets and—best of all—peace of mind.

If you'd like to explore Office 365 in more detail, register today for our upcoming webinar, hosted by The Fulcrum Group on Wednesday, February 25th from 10 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Go here to register.

The Importance of Offsite Backup

If you own a business or manage an IT department have you ever considered, what of your data would keep you up all night if it was lost, compromised or destroyed? Data backup is as much about peace of mind as it is data retention.  

What about your employees who work remotely, or are constantly on the move?  If you, or an employee, is using a laptop and are traveling have you considered remote solutions for them?  How are they able to access a backup?

Off-site backup can be as much about a fallback, as backup in a disaster situation.  If you've ever experienced a near-catastrophe or an actual disaster such as power-failures, fire, flood, tornado (we have), having your data accessible safely offsite could mean that you can still keep business going from an alternate location, with minimum downtime, while your primary location gets back up and running.

Other situations in which offsite backup can be invaluable include:

1.    Deleting files: Updating files or deleting them are common activities. We often lose data simply because we don’t have proper workflow procedures and backup strategies. More efficient procedures for saving work and making backups regularly will definitely save time.

2. Viruses & malware: New viruses attack computers every day. Damages greatly differ, but most viruses affect operational systems and damage stored data. Making regular backups of your data and storing the data safely offsite allows you to access it after severe virus attacks.

3. Mechanical damages: Computer hardware is a fragile part of business networks. There are ways to recover data, but this service can be costly. There’s no guarantee you can totally recover your important data. Regular offsite backups help in case of hardware troubles and keeps the latest version of your data in safe storage.

4. Power failures: Power failures affect operation systems and computer hardware. Suddenly shutting your computer or business systems down without proper procedures causes problems. This leads to a chain reaction, and your data is gone. Offsite data backups makes you feel better and more secure, keeping data in a safe place where you can recover it.

5. Computer theft: It’s a tragedy to lose both your computer and data at the same time. While traveling, you may leave your laptop unattended, lose it in an airport, conference center, coffee shop or any other crowded place. New computers cost money, but the data lost is even more expensive. If you use a proper offsite data backup strategy, you can recover your data even after your computer is long gone.

6. Fire & explosions: Explosions rarely happen, but fire can destroy both your computer and its data. Fire is also dangerous when backups are stored onsite, in your same location. The safest practice against fire is to make regular backups and keep them in the cloud.

Beyond these cases, another consideration is the cost of data recovery. The cost of professional recovery can be considerably more than maintaining an offsite backup. The best data recovery case is one that uses a reliable, offsite backup solution. If you'd like to speak to a Fulcrum Group Account Manager about best offsite backup solutions for your organization, we're here for you! Call us at 817-337-0300 or email us today.

SPOTlight On: Jason Kramer The Fulcrum Group - Dallas Fort Worth IT Experts Here's 3 fun facts about our 3rd Jason at The Fulcrum Group.  Jason Kramer is Fulcrum Group's newest vCIO:
  1. Cloud is all the rage right now, and for good reason. Jason (who refers to himself as a "customer service guy who also happens to know IT") is prepared to help our clients stay on the cutting edge of whatever their industry is with expertise in the implementation and use of Office 365 tools.
  2. His 2 favorite things:  a precious 4 year old daughter, and sleeping in. Parents of all 4 year olds know just how precious both of those things are!
  3. Jason loves to talk baseball.  He played for 18 years until getting seriously injured.  In his last year of college, in a game against LSU, Jason threw a slider that fractured his elbow and ulnar nerve. He says, "I have a nice 6 inch scar now on my left arm, and it was two months before the draft and cost me my roster spot with the Colorado Rockies."  His injury routed him directly into a new path, however.  "I went back to Dallas Baptist University to finish my degree and met my wife there. I still have my offer letters and acceptance letters from the MLB just to keep me motivated when facing challenges.  And I love challenges both big and small."  We're glad he ended up crossing our path...Welcome, Jason!

  More Than Tech Tips: The Fulcrum Group Service Innovation Tech Tips from The Fulcrum Group, Dallas Fort Worth IT Managed Services Provider

The Fulcrum Group began as an IT service provider all the way back in 2002, focused on break/fix support and IT infrastructure projects.  2017 represents our 15th year in business, and a lot has changed during these last 15 years:

  • As a customer service organization, availability by phone has always been important to us. Since Day 1, we have had at least one person dedicated to take general phone calls 8am-5pm Monday through Friday.
  • In 2003, to represent our goal of designing technology to fit you and your team, we crafted our tagline, One Technology Solution: Yours.
  • In 2004, we started recording detailed notes on work activity to help clients understand what work was being performed and to collect tribal knowledge.
  • In 2005, we created our first “sysdoc” templates, standard system documentation for client environments using Excel spreadsheets.
  • Starting in 2007, we began offering SPOT Managed IT Services, our fixed price, “all you can eat” IT support plan for day to day IT support.  We opened our Help Desk at the same time, implementing ticketing and network monitoring systems. We supplemented proactive support with quarterly true-up meetings with our team, focused on your business needs.
  • We embraced Mastering the Rockefeller Habits management framework in 2008 and created core values, started daily huddles and made business planning a key part of operations.
  • By 2010, we had multiple Help Desk technicians and implemented Customer Service Surveys.  We also linked our ticketing and network monitoring systems to provide for automatic ticket generation.
  • In 2011, we licensed additional remote control software to simplify remote support requests and allow greater ability to support servers.
  • In 2013, we created a dedicated Network Administrator role to quality check backups, handle recurring network administration tasks and review alerts and expanded our offices into the Sterling Building.
  • Early 2014 saw the hiring of our Director of Consulting Services.  This role added MBA skills to Service Level Agreement management, workflows and enhanced service metrics.
  • We licensed a web-based system documentation tool in 2015 and began standardizing layout to prepare for implementation across all clients.
  • 2016 saw Fulcrum Group pilot changes to dispatching, resulting in improved SLA response times and resolution times across the board.
  • This year we are starting the year expanding Help Desk coverage 7am to 6pm Monday through Friday, all at no cost to our clients.  In addition, we now have 3 levels of technical resources including 4 full time Help Desk Technicians. Below is a graphic providing an overview of the Help Desk ticketing process.

Fulcrum Group Help Desk Process

        We follow a structured approach for troubleshooting issues to make sure we treat the root cause and not a symptom. When you can call into the Help Desk for support, here’s the typical information that our Help Desk technicians will ask for:

-          Complete description of the problem/issue

-          When did the problem first arise?

-          Listing of all hardware/software involved

-          Steps taken to arrive at problem/failure documented to be reproduced offline

-          Number of users affected?

To escalate a support issue, contact our Help Desk Manager, at 817-898-1285 or don@fulcrumgroup.net. For service management questions, please contact of Director of Consulting Services, at 817-697-2359 or rcurtis@fulcrumgroup.net.

Did You Know...Server, Storage & Backups:  Mavs Suite NightThe Fulcrum Group Dallas Fort Worth IT Experts For some of our larger clients who use virtual storage solutions and high end servers, be on the lookout for your invite very soon to a special event we're hosting on February 9th, "Server, Storage, & Backups: Mavs Suite Night". If you are interested in receiving an invitation, please Contact your Fulcrum Group Account Manager.