Top 5 Benefits of Cloud Hosting

Top 5 Benefits of Cloud Hosting

 

LUTZ BUSINESS INSIGHTS

 

TOP 5 BENEFITS OF CLOUD HOSTING

top 5 benefits of cloud hosting

alex lutz, service manager

 

One of the most popular topics of this tech-centric era is “cloud hosting.” The cloud has opened a whole new world of opportunities for companies. In fact, the global market for cloud computing is set to exceed $330 billion by the end of the year 2020! And rightly so.

Cloud hosting is an interesting and helpful concept: An infrastructure that brings data storage and computing power virtually to you – without any direct management required. Therefore, cloud hosting providers are becoming the most unifying, strengthening, and innovative forces in the corporate environment. In this article, we will discuss the top 5 benefits of this unique platform.

1. Security

Cloud computing has become extremely popular due, in part, to the security benefits that it offers.

Multi-Factor Authentication

Cloud-based solutions are all about delivering higher standards of security to your in-house IT teams. This is made possible due to multi-factor authentication, which focuses on verifying user identity through a process of emails, texts or fingerprints for an added layer of protection. 

Physical Data Security

When it comes to the physical security of data, businesses can prevent breaches to a limited extent, while many cloud vendors employ much stronger physical security measures to ensure data safety.

Compliance

Acquiring security certifications is an expensive job. Cloud-solution providers solve this problem for by taking on the burden of compliance.  Many with a full suite of compliance offerings to ensure your data secure.

2. Scalability

Another significant benefit of cloud hosting is its scalability. Cloud hosting providers can easily increase or decrease the size of their IT solutions. This is one of the main reasons many companies sign up for cloud solutions. In fact, according to the Cloud Infrastructure Report 85% of organizations expect to move their workloads to the cloud this year! Here, your infrastructure can scale and grow with your business.  It literally takes just a few minutes to add resources, like storage, to an existing account. It just takes a few clicks!

3. Redundancy / Business Continuity

Redundancy is a big deal! In the event of a disaster it is important to know your data is safe.  Moving your infrastructure to the cloud ensures that your data is not only secure, but also safely backed up and running in multiple geographic regions.  Because cloud storage is seemingly infinite, you don’t have to worry about running out of space for your files. More than 40 zettabytes of data are expected to be flowing through cloud servers by the end of this year! With cloud hosting, you can expect secure, reliable access to your data at all times.

4. Mobility

According to recent research, over 3.5 billion smartphones are being used globally today! Conveniently, the cloud allows you to access your information at any place, any time, with any devices. Whether it’s your in-house team, remote team, or freelance employees, everyone can work with added flexibly. Moving to the cloud ensures that a global workforce can collaborate and communicate with ease.

5. Competitive Advantage

Companies moving to the cloud are also gaining a competitive advantage over their rivals. With the introduction of analytics and big data, companies can now share their data seamlessly and make more informed data-driven decisions.  For reference, 80% of companies have reported operational improvements within the first few months of adopting cloud-based technology. This contributes to growth and increased profits.

Overall, cloud hosting has a lot to offer. From control to performance, to scalability, it can meet nearly any technology need that a successful company requires. So, for your business to stay relevant in today’s industry, it is crucial to understand and consider your options in the cloud. Contact us to learn more how Lutz Tech can help your business employ cloud-based technology.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alex Lutz + Lutz Tech + Omaha, Lincoln, Hastings, Grand Island

402.778.7941

alutz@lutz.us

ALEX LUTZ + SERVICE MANAGER

Alex Lutz is a Service Manager for Lutz Tech’s managed services team. He is responsible for service and technical escalations, as well as building processes and procedures to improve the quality of service on the MSP helpdesk.

AREAS OF FOCUS
  • Lutz Tech Helpdesk
  • Service and Technical Escalations
  • Technology
AFFILIATIONS AND CREDENTIALS
  • Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA)
  • Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP)
  • Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCITP)

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13616 California Street, Suite 300

Omaha, NE 68154

P: 402.496.8800

HASTINGS

747 N Burlington Avenue, Suite 401

Hastings, NE 68901

P: 402.462.4154

LINCOLN 

115 Canopy Street, Suite 200

Lincoln, NE 68508

P: 531.500.2000

GRAND ISLAND

3320 James Road, Suite 100

Grand Island, NE 68803

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7 Vital Tips for Introducing Data Analytics to Your Business

7 Vital Tips for Introducing Data Analytics to Your Business

 

LUTZ BUSINESS INSIGHTS

 

7 Vital Tips for Introducing Data Analytics to Your Business

7 vital tips for introducing data analytics to your business

tony desantis, data analytics Manager

 

Integrating data analytics into your business can help your revenue grow, the organization mitigate risk or gain insight into your business operations. There’s a wealth of information available at your fingertips if you know how to decipher it.

It’s easy to become overloaded figuring out where to start or by the amount of data you have, but it’s important to have a plan and understand your goals before launching the process. Follow these seven tips to make a solid plan for introducing data analytics to your business.

 

1. What your goals are and why you are introducing analytics.

Understand you and your organization’s meaning of “Analytics.”

Data analytics is a term that gets tossed around rather loosely, so be sure it’s clearly defined for all those involved. Set realistic expectations and well-defined deliverables, so everyone is on the same page.

The basic definition of data analytics is “the process of analyzing raw data to find trends, patterns, and anomalies to answer questions.” Techniques and approaches for producing data analytics can vary widely. It’s important to determine the intended goals before developing a set of results.

Reporting vs. Analytics?

Many organizations wade into “analytics” through some sort of reporting functionality, sometimes referred to as business intelligence.  It is important to understand that reports differ from analytics. Reports are simply a static presentation of collected data. Conversely, analytics is a dynamic interpretation of trends and details within that data that indicate reasons for the results in the report and help answer the question of “why?”. Basically, a report is a postmortem display of collected data, while analytics is more of a holistic, real-time explanation of why the results occur, based on granular data points in action.   

 

2. Figure out what business questions you want to answer.

Common missteps in the adoption of analytics involve not asking (or understanding) the true question the business wants to answer or the unrealistic expectation that the data will simply “tell you something” without prompting or direction.  The reality is that analytic techniques are applied to help answer specific questions to help explain, identify, validate, or refute a business issue or opportunity. 

For example, your organization may say their goal is to use analytics to make more money.  However, is that ultimately the question you need to answer?  An organization may use analytics to determine, what products are most profitable, how to sell more of those products, what customers buy those products, and how to find or create more of those customers.    

The questions your business looks to apply analytics to should focus on those that help them understand the company’s business, customers, products, issues and future opportunities. They usually begin with, “Why did that happen?”, and are followed with, “how do we never do that again?” or “how can we do that more often?” The answers to most of these questions may require a multi-step explanation. Make sure you understand the ultimate question management is asking, so you don’t chase down a partial answer or fail to identify the “why.”

 

3. Decide what tools may be needed.

What existing tools might your organization already utilize that can be leveraged?

You might not have to reinvent the wheel. Be sure you understand what’s already available to you.

Do you want a system that packages up the analytics already, or will you do some work yourself? 

Your journey into data analytics may not be as big of a leap as you think. Check to see if any of your existing systems, like CRM or ERP software, already have automated analytic capabilities embedded. You may want to supplement with a data visualization software like Power BI or Tableau.

 

4. What skills sets exist within the organization that may be capable of executing or learning data analytic techniques.

Identify folks who have the skills or desire to learn.

There may already be members of your team that have an interest and desire to apply analytics to their day-to-day work.  Seek out individuals within the organization that may already be using analytic techniques in their Excel modeling, using data visualization tools or “dabbling” in analytics on the side.  Another source can be resources that are involved with your backend databases and have skills around collecting and managing large volumes of data. Make sure you have staff that embraces the possibilities and understands how transformational data analytics can be.

Invest in some training, but…

As you get started, leverage free resources online until you know what tools and skillsets will be most valuable. There are many ways to utilize the data you have available to you, so it’s wise to start by dipping your toes in the water before you ramp up capabilities.

 

5. Identify internal business champions that have a need or desire to use analytics.

These are the people that get it! These partners have a vision and yearning to go beyond the basic nuts and bolts of reporting. Champions of the cause can inspire your whole enterprise to embrace data analytics and help stimulate productive growth. 

 

6. Understand your data landscape.

What data does the organization have?

Make sure you have a good understanding of what data each department collects. To start, shape your analytics program around what’s available and plan for collecting and managing more data as the program grows.

Where is the data?

Mature businesses often have legacy systems that have difficulties communicating with each other. Know where to find the data and understand any current limitations to connecting with it.  Also, keep in mind that data sources may exist in spreadsheets or other bespoke applications. 

How detailed (or not) is the data?

The richer the information, the better the results. When collecting data, try to start with information that is as detailed as possible. Typically, the more, the better.  This will allow the most flexibility; however, if aggregated data is all that is available, just make sure the consumer of the analytics understands any limitations that may exist.

How complete (or clean) is the data (Garbage in, garbage out)?

The quality of existing data is crucial to avoid misleading and ineffective analytics. Too often, data input is duplicated or incomplete. Either will skew the workings of the analytics.  Data validation and profiling are important to detect potential errors ahead of time. If data is missing or incomplete, come up with a plan to address the handling of any missing information.

 As you define the questions you are trying to answer, determining the data landscape is a critical next step.

 

7. Focus on quick wins to get buy-in from the organization.

You have to crawl before you can run. Early success will fuel more acceptance and appreciation for greater possibilities. Prove your point on a small scale to encourage bigger projects in the future. Grow with the data analytics process. Start with small, manageable projects with clearly defined goals and expectations. Use that experience to plan for future development. Before you know it, management will be suggesting more projects beyond your original scope!

 Effective business decisions require sound information and timely data. Properly assembled analytics can bring disparate information together to form logical patterns and associated data points in a more reportable manner that decision-makers can better comprehend. In an age when you’re required to “do more with less,” effective data analytics can expand the capabilities of a smaller staff.

The possibilities for integrating analytics into your business are endless. These seven steps are a great start to effectively implementing a data analytics program. If you need assistance with your business’s data analytics, contact us today or click here to learn more about our offerings.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tony DeSantis

402.496.8800

tdesantis@lutz.us

LINKEDIN

TONY DESANTIS + DATA ANALYTICS MANAGER

Tony DeSantis is a Data Analytics Manager at Lutz with over 20 years of experience. He is responsible for interpreting and analyzing data, as well as designing report visuals in support of client engagements. In addition, he specializes in data management and the application of artificial intelligence to simplify business processes.

AREAS OF FOCUS
  • Data Analytics
  • Data Visualization
  • Data Management
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Forensic Analytics
EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND
  • BS in Finance and Operations, Minor in Management Information Systems, University of Delaware, Newark, DE
COMMUNITY SERVICE
  • Junior Achievement, Volunteer
  • Gilda's Club Chicago, Past Board Member
THOUGHT LEADERSHIP
  • 7 Vital Tips for Introducing Data Analytics to Your Business

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OMAHA

13616 California Street, Suite 300

Omaha, NE 68154

P: 402.496.8800

HASTINGS

747 N Burlington Avenue, Suite 401

Hastings, NE 68901

P: 402.462.4154

LINCOLN 

115 Canopy Street, Suite 200

Lincoln, NE 68508

P: 531.500.2000

GRAND ISLAND

3320 James Road, Suite 100

Grand Island, NE 68803

P: 308.382.7850

Is This Spam?

Is This Spam?

 

LUTZ BUSINESS INSIGHTS

 

Is This Spam?

IS THIS SPAM?

ROB MENDICK, service desk engineer

 

Can you tell the difference between a regular email and spam? With many of us operating multiple email accounts, those for personal use and work, most of us can agree that it’s difficult to manage our inbox properly. So, what happens when spam manages to creep into our inboxes disguised as an innocent message? While some spam can be harmless, others are a source of danger that can affect the safety of your identity, finances, and your devices.

Identifying Spam

Avoiding spam is becoming increasingly difficult, if not impossible. However, knowing how to identify spam is essential to keep you and your communications safe from interference of suspicious third parties. Below are a few tips that can help you better identify spam messages.

Verify the Sender

How often do you open your inbox only to find a confirmation for purchase or subscription that you don’t remember making? Because curiosity often gets the best of us, you may open the message trying to figure out what exactly is going on. After a quick glance, you find the email looks legitimate, and even the sender appears to be a company in which you are familiar.

So how can you verify if this message is legitimate or spam?

  • First, do not simply trust the sender title assigned to the email. Instead, look deeper by clicking on the sender’s name for a full email address.
  • Does the email address match the company, or is it an email address you recognize from one of your contacts?
  • Make sure to also look at the domain where the email is originating from – for example, @gmail.com or @yahoo.com. Major companies will generally not send emails from Yahoo or Gmail. Instead, they will send emails from their own company sites.

Review the Subject Line & Content of the Message

The truth is there will be times you may overlook some glaring errors that indicate you are dealing with spam. Most spam messages have a few common characteristics you should be aware of so you can better recognize these emails at a glance.

Urgency

Spam messages will likely have subject lines creating a sense of urgency for the recipient. Subject lines that include demands such as “respond immediately” or “act now,” should be investigated further before taking any further action.

Request for Information

Messages requesting personal information are very likely to be spam. DO NOT provide any personal information through these messages, even if there is a link provided. If it is a merchant with which you often do business, you can log in to your portal independently of the email to double-check if anything is amiss with your account.

Major Mistakes

Glaring grammatical and spelling errors are also a red flag indicating an email is likely spam. While a minor error may occur in an email exchange occasionally, spam messages are usually filled with major mistakes in language usage, grammar, and spelling.

How to Avoid Spam

While it may be difficult to eliminate spam completely, there are steps you can take to minimize your exposure to these unwanted messages and potential threats.

Turn on Spam Filters

You might be hesitant to turn on your spam filter for fear of losing important messages. However, this is your best spam defense to weed out the imposters from the real deal. While it might be possible for unintended messages to end up in the spam folder, there are some things you can do to prevent that from happening. Add common email addresses you interact with to your contact list and check your spam folder from time to time to search for any lost messages.

Anti-Spam Software

Spam blocking software can be an effective way to eliminate spam before it even makes it into your inbox. Have your tech support help you find and install the proper program.

Remain Alert & Aware

Staying informed of trends in phishing attacks and malicious tactics can help you better manage your inbox and reduce the risk of becoming its next victim. Knowing what strategies spammers are using will help you understand what to expect and what to look out for.

Don’t Open Anything Suspicious

It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Do not open any attachments or click on any links provided in an email if you’re unsure if it’s legitimate. If the message was received in your work capacity, forward it to your IT department for further analysis or verification. If it is a message coming from someone you know, send them a separate email, text, or even a phone call to verify its authenticity.

Spam is here to stay, but it can be managed properly with the tips provided in this article. It’s important to remain guarded and alert when suspicious messages appear to protect yourself from any possible attacks. Contact us to discuss possible technology solutions for your company. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

402.827.2033

rmendick@lutz.us

LINKEDIN

ROB MENDICK + SERVICE DESK ENGINEER

Rob Mendick is a Service Desk Engineer at Lutz Tech with over 25 years of experience in information technology. He is responsible for troubleshooting computer and server discrepancies and responding to any technical inquiries from clients. In addition, he specializes in domain name services.

AREAS OF FOCUS
  • Server Discrepancies
  • Technical Inquiries
  • Outsourced IT Clients
  • Technology
EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND
  • BS in Computer Science, Minor in Mathematics, University of Nebraska, Omaha, NE
COMMUNITY SERVICE
  • St. Gerald School Information Technology Advisory Board
  • St. Gerald Men's Club, President
THOUGHT LEADERSHIP

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Toll-Free: 866.577.0780  |  Privacy Policy

All content © Lutz & Company, PC

OMAHA

13616 California Street, Suite 300

Omaha, NE 68154

P: 402.496.8800

HASTINGS

747 N Burlington Avenue, Suite 401

Hastings, NE 68901

P: 402.462.4154

LINCOLN 

115 Canopy Street, Suite 200

Lincoln, NE 68508

P: 531.500.2000

GRAND ISLAND

3320 James Road, Suite 100

Grand Island, NE 68803

P: 308.382.7850

Lutz Announces 2020 Manager Promotions

Lutz Announces 2020 Manager Promotions

 

LUTZ BUSINESS INSIGHTS

 

Lutz announces 2020 manager promotions

Lutz, a Nebraska-based business solutions firm, recently announced the promotion of 16 professionals to Manager positions.

Jim DeBoer has been promoted to Service Manager in Lutz’s Tech division. He is responsible for troubleshooting computer and server discrepancies, responding to technical inquiries from clients, as well as providing onsite assistance to outsourced IT clients. DeBoer works in Lutz’s Omaha office.

Lauren Duren, CPA, has been promoted to Healthcare & CAS Manager in Lutz’s Omaha office. Duren provides healthcare consulting, as well as outsourced accounting services to clients with a focus on QuickBooks, tax, and payroll compliance.

Amy Evanich, RN, MSN, has been promoted to Healthcare Consulting Manager. She is responsible for medical chart reviews, appeal preparation, Medicare regulation guidance, revenue cycle consulting, interpretation and education, and healthcare billing policies and procedures. Evanich works in Lutz’s Omaha office.

Bryan Frew, CPA, has been promoted to Tax Manager in Lutz’s Hastings office. Frew provides taxation services to businesses and individuals, as well as trusts and estates with a focus on medical practices.

Steve Guenther has been promoted to Client Relations Manager in Lutz’s Talent division. Guenther assists clients through the hiring process by searching for and selecting potential candidates that will fit their current and future business needs. His expertise is in the accounting, finance, human resources and office administrative industries. Steve works in Lutz’s Omaha office.

Justin Korth, CPA, has been promoted to Tax Manager. He is responsible for individual, business, and fiduciary income tax returns, estate & business planning, and taxpayer representation on IRS matters. In addition, he provides consulting on small business accounting. Korth works in Lutz’s Omaha office.

Kyle Lacy, CPA, has been promoted to Audit Manager. Lacy performs audits, reviews and compilations for clients with a focus on the real estate industry. He works in Lutz’s Omaha office.

Will Lanik, CPA, has been promoted to Audit Manager in Lutz’s Omaha office. He is responsible for providing accounting, auditing, and consulting services to privately held companies in the construction, manufacturing, and employee benefit plan industries.

Courtney Martin has been promoted to HR Benefits & Compliance Manager in Lutz’s Omaha office. She is responsible for communicating, coordinating and monitoring employee benefits. She also ensures the firm is in compliance with employment laws and regulations and assists with the firm’s onboarding process.

Michael Mason, CPA, has been promoted to Tax Manager. Mason is responsible for providing tax consulting and compliance services to clients with a focus on the real estate and construction industries. He works in Lutz’s Omaha office.

Kirk Montagne has been promoted to IT Operations Manager. Montagne oversees the development, support, and security of Lutz’s in-house IT operations. In addition, he ensures the stability and performance of Lutz’s IT infrastructure and proactively resolves all internal technical discrepancies. Montagne works in Lutz’s Omaha office.

Jason Orme has been promoted to Client Relations Manager in Lutz’s Talent division. He is responsible for helping business leaders find the best long-term talent to reach their business goals with expertise in the accounting and finance industry. Orme works in Lutz’s Omaha office.

Nick Polite has been promoted to Service Manager in Lutz’s Tech division. He troubleshoots computer and server discrepancies, responds to technical inquiries from clients, as well as provides onsite assistance to outsourced IT clients. Polite works in Lutz’s Lincoln office.

Steve Schaffer has been promoted to Operations Manager. He is responsible for assisting the Chief Operating Officer in leading internal operations, gathering and analyzing firm data, as well as consulting with management on internal business plans. Schaffer works in Lutz’s Lincoln office.

Scott Sunderman, CPA, has been promoted to Audit Manager in Lutz’s Lincoln office. He is responsible for providing accounting, auditing and consulting services to privately-held companies in a variety of industries.

Aimee Trumbull, CPA, has been promoted to Audit Manager. Trumbull provides assurance and consulting services to clients with a focus on the agriculture, real estate, services and manufacturing industries. In addition, she assists with transaction advisory services. She works in Lutz’s Omaha office.

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Toll-Free: 866.577.0780  |  Privacy Policy

All content © Lutz & Company, PC

OMAHA

13616 California Street, Suite 300

Omaha, NE 68154

P: 402.496.8800

HASTINGS

747 N Burlington Avenue, Suite 401

Hastings, NE 68901

P: 402.462.4154

LINCOLN 

115 Canopy Street, Suite 200

Lincoln, NE 68508

P: 531.500.2000

GRAND ISLAND

3320 James Road, Suite 100

Grand Island, NE 68803

P: 308.382.7850

What to Expect When You Engage in a Project With Lutz Tech

What to Expect When You Engage in a Project With Lutz Tech

 

LUTZ BUSINESS INSIGHTS

 

What to Expect When You Engage in a Project With Lutz Tech

what to expect when you engage in a project with lutz tech

lindsey o’brien, Project Manager

 

In the continually evolving world of IT, no two projects are ever alike. Unexpected twists and turns abound, technology can be a finicky beast – even on the best of days. Lutz Tech strives to bring reliability and peace of mind to our clients’ projects through our four pillars of Project Management. These pillars, which also align with our four Lutz core values, are always top of mind for our project managers and provide a guideline for project success, no matter the dynamic circumstances that each inevitably brings.

 

PM Pillar #1: Authorize the project with a Scope of Work

Core Value: Confidence

Every project at Lutz Tech starts with a Scope of Work (SOW). This document outlines the key aspects of the project and serves as a roadmap for the entire endeavor. It begins with a solution statement, which clearly asserts the objective of the whole project.

From there, perhaps the most important part of the SOW is the deliverables section. The project deliverables, in a nutshell, tell both our client and our engineering team the specific work we are agreeing to perform and holding ourselves accountable to. Just as importantly, this section also explicitly states anything that is NOT included in the project deliverables. 

Other important parts of the scope of work include any pre-requisites that must be met by either team before project work can begin, the key stakeholders for both the client and engineering teams, and the level of risk involved with the project endeavor. The ultimate purpose of the Scope of Work document is to give all stakeholders a clear and confident picture of what project success looks like.

 

PM Pillar #2: Simplify complexities

Core Value: Brainpower

IT projects can get very complicated, fast. Project engineers live and thrive in the complexity, whereas most end users do not. An effective project manager can distill those complex technical events into the bottom line: what is the goal we are trying to achieve, and how will this affect the end-user? Will the network be unavailable during the work? For how long? What can I expect after the work is complete? Who should I reach out to if I have a problem?

These are the common questions clients ask as we guide them through IT projects. Summarizing the key points helps set proper expectations with our client partners, and more importantly, makes the complex simple so that they can continue to focus on their business. Lutz Tech digs into the technical weeds on our clients’ behalf, allowing them to stay high level.

 

PM Pillar #3: Choose resources smartly

Core Value: Humanity

Each member of our IT project team has unique talents and strengths. A good project manager understands the unique attributes of each team member and leverages those teammates appropriately for the project at hand. Having a team member doing the work best suited to their skill set is a better experience for everyone, especially our clients.

 

PM Pillar #4: Proactively communicate

Core Value: Integrity

IT work is intrinsically dynamic, so we balance that by providing consistent and effective communication to our clients throughout the project lifecycle. When we first see a problem on the horizon, we make our clients aware and work with them to overcome the issue immediately. Obstacles in a project will always crop up – it’s the name of the game. Thorough communication in a project helps minimize the effect of such obstacles and builds trust and rapport with our clients.

 

Our four project management pillars aim to bring a standard, repeatable process to our projects, which equals a consistent experience for our clients. We believe in them so much that at the end of each project, we ask our clients to provide feedback on how well we exemplified them. We always want to improve and rely on our clients to help push us to be better. Contact us to learn more about how Lutz Tech can help you.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

402.514.0064

lobrien@lutz.us

LINKEDIN

LINDSEY O'BRIEN + PROJECT MANAGER

Lindsey O'brien is a Project Manager at Lutz Tech with over eight years of experience. She is responsible for planning, coordinating, and implementing each phase of a managed service project's deliverables. In addition, she provides ongoing communication and support to ensure a positive, successful client experience.

AREAS OF FOCUS
  • Project Planning, Coordination & Implementation
  • Client Service
  • Technology
AFFILIATIONS AND CREDENTIALS
  • Project Management Professional
  • PMI Heartland Nebraska/Iowa, Member
EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND
  • Bachelor of Journalism in Advertising, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE
COMMUNITY SERVICE
  • PMI Heartland Nebraska Iowa PMP Exam Prep Courses, Volunteer Instructor
THOUGHT LEADERSHIP
  • What to Expect When You Engage in a Project With Lutz Tech

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We tap into the vast knowledge and experience within our organization to provide you with monthly content on topics and ideas that drive and challenge your company every day.

Toll-Free: 866.577.0780  |  Privacy Policy

All content © Lutz & Company, PC

OMAHA

13616 California Street, Suite 300

Omaha, NE 68154

P: 402.496.8800

HASTINGS

747 N Burlington Avenue, Suite 401

Hastings, NE 68901

P: 402.462.4154

LINCOLN 

115 Canopy Street, Suite 200

Lincoln, NE 68508

P: 531.500.2000

GRAND ISLAND

3320 James Road, Suite 100

Grand Island, NE 68803

P: 308.382.7850

4 Tips for a Successful Transition Back to the Office

4 Tips for a Successful Transition Back to the Office

 

LUTZ BUSINESS INSIGHTS

 

4 Tips for a Successful Transition Back to the Office

4 TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL TRANSITION BACK TO THE OFFICE

ROBERT KEENAN, CHIEF INFORMATION & RISK OFFICER

 

As the economy slowly reopens, remote workers are beginning to return to the office. Howeverbefore your staff return to the workplace, it’s imperative that companies develop and document a detailed plan and list of procedures to ensure everyone remains safe and healthy. 

This guideline has been prepared using information gathered from federal, state and local governments and medical authorities. While this may not cover every situation that could arise, it does require companies to think about and preparfor instances that may not have been considered in the past. Here are four areas that you should have already been and/or should start doing immediately: 

1. COVID-19 TEAM ASSESSMENT  

If your business has not already created a COVID-19 team, you should do so immediately. This group should be comprised of key members needed to make decisions to ensure concerns from every angle are considered. These key members should serve as the spokesperson/messenger for the company/office. This team likely has already notified vendors, developed a plan for postal services, and documenting COVID-19 related messages from employeesSome items the COVID-19 taskforce should review before allowing employees to return include: 

  • Risk: Engage with risk management personnel to gauge the company’s readiness to return to the office. 
  • Insurance: Work with insurers to identify potential risks for returning to work.  
  • Legal: Work with legal counsel to ensure that the actions that are being taken by the COVID-19 return-to-work team are sound and do not violate any employee rights. 
  • Employee Guide: Develop an overview of what to expect when returning employees arrive back in the office. This guide should include:    
    • New entrance protocols for employees and visitors, 
    • A list of supplies that will and will not be available/provided (i.e., food, drinks, utensils, glassware, cups, etc.), 
    • Instructions on bringing equipment (laptops, chairs, etc.) back into the workplace and sanitization requirements, 
    • Changes to the work environment including room availability, relocation of desks, etc., 
    • Modifications to internal and external meeting protocols, hosting of client events, and visitor access. 

Having a team in place to assess and communicate on topics specific to COVID-19 will help your company filter and sort information and requests more efficiently. 

2. PREPARE YOUR OFFICE 

Naturally, you will need to prepare your office for the return of staff members. To ensure everything is ready and in working order, the following tips can be useful: 

OBTAIN A DETAILED FLOOR PLAN/LAYOUT OF YOUR OFFICE 

  • Highlight high traffic areas & exits. 
  • Designate traffic directions to ensure low interaction between staff. 
  • Map out desk/cubes, offices, conference rooms, etc. that adhere to the social distancing guidelines (6 feet apart). 

DESIGN A PHASED EMPLOYEE RETURN PLAN 

Based on the different regulations for each state, and due to the universal social distancing regulations, not all employees will be able to return to the office at the same time. It is recommended that you use a phased approach – taking into account the employee’s desire to return to the office as well as the ability (physically) to bring employees back into the officeIt is recommended that at least a threephase plan is used. The time between phases will depend on the success of the previous phase and adjusting/correcting for any unforeseen problems. Phases could be spaced out with 2-4 weeks in between. 

  • Work with your HR team to determine who will return in which phase. Each company will need to determine the best way to coordinate who/how many people can come back in each phase.  
  • Coordinate with your IT department to get returners set back up in the office so the process goes as smooth as possible. 
  • Know that there may be some people who will be comfortable and productive working remotely going forward.  
  • Plan to have shared/routing office space for those who will not need to return full-time.  

ENFORCE DISTANCING RULES, LIMIT CONTACT, AND INCREASE SANITARY MEASURES 

The current regulations to reduce the risk of spread for COVID-19 is geared heavily toward distancing, cleanliness, and reduced personal contact.  To continue these practices in a professional office environment, the following measures should be applied: 

  • Continue to use virtual forms of communication when possible such as Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Slack, etc. If employees do need to meet, and their desktop does not have video or sound capabilities, have them try downloading one of the mentioned apps to their phone and use that to communicate. (NOTE: any of these suggestions should be cleared with the Risk and IT department to ensure they are secure and safe tools to use.)  
  • During the 1st and 2nd phase consider disallowing non-employees or clients in the office. 
  • Limit access to restrooms, kitchens, and copy rooms to a new socially distant norm.  
  • Temporarily close areas where employees congregate (lounges, break rooms) if possible. 
  • Limit the elevator usage. 
  • Increase nightly/weekend cleaning routines. 
  • Make sure cleaners are properly trained on the disinfecting guidelines. 
  • Determine areas that require thorough cleaning due to heavy usage, such as training rooms, conference rooms, break areas and restrooms. 
  • Although your company may not require them, offer face-masks for anyone who would like one or encourage them to use their own. 
  • Have hand sanitizers all throughout the building(s). 
  • Provide sterile wipes for people to wipe down their own surfaces. 
  • Place signage around the office to encourage and promote clean habits. 

3. PREPARE YOUR EMPLOYEES 

It is now time to prepare your employees for their return to work. Some will be eager and others potentially nervous, so remember to give clear and nonnegotiable direction to help ease any tensions or stress that the transition may cause 

COMMUNICATE TIMELINESS AND EXPECTATIONS 

It’s important to keep your employees updated.  Here are a few items that should be conveyed to your staff: 

  • Provide an estimated timeline on the phased approach back into the office, and detail as best as possible what that process will look like. 
  • We suggest that the COVID team, in conjunction with the HR team, prepare a confidential questionnaire for each employee to complete for the sole purpose of ensuring that the employee is ready to return to work, identifying the appropriate phase the employee should return, and to address any individual concerns an employee might have about returning to work. Questions you could ask include: 
  • To the best of your knowledge, have you been exposed and/or been around another person who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last month? 
  • Are you experiencing any symptoms associated with COVID – 19? If yes, please describe.  
  • Have you recently traveled outside the State of ___? If yes, describe. 
  • Are there any unique circumstances the COVID Team needs to be aware of related to you returning to work in the office? If yes, please describe.  
  • Is it your desire to return to working at the office building as soon as possible versus continuing to temporarily work remotely? If so, why?  
  • Please list any company equipment you took home with you to work remotely. 

CHANGE  

While the workplace design, policies, and safety protocols are critical pieces of the puzzle, they do not touch on perhaps the most important aspect of the return to work—the readiness of the workforce physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Developing a plan to mitigate employee fears and concerns should be a top priority. 

To help employees, organizations must work to ensure their employees understand what to expect upon their return. Some employees may expect nothing to change, while others will assume everything will be different. Preparing employees and reminding them that these changes are designed to help keep them safe will ease their anxiety. 

4. CREATE A PLAN TO TRANSITION TECHNOLOGY 

As we migrate back to the office, we face many new challenges from an IT standpoint. From reconnecting office equipment to more changes in server functionality, having a technology plan in place to alleviate the stress of getting set back up upon their return to the office is imminent. 

FOR EMPLOYEES 

  • STOP USING VPN: Were you using a VPN connection while working from home? It is no longer needed when you are back in the office. You are now plugged in. There is no longer a need to connect this way, as a VPN connects from the outside-in. 
  • REASSEMBLE YOUR WORKSTATIONReassembling your workstation and plugging in the equipment that you took home can be a daunting process. However, the toughest part will be plugging in your data/ethernet cable to the right port on your desktop. This is required so that you can receive remote support, connect to the network, Internet, etc. So, be patient and do your best. Here are a few tips on how to properly connect your cables: 
  • Generally speaking, for data cables, most cubicles/offices have 2 data ports, marked with a # and either a “V” for voice or “D” for data. The # is not important to you, for now. The letters are. Plug your phone ethernet cable in the V, and plug your desktop ethernet cable into the D.  
  • If none of the above is marked, your MSP/IT staff will need to advise.  
  • If you only have one port, check your phone’s underside to see if there are ports to connect both phone and desktop together. Somewhat like this: Data Port > ethernet cable > phone > ethernet cable out of phone > desktop.   

FOR MANAGEMENT 

  • TAKE INVENTORYBuy more laptops, period. Also, budget for extra hardware that was originally needed when this happened, i.e., webcams, monitors, power strips, etc. that were all depleted during this time. It might seem expensive, but having equipment on the shelf, ready for IT or your Managed Service Provider to remotely manage, is a good thing. It will also save your staff hours in lost productivity.  
  • ANALYZE SOFTWARE: Inspect your firewall’s overall performance with your Managed Service Provider or IT staff. Did it suit your needs? Do you need more VPN licenses? Is the firewall licensing, as well as the firmware, up to date?  
  • REINFORCE SAFE ONLINE PRACTICES: Now is a great time to give your staff a reminder on the cybersecurity landscape, i.e., phishing attacks, malicious threats, malware, and online best practices. Do you have a plan in place should your business ever be comprised? It is more important than ever, as hackers recognize the vulnerability with the current state of business. 
  • FULLY TRANSITION TO THE CLOUD: If your business has not already fully transitioned over to the cloud, it may be time to do so. Cloud-based communication and file-sharing applications are making it easier than ever to stay connected. While the recent pandemic forced many small businesses to shift to some cloud-based applications, we have seen a lot of companies fully integrating cloud services going forward. 

IMPLEMENT YOUR PLAN 

Before re-entering the office, there are multiple items that should be reviewed to ensure the safety and readiness of your staff and the company. These items include designating a COVID team to handle all pandemic related matters, preparing your office and employees for the changes ahead, and working with your IT team to properly reconnect all technology systems and equipment.  

Navigating through these uncertain times will be challenging for everyone, as there are many moving parts. So, it’s important to be patient and proactive to ease the transition back into the office. If you have any questions, or you are interested in having our team helping you transition back to the office, contact your Lutz representative or email us at info@lutz.us 

Important Disclosure Information

Please remember that due to various factors, including changing guidance and regulations that are continually being amended and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be the most to up to date. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this newsletter serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized risk or compliance advice from Lutz. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to their firm’s individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with a professional at Lutz. Lutz is not a law firm, and no portion of the newsletter content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

402.763.2973

rkeenan@lutz.us

LINKEDIN

ROBERT KEENAN + CHIEF INFORMATION & RISK OFFICER

Robert Keenan is the Chief Information & Risk Officer at Lutz with over 20 years of compliance and operational risk experience. He focuses on risk management, compliance, and security for the firm, and will partner with the operations team to drive process improvement and operational efficiencies for Lutz.

AREAS OF FOCUS
  • Risk Management & Compliance
  • Operations
AFFILIATIONS AND CREDENTIALS
  • Association of Certified Fraud Examiners
  • Society of Compliance and Ethics Professionals
  • National Society of Compliance Professionals
  • Certified Fraud Examiner
  • Certified Compliance and Ethics Professional
EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND
  • BA in Finance, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK
  • MPA, Drake University, Des Moines, IA
COMMUNITY SERVICE
  • Association of Certified Fraud Examiners - Heartland Chapter, Past Board Member

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