Business Continuity

Microsoft Excel vs. Coronavirus: Why investing in the right resource is critical

Microsoft Excel is usually the go-to tool for creating spreadsheets and performing calculations with restricted data sets. For that kind of work, it’s invaluable. But should it ever be used as a database?

As we have all seen play out in real-time this week, catastrophic results can ensue when you fail to invest properly in the correct resources for projects.

What happened to the coronavirus test and trace data:

This week, almost 16,000 cases of coronavirus in England went unreported because of a glitch caused by an Excel spreadsheet. According to Tech Radar, PHE was unable to keep track of the thousands of results, due to outdated software.

Although the maximum number of rows per Excel file is more than one million, it seems the system stored each test result in a new column instead. This has a maximum of approximately 16,000 per file. This is thought to have been down to the use of older versions of Excel, which store fewer columns in its .xls files than newer versions with their .xlsx format.

Why Microsoft Excel was the wrong resource:

Multiple IT experts have been scratching their heads over the UK Central Government’s decision to use Excel for such a sensitive task.

Paul Norris, Senior Systems Engineer at TripWire, says Excel is useful for small tasks but not for handling large quantities of data:

Desktop tools such as Excel should not be used for large datasets, and investment should be made into technology that can securely process large datasets to ensure data integrity and accurate results.

Another massive issue? Data security. Excel software, while simple to use and collaborate on, is not appropriate for providing significant data security. Multiple users were never incorporated into the desktop interface. This means that files are easily corrupted by simultaneous use, which can also cause performance issues. If several users do have access, multiple versions could be updated and stored independently, causing confusion over which version is the latest.

A cautionary tale for all businesses: Invest in proper resources

If this week should do anything for business owners and project managers, it should serve as an important reminder about the necessity of using and investing in the right software for the right project.

While using a cheaper option may seem like a savvy decision at the time, it can result in disastrous consequences – particularly when the software or project involves sensitive client data.

Make sure you have a trusted IT Specialist on hand to help with this. Whether you have an internal IT Department or you outsource, get a trusted advisor to guide you to the correct solutions that fit your business needs.

WebMicrosoft Excel vs. Coronavirus: Why investing in the right resource is critical

Coronavirus return to work checklist: IT Support and Telecoms

Coronavirus Return to Work Guidance: 

Is your IT Support & Business Telecoms equipped for the ‘New Normal’?

Find out how to embrace and optimize the new normal with our IT Support & Telecoms “Coronavirus return to work checklist”.

There is no doubt that 2020 has been a demanding year. Your employees were tasked with adapting almost instantly to remote workplaces, only to now be asked to transition back when they’ve just about settled in. These constant changes are difficult, but there are ways to help. Your business should no be longer reacting to Covid-19, but be strategising for it. As a business, you need to look at the business communications solution you quickly put in place and decipher whether it was the right solution for your company.

You need to be asking where your pain points have been and if the current ways of working are sustainable long-term.

See the return to work checklist

WebCoronavirus return to work checklist: IT Support and Telecoms

Microsoft 365: 7 Tricks to make you more productive

Mastering the latest Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) productivity tips and uncovering new Microsoft Office 365 hacks are a really useful way to, firstly, get the most out of your Office 365 experience – but more importantly, to work smarter and be as productive as possible when working from home.

Here are 7 tips and tricks to use when using Microsoft 365 for work:

Learn Microsoft 365 as you work:

1. Make use of ‘Tell Me’

Are you feeling like a Microsoft 365 newbie? Then you need to use Tell Me – a text field where you can enter words and phrases about what you want to do next, and quickly get to features you want to use or actions you want to perform.

When editing a document, spreadsheet or presentation in Office Online, you can access Tell me by tapping the light bulb to the right of the tabs as seen in the image below:

Collaborate effectively:

2. Co-authoring in documents

One of the best features in Microsoft 365 online, is the ability to collaborate and edit documents with your colleagues – no matter where you are.

By saving your files to OneDrive or SharePoint, you can instantly share them with your co-workers and track their changes as you work toward a finished project or document. Work together on contracts and Excel Workbooks from the comfort of your home office. Find out more about how you do this here:

3. Attach files with Sharepoint

Rather than going through the laborious process of attaching files via e-mail, use the Share+ function in Sharepoint to add a shareable link to your emails). This saves valuable space in your inbox and shaves minutes off a task – giving you more time for other responsibilities.

4. Create groups

Creating Office 365 Groups allows you to maintain communication with specific departments and colleagues in your business, using the parameters you set. Once you create a group, you can share a calendar between members, exchange files, and of course, conveniently chat.

Continue signing agreements & contracts:

5. DocuSign

Did you know that you can get any document in Word or Outlook signed without bothering with a print-and-scan process? DocuSign allows you to Sign, send, and manage documents anywhere on any device, and they are also secure and legally compliant.

Save valuable inbox space:

6. Scheduling assistant for meetings

Instead of emailing back and forth for half an hour to find a convenient meeting time, take advantage of Microsoft Scheduling Assistant. When you’re sharing your calendars, you can use Scheduling Assistant to come up with a time to get together.

How to do this: Create an event on your calendar and add the people you want to invite. Then, use the Scheduling Assistant time picker to drag and drop to a time on the calendar that turns green. That means everyone’s available. Done!

Teamwork over the internet:

7. Mention someone to get their attention

One of the things that people really miss working from home is not being able to pop over to someone’s desk to get their attention, or when we’re working in the office alongside someone, we can say “Hey, John!”

To help with this, use Outlook’s @ mentions. If you @John in an email message, the recipient will see they’ve been called into the conversation and are expected to pay attention or respond. Not only this but when other people @ mention you, the inbox displays the relevant sentences around your @ mention directly in your message excerpt. This feature lets you know at a glance what you need to heed.

These tips will help you adapt to being as productive as possible whilst working from home. Do you have any Microsoft 365 tips and tricks? Let us know!

WebMicrosoft 365: 7 Tricks to make you more productive

COVID-19 Business Continuity

Prepare for Remote Working: Phones – Emails – Data Files

COVID-19 Business Continuity: A number of small and medium size businesses are undoubtedly considering the effects coronavirus may have on your business.

Ensure Business Continuity: Plan ahead and engage with us now before the situation concerning corona virus forces your team work from home. We are here to support you and your business.

If your staff need to work from home, do they have the correct equipment and resources to do so? Are they able to forward office calls to their mobiles? Can they access work files? Are their systems secure? See our checklist below to ensure you and your business are prepared:

Preparing for remote working:

PHONES | EMAILS | DATA | FILES

Time needed: 6 minutes.

  1. Phone Number Failover: Ensure your office phone system has capabilities to divert calls to designated numbers.

    ITCS Cloud Phone Systems are ideal for COVID-19 Business Continuity. Along with a PC/Laptop soft-phone and mobile app, the system will let you connect your office phone to your preferred business device. Your PC/Laptop or Mobile becomes an extension of your desk phone, allowing you to make and receive calls, transfer to colleagues, view any missed calls and record call statistics, just as you would from the office.

  2. Emails and Calendars are available with Office 365: View and edit files on Windows Phones, iPhone®, and Android phones with Office mobile apps.

    Office 365 and Outlook work wherever you are. Outlook mobile delivers a connected experience across email, search and calendar and deeply integrates with Office apps, files and teams to power your productivity and collaboration. Protect your data without compromising productivity with security, with the world’s leading email solution.

  3. Files and Data are accessible and secure from home: Sharepoint enables staff to work as normal from wherever they are. Ensure you have this software, or similar, on employee devices.

    Share your files from anywhere with SharePoint: Get more done with secure access, sharing, and file storage at home, or on the go. Microsoft file storage and sharing products are designed to help you store, access, co-author, and update files from anywhere, and easily share files inside and outside your organisation. 

    OneDrive gives you anywhere access to all your files, seamlessly integrated with Office and pre-installed with Windows. Automatically sync your files to your desktop so you can work with files offline. Access files on Windows, Mac, or mobile devices.

  4. Off-site Backups:  offsite backups to a loan server at your IT Providers’ preferred location


    Ensure you have server hosting off-site, in a secure data centre. ITCS can provide your business with a private cloud service that enables your business to run even in the case of system failures or technical mishaps. Cloud hosting also ensures everyone in your business can access data across multiple offices or different locations on the go. With ITCS, you can be sure your data is stored safely and securely by professionals who care about your business.

  5. Secure VPN for remote working: Ensure your team are working on a secure network, wherever they are

    A VPN (or Virtual Private Network) is an encrypted, virtual “tunnel” between off-premises devices and on-premises information. Connecting to your business files and data through a VPN whilst working remotely prevents data theft between the server and your off-premises device.

  6. Inform Staff and Clients of your Plans: Make sure all relevant stakeholders are made aware of your plans

    Put both employees and clients at ease by letting them know of your COVID-19 Business Continuity plans. Make sure you include key messages, processes, avenues for feedback and updates. If Covid-19 does impact your business directly, let staff know what happens if they need to self-isolate, as well as reminding all staff about policies regarding group meetings, travel and policies regarding remote working.

WHAT ITCS ARE DOING:

As of Monday, 16/03/2020, ITCS will be engaging its own contingency plan so that we can continue to provide emergency support to our customers. We are prepared to support our clients through this situation.
As a control measure to ensure ITCS staff don’t all come down with COVID-19 at the same time, as of Monday we will split the workforce into two working groups. Some of us will work from home, and some from the office. We will not be engaging with opposite working groups in person.
Anyone office-based will be refraining from going into other departments and remaining within their own working areas. Wipes and hand sanitiser will be readily available on premises, along with regular washing of hands.
Site engineers will be using gloves if they are required to attend site, or handle any materials/devices.
WebCOVID-19 Business Continuity