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Watch our recent webinar here and find out how Northland Kindergarten Association used teams to manage their remote working conditions during a tricky time, and how it may also be able to help your business.  

Click here to watch the webinar

If you have any problems downloading this webinar please reach out to us.

With the increased need for security, and rising Cyber Security threats, it is imperative that all businesses have a strong password management system.

80% of data breaches are caused by weak, reused or stolen passwords

A password management system is able to store encrypted passwords online making digital security accessible and simple for businesses to manage the passwords for all employees.

In today’s world, most businesses have dozens or even hundreds of passwords for different employees with different accounts, profiles, and applications.

#1. Generate secure, fool-proof passwords

With 80% of all data breaches happening because of weak passwords, having a password management system is crucial.

If you want to ensure your data safety, you must use complex passwords that include a combination of letters, numbers, symbols, and uppercase/lowercase.

A password management system will automatically generate fool-proof passwords based on your specification. This ensures you always create extremely secure passwords, thus avoiding hacks.

This also prevents your employees using generic and basic passwords such as their dogs name, or date of birth, and lets the password management system create a unique password that has all of the factors required for high security, including symbols, upper and lower case, numbers.

Let’s face it, it is much harder to hack KiUR&*!RTQ then it is Snoopy1222!

#2. Eliminate employee password reuse:

With a password management system, passwords are automatically updated and renewed. This ensures employees practice good password hygiene.

#3. Manage passwords from one place:

There is nothing worse than trying to keep tabs on every employee’s passwords. When a staff member is on leave, the last thing you want to do is try and find the post-it note they left with the login details.

Similarly, if a disgruntled employee leaves and takes their passwords, this can create an unnecessary headache.

With a password management system, you can easily give every user their own personalized vault, while maintaining oversight of all passwords with an admin dashboard.

#4. Protect your sensitive data:

Keep everyone’s credentials, notes, and information safe using the password management system.

#5. Admin functions make managing passwords a breeze:

Have multiple employees working on a particular app? No problem. With a good password management system, you can securely share credentials where employees and clients require access and organize shared credentials by Groups.

Admin functions may include (depending on the system you use):

  • Instantly add and remove team members.
  • Safely share passwords with others.
  • Give each employee their own vault for safeguarding passwords.
  • Store digital records: WiFi logins, software licenses, employee IDs, and more.
  • Set security controls and restrictions based on your team’s needs.

#6. Notification of a data breach

A password management system will constantly monitor all of your email addresses and sends instant alerts whenever it suspects that your data has been compromised. This allows you to act promptly and change all the necessary passwords, thereby preventing your information from being used by hackers and identity thieves.

#7. Multifactor authentication for employees

Another feature available in most password systems is multifactor authentication. This provides a second layer of security to verify the user’s login, usually in the form of fingerprint verification, one-tap mobile notifications, SMS codes, etc. This can be used to ensure the highest levels of security in businesses.

Which password management system is right for you?

There are a number of password management systems available. Finding one that is easy for your team to use, economical and with a long track record is imperative.

To find out more information about which system is right for you, please contact us here

What is Microsoft Planner and how can it help your business?

Many businesses in Wanaka use Microsoft Planner. Planner is a tool within the Office 365 suite. Planner is an easy way to organize teamwork with intuitive, collaborative, and visual task management. Planner is simple, easy to use for new users, and included in the licensing for Office 365 users. 

Advantages of Planner:

Planner improves teamwork by organizing an Office 365 group or team’s tasks, files, and conversations.

Planner helps to organize your tasks by adding one or more Planner tabs to a team channel. You can then work on your plan from within Teams, remove or delete your plan, and get notified in Teams when a task is assigned to you in Planner.

All tasks are easily accessible in one place: Plans comprise content-rich tasks that contain expected details, such as due dates, and extra elements like color-coded labels and files.

Automatic chart report: Planner automatically visualizes task status into pie and bar charts for you with no setup required.

Work where you want: Use Planner wherever you’re working. At your desk? Open Planner from tasks.office.com. On the go? Update tasks from your mobile device. In Microsoft Teams? Select the Tasks app powered by Planner and Microsoft To Do.

Connect across Microsoft 365: Planner is part of Microsoft 365, so it’s highly secure like your other Microsoft 365 apps. Microsoft 365 also connects Planner with Microsoft To Do, SharePoint, Power Automate, and other apps for efficient task management.

Manage all your tasks in Microsoft Teams: Planner and Microsoft Teams work well together. The Tasks app in Microsoft Teams combines all your team tasks from Planner and individual tasks from Microsoft To Do with advanced collaboration tools.

How to add planner:

  • In your team channel, select Add a tab +.
  • In the Add a tab dialog box, choose Tasks by Planner and To Do.
  • Create a new task list to make a new Planner plan and add it as a tab to this channel.
  • Use an existing task list to choose an existing Planner plan to add to a tab in this channel.
  • Choose whether to post to the channel about the tab, and then select Save.
  • The tab will be added alongside your other team channel tabs, and you’ll be able to start adding tasks to your board.

Six Tips to use planner well

Use the buckets

Microsoft Planner lets you create buckets for various tasks. Within each bucket, you can create specific assignments.

The calendar feature

The calendar is very important for keeping everyone on task. Items in the calendar can be assigned both due dates and a specific task owner. This helps individuals know who is responsible for what and also whether or not they are on schedule.

Checklist

You can create a checklist to keep on top of tasks. This checklist can be a list of necessary actions for this project. As the assigned user works their way through the project, they can check off individual items on the list. This creates an effortlessly easy visual to be able to track progress.  

Categorise tasks easily

You can create easy visual categories for tasks by color-coded labels and priority. For example, you might split things up into “low-priority,” “medium-priority,” and “high-priority” based on deadlines. This is visually easy for your team to follow as they can see what is coming up on their calendar and what is a priority.

Easily integrates with 365

With Microsoft Planner, you can integrate easily with 365. This means that you can take advantage of Office 365’s own calendar and reminder features. This helps keep your employees focused and on track every time they open up their e-mail.

Connects to the Cloud

Members of the team can upload various files as attachments to different projects and cards.  Once the file is attached to Office 365 Planner, everyone has access to it via the cloud. You no longer have to worry about vital information being unavailable to the rest of the group.

In Conclusion:

Planner is a wonderfully simple, yet effective way to manage projects across a team and to improve communication and efficiencies.

For further information, please feel free to reach out to us here to discuss how planner can be used by your team.

This is part one of our four part series in the “Empower Series” of webinars. Here Quality Foods share how they streamlined their systems.

You can watch the webinar here

Meet Quality Food Southland

Meet Quality Food Southland or QFS for short. What started as a humble bakery and Café in the 1900’s by Annie C Miller, grew into New Zealand’s leading manufacturer in butter-based bakery products and sauces. They are the largest exporter of butter pastry in NZ. Up until a few years ago they were struggling with their systems and processes.

Document Management and Approvals headache!

Their document management and approval systems were completely manual. This meant a LOT of paperwork, and complex filing systems as each product version had to be kept on hand. There could be many iterations which make things complicated.  Their approval process was also a headache. QFS had eight different approval processes. At each stage, approval had to be signed off by three different signatories. As you can imagine there was a lot of paper, storage and wasted time, not to mention the risk of making a mistake, was really high.

Aiming for Change

Ideally, the team at QFS were keen to make a few improvements. Document storage and security were key. They wanted to get rid of the complex document folder structure while managing and keeping all their file changes. They wanted to replace the manual time-consuming approval process for an online version, complete with change notifications, tracked changes and approval process stage indicators.  Essentially, they wanted to have the process more manageable, consistent and streamlined.

Empowering QFS with Microsoft

After consulting with an IT Alliance Member, the QFS team decided that the best course of action was to have these seasoned professionals cook up a nicely balanced solution using some Microsoft products called SharePoint, Power Automate, and power apps. These were all available through having Microsoft 365.

SharePoint helped create an online document management system that had version control, search features and navigation that made finding documents and using them easier. It even had a check in and out function. You could track your changes so that everyone was always up to speed on any project.

Power Automate helped QFS to automate their business processes and approvals using tailored notifications and automated data entry, saving plenty of time and increasing the accuracy of the approval process.

Power apps helped to collect information and display where everything was in the process so that the project could be managed much more easily.

The End Result

QFS ended up with a very slick looking web-based system thanks to Microsoft 365 and its added products. The best part is that it is all in one place. The new system stores all documents, manages document check-in/out, maintains all version history and records document changes.

It allows users to check-out a document, make the required changes then completes the document approval process from start to finish. It includes notifications to stakeholders, updates progress and document control lists throughout the process. On approval, it creates a pdf version and stores it in a duplicate SharePoint suite used by “view only” staff.  The result helps their business run more efficiently, with less risk. Sounds too good to be true, right?

For more information, feel free to reach out to us here, or view the webinar attached.

Avoid document disaster

The environment in which we operate has significantly changed. Businesses in New Zealand have been driven to embrace remote working.

Every good business is constantly on the hunt for new ways to improve their efficiency, keep their costs down, and increase productivity and profit and decrease risk.

What if we told you that you might be sitting on a goldmine of opportunity?

Having Microsoft 365 is bit like owning a spaceship. You know what it’s used for, but how to use it? Let’s unpack it a bit further.

Most Common Problems

The most common problems we hear of through our IT Alliance network around the country are:

  • Putting your documents into the cloud, document management and approvals
  • Empowering your business while working remotely
  • Managing emails and automating them
  • Keeping your company cyber safe

Would it surprise you to know that 50% of IT Alliance clients underutilize their Microsoft 365 Teams account? So why pay for something, and not use it all? You can join in our Empower Series here to hear more, but for now let’s start with document management and approvals.

Making the most of Your Microsoft 365

Sharepoint and Power Automate are both free with your business Subscription. Did you know you could use them in these ways?

Microsoft SharePoint

SharePoint (their free document management system) can seem overly complicated because it can offer so much. But it doesn’t need to be so scary.

You can start small and use more functionality as needed or as you grow.

Basically, it’s a platform that offers content management and collaboration.

It helps with reducing duplicate files, gives you remote access (needed more than ever!) and allows you to work on the same document at the same time.

Find out more about SharePoint here:

Microsoft Power Automate

This is another free app that allows you to automate workflows across applications. You can use it to connect email and instant message alerts, synchronize files between applications, copy files from one service to another, collect data from one app and store it in another, and much more.

Templates are available to get you started. Efficiency is key for sustained success across businesses and Power Automate assists this by simplifying workflows with the automation of repetitive tasks.

Power Apps

This is a low-code application development platform that integrates with Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, Azure and more.

With Power Apps, web and mobile applications can be built without writing code. Instead, you can use pre-built templates and components with drag-and-drop simplicity.

Power Apps has been described as a bit like a meal delivery kit. The ingredients are pre-measured and chopped. The instructions are ready to go. All you have to do is prep and cook.

Because Power Apps has advanced logic and rules built-in, development time is cut by 70%. In some cases, it takes just a few hours to build an app. Or you can customize one of the pre-built templates in just minutes. Plus, Power apps connects to hundreds of business systems and databases. Here are some impressive statistics to show how Power apps is super useful.

  • 188% ROI over three years3
  • 74% reduction in app development costs4
  • 2 hours of line-of-business employee productivity improvement per week5

 Real Business, Real Change

Quality Food Services is the largest exporter of butter pastry in NZ.  Up until a few years ago they were struggling with their documents and approvals as they were complicated and manual.

They used SharePoint to create an online document management system that had version control, search features and navigation that made finding documents and using them easier.

You could track your changes so that everyone was always up to speed on any project.

Power Automate helped QFS to automate their business processes and approvals using tailored notifications and automated data entry, saving plenty of time and increasing the accuracy of the approval process.

Power apps helped to collect information and display where everything was in the process so that the project could be managed much more easily.

All of this saved them time, money and decreased their risk significantly.

Where to from here?

If you have a process that you need help with to make your document management process a little less of a headache, please feel free to reach out here to our team at the IT Centre.

Meet Northland Kindergarten Association:

The Northland Kindergarten Association or NKA, has 25 kindergartens between Kaitaia in the Far North, to Ruawai in the heart of Kaipara.

NKA were concerned about their IT setup, so they approached an IT Alliance member with the below key issues:

  • They were running out of space on their server.
  • Their system was out of date.
  • They weren’t working in the cloud which meant poor communication and knowledge sharing.
  • Each of their 25 kindergartens couldn’t connect and learn from each other.

They asked an IT Alliance member to do a risk analysis of their organization and to help them brainstorm a solution.

What was discovered:

  • Together they discovered that they had a disjointed network with outdated hardware and software.
  • Each kindergarten was getting a mixed level of service and support from a variety of IT support services.
  • To make matters worse each kindergarten team shared one email address and could not access each other’s files.
  • They had limited ability to communicate well which means work kept getting reinvented and upskilling was difficult too.
  • Their cybersecurity was not where it needed to be either.

They needed a solution that made their systems more secure, connected their team and helped bring their collective knowledge into one place. 

Empowering Kindergartens with 365 Teams:  

The IT Alliance member suggested to NKA that they could use Microsoft 365 Teams to empower their kindergartens using the following steps:

  1. They developed a rollout process of new hardware.
  2. Everyone got a new email address and were set up on Microsoft 365 Teams.
  3. They provided training with one-on-one support during the implementation.

Although they had only intended to create a safer network and shared resources, NKA was able to use Microsoft 365 Teams for so much more! 

How it helped them:

They moved all their documents into the cloud using a feature of Microsoft 365 called SharePoint. It helped them organize their document management so that they could share and manage content across the entire network of kindergartens. This saved them time, improved consistency and made their documents more secure.  

They also improved training, communication and connectivity within their team. They had a whopping 120+ attendees at their annual conference. Due to Covid, they had to host the event online.  Microsoft 365 Teams came in very useful. Again, training was provided, and they had two run throughs so that they could help anyone with login, microphone and camera issues. Their event went on for 5-6 hours and went off without a hitch!   

The Education Review Office, and five other national guests were able to present vital information easily. They broke out into subgroups for discussions using the meeting room function. Their CEO even pre-recorded his video message.

One of the risks of always being online is that they were worried that they might miss a quality engagement. Luckily 365 Teams gave them the ability to engage. They were able to raise a hand, ask questions in the chat and follow along from home. Overall, it was much less expense than an in-person event!  

The end result:

Overall, implementing Microsoft 365 Teams into NKA empowered their association with better cybersecurity, improved communications, empowered resource sharing that saved time and decreased event costs whilst maintaining event engagement. Not bad for one system in one place!

 “We were grateful to have streamlined our processes and we now have one point of contact for all our sites. We enjoy having a consistent service throughout our organization. It means that the team understands what we need, and we know we are providing top notch service to our kindergartens.”

Lloyd Gurr Head of Projects, Northland Kindergarten Association.  

If you would like to learn more about how 365 Teams could support your business join us for a FREE webinar through the EMPOWER Series. Click here to register.

The IT Centre is here to help you with all of your IT needs. Please feel free to reach out here if you would like to discuss this further.