Is Your Critical Business Information Protected with Remote Data Backup?

How would your business be affected if there was a fire or flood that completely wiped out your computer system? How long would it take you to recover? Data backup and specifically, remote or online data backup is ABSOLUTELY something that the smart business owner (small or large) should consider and implement.

All of the important information on your computer like financial documents, email, digital photos, music and more; for businesses: customer files, accounting programs and files, contact & direct mail lists, sales tracking, photos, product information, etc. that would be missed or (more likely) devastating if not accessible should be backed up or saved somewhere other than your hard drive or even local backup systems such as CD, DVED, flash or tape drives or USB. Offsite or remote data back up is imperative to consider if you value your computer’s information.

Your data can be lost in a variety of ways and for different reasons. Power spikes are capable of leading to data loss, especially for computer systems without surge protectors or voltage regulators. Unfortunately, computers are vulnerable to hard drive crashes, virus attacks, theft and natural disasters, which can erase everything in an instant. All of us are possible victims of accidental file deletions or disk reformatting. Not to mention physical hazards like flood, fire or other natural (or unnatural) disaster. Virus or malware attacks can lead to lost files and information for unlucky computer users. Human error or sabotage can seriously damage or destroy files and even backups.

A recent article on AOL News cites a Florida woman, afraid of losing her job, deleting $2.5 million worth of company files from the architectural firm where she worked. “She obviously wasn’t quite right in the head when doing this, but we’re inclined to think that the owner of the business isn’t all there either. Despite estimating the worth of the company’s files at $2.5 million, the architecture firm had no backup systems in place. That’s a recipe for disaster regardless of the sanity of your employees. Even the local Sheriff’s office knows better than that, issuing the following statement: The lesson to be learned here is that you can’t depend on having just one set of records or files and having your employees have access to them. You’ve got to have some kind of backup. Thankfully the files were able to be recovered, but backups of important files are not something you should take lightly.”

Statistics show that one out of ten hard drives fail each year. Another widely published statistic from the U.S. National Archives & Records Administration in Washington states that 50% of businesses that lose their critical data for 10 days or more file for bankruptcy.

Backing up your data is essential and easy to implement, regardless of what kind of computing you do. These days, most people backup their important information on CDs, DVDs, external hard drivers, and flash drives so they can quickly retrieve the second copy if ever needed. However, what they fail to realize is these second copies are just as vulnerable and susceptible to damage as the first copy, especially if they are stored in near vicinity of each other. Using a backup method such as CD-ROM or external hard drive defeats the purpose if it is not kept in a completely remote, different area. Fire, theft, flood, and natural disasters are still viable threats.

Online data storage is a very good alternative. There are other benefits to automated remote data back up services. Automatic backups save at least 10 minutes a day over manual backups. You or your employee spending that time running backups at $20 an hour, translates into about $67 a month in savings. Manual backup media, as discussed, is notoriously failure-prone and vulnerable to environmental damage (heat, sunlight, humidity, liquids, dust) and human mishandling (scratched, bent and dropped, lost or stolen). Security of your critical data when backed up with an online and off-site data backup service can be verified as far superior to manual backup media. It even protects you from theft. If your laptop is stolen,(which happens frequently) you’ll still have all the data.

Some Party Planning Business Information

Are you a party-lover? Do you ever wish you were the one who chose the colors and designs of centerpieces and table cloth? Did you ever think you had a better idea for arranging the event program or doing the invitations? If yes, then it’s time to bring out the party planner in you and start your party planning business. If you think you are skilled in communication, planning, budgeting and organizing, then party planning is your craft. It is now time to get out of the huge pile of paper works and to stay away from your difficult boss.

Start your party planning business as an enterprise and as a form of bringing out the creativity and management skills in you. All you need to do is to hone that keen and detail-oriented person in you. As a party planner, you must oversee all aspects of an event or a party. You need to suggest themes, estimate the budget, send invites, scout locations, pick entertainment and decorations, order supplies, negotiate with vendors, and do the best that you can just to satisfy the client and their guests. Your party planning business does not end with that long list of tasks. During the party, your presence is required to make sure everything falls into place and everyone is having a great time.

A good party planner is expected to know more about holding a party. The more you know the more chances for you to create innovative parties to give your clients a taste of something unique. Running a party planning business requires a knowledge of food and beverages, locations, invitation etiquette, entertainment, gift bags, vendors and people skills. Bands, musicians, disc jockeys are just a few of the many people you can hire for the entertainment options. Card tournaments, bridal shower games, sports activities, auctions and karaoke events are just a few of the many fun activities you can incorporate into a party.

What is more, a planner should a have a good working relationship with vendors. You must be good in evaluating whose products and services are more beneficial for you. Every good planner should have a good list of bartenders, florists, chefs, linen suppliers, entertainers, location vendors and more. The more vendors you know the more chances for you to get the best offers. This also goes along with your ability to relate to other people. A party planner is expected to build some networking to be active in organizations which can help you start and grow your party planning business.

How to Shape, Manage, and Control Your Business Information: Tips for Using E-Forms Effectively

The ancient Greek philosopher Plato viewed everything as a form, and every form as an ideal version of an object. His notions hold true with an increasingly popular business tool: electronic forms (eforms), which allow organizations to stipulate the ideal form for content so it enters their organizations as consistent, desirable, and ready to use. (Had Plato lived to see eforms, I think he would have approved.)

To generate desired efficiencies, electronic forms demand meticulous attention to detail. Each form must shape the content it captures to maximize meaning and usefulness for those who rely on it. When they’re well designed, forms gather quality content and use it intelligently. Built-in controls provide tools to capture and make meaningful information useful wherever it has value. This article will help you understand considerations in designing and using online forms so they will supply the control, compliance, and results you’re looking for.
The basics

Web-based forms that are part of an integrated document and process management system ensure:

* Form content is standardized, consistent, and complete
* Content is available and searchable within moments of creation
* Forms can be accessed, amended, routed, and submitted securely from anywhere, anytime
* Authorized persons can view, edit, and delete forms and their content
* Audit trails of content creation, access, and transactional use are always available, allowing quick response to reviews, reporting requirements, litigation, etc.

In essence, eForms make your people more productive, efficient, and compliant.
What eForms provide that paper forms don’t

If you think you can just scan your paper forms and forego this article, you’re right…and wrong. Scanning paper is a big step forward. However, creating content digitally – rather than scanning the paper later – renders significant added controls:

* increasing the probability of productive search;
* promoting quick completion of collaborative forms;
* making submitted content available instantly;
* enforcing governance policies; and
* promoting significant cost savings (no paper).

Creating eforms isn’t difficult, but reaping the rewards requires more than replicating paper forms. If you plan to automate processing using eforms – a huge benefit — you need to don your thinking cap before you start designing. Here are some standard steps for eforms projects and questions you should ask yourself before you begin.
Conduct a form inventory

Analyzing your forms leads to effective streamlining, ending the collection of duplicate information for different uses and reducing inevitable errors.

Ask:

* What form types do we have (expense reports, applications)?
* What purpose does each serve? (Documenting form function will help users select correct forms when multiple options exist.)
* Is there data duplication between forms?
* Can form types (or content) be eliminated or combined?

Gather accurate information

Research claims 5-10% of your time should be allocated for quality control. Assuming your workers’ error rate is typical 3-5% – or even 1% — errors and correction are costly. Rules-based eforms enforce your rules, collecting clean data by:

* Regulating data collection protocols
* Confirming procedural compliance
* Creating automated reports by throwing form contents against your business rules

Ask:

* What specific information is needed (First name, document ID number)?
* Can content be extracted from existing data sources (line-of-business software, customer database)?
* Must data sources be re-executed when documents are updated?
* Which metadata (such as an invoice number you plan to import from your accounting system) should not be subject to change?
* Which fields should be mandatory? Which can be optional?
* In which order should questions be answered to enable logical, quick form completion?
* What data restrictions would help to ensure accurate data entry? (Examples: prescribing an acceptable date range or the number of digits for an ID number; forcing users to choose responses from drop-down menus.)
* Can we automate numerical calculations using existing data?
* Is the information users will need for successful search marked mandatory?

Classify content so forms and information can be found quickly

Indexing is critical to a successful eforms implementation, since it catalogs crucial information people expect to retrieve. These questions will help you wrap your mind around classification so diverse users can find the information they require when they need it, without fail.

Ask:

* How would I describe this form type and its function(s) within our organization?
* What metadata will workers need to search for historical, reference, or legal purposes (name, document type, customer ID number, etc.)?
* How are documents currently grouped – by department, function, or another method?
* Does it make sense to adapt current practices as an indexing scheme, or can they be improved?

Enforce adherence to governance policies

Purchasing eforms as part of an integrated document and business process management suite lets you control how they are accessed and used throughout the document lifecycle. Your security settings follow each form throughout its creation, storage, and useful life, leaving a clear, continuous audit trail from generation through destruction.

Ask:

* Which groups of users need to access to this form type or its contents?
* Should users be permitted to re-index documents after they have been classified?
* Which feature rights should each user group have, such as the right to retrieve, view, annotate, email, or delete this form type?
* Should metadata values (such as accounts over a certain sum) be used to restrict form access?
* After this form serves its purpose, will we need it for historical, legal, or reference purposes?
* How long must this form be retained in order to comply with regulations?

Since regulations keep mounting and penalties for non-compliance are increasingly severe, governing who has access to your information and how it is used is critical.
Regulate the flow of work

Artist Donald Graham once quipped, “The world seems to be made up of a never-ending series of overlapping forms. There always seems to be something in back of something else.” So it is in business; processes typically use multiple forms that overlap and depend on each other. The greatest efficiency is when eforms automatically launch routine processes, expediting the distribution and completion of work. Even if you implement forms simply as a way to collect and store information, keep your eye on process automation, where the greatest savings and benefits occur.

Ask:

* Which data on each form is needed for processing or decision making?
* Is the entire form needed, or just specific data?
* At what point in each process is the information needed?
* What integrations would allow seamless data transfer from other systems to the form?
* When the completed form is submitted, should it automatically create a PDF?
* Should form submission launch one or more specific processes, email acknowledgements, or other actions?

What you need to know

Version control: Form completion, review, and signoff can involve multiple people, so versioning is critical. Make sure your product tracks when saved documents were created, edited, viewed, and deleted. It’s helpful during the forms lifecycle, audits, and eDiscovery.

Ease of use: Like any technology, this is vital to adoption. Assess whether your product has a user-friendly interface with tools to help users, such as flexible windows, moveable work spaces, and interactive user guides. Although training is important, tools that are easy to use will shorten the learning curve.

Browser-based access: As employees become more mobile, web access to work is becoming crucial, offering flexibility, round-the-clock service, and saving trips to the office. Even if you don’t think you need it now, you will – so think ahead.
Summary

Successful forms management demands that you:

* Invest ample time in design so you consistently get what you need;
* Create a thorough indexing plan with input from all levels of staff so diverse users can consistently find what they need to be efficient;
* Understand and leverage the interrelationship of the forms and processes in your business through eforms and process automation so you can offer better service and realize significant savings.

With these goals in mind, along with these guidelines to help you on your way, you’re on the path to enable smart, sustainable business practices that will make your business more agile, profitable, and successful.
Why choose DocFinity?

Powerful. Reliable. Affordable. The architecture behind DocFinity creates a powerful, flexible document and process management suite that is reliable, easy to administer, and scalable to varied needs. All products are designed around the most contemporary and reliable server architecture, with complete functionality underwritten in web services that are published to clients for easy, thorough integration.

* Browser-based forms let you submit, access, work on, and route forms from any location.
* Configurable security and feature rights ensure sensitive information is protected.
* DocFinity is easy to use, administer, and support: one logon gives authorized users and administrators access to documents, content, and prioritized task lists.
* An intuitive interface with configurable options such as moveable and resizable windows and adjustable column widths maximizes each worker’s productivity.
* Seamless integration with DocFinity document, content, and business process management/workflow software and your existing information systems enables quicker turnaround, better service, and significant cost savings.
* Affordable pricing with licensing and subscription pricing options for organizations of all sizes.

If you’re looking for state-of-the-art technology that you can afford, with friendly and quality support and services wherever you need it, we can help.

*****

Optical Image Technology offers an integrated suite of imaging, document management, and workflow software, including document archiving, lifecycle management, electronic forms, and email management products. To learn more about our products and services visit our website at http://www.docfinity.com, email [email protected], or call us at 800-678-3241.

Investigative Detective – Find Personal and Business Information Like a Professional

Do you love mysteries? Is there a detective lurking there in your subconscious? If you are like most of us, your mind can’t let a puzzle go until you have solved it, but sometimes the answer you are looking for eludes you.

We are all amazed at the flood of information available to us online. Do we need a recipe for chicken? We can find 101 ways to cook chicken. Do we need to know how to remove ink stains from a shirt pocket? We’ll find 99 different answers. We have seen how children and young people have put themselves at risk on Facebook, MySpace, and other social networks. Unscrupulous people are also on their computers in the middle of the night. We need a balance between our need for connecting and our need for protection and knowing the truth.

Most of us want information for very legitimate reasons and public information is available for anyone to see, and this includes our own records open to the public eye. Our privacy is important and we are warned about identity theft and how to protect ourselves. We want to be sure that information about ourselves is correct and then take steps to ensure we keep private matters private.

By the same token we have the right to public information about other people and services that concern us and this is where we can benefit from public information online. In this day and age when people are no longer growing up in places where everyone knows everyone else, we will need information services more than ever before. The data is there for our benefit and to assist us in making right choices in life, and to feel safe.

Here are some of the common kinds of information that you or someone close to you might need:

1. Mystery cell phone number or a misplaced important phone number. You have tried 411, the phone company and yellow pages and are stymied.
2. Background information on a company you would like to do business with. It’s a good idea to look before you leap.
3. Information on someone you would like to hire, but the personal references are insufficient. Perhaps you have moved to a new city and need a doctor or mechanic. Or you are looking for a church or particular kind of a minister. Perhaps you are interviewing for a nanny and you can’t take a chance on hiring just anyone. Our children are precious.
4. Information on possible tenants or even a neighbour that you don’t feel comfortable with. You don’t want to rely on gossip but would like to know more.
5. Your personal records — are they correct? Here is an opportunity to correct mistakes.
6. Doing a genealogical search? You can find this information too in public records.
7. An unexplained item on your bank account or credit card. The credit company has removed the charge, but you would like to know who used your card, for your own peace of mind.

Even though the information is completely open, searching online can be a long and tedious process of sifting through myriad data bases. It’s a good idea to look for packages specially designed to include all the specific needs described above. As the information age takes us into uncharted waters, we all need to be aware of what is at our fingertips to keep us safe and our privacy intact.