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5 Signs Your Business Needs Cybersecurity Training

5 Signs Your Business Needs Cybersecurity Training

Cybersecurity Education Begins With Ownership

Small and medium sized business owners beware! 65% of attacks that originate in cyberspace are aimed at companies that think they’re too small to be of interest to cybercriminals. If you think you’re at low risk, read on and see why our IT security consultants recommend cybersecurity training for everyone.

Cybersecurity Training Hacker in Network Security Lock

Are you a small business owner? Or are you a once-small company now grown into the medium range of corporate presence? When it comes to cybersecurity solutions for businesses, you always have to structure your services and behavior to prepare as if you’re bigger than you are. This involves a comprehensive security solution that covers your entire company network, from suppliers to employees. Do you have an enterprise-level cybersecurity strategy that protects every connection and end user from digital harm?

If you own a business, you know how precious your data is to daily operations. Profitability depends on good data management behaviors. Because all companies are vulnerable to hackers, your data should be presumed insecure. Cybersecurity should be a proactive approach to cybercrime, rather than a reactive (disaster recovery) move.

Are you on a cybercrime watchlist?

Breaches happen, even to the most prepared companies. Therefore, your risk management policies should be revisited frequently. Business owners should be part of this process. A board of advisors might be beneficial, and it can be cost-effective to outsource this high-level cybersecurity work to a virtual CIO or to a firm with the technology skills that guarantee security for your data.

What happens when a hacker is watching your business?

It takes about a half of a year for business owners to become aware that a hacker has breached the network. It also takes about two months to react to a cyber attack. 

Here are five signs your business is at risk and in need of cybersecurity training:

1. You are a small or medium size business.

Far less likely to report cybercrime to the authorities, small and midsized companies are viewed by hackers as a low-risk target. Manufacturers and distributors are often looking to scale, and maintaining a good reputation is key to a successful future. As a growing business, you wouldn’t want your reputation to include a history of victimization by way of ransomware.

2. You think it’s a small problem or that someone else is addressing the issue of cyber safety.

Fear of expense often prevents small and midsize manufacturers and distributors from securing the technology solutions and services they need to protect their data. A good backup solution isn’t enough, even though this is what many company owners depend on for risk management. When planning your IT department budget, price out outsourced help, especially when it comes to cybersecurity. Often, the experts at an IT managed services provider (MSP) will be more friendly to the budget than on-site technology staff.

3. You think you need to cut the IT budget… but IT costs are actually decreasing.

Firewalls and phishing filters are a necessity these days. Due to a mix of popularity and availability, technology cost trends show that business owners can get enterprise-level technology services with affordable pricing. Cloud-based IT services, such as SECaaS (Security as a Service) look at the unique needs of your business and adjust pricing accordingly. Only pay for what you need.

4. Your employees don’t know what they don’t know.

Cybersecurity training might be the most important activity you schedule for the end of 2021 or the beginning of 2022. The time is now. Hackers take advantage of poorly trained employees on a daily basis. 95% of security breaches are successful because of human error. Train, train, and train again. Technology is an ever-evolving field, and this ripples into the dark web as cutting-edge malware. Protecting your talented staff from the dark web is key to employee retention in today’s culture.

Fortunately, cyber education is often free online. Formal training is easy on the budget. If you have a million customers relying on your manufacturing operations to maintain uptime, your cyber security plan needs to defend more than credit card numbers and social security numbers. You need an IT solution that comprehensively protects the countless connections along your supply chain, right down to the home offices of your remote workers. 

Sign up for a ransomware simulation attack today to see if your employees are ready for disaster. Employees are eager to learn security breach mitigation strategies because their personal information is at risk in the event of a data leak. Information security begins with security training.

5. You’re likely to pay the ransom if you are attacked.

More than half of small businesses pay a ransom. Reasons revolve around damage control: you definitely don’t want your data or your reputation harmed by a ransomware attack, so in the moment you are likely to pay the attacker. If you think you’d be likely to pay a ransomer to get your data back, then you stand unprepared. Once you have a solid cybersecurity plan in place with a crew of talented IT staff to support your solutions, you’ll know that you’ll never pay a hacker a dime of your earnings. In the event that you experience a breach, you’ll know that you have an incident response plan that won’t involve a ransom payment.

Today’s cyber landscape is riddled with massive corporations hitting the news for million-dollar ransomware attacks. When was your last security audit? It’s better to act as a big little company in a technology culture in which the hackers are frequently more skilled than even the best IT staff.

  • Empower your workers with the best solutions so that they can use their talents to their full extent.
  • Prevent identity theft of employees by securing personal data and corporate data.
  • Bring in a white hat hacker to test both onsite and remote cybersecurity solutions and services.

Can your staff respond properly to a data breach? Do you have an incident response plan clearly delineated so that all employees understand your disaster recovery process? Have employees been thoroughly trained to recognize cyber threats lurking in their email accounts as phishing attempts?

Cybersecurity training involves both on-premise and cloud-based breach mitigation techniques. EstesGroup offers coast-to-coast onsite and cloud IT services, including everything from project and budget planning to education and monitoring.

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Cybersecurity Awareness Month

EstesGroup is a Cybersecurity Awareness Month Champion

Are you mitigating both old and new cybersecurity threats? Are you navigating the vulnerabilities at both on-site and remote office locations? Are you communicating current best practices for cybersecurity across your employee pool? Cybersecurity Awareness Month, held every year in October, helps even the most informed business owners further secure their operations.

This year’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month initiative highlights the growing importance of cybersecurity by encouraging individuals and organizations to take necessary measures to stay safe and secure in an increasingly connected world.

EstesGroup is committed to Cybersecurity Awareness Month and is a 2021 Champion. We join a growing global effort to promote the awareness of online safety and privacy. The Cybersecurity Awareness Month Champions Program is a collaborative effort among businesses, government agencies, colleges and universities, associations, nonprofit organizations and individuals committed to the Cybersecurity Awareness Month theme of ‘Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart.’

Mitigate Threats, Navigate Shortfalls, and Communicate Cybersecurity Policies

More than ever before, technology plays a part in almost everything we do. Connected devices have been woven into society as an integral part of how people communicate and access services essential to their well-being. Despite these great advances in technology and the conveniences this provides, recent events have shown us how quickly our lives and businesses can be disrupted when cyber criminals and adversaries use technology to do harm. We find these security vulnerabilities, while offering actionable guidance surrounding behaviors anyone can take to protect themselves and their organizations.

Secure By Design

What if social engineering attacks, dark web disturbances, and malicious malvertising intrusions into your life simply couldn’t exist? This month, make it a goal to stop them from existing in your business. Here are a few focus points to take into consideration when developing your cybersecurity policies:

  • Understanding and implementing basic cyber hygiene, including the importance of strong passphrases, using multi-factor authentication, performing software updates and backing up data. Creating a disaster recovery plan before a disaster necessitates such actions.
  • Recognizing and reporting phishing attempts whether it’s through email, text messages, or chat boxes.
  • Empowering individuals to not only practice safe online behavior, but consider joining the mission of securing our online world by considering a career in cybersecurity!
  • Making cybersecurity a priority in business by making products and processes “secure by design” and considering cybersecurity when purchasing new internet-connected devices.

If everyone does their part – implementing stronger security practices, raising community awareness, educating vulnerable audiences or training employees – our interconnected world will be safer and more resilient for everyone.

I’m Secure, You’re Secure, We’re Secure

Now in its 18th year, Cybersecurity Awareness Month continues to build momentum and impact with the ultimate goal of providing everyone with the information they need to stay safer and more secure online. EstesGroup is proud to support this far-reaching online safety awareness and education initiative which is co-led by the National Cyber Security Alliance and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Is Your Organization Secure?

Find out now by signing up for a network assessment.

 

ROI of ERP: Software Money Games & Executive Moves

ROI of ERP: Software Money Games & Executive Moves

Once you calculate ROI (return on investment) of ERP software and determine that a new system will result in new profitability, the most important step appears: your software selection decision. But who should make this final and most important decision about the future of your organization? 

Every business has a minimum expected return on investment (ROI) of ERP projects. They have some threshold that allows a potential investment, whether in software or another asset, to even be considered. It takes a balanced software project leadership team to determine if a vendor is providing an enterprise solution that will ultimately result in solid ROI. 

Imaginative visual of business people and financial firms staff. Concept of human resources, ROI of ERP, enterprise resource planning ERP and digital technology

Who are key players and who are “extras” in your ROI journey?

Software implementation team: 

An enterprise-level software implementation is complex and takes a strong pool of talent. ERP (Enterprise Resource Software) implementation poses high risk to your business if your team doesn’t execute projects with exactitude.

External stakeholders:

We live in an outsourcing world and third-party solutions build external networks of trustworthy stakeholders. Advisory boards and partnered firms will be affected by your software of choice, so be sure to entertain their insight in selection decisions. 

Fellow CEOs, CIOs, CXOs, and the like, might have nuanced experience that will give you valuable insight into how a new system will change your company culture. Deployment decisions can also affect external stakeholders. If you move to the cloud, will your new infrastructure support your third-party integrations?

Internal support and project management teams: 

Don’t simply play “follow the leader” when it comes to software management. Choose the talent that matches the task, and build a team that works well together. A complete software implementation can take years with all configurations and customizations in consideration and can significantly alter every aspect of your culture. Deploy a team that could handle any ERP deployment necessary, and your project will be a success. 

IT experts – internal or external:

EstesGroup assists clients on a daily basis with seemingly “simple” technology decisions. In the ever-changing cyber landscape of ever-increasing cybersecurity threats, it’s critical that the people informing your software project leadership team are highly skilled at both soft IT skills and “hard” hardware skills like cloud migration and data center relationship management. Tech-savvy consultants tend to be gifted at ROI calculations. They can help ensure that your initial investment results in cash flow.

The inclusion of IT experts is especially pressing in an increasingly cloud-centric world in which consumption-based modeling can save you thousands upon thousands of both dollars and hours. Make sure to not only consider current infrastructure needs, but also entertain how technology could change. Will the vendor alter your software and force change? Consider Epicor’s Prophet 21 new client architecture updates of 2021 as an example of vendor interference. 

Cloud experts and cloud migration experts:

Even if you choose an on-premise solution, it’s important to get a cloud migration analysis, assessment, and report. Make sure your software selection and implementation teams understand the differences between public cloud and private cloud deployments. Choose the best platform for your future needs, even if investments costs run higher than your ERP software budget had pencilled in. Project plans should adapt to new information. A few extra dollars now for a high rate of return later most likely won’t break your ROI formula.

Independent enterprise resource planning consultants:

It’s important to find someone who isn’t vested in the software vendor and can therefore give an impartial review of your business needs. Enterprise resource planning software firms are everywhere. Look for one with excellent customer relationships. Testimonials are your best bet for understanding the team members you’ll add by bringing in an IT or ERP consulting firm to help in your software selection process.

Who will complete your system analysis?

You and your software implementation team have analyzed the data and prepared your findings. Now you must make a presentation to your executives for a decision. Regardless of the findings in your analysis, the decision must be made at the executive level. They know this software acquisition is under consideration. Even if the return on investment is low, let the executives make the decision.

Their choice might be to ask for further analysis or more data and the analysis returns to your group. They could ask for some reduction in cost from the software providers or possibly a review of whether some costs could be deferred. At the end, they will let you know whether to request the final purchase documentation or to let your contacts at the software provider know you have chosen not to go forward.

Who will determine executive support?

This executive decision is probably required by the rules your business follows and only this group is authorized to make significant financial decisions. There are practical values, too. If you move on to acquire your software, there will be stresses on people and resources and resistance to change. Unless your executive team fully supports the changes required, you will not have the full support of others in departments and functions around your enterprise.

When you get the go-ahead from your executive team, more work is ahead of you and your team. Begin that work with some communication. Let your employees know the decision was made and tell what will begin to happen. You will start forming work teams. Your expected completion date is some approximate future time. 

Between now and then there is a rough outline of work to accomplish, and you know everyone will do their part because there are benefits for all. It can be helpful to make a list of those benefits.

Who will predict and measure ERP implementation success?

  • Is the software a good fit for your business?
  • Are your current business processes ready for change, or are you in need of a business process review?
  • If the software is complex, like Epicor Kinetic or Prophet 21, do you have an implementation plan that will guarantee good ROI?
  • Do you need legal advice to help you negotiate a solid contract with your software vendor?

Cold hard IT fact: In the current climate of Internet of Things (IoT), one of our contacts was hacked through his refrigerator. The ROI of ERP implementation can quickly diminish when ransomware infects your system.

Is your cybersecurity solution protecting your remote workers from their toasters? Sign up for a free technology assessment with Chris Koplar, our cloud & technology expert, today.

 

Total Cost or Total Loss: New Software, New Budget

Total Cost or Total Loss: New Software, New Budget

The cost of a software budget

Software selection can be a lot like car shopping. You do a few test drives. You talk to happy drivers. You ask for the price and then ask for a better deal. You begin to investigate how much this new vehicle is going to cost. One part of the software budget is easy: that it’s going to cost you something. You might already have a quote from your prospective supplier. You might have more than one quote addressing different ways to acquire your new software or ERP system. But how can you predict the total cost of ownership?

African Professional Chartered Accountant Woman Budgeting For Enterprise Software

Initial installation costs

One option for a new software or ERP system is an on-premises installation, complete with your own hardware to support the platform. In the past, this was the only option. A business would pay money at the beginning and obtain the software to install on a company-owned computer network. Ongoing costs would include financing the staff required to maintain support, manage future upgrades, and navigate bug fixes.

Many software acquisitions today use software as a service, or SaaS, as an option. This is commonly known as the cloud, but it is the most public of the multitudes of cloud-based solutions available to businesses. SaaS requires an agreement to pay a fee monthly for some years into the future. Software as a service usually involves low or no upfront cost since the profit for the vendor is based on long-term commitment to the software subscription. Salesforce is a common example of SaaS. Implementation costs are low to none, as the software and related data are loaded on a vendor-maintained system somewhere outside of your corporate walls. Initial costs vary for SaaS, but generally they’re the deal that opens the door for a more lucrative future for the vendor, rather than an early expenditure for the purchaser.

Project management costs

Acquiring and implementing enterprise-level software of any kind is a major project that can require several years to complete. One of the first considerations is that you’ll need someone to manage the overall project. Some companies will hire a specialist who has managed similar implementations successfully with the intention that the job will be limited to this one project. Others might choose to challenge an up-and-coming person already employed with the company to transition into a position of management of the ERP or software project. The intention here is often to develop that person’s skills and groom them for future promotions. There are other options, of course, but the bottomline is that managing your enterprise software project will cost money. Even using an already-employed person has a cost, as someone will need to be hired to perform that person’s job in the interim.

Most businesses will form a steering committee that will act as a board of directors over the project. The project manager and senior executives will fill this committee and help keep the project on track, leading to completion on a schedule that will most benefit the company.

Real costs will come from the defined implementation group. This group can be made from currently employed people, but all of them, while working on the project on a part-time or full-time basis, will need replacement personnel to fill previous roles. One or more software consultants from the software provider will have roles in this group, and all of them will cost money. Likely there will be specialist consultants required to fill roles and perform tasks when the business is in need of additional resources.

Data conversion costs

Extracting data from legacy systems and converting that data to the formats required by your new software is one of those specialist roles. Most of the cost will come early in the project, but some expenses will certainly be ongoing, as new needs and corrections are found during the testing of the new software.

The price of testing

Testing the new software to ensure all transactions and reports yield the results required actually work will be an ongoing cost throughout the project. Some tests will be completed and changes to processes or data will be made and then the test will be made again until the results are satisfactory. Set aside money and time for a testing phase. This is a critical step and should have substantial representation when you’re developing your software budget.

The savings found in training

Your users will need training so that they can work with the new software immediately. Whether you hire training specialists or develop your own training process, there will be an investment here that will result in a lot of savings and profitability for your company.

The budget for hardware and networks

Your new software has the most up-to-date technologies. Likely you will need upgrades to hardware and networks to enable those technologies. Your legacy hardware probably could use some upgrades anyway if your systems were bought years ago. To create an accurate budget for hardware and networks, add up all the incremental costs and make a time-phased list of those costs. You can now compare the costs in each time bucket against the benefits you expect in each time bucket.

Looking for help developing a software budget reflective of your company’s needs and capabilities?

Get a business process review today. Our experts can assist you with full-circle enterprise resource planning, managed ERP hosting, and managed technology. EstesGroup has helped manufacturers and distributors for more than 17 years, and we have specialists for everything from Epicor Kinetic to Prophet 21.

 

When Your Value Stream Begins With Software

When Your Value Stream Begins With Software

Stay in the Flow: Estimate Your Software Value Returns

Businesses are supposed to earn a profit. New software can quickly lead to debt. Before you commit to a new software acquisition, know if your new possibilities will also be new expenses. If one of your customers wants to open up new product channels and your legacy systems will not work to meet development needs, the software selection process begins. You want to keep the good relationship you have with your customer, and you also want the new business. If you’re a small business, this means exploring the greater world of enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.

Software Value Stream Mobile Device Cloud ERP

Can you forecast the revenue stream for this incremental product or channel?

Your customer will have their estimate. You might also be able to increase sales to other customers with the capabilities the new software brings. Is there new business you can develop that did not exist yesterday? Maybe you can win some business from your competitors using your new capabilities. Incremental revenue will also have an incremental cost of sales. The additional margin is what you need to estimate for this analysis. Some of the new sales might replace existing orders and, if this is your case, subtract the forgone revenue associated.

All You Need to Know About the Savings Game

During the meetings you and your team hold for developing software requirements and talking in general terms about this new software, you will hear excited thoughts about sales orders moving faster into production. People will talk about how you can manage inventory much better. Another one might suggest that you could produce the same level of product with half the personnel in a department.

Some “software value stream” thoughts will make it to your software selection requirement list.

Here’s a potential thought stream surrounding value potential, especially when considering adding or upgrading an ERP software.

  • What can I do to enable a 25% reduction in inventory levels?
  • How can I ensure that all new sales orders will be in production or shipping within four hours of receipt of the order? Can I achieve this using only one support person to handle exceptions? Can I do this if I reduce staff to one from the current level of five people?

With new software, value can now be seen everywhere in your company’s future. Other potential savings are not requirements but remain as expectations. You know that you and your team will benefit from this software. Develop your list of savings and describe those savings in monetary terms divided into time phases. Remember that reducing your sales order support staff as described in your requirement only counts when you actually reduce staff.

Downstream From Your Software Value Stream: Ensuring Future Business

Often some of our software requirements enable us to meet new demands such as a new compliance regulation that our legacy system cannot support. When our new software allows us to meet that compliance, we cannot say we increased revenue or reduced cost. But we can continue in business so that there is a clear value. We could say the cost avoided is the loss of any margin that comes from an entire product line, so the loss would have been significant.

Your Total Value Stream

Evaluate all of your cost savings and incremental revenue and any other measurable improvement related to your new software. Lay these objective benefits out in time buckets over the next several years. You will probably be able to name other benefits that are not easily measurable. An easier user interface will be valuable to your employees, but there might not be any cost savings related. Keep your benefits simple and only use those that you can measure. When in the selection process and considering your software value stream, get your costs of acquisition and usage defined, so that you can compare these benefits directly with your costs later.

Book an hour with a software expert & find new value in your business.