It's Officially 2019: Set Your IT Goals

IT Goals Blog

2019 is the year to make your technology a business asset if it isn't already. Sometimes, that can be easier said than done. Just like you set your new year's resolutions, however, you can set your IT goals now to implement throughout the year.

If you'd like to skip straight to a Five Nines Power Hour about utilizing your IT as an asset, click below:

IT As An Asset

Now that it is officially the new year, it's time to set your IT goals. Here's how you can set attainable goals, budget for your technology, and make your IT an asset in 2019.



To set attainable and measurable goals where you will gain the most benefit, you must first set your IT priorities. You may want to put a strong focus on your IT security, or improve your internal/external processes with specific pieces of technology. Maybe, you want to give your company a competitive edge by utilizing IT to decrease downtime. You could also put a focus on the current IT trends that drive business efficiencies such as Wi-Fi networking technology, IT automation, or updating your IT infrastructure and software.

According to the 2019 State of IT study, larger organizations (5,000+ employees) are more likely to adopt newer technology trends because of their needs and budget size. Smaller organizations, however, are trying to improve their current infrastructure and processes. Be sure to set goals that are a good fit for your organization, and focus on how you would like to see your business technology compliment organizational success. Ensuring that all goals are able to be measured and tracked is also a key component to this process.

Related: IT Strategic Planning for 2019 and Beyond



Goal implementation is best complimented by budgeting and planning. It may be helpful to sit down with your IT team to develop a preliminary 1/3/5 year budget plan, so you have a direction of where your business technology is headed. According to Spiceworks, the need to upgrade outdated IT infrastructures is the biggest driver of IT budget increases in 2019. With a budget plan, you will have the ability to anticipate these expenses before they happen.

After surveyed, 89% of companies expect their IT budgets to grow or remain steady in 2019. This year, smaller businesses are making significant increases to their hardware budgets, while large enterprises are increasing their cloud budgets. While both are valuable, it all depends on your type of organization. Just as you set goals that are right for your business, you must also allocate an appropriate budget plan as well.



To make your IT a true organizational asset, put a strong focus on planning, tracking, training, and documentation when trying to meet and plan for your tech goals.

Internal IT Audit: Audit your current IT environment by determining what resources you already have, as well as what you may need in the future.

Disaster Recovery Plan: If something were to go awry, is your data backed up and secure? Take the time to develop a detailed disaster recovery plan that you can follow in the event of an emergency.

User Awareness Training: Train your users on best practices when navigating the web, or how to spot potentially malicious emails.

Download The Social Engineering Red Flags Flier

Consistent Strategic Planning: Take time each quarter to strategically analyze your business technology, and track the progress of your goals.

Documentation: Be sure to document everything, whether it is consistent tech issues that arise, metrics that coincide with your goals, or your month-to-month budget.

While it may seem like a lot of preparation, the more you put in to your business technology the more you will gain from it. Make 2019 your year to set and achieve the tech goals that will benefit your organization. Don't want to do it all alone? Click here.  


What does it look like when IT becomes an asset? Click below for the free Five Nines Power Hour "IT As An Asset", as we dive into IT responsibilities, service requests and security, as well as technology standards, budgeting, and IT training and knowledge.

Click Here For The Free Webinar


Topics: IT, Equipment, Strategic Planning, 2019

How To Sell Managed IT Services To Your Decision Makers

How To Sell Blog  

A Guide to Help Small-to-Medium-Sized Businesses Start The Conversation About Their IT Needs

We understand - having the responsibility for the management of your business technology is a large task. You are likely interested in this blog because you have been tasked with streamlining the technology that runs your business, or you have been struggling with troubleshooting your business technology on a consistent basis. 

We'd like to take some of the stress off your hands by providing you with the tools you need to learn more about positioning the need for Managed IT Services within your business, and how to communicate what you have researched to your decision makers from talking points to a presentation template. The best part is, it's all in one place. 

Take advantage of this FREE resource, and start educating yourself on how to best sell Managed IT Services to your decision makers. 






Topics: Outsourced IT, IT, Five Nines, Business Continuity

How To Effectively Report A Tech Issue

Tech Issue Blog

When reporting a tech issue, the better the communication, the more effective the problem-solving. We want to provide you with what IT professionals look for when addressing a new request so that you can effectively report your future technology issues or questions.

Here's what your engineer will want to know:


This may seem like an obvious question, but it's always important to ensure the engineer knows exactly what isn't working that should be. This helps maintain a strong focus on the request at hand so that the issue can be solved efficiently. An engineer will want to know exactly what went wrong or what isn't working from your perspective. Knowing exactly what stopped working and when the issue started will  help an IT team determine the overall end goal when troubleshooting. So, if something stops working, pay attention to the why and the when.

Related: Troubleshooting Tips - Don't Let Frustration Win 


Another important detail to relay is whether or not the issue is impacting just your device or multiple users within your organization. Not only does this let your engineer know the impact, but also whether or not it's a user specific issue vs. a larger one. Knowing the overall impact will help streamline the problem-solving process.

Your engineer might ask something along the lines of, "When was the last time this worked correctly?" This will determine whether or not this is a recurring issue, which will help lead to the root cause more quickly. Finding the answer to that question will help determine whether or not the problem was caused by an internal process changing, a user getting a new device, and much more.


Defining whether or not the ticket request is something that prevents a user from working helps to determine the urgency of the issue. Depending on the urgency, your engineer might want to connect into your computer right away so that you can show them the issue. Having a user directly show an engineer what led to the issue/what the issue looks like is one of the most important parts of troubleshooting and effectively reporting a tech issue. If for some reason that is not an option, taking screenshots and writing down error codes is always helpful as well.

Effectively reporting a tech issue to an IT engineer can potentially save hours of time when trying to troubleshoot a request. Pay attention to the issue at hand, have a willingness to answer questions, and help your IT team determine the urgency of the situation. Most of the time, clear communication will lead to a simple and straightforward ticket request process.


Having an understanding of the basic functions of your network will be helpful when reporting a future tech issue. Click below to download the Five Nines Power Hour: Building An Optimal Network, a webinar that will teach you all about network basics, network design (the good and the bad), as well as troubleshooting and monitoring.

Watch the Optimal Network Webinar









Topics: IT, Tech Solutions, Managed IT Services, Webinars, Customer Service

The IT Software Life Cycle: 3 Things To Know

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Your organization's users interact with different IT software platforms every single day, so it's important to ensure they are not playing a role in a potential security breach without even realizing it. If software end of life schedules aren't prioritized, these breaches could happen, which is why IT software life cycles must be top of mind to increase overall up-time and eliminate any possibility of a breach.

What does end of life really mean for software? How do end of life schedules impact the security of your organization? How can you implement application dependency planning to keep IT software life cycles at the top of your to-do list?


End of life schedules are inevitable, all products have a supported life cycle where they will be the most protected and work more efficiently. These end of life schedules represent a period of time when a version of a software product is no longer supported, and security is no longer actively provided, to make room for the newer available versions. Once the end of life date of a product has arrived, the provider will no longer provide security patches or updates for that version, regardless if users are still utilizing it. Companies such as Cisco, VMware, and Microsoft release software end of life dates typically 18 months ahead of time so organizations can plan and budget for these changes.

When analyzing an entire IT environment, it's important to be prepared to transition with these end of life schedules. How can you prepare for potential upcoming changes? Start by mapping out all of the business critical software platforms that are in use, and keep a documentation of them so you know exactly what your organization's IT environment is working with at all times. Using this list, refer to the websites of any vendors used to figure out any deadlines that you must be aware of and keep an inventory of deadlines. Not only does this help you and your IT team to budget changes to your IT infrastructure ahead of time, it also allows your organization to be out in front of any security risk.


If you don't prioritize the life cycle of your IT software, there are significant security risks that can leave your IT environment exposed and vulnerable. According to Security Scorecard, out of 349 breached companies analyzed, 58% were found using products that had exceeded their end of life dates. A potential breach in your organization's IT security could occur if IT software life cycles aren't taken seriously. End of life dates are important to keep in mind, because products don't immediately shut down once end of life is reached. The application will still work the same, but you will be vulnerable to exploits, and the software provider won't create any new patches to fix these potential security risks.


Application dependency planning helps manage all changes within an IT infrastructure, including changes regarding IT software life cycles. It's all about tracking how everything cohesively works together through an application within an operating system. This planning looks to see how applications can update and run within an operating system, making sure the entire application ecosystem is compatible. Tracking how everything cohesively operates helps to manage budget creation, timelines, and allows IT teams to make recommendations during quarterly planning. Working through these IT software requirements within an IT ecosystem helps to gather processes that can be used to benefit and support the entire environment, not to mention keep it protected in the process.

All in all, prioritizing software life cycles is just another way to be sure your IT environment is running as efficiently and securely as possible. For technology to support your organization in the most beneficial way, be sure to pay attention to end of life schedules and implement application dependency planning.

Want more advice on ways you can prepare your users to recognize a potential IT security breach? Click below to download our flier on Social Engineering Red Flags to share with your team!

Click Here For The Free Guide

Topics: End of Life, IT, Tech Solutions, Cybersecurity, IT Software

What It Looks Like When IT Becomes An Asset


Building an efficient IT team can make the difference between your workplace technology becoming an asset or a liability. In this webinar, we will discuss how to make your IT an asset by going over how to utilize the right tools, processes, and people to keep your technology running smoothly. 


  • IT Responsibilities 
  • Technology Standards
  • IT Service Requests 
  • IT Security
  • Budgeting for IT
  • IT Training and Knowledge 

 Sit back, grab some popcorn, and watch this FREE Five Nines Power Hour Webinar: What It Looks Like When IT Becomes An Asset. 

Watch the Webinar


Topics: IT, Business Continuity, Webinars

7 Questions To Ask When Auditing Your IT Department

Auditing Your IT Department

Business growth does not happen overnight, nor does it happen without addressing what is working well and what isn't working well within an organization. The same goes for the technology that drives your business. The reality is, your technology should consistently give your organization opportunities to be more efficient and successful. In order to improve how your technology operates within your business, you must conduct an audit to ensure your documentation, processes, and overall technical strategy is aligned with your current business needs.

Here are 7 questions you should be asking when auditing your IT department or Managed Services Provider.

Does the IT environment comply with technological standards?

In order to maintain a healthy IT environment, technology standards must be completely defined and implemented throughout your organization with full executive support. If there is no immediate drive towards standardization, it may be time to begin developing standards that can drive your IT department towards standardization.

How are IT developments documented?

To increase forward movement when it comes to technology, everything must be documented and accounted for. Are all service requests documented in a database? Are service delivery key performance indicators (KPI's) being reviewed on a consistent basis? It's also important to ensure that all IT projects or technology change requests are being documented and are aligning with strategic growth.

How does the IT department manage and monitor the entire technical environment?

Investing in the right tools to increase integration and performance levels throughout your technology is best managed by consistently monitoring the technical environment. How is performance being reported? Is automation a factor within your technical environment? If basic documentation is being collected on an inconsistent basis, a step in the right direction would be to consult with your department to begin investing in the right technology that can add to an integrated technical tool-set.

How does the IT department maintain momentum and continuously improve operating processes?

Formal documentation will help with building momentum within your IT department. Documentation helps show what is working well and what processes need to be improved. All existing processes should be documented, and compliance to process creation and documentation must be high. If your documentation is lacking, start with a basic documentation of processes, and work towards consistently updating and developing IT documentation efforts.

How does the IT department comply with security standards?

A focus on complying with IT security standards should be a high priority. Similar to the documentation question above, when all IT policies and procedures are documented, they must exactly reflect the documentation, and must be measured and reviewed on a consistent basis to ensure that security standards are being complied with. If there is no drive towards IT security compliance, we recommend developing a formal IT security policy to start.

How is the IT budgeting process being prepared and communicated to the rest of the business?

Does your IT department have a formal IT budget based off of your technological roadmap? Creating an annual budget for all IT hardware, software, and operation expenses that can be budgeted for in advance will help your organization efficiently strategize when it comes to technology.

How does the IT department add value to the organization's overall business strategy?

When it comes to executive-level forward planning, does your IT department have full participation in strategic efforts? Is there a technological road map that is aligned with an overall business plan on a quarterly basis? It's important to maintain a focus on forward planning within your IT department to avoid the day-to-day firefighting that derives from having no formal plan or budget in place. Technology is such a strong piece of any business, therefore it should continuously add value to the strategic pieces of the organization.


If any of these questions resonated with you, it's time to take a deeper look at each question and the IT efforts of your organization. Click below to schedule a free IT consultation with Five Nines, or to take a quick IT assessment quiz. 

Click To Take The IT QuizClick To Request A Free IT Assessment

Topics: Outsourced IT, IT, Managed IT Services, Business Continuity

Supporting Remote Employees Through The Right Technology

Working Remotely

In today's world, technology is on-the-go and there are no trends to show that this on-the-go tech culture will change anytime soon. According to a poll conducted by Gallup, in 2017 43% of Americans said they spent at least some time working remotely. Working remotely is becoming more and more popular, whether it is a part of company culture or for special circumstances.

We want you to know that it's okay to go remote, and that working on your devices outside of the office can still be safe and reliable. Whether it's a common trend in your organization or not, the ability for employees to access their work remotely is always good for unexpected, on-the-go work.

Here are some things to think about when configuring your IT environment for remote work.


A VPN, or a virtual private network, is a way to connect to a remote site securely, while using a standard Internet connection. The most common remote access VPN used today is secured via Secure Socket Layer or SSL. This is essentially security technology that protects your data as you pass between the web server and different browsers. Your VPN can be configured to tailor your organization's needs and make working remotely efficient and protected without your employees having to take any extra steps.


There are a few steps every business should take to ensure users can connect remotely. First, you must ensure a remote access VPN is licensed and configured properly on your firewall. Your IT team should also ensure an SSL certificate is purchased so it can be used for the remote access VPN for added protection. Doing this will limit many common cyber threats.

On the remote employees' side, they must have a reliable Internet connection as well as a home network. It is typically fine to work in places such as coffee shops, but users must be aware that they could experience a poor connection from time to time as those networks are used by many outside devices.


Remote solutions are going to look different for every organization, as it varies based on the type of IT environment a company is utilizing. For example, other business class solutions that would allow for employees to remotely access their work are Citrix NetScaler and Microsoft Remote Desktop Gateway. If you are currently using Citrix for published applications or desktops, the Citrix NetScaler option might work best for you as it would be a straight-forward process that would allow for SSL encrypted remote access to the Citrix resources. If your company uses predominantly Remote Desktop Services, the implementation of a remote desktop gateway will allow for remote access by the user.

If your employees are encouraged to work from home if needed, make sure your organization is protected while doing so. If remote work isn't as common for your employees, it's still an important aspect to focus on so that if the opportunity arises the user is protected. Life happens, and sometimes there are no other options than for a user to work remotely. Make sure your organization is prepared.

If you're curious about more ways to collaborate with your team from anywhere through technological tools, click below for a free Five Nines webinar that dives into why Office 365 is more than just an email tool.

Watch the Webinar

Topics: Work Environment, IT, Working Remotely

Mayday, Mayday! My IT Environment Is Sinking!

Mayday, Mayday!-1

Do you feel as though your IT environment is a sinking ship that you are trying to keep afloat?

Keeping your IT environment efficient is the best way to help your organization avoid unnecessary downtime.

Technical environments consist of many moving parts, but today on May Day we would like to provide you the gift of quality initial steps we believe will keep your IT environment above water, and away from signaling a distress call. Want to skip straight to our more in depth recommendations? Click below.

Replacing Old Hardware

An aging IT infrastructure can cause more than occasional downtime, which is why it's important to replace old hardware when it is due for an upgrade. The IDC found that if timely server upgrades are neglected, 39% of peak performance can be lost and add up to 40% in application management, as well as a 148% increase in server administration costs. Computers are no different, in fact J Gold & Associates concluded that companies can spend up to $1,000 per machine in maintenance and repair costs for older computers. Aside from rising maintenance costs, decreased performance, and the higher possibility of downtime, procrastinating the replacement of old hardware is also a growing security risk. If you don't replace old hardware you will be slowed down, and you will feel your IT environment begin to sink.


When it comes to your data, you don't want any of it to be stored directly within any of your IT hardware. You want your data to be on a secured company server that is maintained by consistent backups. Backup implementation varies based on the preference of the IT professional or organization, but the solution of hourly backups throughout the day has proven to have very little performance impact with almost no data loss. Why is this important? According to StorageCraft, the survival rate for companies without a disaster recovery plan is less than 10%, and 90% of businesses who lose their data due to a disaster are forced to close their doors after a couple of years. If your IT environment is sinking, consider adjusting your data backup solutions.


Maintenance is an intentional way to stay on top of your IT environment through routine updates, detailed documentation, and regular network health checks. It's key to pay attention to your technology and prompt your IT team to proactively address issues that could slow down or impede your technology's ability to function properly. Schedule routine update checks and be sure you are consistently replacing the equipment that is no longer functioning as it should within the technical environment.

It's not always easy navigating the technological waves that come with maintaining an entire IT environment. Taking it step by step and keeping your devices top-of-mind will save your organization time and money in the long run. Even if you feel as though your IT environment is navigating just fine, it may be time to assess your technology so you can have peace of mind.

Life Raft

Still feel as though you are sinking? We would love to throw you a virtual life raft by providing you with more in depth steps you can follow to keep your IT environment afloat. Download our free top 5 recommendations to avoid having to send a "Mayday" distress call by clicking below.

Click Here To Grab Your Virtual Life Raft


Topics: IT, Tech Solutions, Business Continuity