The Importance of IT Documentation


In all aspects of business, there is typically some form of documentation. You could be tracking certain numbers for goal completion, documenting budgets, or analyzing metrics for performance purposes. Just like anything else in your business, documentation of your IT environment is a necessary step to keeping your business technology current and up-to-date.

Documentation helps to identify trends, and having the visibility into the trends of your technology will put your organization's IT at a competitive advantage. Here is what your IT team should be keeping a record of when tracking the happenings of your IT environment.



It's important to have a record of all day-to-day issues your employee's are experiencing with their technology. It's extremely helpful to look at the most common tickets that are inputted when determining future IT strategies. Documentation helps provide a visual into whether one consistent issue is happening across multiple users, or if the same issue is happening to the same user more than once.

Having this cohesive record of support issues will also help your IT team determine how they can best accommodate your users. For example, if a user's computer is slow for a consistent amount of time, it may be time for an upgrade. Another way documentation can assist your IT team is when repetitive issues arise. If there is previous documentation of the same issue, an IT professional will have more insight into solving the same problem quickly, and may be able to determine a more permanent solution as well.

Not sure what this looks like for your organization? Click below to schedule a FREE technical walk through to better understand your IT environment, no strings attached! 

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Product Orders. Ordering new products for your IT environment is a very common occurrence, especially if you have multiple users or if you are consistently bringing in new talent. Keeping an up-to-date list of what products your IT team is ordering will help you make more informed decisions when having to sign off on ordering new products. Understanding what you already have, as well as what you plan to order in the near future, will keep your budget on track and your stress level low.

Your Entire Environment. Documenting your entire IT environment will help to paint a comprehensive picture of how all of your technology works together to support your business. Your IT team will have a list they can pull from when making decisions on whether to upgrade your technology, how to improve your infrastructure, and how to piece everything together within your network. You will also be able to understand what you already have, to narrow down what you may need in the future. Not only will this give you peace of mind, it could save your IT team a lot of time when asking questions regarding your IT environment.

As your organization works to improve and streamline technical processes and procedures, be sure your IT team goes the extra mile in terms of documentation practices. The more you have documented, the more visibility you will have into your business technology. That alone is worth the extra time. 

Having an understanding of the basic functions of your network will be helpful when determining IT documentation practices. 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.

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Topics: Tech Solutions, Strategic Planning

Gartner Study Breakdown: 2019 it trends To Watch For

2019 IT Trends

The tech world has been taken by storm since Gartner released research about the top 10 strategic tech trends of 2019. It's always intriguing to see what the next year has in store for technological advancements, and can also be very helpful in keeping your business competitive.

Below are top trends we pulled from the Gartner study to keep an eye on in 2019. These are based on research that highlight "changing or not yet widely recognized trends that will impact organizations through 2023."



AI has been on the radar for several years now, and is now being used on autonomous things to perform tasks that are normally done by humans. Examples of autonomous things being impacted by AI are: robotics, vehicles, drones, appliances, and agents. This is expected to increase in strength in 2019 and beyond. An AI-related tool that might be more relevant to your business are chat bots. This technology is becoming more and more prevalent in the way users seek information and make requests. Chat bots are expected to improve immensely in 2019 as users continue to rely on them. According to a recent study conducted by Spiceworks, within the next 12 months 40% of large businesses, 25% of mid-size companies, and 27% of small businesses are expected to implement chat bots into their communication strategies.

Data reporting and collection is extremely helpful in measuring business success, which is where augmented analytics come into play. Through automated algorithms, more conclusions can be drawn where it might have previously been missed. Generating analytics will become easier than ever before, and according to Gartner, by 2020 more than 40% of data science tasks will be automated. Bias will be removed, and data insights will become more readily available.



Gartner states that this next year will raise more opportunity for the blending of the digital and physical worlds, in order to create a more immersive world. These two worlds will be blended in several ways, one being through immersive technologies such as augmented reality (AR), mixed reality (MR), and virtual reality (VR). Gartner predicts that increased productivity will occur in both VR and MR, VR technology will increase its' ability to sense shapes and track user's positions, and MR will enable people to interact with their world. According to the study, by 2022 70% of enterprises will be experimenting with immersive technologies.

"Digital twins" are also a prediction expected to slowly arise in the upcoming year and advance in future years. This is defined as a digital representation that mirrors a real-life object, process, or system. These will become more advanced as they will provide a focus on improving specific business outcomes, real-time monitoring and control, driving new business opportunities, and the evaluation of "what if" scenarios. An example? A business model or process will be moved from a white board in a board room meeting to a process that is tracked and implemented completely through business technology.



As information grows more and more valuable, keeping information private will increase in importance. Gartner states that privacy must be rooted in ethics and trust. "The conversation should move from 'Are we compliant?' toward 'Are we doing the right thing?'. Digital ethics and privacy will continue to grow in importance and relevance, especially for businesses.

Gartner defines a smart space as a physical or digital environment in which humans and technology-enabled systems interact. These smart spaces are predicted to increase momentum in the next few years. Smart spaces are all about the collaboration of technology to create an interactive environment for the user. These will be used to connect businesses to their communities, and will drive more social and community collaboration.

The overall theme we are seeing from this study? Interaction. Technology is only going to increase the amount of interaction it has with users and other pieces of technology as the years go by, and 2019 will be no different. Continue keeping your business competitive by staying on top of the latest, most relevant technology to your industry, and don't be afraid to try new things that will streamline your processes.

Technology is always going to outgrow previous expectations, and we can't wait to see what the future holds.

Want to focus your time on business continuity and planning ahead? Click below for our free presentation slide deck about planning for the worst, to keep you at your best.

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Topics: Tech Solutions, Business Continuity, AI, Tech Trends

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.

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

3 Signs It's Time Your Company Gets An IT Assessment

 it assessment blog

An IT environment without a clear direction can easily get lost in the constant twists and turns of tech traffic that is constantly evolving and adapting. When it comes to business technology, feeling lost and behind can quickly turn into a loss of productivity, something many businesses can't afford to lose. Avoid getting lost on the tech map and be sure to watch for the warning signs that will tell you when it's time your organization gets an IT assessment.

Here's what to look for:



Does it sometimes feel as though your IT issues are running your business more than anything else? When IT issues run your business, you may notice that your processes begin to lack, leading to inefficiencies when trying to complete a task or a project. Often, these inefficiencies derive from your organization's IT structure not being well rounded enough to efficiently support all of the technical aspects needed to run a business. Not only does this impact efficiency, but security as well. If you are having any rising doubt about your organization's IT security, it might be time to take a deeper look at it. According to Cybint Solutions, 43% of cyber-attacks target small businesses first.

Technology efficiency can be achieved if it is conducted the right way. Make sure your IT efficiency is up to par with the speed of your organization.



Are your payments constantly going over the projected IT budget for the quarter, or even the year? Not sure when to invest in what types of technology to continue to progress your IT infrastructure? As unforeseen IT issues arise, money is spent in areas that weren't previously budgeted for. A lot of times, these issues come about because of a lack of preparation and resources. When organizations have to spend extra money to solve tech issues, other IT questions, updates, and unfinished projects get put on the back burner because there is no room in the remaining IT budget to fix, update, or replace them.

IT budgeting should only be one piece of your technical wheel, and it shouldn't be something that holds your organization back from improving an IT infrastructure. According to Customer Think, 59% of businesses end up hiring a managed IT services organization because it's a cost cutting tool. If you feel as though you don't know where a majority of your IT budget is going, it may be time to consider assessing your IT environment.



Can you think of a time where a technical support question simply went unanswered? If you and your team must resort to simply "dealing" with a tech problem because you've found that requesting support is too frustrating, the level of your IT support may need to be reevaluated. Your IT infrastructure must have the ability to operate the technology needed to power your organization. There should be enough knowledge and resources available dedicated to providing staff support, consistently analyzing the success of the environment, and implementing IT projects when necessary. The value of your IT shouldn't be a question.

Don't get lost in the twists and turns of the everchanging tech world. Become a presence on the tech map, and make sure your technology supports your organization in the most efficient way possible.


Did one or more of these sections cause you to think twice? Take our free IT assessment quiz to test the strength of your organization's IT environment. Want to skip straight to the proactive approach? Click below to schedule a free IT assessment with the Five Nines team, no strings attached.

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Topics: Outsourced IT, Tech Solutions, Managed IT Services, Business Continuity, 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!

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

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.

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Topics: IT, Tech Solutions, Business Continuity

The Benefits of Promptly Replacing Old Computers

BENEFITS OF REPLACINGAs long as old computers are still running with limited problems they don't need to be replaced, right? It may seem easy to prioritize these updates on the lower end of your technological budget, but it is the wrong way to approach computer replacements. Turns out, waiting until you absolutely must buy newer computer models can be very detrimental and even more costly in the long run.

Here are several benefits your organization can experience by promptly replacing your older computer models every 3 - 5 years.


Keeping older computers longer than recommended can actually cost you more. According to a study conducted by J Gold & Associates, keeping notebooks an additional 2 years (years 4 & 5) can cost you up to $960 per machine. The more wear and tear the device experiences will most likely result in frequent performance problems that become difficult to fix as the computer becomes outdated. Based on a study conducted by Techaisle, maintaining or repairing an older computer may equal or exceed costs of purchasing a new computer. The more time spent trying to get your computers to keep up with your organization, less money is saved and more productivity is lost. Intel even found that replacing your older computers every 3 years provides organizations optimal ROI. The point is, it's worth prioritizing.


Techaisle also found that an average of 42 hours is lost due to an old computer repair. When purchasing a newer computer, your organization is also purchasing the promise of improved application performance and increased productivity. New computers gain faster connections to your network, have an improved battery life, and are typically associated with easier solutions to any technical problems that may arise. Newer devices are always more consistent and reliable, and can help streamline how devices collaborate within your IT environment, giving your organization the most out of your tech budget.


When it comes your business computers, the technical support you receive is extremely important. According to a research study conducted by WiPro, businesses save 52% in PC support costs with new PC's compared to maintaining a 4-year-old system. When updating your computer models, your software support, network connections, and security is updated as well. These updates can save your business from having to pay to fix these issues, and potentially stop them from happening in the first place. After a certain amount of time, developers may stop issuing updates for various kinds of software, which is why your older computers will be at a higher risk of becoming unable to support your business practices.

The cost of replacing old computers is worth it, and not just because it saves your organization money. It is also worth it when it comes to performance and the device's ability to support the work of your organization. Don’t wait until you experience the loss of productivity and money, develop a plan to replace your computers every 3 years.

For more information on this topic, click below to access Five Nines' FREE presentation, "The Cost of NOT Replacing Old Equipment" for more quality statistics and best practices.

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Topics: Tech Solutions, Managed IT Services, Business Continuity

Troubleshooting Tips: Don't Let Frustration Win

Running into a technical problem can be stressful, overwhelming, and a huge disruption to your workday.

Don't be like this guy (thank you to our co-owner James, who provided this example). There is a better way, and we will help you get there. Here are some very simple troubleshooting tips you can try before getting ahold of your IT engineer.

First, pay attention to the error messages. Rather than taking your anger out on your device (like the example above), try taking a picture of the error message so your IT engineer knows exactly what is going on.



If your device is running slowly or is frozen, the first step would be to close the application you are in. It may be a simple solution of closing and reopening the program that will solve the problem. Otherwise, you may need to update the application to get it working properly. If the program is frozen and refuses to close, on a PC you can press and hold Ctrl - Alt - Delete and hit the End Task button, on a mac press Command - Option - Esc.


If all of your applications are closed and you are still experiencing issues, it's time to reboot your device. Make sure you are completely restarting the device, and not simply logging out and logging back in. Restarting a computer or tablet is one of the best things you can do, and can solve a lot of general issues you may be experiencing.

Five Nines Quick Tip: Try to restart your devices once a week if possible.


Be sure to check all of your connections and ensure all cables are plugged into your device. A good way to check your connection is to try to pull up an internet browser. If you have no connection, be sure to check all of the cables attached to your device as well as the power source.

If you cannot find a solution to your problem with these basic troubleshooting tips, ask around to see if anyone is experiencing similar issues. You'll want to provide as much information to your IT engineer as you can to help get you and your team back up and running.

Yes, running into a technical problem can be stressful, overwhelming, and a huge disruption, but with the right IT help you won't feel the need to slam a bat into your computer.

Click below for our free download that outlines some Good Computer Habits that will help you and your team avoid having to troubleshoot in the first place. 

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Topics: Five Nines, Tech Solutions, Managed IT Services