In Part 1, we talked about the capital expenses of hardware and software such as purchasing, licenses, procurement, asset management, maintenance, and repair. In this post, we look more at some of the ongoing operational expenses related to aging technology.
expenses can sneak up on cities because they are less apparent and often
involve reactive, unplanned expenses. Like a leech, aging technology
operationally eats away at your city’s money and time in a few areas.
As part of
lowering your operational costs, it helps to consider using an IT vendor that
costs less than adding a full time employee and has an experienced team of
engineers who can quickly and efficiently handle your ongoing technology needs.
By investing in proactive IT support, you take care of many operational
technology needs in one fell swoop from data backup to security. Staying on top
of these operational technology areas helps keep your costs low and
Interested in addressing your operational IT costs and risks? Give us a shout to talk in more detail.
cities modernize their technology, they end up asking, “Why did we wait so
long?” The financial and productivity ripple effects are often so immediate and
startling that it's like getting a positive boost of energy and morale. In
addition, real financial impact results from both a reduction in capital
expenses and operational expenses.
focuses on the cost savings that accompany a reduction in capital expenses for
hardware and software. As you will see, there are many parts and pieces that
affect your budget simply by focusing on the hardware and software you own or
hardware and software suffers from two major disadvantages. First, it’s simply
old, expensive to maintain, and unable to perform at a sufficient capacity.
Second, it doesn’t make financial sense compared to modern and emerging
technologies that save organizations money by simply eliminating the need to
manage hardware and software onsite. Examine the costs of the areas above with
your IT staff or vendor and explore if there are ways that you can save money.
Part 2 of this post will address operational expenses related to IT. If you have questions about your IT capital expenses, give us a holler.
cybersecurity concerns continue to grow and grow, you will often hear that many
data breaches occur because of employees clicking on suspicious emails. It’s
obviously frustrating that an organization can implement the strongest
firewalls, antivirus software, and antispam software and yet still get a
crippling virus from a simple email.
smart to make sure you have as many preventative methods in place that block or
warn people about suspicious threats before they even happen, even the best of
us can still click on suspicious emails. Here are a few tips that will help
employees keep from clicking.
become good at creating sender names that at first glance seem legitimate, such
as “GoogleNotify” in the example below. But take a look at the sender’s email
address. It’s clearly not from a Google email account. Sophisticated hackers
may use a name that looks more legitimate, but email addresses are often an area
where most hackers fall short—making it easier to know it’s a fraud.
Suspicious email attachments usually ask you to do something that
you’ve never done before. If you feel immediate suspicion or you immediately
wonder why an organization would send you this email, then that feeling is a
red flag. For example, if the email says your bank suspended your account and
you need to download a zip file attachment to restore it, ask yourself if that
sounds right. If you’re in doubt, go to the organization’s website or call the
organization to ask if the email is legitimate.
If the email seems unusually desperate to get you to
click on a link or an attachment, that’s a red flag. Especially be careful
about attachments. Any legitimate organization does not typically conduct business
through having customers download zip files as a part of a transaction. And while
many legitimate emails provide links, you need to assess your trust and past
interactions with the organization sending the email. If it’s an email
newsletter from a trusted organization with clear identifying information,
you’re probably fine. But if the sender is asking you to do something odd such
as accessing your email messages through a link (when you normally just go to
your email account), then be extremely wary.
If it is a vague
communication, such as “Undeliverable messages. Get more information” be wary. Any
professional organization would provide more information and context about a
particular issue. A professional email provides a full description of what the
organization asks of you and will provide contact information to not only
handle any of your questions but also in case you want to verify that the email
is not a scam if you have doubts.
is where the rubber meets the road for data breaches. Once you give out
sensitive information like a password or social security number, your
organization may be exploited. This is an area where your employees absolutely
must err on the side of caution. No matter who asks for sensitive information, always confirm
that request with someone in authority. When in doubt, confirm.
If a theme emerges
with these questions, it’s that employees need a certain “street smart”
mentality applied to email. And sometimes emails skirt the line. Recently,
Facebook sent one of our employees a legitimate message that looked like a
phishing attempt. That employee instead went to Facebook directly to handle the
problem instead of clicking through any link in the email—just to be sure. In
another instance, a similar looking email supposedly from Apple turned out to
be a phishing attempt. Erring on the side of caution should be your employees’
rule of thumb, and it’s something to constantly communicate to them to help
avoid viruses and data breaches.
Concerned about data breaches through email? Contact us to talk in more detail about this problem.
document management systems seem logical for much larger cities, they often at
first seem like overkill for smaller cities. We even admit there is a
tangibility and reassurance about paper that electronic files still don’t give
us. You can touch them, hold them, and know those paper documents are there.
paper documents involve many risks that are dangerous if you rely on them.
That’s true even if you make copies of those paper documents. While you may
always need some paper documents in certain cases, here are five reasons why
you need to switch over to a document management system that digitizes as many
of your files as possible.
paper’s reassuring qualities, you can see that paper makes less and less sense
from a business perspective each year. Time saved, freed up space, and the
reduced costs of paper and ink save you money. Furthermore, your liability goes
down. If your paper documents are destroyed, the financial repercussions are
much higher than if you use a backed up electronic document management system.
Interested in discussing the benefits of document management versus paper in more detail? Reach out to us with your questions.
cities, it’s challenging enough to modernize their websites. It creates a big
visual shift for your city, it takes an investment of time and money, and it
opens you up to new website features that you need to learn. But we see many
great new city websites suddenly go dead due to one culprit: content.
information. Text, images, audio, video. It’s what you create to communicate
important information to citizens. But content creation is hard,
time-consuming, and sometimes expensive. It’s easier to write up some copy and
leave it on your website for as long as possible.
today’s Internet-savvy citizens expect more from city websites than ever
before. Much more. Websites are no longer a novelty or secondary source of
information. Today, your website is often the first source of information about
your city that people discover and research.
seven reasons why you need to invest the time, either with someone on your city
staff or a freelance writer, to keep supplying your city with fresh
content takes such constant, ongoing hard work, you may want to designate
someone who primarily takes on the role (or roles) of creating, uploading, and
maintaining your online presence. They don’t need to originate all of the
information, but they can help collect it from busy members of your city staff,
help write it up, and post it.
Needing to freshen up your city website content? Reach out to us for more tips and advice.
If you still use Windows 2003 servers, you’re not alone.
Millions of servers around the world in many organizations still operate using
this popular server platform to run software, databases, and other tools.
Microsoft ended its extended support for Windows 2003 servers on July 14, 2015.
does that mean for you?
Well, you might think things are fine. After all, you’ve
run your software on these servers for many years. Your IT staff or vendor may
even know these servers like the back of their hand. Even if Microsoft ended
support, you’ll be fine, right?
Wrong. Here are several important, critical reasons why you
need to move off of your Windows 2003 servers as soon as possible.
Okay, but what do you need to do next? The important first
step is to recognize that you need to transition from your Windows 2003 servers
to something secure and modernized. While we recommend talking to us in more
detail about your particular situation, generally you will probably consider:
If you’ve run software, applications, and databases on
Windows 2003 servers for a long time, this situation can be a lot to digest
financially and operationally. To ease your concerns and get a game plan going, please reach out to us.
Incorporated in 1967, the city of Bethel Heights, Arkansas has
recently experienced rapid population growth. Increasing from
714 people in 2000 to 2,373 people in 2010, such quick growth
changed Bethel Heights’s classification in Arkansas to a second-class
city. That shift in growth means more citizens needing and
demanding important services. And like many cities, Bethel
Heights found itself needing to modernize its technology to keep
pace with this higher demand and stress upon city staff.
Unfortunately, Bethel Heights struggled to find reliable IT support
to meet the service demands of a rapidly growing population.
The city’s previous IT vendor did not always respond to requests
for help and frequently missed project deadlines. This situation
left the city with quite a few problems and challenges.
Bethel Heights solved these challenges and modernized its
technology by using the Arkansas Municipal League’s “IT in a
Box” service. Powered by Sophicity, “IT in a Box” is a complete IT
solution for cities and local governments. The service includes:
“IT in a Box” helped Bethel Heights:
We are so amazed with the services that Sophicity has provided for Bethel Heights. We thought our systems were
secure until we became infected with a virus. We then discovered we also had many more issues that needed
immediate attention. Sophicity was the only IT company that could provide every service the city needed. Sophicity was excellent in guiding me through my many questions. We have new computers, offsite backup, a reliable wireless network, and 24/7 help. We receive prompt service from a friendly, professional staff. Sophicity transformed our old website from a “lump of coal” to a shiny new diamond! Since we
acquired Sophicity’s services every need has been met with complete satisfaction. - Cynthia Black, Mayor
Print-friendly version of the Bethel Heights, Arkansas IT in a Box case study.
Sophicity is an IT products and services company providing technology solutions to city governments and municipal leagues. Among the services Sophicity delivers in “IT in a Box” are a website, data backup, offsite data backup storage, email, document management, Microsoft Office for desktops, server, desktop, and mobile management, vendor management and a seven-day a week helpdesk. Read more about IT in a Box.
organizations such as cities, technology is often separated from discussion
about business needs and goals. For example, city managers will focus on
important areas like the city’s budget, citizen service, and city operations
and see technology as a separate line item or cost center. Talk about new
hardware, software, a website, or IT support then becomes something that’s more
of a “nice-to-have” that the city can either afford or not. Only when
technology seems absolutely essential or needed to avert an emergency is it
If this is
how your city thinks about technology, you’re not alone. Many businesses and
organizations think similarly about investments in technology usually due to an
“IT public relations problem.” Historically, IT has often seemed like it’s an
arcane, isolated department that uses technology to make cool things happen on
top of regular business goals, operations, and projects.
not the way to think about technology. It’s actually ingrained in the day-to-day
areas that keep city managers up at night. Here are some of those areas, and
why technology helps city managers achieve their goals in each area.
If viewed as
a “nice-to-have” or a cost center, technology can seem quite detached from the
day-to-day worries of a city manager. But if viewed as a core foundation of
helping city managers do what they do best, technology is an essential
investment that helps cut costs and achieve important goals. The financial
investments for technology are similar to ones that justify money spent on regular
asset inventory audits, customer service, talent recruiting and retention, and insurance.
That means you need to work with IT professionals who understand how to speak
your language—not just the language of technology.
Need to talk more about how IT impacts your world as a city manager? Reach out to us.
Thankfully, with our Data Continuity Appliance (DCA) your organization currently doesn’t have to
worry about the threat of losing data as a result of a server failure or
disaster. This service regularly
and automatically backs up your data and allows you to recover your data even
after the worst disasters.
Because 24x7x365 environments like public safety, insurance
organizations, and your organization cannot afford any downtime, we continue to
stay committed to meeting your disaster recovery and business continuity needs.
At no additional cost
and with the possibility of reducing your monthly DCA cost, we are making
the following enhancements to your DCA services.
Contact us to learn more about our DCA and how it can help you back up your data while protecting you from disaster.
If you work
for a larger city, you might understand why hackers target it. The size of an
Atlanta, a Lexington, or a Little Rock attracts a lot of cybercriminals, but
those cities also spend a great deal on resources to defend themselves. We
often hear that hackers should consider smaller cities to be so inconsequential
that these cybercriminals wouldn’t bother attacking them.
only reports on the biggest hacking and data breach cases, leading many of us
to think that only large government organizations get attacked. But many data and
cybersecurity breaches occur at smaller cities that go mostly unreported and
So why do
hackers go after your small cities? Here’s why.
on your probable lack of security. For a quick assessment, ask the following
questions that we posed in a recent webinar:
More questions about the state of your cybersecurity? Reach out to us and we’ll help give you some answers.
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