Once a year, GenCon comes to Indianapolis, and the NextPoint IT team enjoys 4-days of fun and engaging game play with 70,000 other gamers. While board games aren’t technically books, they often come with rule manuals that could qualify as one.
You may be wondering what use board games have in the business world?
Well, board games can offer great tools for team building and development exercises. Just look at the rise of the gamification movement for why games can be great learning tools. So in honor of GenCon this month, this quarter’s book club is actually a board game.
Mental Blocks is a cooperative game that requires a fair amount of coordination, communication, and collaboration among players. The goal is straightforward…your team needs to build a specific 3D object out of multi-colored blocks of different shapes and colors. BUT each team member has a single perspective of the object and must communicate their view.
Bob only sees a single 2-dimensional perspective of the object. His view doesn’t show him any depth, so he doesn’t have any idea what shapes to use, and he doesn’t know what the other sides look like. Mary, Tom, and Sam will have the other 2-dimensional sides, but they have the same problem as Bob. And Heather has a single 3D angle of the object, but she has no idea what the colors are. The team must build the object in 10 minutes or else everyone loses.
The game forces players to communicate together to build the object since no single player has enough information to do so on their own. You can quickly see how applicable this can be for team building. The business is the object, and each player represents different perspectives (or functions) of the business. Each perspective is valid, but it lacks other critical information to form the business.
Sales may see one side of the business while Ops views the opposing side. Accounting & Finance may have a 3D perspective but they may be missing some of the on-the-ground specifics. So each business function must rely on others to help build the business.
If you’re looking for a unique activity for your next team building exercise, it’s worth picking up Mental Blocks. But it won’t be released until the end of September 2019.
Microsoft recently announced that Skype for Business will be retired in July 2021. This continues Microsoft’s development and push of its Teams tool. Microsoft Teams focuses on being a collaboration hub for business teams by offering chat, video conferencing, and documentation into a single point. While it’s nice to have “one tool to rule them all,” there tends to be a tradeoff when tools try to do lots of things.
Sure, a Swiss Army knife can open cans and whittle wood, but it doesn’t really do them well. And as a small business owner, you need to make informed decisions about your technology toolset. Sometimes it’s cost effective to use a wide-ranging tool like Teams while other times it’s better to pay for a specialized one.
With that being said, NextPoint IT thought we’d provide a few video conferencing options for SMB’s to explore while you consider how to manage this transition:
Top Market Solutions
What do we recommend?
At the end of the day, NextPoint IT would recommend seeing how Microsoft Teams plays out. Microsoft has been on point these days with a strong focus on current business needs and trends. Their CEO Satya Nadella has done an excellent job instilling a growth and innovative culture at Microsoft, and it’s showing up in its products.
Plus, Teams is included in all Office 365 subscriptions. Why pay extra for a slightly better tool when you’re already paying for a good one? NextPoint IT will continue to keep an eye on how this transition goes, but we’d recommend seeing how Microsoft integrates Skype into Teams.
NextPoint IT offers a complimentary consultation and assessment for small businesses in the Indianapolis, Fishers, Carmel, or Westfield, Indiana area. And we'd love to discuss how to improve your technology toolset!
Credit: Tim Ludden
I’m not a huge car guy, so it’s always hard for me to know if I can trust a mechanic. There’s a major knowledge asymmetry in our relationship. The mechanic knows a lot about cars, and I know that pushing a button makes it go vroom. It’s a great example of the principal-agent problem.
In much the same way, it’s hard to know if you can trust your IT guys. They know a lot about network configurations, cloud data migrations, troubleshooting, and computers, but you just want technology to work. As a small business owner, you may not be sure if your IT guy is ripping you off or giving you a good deal.
One way to solve this problem is to build a relationship of trust with your IT provider, and to shop around for price comparisons.
NextPoint IT prices competitively for the Indianapolis market, and we recognize trust isn’t easily given but built over time. We understand that a lot of SMB owners have been burnt in the past and are sensitive to trusting vendors, clients, or partners. And a vendor relationship is a bit like dating where it takes time to build those avenues of trust.
But NextPoint IT also offers Monthly Support packages which helps immediately solve the principal-agent problem. It’s what our industry refers to as an MSP. With this model, you pay your IT guys a flat monthly rate to service your small business’s technology. This helps align your IT provider’s interests with your SMB’s interests. Your IT guys will want to make sure all your technology is up-to-date and running as optimally as possible because it costs them time and money if it’s not.
You’ll still want to shop around to make sure your IT provider’s rates for MSPs are within local market averages. But these sorts of monthly packages help ensure your small business’s technology just works.
If you’d like to learn more about NextPoint IT’s offerings and are in the Indianapolis, Fishers, Carmel, or Westfield, Indiana area, just comment below or request a free consultation or assessment.
Credit: Tim Ludden
As a small business owner, you’ve been hearing people talk about “the cloud” for over a decade now, but you haven’t made the transition. And in the past, it didn’t always make sense for a small business to move away from their traditional local server model. However, new tools like OneDrive and Office 365 have made it easier and cheaper for small businesses to transition to “the cloud.”
There are quite a few benefits to migrating your company’s data to OneDrive or Office 365:
But a lot of small business owners aren’t sure how to correctly migrate all their data. SMBs rely on specific IT and network configurations for different work flows. How do you update all the software and network devices to make this transition go smoothly? What configurations need to be made to maintain business continuity?
That’s where relying on a trusted local expert like NextPoint IT comes into play versus trying to learn all these skills yourself. We’ve assisted multiple SMBs in the Indianapolis, Fishers, Carmel, and Westfield area with their data migrations to OneDrive and Office 365. And we'd love to help your small business with its data migration.
Feel free to request a free IT consultation and assessment if you think your SMB wants to finally move to “the cloud.”
Credit: Tim Ludden
In our 3 years of business, NextPoint IT went through quite a few relationships with a lot of ups and downs. We didn't know exactly who we were as a business or what we wanted in a business partner...kind of like dating in high school and college.
But now NextPoint IT has a clearer vision of who we are and what we do. We also know that we want any business partner to be trustworthy and share our values and passions of integrity and valuing people as individuals, not just resources or sales opportunities.
With that said, we're pleased to announce NextPoint IT's partnership with 14:sixstreet LLC. 14:sixstreet's owner Travis Brant is exactly who NextPoint IT wants as a business partner. He places integrity and the customer's needs above the bottom line. 14:sixstreet will be offering NextPoint IT's Desktop and Server Support services to prospective clients.
We look forward to a long and rewarding relationship with 14:sixstreet. And hopefully it will bare good fruit for all.
Credit: Tim Ludden
Small businesses tend to wrestle with their IT costs more than the big guys out there due to a lack of expertise. This often results in significant monthly or weekly business disruptions where some critical technology isn’t working right: the Internet, email, a computer, a printer, etc.
Have you found yourself in one of those situations? You’re the business owner, and you’re troubleshooting a tech problem when there’s more critical tasks to be completed like invoicing and getting paid. Maybe you ask an employee to solve it who spends a couple hours without any success? And you ask yourself, “Why can’t these things just work?”
You end paying some tech a couple hundred dollars after spending all this time yourself. Sunk costs are sunk, but wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to avoid future sunk costs?
The good news is that NextPoint IT has a solution.
One of the major benefits of outsourcing your small business’s computer support to an MSP like NextPoint IT is that we fix these problems for you quickly and efficiently, but we’re also proactively monitoring your IT for possible future problems.
NextPoint IT has a set of tools that allows us to know when a computer, firewall, modem, or router may need to be replaced before it breaks. We’re able to let you know that Bob’s computer is slow, and he could probably be more productive if you replaced it. We know if a server is on the fritz, and you may want to consider transitioning to a cloud solution. We track your IT and attach understandable numbers to it, so you can make informed IT decisions and purchases.
Our tools let NextPoint IT pinpoint problems and fix them before they impact business operations to maintain business continuity. We work as a strategic partner to advise you on changes to your small business’s IT to avoid interrupting your business operations. NextPoint IT makes sure your small business can focus on getting things done.
All of our monthly computer support plans include proactive monitoring.
If you’d like to learn more about NextPoint IT’s proactive monthly plans and are in the Indianapolis, Fishers, Carmel, or Westfield, Indiana area, just comment below or request a free consultation or assessment.
Credit: Tim Ludden
Bob is a small business owner. He doesn’t have a lot of computers or IT equipment in his office, but it’s enough to cause him a minor headache at least once a month. Bob’s employee Tom always seems to have a computer problem and spends half an hour venting to him about it.
Bob also pays his IT guy Joe an hourly rate to come in and fix things when they go wrong. But Bob has noticed that he’s paying Joe more and more every month because the same types of problems keep happening. Bob isn’t an IT or computer expert, and he’s not sure what’s going on.
Sadly, this isn’t an unfamiliar story for many small businesses. There are a lot of IT guys out there, and it’s hard to know who’s reliable. But one thing to consider is whether your IT payment model is right for your small business.
There are two primary IT payment models: the break/fix and MSP model.
What’s break/fix IT?
The break/fix model is what Bob is using. Something goes wrong, and he pays a guy an hourly rate to fix the problem.
The downside to the break/fix model is that it relies on your IT guy to be motivated about looking into deeper root causes with your IT infrastructure. Some IT guys just want to fix the immediate problem and don’t bother digging deeper. If something breaks again, it’ll be on the small business owner’s dime, not theirs.
What’s the MSP model?
The MSP model, in contrast, is when a small business pays an IT company a flat monthly rate for a set of services like firewall, antivirus, break/fix, network maintenance, etc. You can think of it as a retainer.
This model removes the financial risk of IT from the small business and places it on the IT company. If something goes wrong, the IT guys spend time fixing the problem, and it costs them more money, the more time spent fixing the problem. The small business and IT company become true partners in making sure the IT is effectively supporting business operations because both benefit from it.
But what’s the right model for me?
There’s no hard and fast rule here because it’s somewhat dependent on the complexity of your small business’s IT infrastructure and workforce’s technical knowledge. In general, most businesses above 10 employees benefit from the MSP model or if you experience 1-2 IT problems a week. We also recommend checking out our article Top 5 Signs You Need Monthly Computer Support.
If you’d like to learn more about NextPoint IT’s break/fix or MSP offerings and are in the Indianapolis, Fishers, Carmel, or Westfield, Indiana area, just comment below or request a free consultation or assessment.
Credit: Tim Ludden