vCIO As a Service

Virtual CIO can help in formulating strategic IT goals, planning the IT budget, analyzing/reworking business processes and facilitating technology changes. The main difference between the vCIO function and other technical advisory services is that the vCIO takes a broader view of the client, focusing on business and IT alignment. In this blog, we describe a defined list of objectives to immediately get moving and help begin their new role with the energy, drive, and approach to be successful.

Get a Clear Picture of the State of Tech

The first step of a vCIO should be to get a clear picture of the state of technology within the client’s organization. The simplest way to make that happen is to carry out face-to-face interviews with stakeholders across your organization. This will expose the vCIO to as many different viewpoints as possible. The benefit of being new to the leadership position, is that people will feel more ready to open up to you because you represent a possibility for change. The vCIO will weigh these options against what is feasible.

During interviews, the vCIO will pay special attention to the possibility of “Shadow IT” within the organization. With the ubiquity of cloud apps, people use a lot of technology to do their job that they don’t necessarily think of as falling under IT’s purview.

For example: As it relates to digital document repositories, departments within the same organization may use different platforms potentially resulting in a disjointed operational presence and possible security deficiencies. For example, one department uses Dropbox, another uses SharePoint, yet another uses Google Drive. These scenarios can usually be solved through strategized platform consolidation. This is one real-world scenario that our dedicated vCIO would be able to identify and remediate in short order.

Audit the Organization’s Security Procedures

Regardless of the size of an organization, a key area of IT that requires a more recent appraisal is the organization’s security procedures. 2020 saw data breaches dominating the headlines, and many organizations needed to recognize that being hacked is a genuine and very real threat. Begin by considering what the client organization has, proprietary or otherwise, that might be worth taking. It’s easy to believe that there’s safety in numbers, especially if you are a small business but in actuality, half of all cyber attacks target small businesses. Payroll information, user IDs & logins, and access that you have to other companies’ networks are all useful for a diligent hacker looking to turn a quick profit. This information is easy to use for bank fraud, identity theft, or to help find an opening that lets an attacker “climb the ladderto a bigger, more appealing target.

Target an Easy Win

Although taking bold and innovative direction is a primary instinct of any new leadership, it might underrate the importance of momentum. The team needs to feel like it’s moving forward and getting something done. Momentum is key to mustering the motivation and drive that leadership needs to get to those big goals and implement significant changes. A simple way to kickstart this process is to identify an easily obtainable change, point to it publicly as an essential goal, and then achieve it.

While these goals might be quickly written-off as an easy win or something that is not all that important, it should be clear that we are accomplishing a lot more than just making a basic change. By demonstrating follow-through and giving the team a taste of success, it starts a process that keeps people motivated and makes buy-in contagious.

 Key Objective

The vCIO will set some clear and actionable goals to hit in the first 30 days. They will keep objectives simple and straightforward, and they will set the tone that will prove invaluable in weeks, months, and years to come. Whether you need an interim CIO, expert consultative IT services, or if you are in the search for a permanent CIO, Executive Option’s CIO-as-a-Service program will provide you with the professional assistance you are looking for. Contact us to see which of our areas of focus work best for your company.  https://executiveops.us/v-cio/

 

 

 

Tactical Agile

Are you ready to leverage your competitive advantage in 2021’s reemerging marketplace?

If the COVID-19 crisis has taught us anything, it’s that things change rapidly, and your business needs to adapt to survive.

How Tactical Agile can help you succeed:

Tactical Agile empowers your workforce to be more effective on short-term, high-value deliverables, focused where and when your company needs them.

Overhead – Don’t have the time/budget for a complete Agile transformation?

  • Tactical Agile works with the team you have now

Remote Workers – Evaluating progress and performance of remote employees. Are they providing value?

  • Our Value Focus approach stresses transparency and inspection of ongoing effort. You know what is being worked on; you see what progress there has been

Multiple Applications

  • Agile has been proven effective in various arenas outside of software development, including:
    • Human Resources
    • Finance
    • Education
    • Legal
    • Manufacturing

We at Executive Option are invested in the success of our business partners. Contact us today, or visit executiveops.us, to learn how we can help you make the most of 2021

The Benefits of Using ERP for Accounting

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) has shown to provide transparency of an entire organization by streamlining all aspects of operational segments. Pinpointing the specific benefits that an ERP software can set for your business is essential. ERP, a process management software, consists of accounting, supply chain operation, project management, Customer Resource Management (CRM), human resources, and many other software. The diverse selection of information that an ERP includes is one of the most productive features of the system. Most ERP systems automate and integrate all of the data into one business flow. The centralized data can provide consistency to a company where users can pull the data from any division, making it easier to access the data as well as assist in saving labor times and mitigate mistakes.

 

Integration and Rich Data

In this article, we will be focusing on how an ERP system can bring benefits to accounting and financial management. Some features in the accounting system include billing, revenue recognition, and financial reporting. By integrating all of the information from each department, it allows for more accurate and rich information when it comes to budgeting and allocating expenditures. With detailed data, users can also make a faster and more accurate financial decision, which will make it easier for users to build financial reports.

 

Automation 

The automation feature can streamline accounting works such as accounts receivable, accounts payable management, and cash management allowing users to easily manage the accounts and have the most updated and consistent data. Since the ERP system contains all of the department data, the automation will help users to collect it for creating financial reports. The process will also help increase productivity.

 

Fewer Errors

Human errors are inevitable, but with an ERP system, users can reduce those errors. The continuous advancement of technology is allowing for complicated processes to be more manageable. The automation will help users avoid manual work. More data errors can cause a financial statement to be inaccurate and eventually may cause a problem when filing taxes. The system also works with General Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and ensures all companies will meet the standard of financial practices and regulations.

 

Tracking 

ERP systems allows users to clearly track down the money flow from a customer payment schedule to revenue tracking. It presents a complete picture of a company’s financial activities and status.

 

Firms that have outdated and separate payroll, finance, and human capital management systems, etc. don’t experience the modernized business process standardization. This is achievable through the application of implementing a Cloud ERP software that integrates all of the systems. Modernizing and upgrading the technologies is crucial for organizations who want to stay competitive and increase efficiency of day-to-day operations.

 

ERP systems can work for all departments and an implementation of an ERP system can help companies who are looking to focus on integration and rich data, automation, fewer errors, and tracking. Finding the right ERP system for you can be time consuming, but we are here to help. Our role as an implementor and partner is to help bring efficiency of management to your company.

How COVID-19 is transforming the Film Industry

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, cinemas and movie theaters have been closed and film released have been postponed or even cancelled. This has led to a higher demand for movies and shows from streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, amongst others. The pandemic has interrupted entertainment in Hollywood and many film industries, which led to the fight for industry buyers to purchase independent films. Cast and crews of major films are eager to return back to work after safety guidelines have been set. The fast content of independent films attracted more buyers ever than before. The film festival like January’s Sundance or SXSW which was cancelled but still was able to present and award various innovative finished films for filmmakers to glow their talents, which is a great opportunity to attract buyers. These festivals gather producers, agents, and distributors. It is easy to find needed resources at festivals like these to supply for films for buyers.

The Streamers are eager to generate more content for their audiences. The flexibility that independent films offer is enticing because it reaches the market faster. Additionally, this is mutually beneficial to both the buyer and the creator because the revenue from streams will allow for those filmmakers to survive and continue to create more content. The production value of content produced on set is expected to not be impacted. Independent film companies are in the unique position to capitalize from the revenue disruption caused by COVID-19. Small filmmakers often have limited resources compared to large companies like Warner Bros. and the Walt Disney Company. The independent filmmakers are challenged with less staff, less source, and producing with limited budgets. Some are making the best of their resources, like the Corona film that is following a low budget, single camera film shot inside a broken-down elevator. Also, virtual production technologies have also enabled independent filmmakers to create films entirely in game environments for movies requiring only graphics.

From our experience with the media & entertainment industry, we have worked with CIOs, CFOs, and other senior executives from companies such as SONY Pictures Home Entertainment, Warner Bros. and the Walt Disney Company.  We have led ERP implementations and other high value projects. Executive Option recognizes that information and digital technologies are rapidly expanding and influencing the workflow of media entertainment companies. Currently in this industry, we can see these groups are experiencing likely one of two main issues. One being the improperly connected systems and technologies that are not designed to scale up or keep up with the competitive industry. The other related to an inadequate budget for future resources needed to minimize impact of the disruption and recover. For instance, Executive Option offers CIO as a service, providing end to end implementation for solutions. This will enable independent film businesses without them incurring the financial impact of onboarding a full-time high value talent. Planning for having the right resources at the right time will help increase ROI in different areas such as payroll expenses and accounting, which will lead to a more efficient use of expenses into a more creative role. The increased efficiency in running production will generate more transparency from their financial resources.

Accelerating Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is quickly being changed after companies are assessing their business continuity. Research states that there has been an “over-reliance by suppliers on process and technology change. Not enough thought has been given to how people work and behavioral change.” Business leaders should prepare to see a change in their role. Planning for workforce processes is skyrocketing as companies are experiencing sharp shifts due to the remote switch.  

A role to focus on that will be affected with increasing new challenges is the role of Chief Information Officers. CIOs go further than just maintaining the organization’s current IT infrastructure. A study found that 75% of IT executives were involved in the idea and strategy development for business IT systems. It also showed that over 60% of the respondents reported to take leadership roles in governance. This shows that their future role is to lead not only in IT areas but also in business decisions. On the other hand, the other executive board members become more involved in digital transformation which shows the dynamic integration of IT systems.  

Currently, COVID-19 is forcing many businesses to revamp their priorities in different business areas. This has led to an acceleration in digital transformation to either catch up on past due needed business initiatives or new needed adjustments to businesses impacted by the global pandemic. While revamping the system, organizations are required to consider many factors such as health and safety issues, communication, or effectiveness for business continuity. For example, companies may need to assess which communication platform will allow them to have more flexibility to maintain the effective communication. Another example of this protocol is showcased when factories need to automate their machines in order to minimize human touch.  

A CIO is a foundational element for businesses and is important for driving new IT adoptions, retention, and even expansion. The current unprecedented world environment has led business leaders to change their operational priorities to become more digitally centric. Executive Option offers resources from our CIO-as-a-service vertical to lead the technology organization, augment existing talent, and establish a growth and transformation strategy in consideration of your company’s limited resources, time, or overall skillsets. Additionally, bring the talent to understand your company objectives, goals, strategies, and measures while introducing a strategic technology roadmap for you to best align the technology to support your vision. Visit our website to learn more about how we can help your business.  

ERP Project Recovery

As the COVID-19 pandemic created operation disruption across a multiple number of enterprises, businesses should not underestimate enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementation processes, even if the current system meets your present needs finely, there may be underlying costs, technical difficulties, and resistance that may be hidden. Some organizations are reluctant to continue with costly and complex ERP implementations when the future is very unclear, yet it is imperative to reevaluate which systems and processes are working out.

While you might be eager to uncover the benefits an ERP system will bring to your business, according to trends we see here at Executive Option, buying and implementing an ERP system is one of the most complex projects a business can take on. The main purposes of purchasing an ERP to either replace outdated systems, consolidate disparate applications, or to update to newest and latest technologies in the market. On average, at least 30% of ERP implementations take longer than estimated by companies.

One of the challenging aspects of integrating an ERP system into your operations is managing the changes and expectations that are associated with the process. It is imperative to budget for success, and not just to save money. Numerous amounts of companies try to minimize their budgeting for costs leading into an unpredictable outcome. Regardless of the deployment method, most implementations cost three to four times more than what was budgeted.

How Executive Option Can Help

We understand project may not always go as planned. In fact, nearly 75% of ERP project’s fail. ERP implementation requires complex monitoring and close review when executing. For this reason, we offer solutions from experience in multiple areas of industries for your company to align with the goals you have set to integrate the needed system for your unique business. We will help you evaluate your current ERP system and provide accurate functionality to ensure a return on investment.

What Changes to Expect

Businesses all around the world have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. After slowing down – or even shutting down [for some], they have had to quickly implement new procedures to keep their business up and running. Now that lockdowns have been lifted, we are adjusting to a “new norm.” This means a number of things for different businesses, especially those with high traffic like casinos.

This week, casinos, movie theaters, gyms, bowling alleys, pools and more dine-in restaurants are expecting to reopen. Visitors can expect a new set of guidelines for a number of the casinos. One of them being temperature checks.

In addition, social distancing will still be enforced. Casinos will be reducing the number of slot machines to assure a distance of six feet between guests.

Another action planned to be taken by Casino companies such as the Wynn Resorts, MGM Grand, and Caesars Palace will be the availability of masks for visitors. Visitors will be encouraged to wear protection while employees will be required to wear them.

Floor procedures will not be the only element facing changes. Financial, compliance, and customer management all have been impacted and ramping back up from the impact of shutting down will require close monitoring of these new changes. Due to the influx of money and customers that flow in and out of Casinos at a frequent basis, companies from the gaming industry must have efficient and secure systems installed to accurately record all necessary data and information.

How Executive Option Can Help

To adhere to the financial, compliance, and customer management needs of the gaming industry, Executive Option will work with your company’s complex operational needs by transforming your current technological systems to provide your company with real-time data insights, streamlined revenue audit process, procurement tracking, and accounting management. In addition, Executive Option’s experts can provide you with the resources you need for multi-property enterprise deployments.

Increased Danger of Cyber Risks During COVID-19

During these times of uncertainty, the response to the coronavirus has transitioned organizations and people into the digital domain. As the use of online conference calls, collaborative platforms, digital tools, and business sites are steadily increasing due to remote work, these activities create stress on cybersecurity operations for businesses.

As the COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented event. The sudden nature and wide-ranging impact of this crisis has resulted in a dramatic increase of cybersecurity risks. Something to be aware of is that cybercriminals are using the pandemic as an opportunity to coordinate cyberattacks through various means to gain entry into networks. For example, cybercriminals can use coronavirus fears as exploitation to phish users. The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that there have been more than 4,000 coronavirus related domains being registered at the beginning of the year with three percent being identified as malicious. It is important to remain attentive, so do not wait until an incident occurs.

Here are some examples of cyberattacks to look out for:

COVID-19 Scam Flyers

Due to the pandemic, cybercriminals now have better angles to take advantage of people around the world. These scams may range from fake charities, nonlegitimate organizations, romance calls, and etc. We recommend taking extra precaution when viewing unsolicited emails.

Fake Stimulus Check Emails

Beware of phishing emails asking you to verify any source of personal information for a certain cause. Criminal actors are now contacting victims through new forms of means by creating fake credibility.

In order to stay safe and prevent cyberattacks, here are some cybersecurity recommendations:

Adopt a passphrase instead of a password

  • Password: bACat01
  • Passphrase: bringAwarnesstoCyberattackstoday2020

Keep Work Data on Work Devices

Using a personal and work account on the same device puts each party at risk for cyber-attacks. It is imperative to acknowledge and follow these practices to ensure cyber safety if you are currently using one device:

  • Update and patch all your devices, operating systems, and web browsers
  • Use Anti-Malware Software or Firewall
  • Avoid Public Wi-Fi
  • Frequently backup your work 

Do not insert foreign USB drives into your personal devices or company computer

This is a common breach in confidential data loss or could lead to damage across systems and networks. If a foreign USB is inserted, attackers may use that opportunity to infect computers with the malware that the drive is infected with.

Use VPN software

This ensures that your data is being processed through a private network safe and it ensures more difficulty for cybercriminals to hack into. The VPN concept encrypts your online connections, protecting your data from hackers.

As more businesses are switching and remaining to a remote working state, the consequences of cyberattacks is becoming more prevalent. Executive Option’s experts stay ahead of the curve in assisting businesses from various sources of industries to protect them from cyber breaches. In order to prepare your company with countermeasures, it is vital to us to create a confidential, secure, and enduring cyber defense for your business. As the outbreak progresses and alters the functioning of our socioeconomic systems, cybercriminals will continue their efforts to exploit digital vulnerabilities, crucial information and data. Do not let this pandemic open a window into your network, and it is time to remain vigilant to ensure security and protection for your company.

 

Coronavirus is a Cyber Threat

March 17, 2020 – With more cases of coronavirus popping up each day, countries are taking immediate measures to contain the virus through quarantine. Organizations and schools are now asking their employees and students to begin working from home – however, organizations that leverage enterprise VPNs and RDP to secure their network won’t have that protection anymore. In order to safely work from home here are some tips to protect you and your organization from malicious cyber-attacks.

  • Use a secure VPN
    • A virtual private network allows companies to connect to the internet securely with each other. Messages are encrypted when VPN is used. VPN’s are also affordable when compared to circuits and leased lines. Consider a VPN device for your employees, or for yourself. A popular option that most individuals use is the mudi privacy router which is priced at $199.00.
  • Keep an eye out for the sites that track cookies
    • Some cookies may store some information that you might not want stored – especially information relating to your company like saved login credentials. Use incognito mode and make sure you are logged out of your accounts.
  • Always use website with HTTPS
    • Following a secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is never a bad option. All safe and current websites use it. If websites aren’t HTTPS, it is a sign your information is not safe.
  • Phishing
    • Phishing can take many forms. Some ways to look out for suspicious emails are unoriginal greetings, suspicious links included in the emails, if they are being persistent on getting personal information from you.

These are just the tips of the iceberg. Many hackers and cybercriminals are going to use this tough time to exploit people and companies – delivering malware, stealing private information, and more. Being cyber secure and cyber ready is important for not only people who are telecommuting, but for everyone as well.

 

Artificial Intelligence Today

Advancements in technology are driven by a number of factors that greatly impact the way businesses approach both the market and their own company decisions. Staying in the loop of what is going on in the now relating to artificial intelligence can put your business in a position ahead of your competitors. If your business is implementing different forms of artificial intelligence, understanding the benefits and risks is important. 

One of the main problems that can arise with AI is making it possible to align the goals we have with the actual artificial intelligence’s goals. The objectives that we give different types of artificial intelligence can be translated as overly ambitious when they perform. An example given by Mark Tegmark is “If you ask an obedient intelligent car to take you to the airport as fast as possible, it might get you there chased by helicopters and covered in vomit, doing not what you wanted by literally what you asked for.” Many of us have seen similar situations in which the AI we deal with on daily basis gives us what we asked for but also something we did not want. 

The benefits of AI currently seem to be more appealing to those who use narrow AI daily. AI can help adapt new revolutionary technologies and attack worldwide problems like poverty. Designing artificial intelligence that is meant to accomplish solutions to such things will take time and extreme cognitive task and can be much broader than human intelligence. Benefits can also be on a smaller scale, for example society has witnessed the capabilities of AI and continues to see progressions of applying it in many aspects of their lives.