Risk Management Strategies for IT Systems

Risk management has been around for a long time. Financial managers run risk assessments for nearly all business models, and the idea of risk carries nearly as many definitions as the Internet. However, for IT managers and IT professionals, risk management still frequently takes a far lower priority that other operations and support activities.

For IT managers a good, simple definition for RISK may be from the Open FAIR model which states:

“Risk is defined as the probable frequency and magnitude of future loss”
Risk management should follow a structured process acknowledging many aspects of the IT operations process, with special considerations for security and systems availability.

Frameworks, such as Open FAIR, distill risk into a structure of probabilities, frequencies, and values. Each critical system or process is considered independently, with a probability of disruption or loss event paired with a probable value.

It would not be uncommon for an organization to perform numerous risk assessments based on critical systems, identifying and correcting shortfalls as needed to mitigate the probability or magnitude of a potential event or loss. Much like other frameworks used in the enterprise architecture process / framework, service delivery (such as ITIL), or governance, the objective is to produce a structured risk assessment and analysis approach, without becoming overwhelming.

IT risk management has been neglected in many organizations, possibly due to the rapid evolution of IT systems, including cloud computing and implementation of broadband networks. When service disruptions occur, or security events occur, those organizations find themselves either unprepared for dealing with the loss magnitude of the disruptions, and a lack of preparation or mitigation for disasters may result in the organization never fully recovering from the event.

Fortunately processes and frameworks guiding a risk management process are becoming far more mature, and attainable by nearly all organizations. The Open Group’s Open FAIR standard and taxonomy provide a very robust framework, as does ISACA’s Cobit 5 Risk guidance.

In addition, the US Government’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) provides open risk assessment and management guidance for both government and non-government users within the NIST Special Publication Series, including SP 800-30 (Risk Assessment), SP 800-37 (System Risk Management Framework), and SP 800-39 (Enterprise-Wide Risk Management).

ENISA also publishes a risk management process which is compliant with the ISO 13335 standard, and builds on ISO 27005..

What is the objective of going through the risk assessment and analysis process? Of course it is to build mitigation controls, or build resistance to potential disruptions, threats, and events that would result in a loss to the company, or other direct and secondary stakeholders.

However, many organizations, particularly small to medium enterprises, either do not believe they have the resources to go through risk assessments, have no formal governance process, no formal security management process, or simply believe spending the time on activities which do not directly support rapid growth and development of the company continue to be at risk.

As managers, leaders, investors, and customers we have an obligation to ensure our own internal risk is assessed and understood, as well as from the viewpoint of customers or consumers that our suppliers and vendors are following formal risk management processes. In a fast, agile, global, and unforgiving market, the alternative is not pretty.

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Significant Events in Business

Every day we learn something new – be that personally or professionally – what have you learnt in the last month? People complete gratitude journals and many other similar diaries of successes and positives – what about completing a learning diary to remind yourself of how much you have absorbed and grown!?

It’s your business – you run it, you work in it – without you to be fair there probably isn’t a business for someone else to buy. So you are the key person who makes everything happen – what happens when ‘it’ hits the fan? Something unexpected comes along and takes you down a different path… a significant part of your life is turned upside down.

This is not scaremongering – it’s an honest and very real question?

You are not capable of working – due to injury, illness or mental incapacity you can’t do the work – how are you going to keep the business going? Food still needs to put on the table and if you’re not earning, then can you manage? How long can you last without burning through any or all your savings?

Simple risk analysis is carried out by all potential investors in the form of due that figure, be honest. Now multiply that by 36. Not overly challenging – if you were to invest in a business would you really invest the figure you have just calculated. Most investors want their investment back within three years plus a serious return on that diligence checks on any business they plan to invest in. If you are looking at your business is it one that is built on a sound foundation that you would want to invest in yourself?

Some simple maths – what do you need to take out of the business every month to pay for the lifestyle that you currently have – don’t include a new car and a house in number as well.

You need some form of safety and security should you be incapable of working and bringing in an income. If your answer is simply that you’d outsource the work to associates and business partners then don’t forget to consider the fact that you’d lose 50-70% of that income in paying them, so you would be far worse off than if you delivered the work yourself.

Significant events happen every day in business and they take place outside of our control – are you prepared? What can you do now to prepare you should the scenario ever occur? Have you got the right support team – The Power Team around you to help in these times? If not when and how are you going to create it?

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Five Common Health and Safety Myths Busted

Health and safety plays an important role in all of our lives, with laws and regulations in place to protect us in a wide range of situations. As the number of health and safety rules have increased over the last few decades, it isn’t always easy to keep abreast of current regulations, or to separate fact from fiction. Here are five health and safety myths that are certainly works of fiction.

1. Health and safety law states that trapeze artists should wear hard hats

This commonly-quoted statement is in fact a myth. Whilst a hard hat is a vital item of safety equipment for those working in jobs such as the construction industry, it would be of little use for a trapeze artist. Not only could this hamper the artist’s performance, but it would look incredibly silly, too.

2. It’s against health and safety law to wear flip-flops to work

You certainly won’t end up in a court of law if you wear flip-flops to work. Every workplace has its own rules on what workers can wear, and whilst some businesses may ban flip-flops, others may allow them. Common sense should prevail, however, when choosing summer footwear, especially in situations where a worker needs to protect their feet from heavy equipment or slippery surfaces.

3. It’s possible to achieve complete safety

No matter how much health and safety training you take, or the procedures you put in place to whittle risks down, it’s impossible to attain conditions of complete health and safety. There will always be the possibility of risk, no matter what the situation, even if these risks are extremely minute.

4. Children have to wear goggles to play conkers

Youngsters won’t break any laws if they play conkers without wearing goggles. This myth is fairly dated and goes back to the time when a head teacher over exaggerated the risks of conker playing by imposing the wearing of goggles. Conkers aren’t likely to cause injury, unless deliberate force is applied.

5. It’s illegal for graduates to throw their mortar board

Throwing a mortar board in the air to celebrate the success of three years hard slog studying hardly seems like a criminal offence for any graduate, and the truth is, it isn’t. Injury from being hit by a mortar board is vanishingly rare, and a ban on mortar board throwing is unlikely to become legislation any time soon.

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5 Top Advantages of Promotional Tents for Events

Business Can Be Taken To Different Locations

Most companies conduct business and engage with potential customers by means of showrooms. However, the problem is, traditional showrooms are rigid and inflexible. If they want to let more people from other places know about their brand, it is best to rent or purchase a marquee tent, which is available at local event companies.

All they need to do is set up the pop up tent at trade shows, community fairs, markets or wherever their customer base is located. They will have their own space and use customized branding so consumers will remember their business.

Boost Engagement Using a Standout Display

Companies can network and engage with prospects at trade events. However, it can be hard to get the people’s attention when there are lots of other businesses around. Therefore, they need to do something to let their company stand above the rest of the crowd.

They can customize their event tents with colored walls of their choice and canopies. They can also print their branding in full-color text complete with graphics. High quality tents can draw more customers and provide them with an opportunity to market their brand and products.

When businesses participate in trade events on a regular basis, a marquee event tent can help a lot.

Tents are versatile and User-Friendly

A number of the biggest companies join extravagant traveling road shows that feature modified trucks and campers. This can be cost prohibitive for a lot of businesses. On the other hand, a tent can be a versatile and cost-efficient solution that offers most of the several advantages given by a motorized showroom.

Modern tents are not only safe; they are also easy to assemble using uncomplicated tools. Basic marquee tents can be assembled by only a few skilled team members, reducing costs in the long run.

Marquee Tents are Effective for Sponsorship

One of the effective ways to develop a brand is by engaging with a community. When a business entails some sort of sponsorship, it would be a great idea to rent a marquee tent for a single event or invest in a customized one to use for a long time. This can be used in community functions, sports events and local farmer’s markets, to name a few. When businesses are active in their community, using a tent with clear, visible branding can provide people with a shaded area during events.

They can optimize their marketing by means of creative brand exposure at sponsored events.

Promotional Tents Are Cost Effective

To minimize costs while keeping their business lean and agile, companies can rent or buy a commercial/event tent from their local event tent company. A marquee tent allows them to set up wherever they are, when they are hosting an event on their property or heading out on the road.

The features of versatile marquee tents include interchangeable canopies and walls, mounting solutions for decorations and lighting plus connecting structures that can create a bigger complex of tents for projects like trade shows.

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Important Factors to Consider When Creating a Website

Purpose of Creating the Website

When a website is built with a purpose in mind, this will let businesses have clearer goals that will enable them to improve the whole planning process. Website projects have different goals including building traffic and improving communications between a brand and its target audience.

Prior to developing a website, it is crucial to know the exact purpose of the website. Businesses should also know the best way to set goals and create a website that meets this ultimate purpose. These important things to consider will help them create a focus and support the whole project.

Web Design and Layout

The way a website is designed, in terms of UI and UX, psychologically affects the way people respond. There is nothing better than a remarkable online user experience. When a website is being developed, one vital factor to keep in mind is creating an appealing design. Clean, quality designs allow viewers to focus on valuable content displayed and the brand’s essence.

Typography

It is very important to understand the typography fundamentals for a website. Texts that are extremely big or small can have an effect on the viewers’ response to them. Fonts should be given close attention, choosing one that directly draws the target audience without compromise to the brand’s purpose.

Security

A lot of websites fall prey to hackers either because of ignorance or poor maintenance. Any website can become a victim of several threats including malware and viruses, among others, particularly due to the latest advancements in technology and constant updates that make websites open to many, different risks.

Performance and Speed

Even if websites have great content, visitors can be discouraged when they are slow due to functionality errors. An optimized website that functions fast can benefit from the following: increase in returning visitors/customers, higher search result ranking (that has an effect on traffic) plus efficient mobile performance. These should always be considered before building a website to make sure of an overall effective performance.

Target Market

It is also important for businesses to know their target market and customers’ requirements to build a website that addresses their needs. For instance, a website designed for fashion enthusiasts is far more different than a site built for engineering professionals. A clear understanding of the market specifications will give a clearer picture of the web design, colors, style theme, layout, call to action and content strategy.

SEO and Important Plugins

SEO is among the most important aspects of a website. Even with great content and other smooth functionalities, everything will be pointless if SEO is not given importance. Creating a website that has a clean SEO code will make it easier to be visible to the target audience.

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6 Elements of Web Design That Are Crucial to Success

1.Call to Action (CTA)

Customers get encouraged to engage with a business when there are calls to action (CTAs) on its website. For instance, words like “Contact us today” shows that a business wants to build a relationship with its customers. However, businesses should make sure that CTAs are relevant to a visitor’s level of engagement with the company.

When visitors are only starting to learn more about a brand, the company can ask them to subscribe to its email newsletter. On the other hand, loyal customers will probably like to join a brand’s loyalty rewards program. No matter what companies want visitors to do at their site, they should add a call to action on all their web pages.

2.Short Loading Time

Whenever people search information on the web, they like the loading time to be as quick as possible. Otherwise, they will leave the website at once. Testing their website beforehand will allow them to determine loading time problems, which can be addressed in time for the site’s release.

Providing customers with a great user experience will increase customer retention so it is best to evaluate a site’s loading time the moment it has launched. With short loading times, customers get the information they need when they need it. When a website fails to deliver, it will be left behind by competition.

3.Active Blog

An active blog enables customers to remain updated on the company’s events, most recent products and other industry-related info. It is an effective way to stay connected with them, particularly if the things that companies post encourage viewers to engage with their brand.

Updating their blog on a regular basis lets customers know more about their brand’s values and willingness to encourage communication. When they deliver fresh, relevant, engaging content to users, their brand becomes recognized, which makes them an authority in the industry.

4.Clean, SEO-Friendly Code

It is crucial for companies to have a clean, SEO-friendly code when they are creating new web pages or optimizing those that already exist. Improving a site’s code can boost the overall ROI (return on investment).An SEO-friendly code give a clean picture of a site’s content to guide search engine spiders.

WordPress and other CMS services offer plug-ins that can make the process of boosting search engine rankings and cleaning up code easier. Since WordPress does not require much knowledge on coding, it is a viable solution for companies that struggle to drive traffic to their sites.

5.Compatibility with Different Browsers

With the progress of technology comes the steady growth of internet browsers. It can be challenging to keep up with Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari and Firefox, to name a few. In designing a website, it is a must to make sure that a website can be reached from different browsers.

A site should register well on the major browsers as well as the older versions. Ignoring this important step may disregard a big percentage of a company’s customer base. It can bring about unnecessary expenses to a developing business.

6.Navigation

When customers find it hard to navigate a website, they will leave and move on to other sites. To make navigation more appealing and efficient, businesses should review their site and look at it in the eyes of a new visitor. They should only choose sensible navigation streams.

Including a site map is an effective way to allow visitors to navigate more easily and search engines to crawl a site. In addition, streamlining navigation by removing pages that are not needed or do not perform can reduce load time, which in turn improves the quality of a brand’s online presence.

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Should You Go for Mobile Sites or Responsive Sites

According to statistics, using mobile devices to conduct searches online has considerably grown in the last two years. As a matter of fact, about 95% of mobile device users depend on their gadgets to look for local products and/or services. For this reason, businesses have to make sure that their websites register well on all kinds of devices to reach this increasing number of mobile users.

It is but wise for large companies with web presence to create a mobile-friendly website that can be clearly viewed from any device. So, when businesses plan to launch a new website, it is best to choose a responsive web design that is able to adapt to any mobile device.

Incorporated with Social Media

Nowadays, websites are required to be integrated with social media. Due to the latest technology, sharing information is now more convenient therefore; businesses that do not incorporate social media fail to benefit from the so-called modern day word-of-mouth marketing.

Social media paves a way for customers to promote a business’ brand, give reviews and be updated about the latest news on the company. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest make it easy for businesses to distribute their written and visual content like product images and brand videos.

Captcha Tests

Businesses that do not have ready captcha tests receive nothing but spam in their contact forms, website forms and comment sections. Such tests that come in the form of random letters and numbers typed before submission of a web-based form, spell the difference between humans and robots.

Including these short captcha tests in their contact forms will make sure that humans alone are able to utilize their site’s resources, which let them save both time and costs.

Efficient Security

As technology evolves, the latest, more advanced security risks have greater chances of compromising a website’s reputation. These include malware, viruses, malicious apps as well as the dangers posed by hackers. Websites have to prevent security breaches on the front and back ends.

Ecommerce sites and other websites designed to conduct online transactions require extra security measures to secure customer personal details. To reduce the possibility of browser-based risks, businesses should include SSL certificates in their websites.

While this is being developed, it is crucial to go over the security features added to the website’s framework and design. It is important, as well, to conduct security checks on a regular basis or else, hire the services of a provider for the job.

Customer Testimonials

Customer testimonials, just like offsite reviews, can be used to promote businesses. Including customer testimonials on a site will reveal more about a company’s products, services and customer commitment.

When companies have an existing loyal customer base, they can solicit some online reviews. In case these customers provide their recorded testimonials, this is the right time to make branded videos. The more sincere and detailed testimonials provide more chances of drawing new customers.

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Better Academic Outcomes In Small Schools

Small schools have great variety. We learned that we don’t need standardized schools — that kills the soul! In Chicago we saw fabulous small schools that were Afro-centric, schools that focused on phonics, fabulous small schools about whole language, small schools that are using the city as a place to investigate. Why? Because they were small, they were focused and they beat the odds on academic outcomes. Small schools are the single most powerful intervention that we can imagine for young people. And the evidence at high schools was even more powerful, as you’ll see in our report.

Learning Lessons

There are now data from 25 years on big mistakes we make when we’re reforming high schools. The data reveal these myths:

• Myth One: You can reform schools incrementally. Forget it. You never get to where you thought you were going. Despite your anxiety, work the hard issues up front; you cannot work your way into them. You cut too many deals if you ease off and make everybody happy in the beginning. And I see a lot of people doing that. I’ve seen too many schools start out saying we’re going to break big schools into small schools. They keep almost everything the same. And within three years, they end up with a couple of interdisciplinary classes. The bottom of the school — where failure is more evident — is never touched.
• Myth Two: You can keep the same infrastructure. We’re still going to have the principal, the 16 vice principals, all those deans for discipline, the boys’ deans and the girls’ deans. And department heads and counselors that are organized by an alphabet, and then classroom teachers, who are doing the real work. And what we’re going to do now, maybe, is take the department heads and make them the heads of the small schools. Forget it. This is a time for serious conversation. Where I’ve seen it done well, like in New York City, labor unions have been fabulously supportive. Yet, I keep hearing from management how labor won’t go for it, so they’re not willing to push the limits. You can’t keep the same infrastructure.
• Myth Three: You need a separate ninth grade. One lesson is don’t do a ninth grade school – a kind of vertical, horizontal thing. You just create another threshold, and then the students drop out after ninth grade. If you’re going to build a community, it’s nine-12. And you know what, the seniors do not molest the ninth graders. They help them!
• Myth Four: Veteran teachers are cynical. “Old” teachers can’t and won’t do what’s necessary, and their experience equals burnout. We have seen the limit of treating experienced teachers like they are dead wood. A bunch of schools in New York decided to hire young, excited, amazing young people from Brown and Wesleyan. And they’re all really, really smart. But it would have been nice to have some teachers who know something.
• Myth Five: Standards and standardization are the same. Standards are not the same as standardization. Small schools, by their nature, are very interested in being held accountable — which is one of the remarkable things about small schools. The parking lots aren’t empty at 2:00 p.m. Teachers hold each other accountable; they hold the students accountable; parents hold the teachers accountable; and everybody holds the parents accountable. Kids hold themselves accountable. Standards are not the same as being the same.
• Myth Six: Professional development has to happen from the outside. Teachers have an incredible amount of knowledge, if given the space to say what 20 years inside dysfunctional institutions has done to them. A relation between inside and outside expertise is fragile — and powerful.
• Myth Seven: Tokenism will solve the problem. Two more black faces in an AP class just doesn’t do it for me. You can’t just play with the top and color-coat. You’ve got to take on the whole thing. Whole-school reform is the point.
• Myth Eight: One of my worst nightmares is when people turn small schools into tracks. There was a school somewhere in America, where administrators decided that they’d have five small schools inside one previous big-school building. So one school was going to be the Special Ed school; one was going to be the Chapter One school; one was going to be the pregnant and parenting school; and one was going to be the language school, for the Latino kids. And then, one school was going to be the humanities school, to attract the middle-class white kids back to the school. That’s not what anybody ever meant by small schools. That is a fundamental distortion. Small schools are heterogeneous, and commit to figuring out how to bring the genius out in everyone.
• Myth Nine: The illusion that accountability means rules and surveillance of teachers and students. That is not accountability, that is oppression. Accountability comes from relationships and responsibility. That’s what small schools produce. You can’t hide. It’s a group of committed folks.

Accountability requires autonomy. A big mistake is not giving small schools the autonomy that they need to do the work that they need to do. Small school teachers, and parents, and community members are willing to be held accountable. But the only way they can be held accountable is if you give them the autonomy to develop the curriculum, to organize their time, to figure out their assessment system and the ways that they would measure student progress. We could always close down small schools if they don’t work. However, we don’t close down big high schools when they don’t work. Close small schools down if they don’t work, but first, give them time. Let them grow. Don’t make autonomy a gift that some schools can earn. That’s a setup. Make autonomy a beginning condition. Then put people under the light of surveillance if they screw it up. What we do now is put everybody under the light of surveillance, and it chokes them.

What’s Needed Now?

First, I’m very taken by this “metropolitanization” analysis. It’s a good idea, and very useful to document the space of injustice between what’s happening in urban areas and what’s happening just on the other side of the border. In education, we could easily do that. We could track who’s in Special Ed; who’s getting college-eligible courses; who’s in AP classes; what are the post-graduate outcomes; how much teachers get paid; what are the drop-out rates across our cities; and where are the certified teachers. And we could document pretty easily the redlining of public education.

Second, we need a theory of change. I don’t think it’s hard to imagine where we need to go. That’s not the mystery. How to get there is not so clear; and how to get there systemically is less clear. I’m tired of hearing small schools is not a systemic strategy. It could be a systemic strategy if districts figured out how to learn from small schools rather than crush them. So we need a joint strategy of internal-to-districts work, and external advocacy. There are teachers who are quitting because they won’t teach English only. There are teachers who are refusing to place kids in a bottom track. There are parents who are creating freedom schools in the South, and some of that is getting called home schooling. And not all of those people are our enemies. They are asking for inside help and external push. We need the combination of pilots and protests. We need the melding of internal reform and sit-ins. We need to be working both sides. This is what I mean by the politics of urgency.

Third, we need to offer support for teachers and parents and places not yet engaged in reform. Too many of our friends are teaching and working and committed to schools that haven’t yet done the work. What we can’t do is only go to the places where there’s sufficient energy for change or we will lose some of our most dedicated buddies and friends. I know many of us have committed to staying in places that are not “there” yet, and you’re doing God’s work. Thank you all.

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