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Help Desk, Customer Service, Cloud & Security Insights, with a Side of Altruism!

10 Tough Questions to Help Evaluate Software Vendors

Questions for Software Vendors

Customers interested in purchasing software or cloud services can encounter myriad of problems and obstacles during the purchase process. Your company can reduce the complexity of the software or cloud buying process by asking the following 10 penetrating and informed questions of your potential vendors:

1. Dissatisfaction with product: After my company pays for your software licenses, what if we become dissatisfied?

2. Better technology: What if better technology comes along after we purchase your software licenses?

3. Deployment "out-of-box" vs. time and cost of customization/configuration: How quickly can we be up and running on your product? Does it work "out of the box"?

4. Preparing and comparing the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of all alternatives: What is the estimated Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of your product over four years? Consider all the acquisition and lifetime costs of ownership.

5. Most overlooked critical fine print in software maintenance agreements: What exactly is included in annual software maintenance?

6. Costs of post-implementation customization/configuration: Our CFO is concerned about commitments for ongoing fees. Can we stop paying software maintenance any time we want, but continue to use the software licenses?

7. Vendor product road maps and commitment: What is your road map for future development?

8. Using uptime and support service level agreements to manage our relationship: Does your company charge professional services fees if we have support issues that require reconfiguration?

9. Routine technical support vs. professional service fees: If we want to do additional customization and configuration work after the initial deployment, does your company charge professional fees?

10. Termination clauses, contract term commitments, discounts and hidden fees: Does your company provide Respond and Resolve Service Level Agreements for support service requests that your company is committed by contract to meet?

For a more in-depth look into these questions, see Giva's Whitepaper Ten Tough Questions to Better Select, Compare & Evaluate Any Software or Cloud Vendors.

Look for Hackers to Target Healthcare in 2015

Healthcare Data Hacking

Now more than ever, businesses need to be diligent about securing customer information. According to a recent news article, 2015 could be the "Year of the Healthcare Hack." Hackers could target both healthcare and insurance companies in order to secure customers personal information. The No. 2 U.S. health insurer, Anthem Inc., disclosed a breach of its database that has affected nearly 80 million records leading to investigations by state and local authorities. While in the past, cybercriminals have focused on the financial and retail sector; the new target is less-secure medical data. That being the case, many businesses are starting to focus more on security. According to research analyst Stephanie Balaouras at Forrester, "If your company execs are smart, they will make protecting customers' data and preserving their privacy one of their top business and social responsibilities in 2015." (Forrester)

With all the benefits of Healthcare Information Technology, the obstacle of cyber attacks must be addressed as well. Many businesses have prospered because of HIT and will continue to do so in the future.  However, being proactive in addressing this security issue must be a priority for all businesses in 2015 in order to secure customer information. The Reuters article above mentions that "UnitedHealth Group Inc. and Aetna Inc. have been warning investors about the risks of cyber crime since 2011." Warning investors is important; preventing hackers from stealing customer information is paramount. In meeting the strict HIPAA compliance regulations for cyber security, Giva can be the answer to businesses concerned about this problem. For more information read 7 Key elements of Giva's HIPPA-Compliant Cloud Help Desk Software for Electronic Health & Medical Records.

Value in Healthcare Information Technology (HIT)

Healthcare Information Technology

In a digitized world, one of the greatest conveniences is health information technology (HIT). Considering nearly everyone in the US is a consumer of healthcare, there are numerous benefits to adopting electronic health records. The evidence report, Costs and Benefits of Health Information Technology, outlines a few. Health information technology is a means of electronically storing, recording, accessing, or transferring a patient's medical records. This includes health and medical history. Not only is this paperless and perhaps more reliable, but it allows for "clinical decision-making and disease management." It also allows for prescription filling, test ordering, and care reminding. For example, the system can provide alerts for necessary patient vaccinations or send a prescription to be filled at a pharmacy convenient to the patient. Overall, health information technology improves the efficiency of healthcare - a highly profitable, nationwide business.

However, adopting HIT is costly and requires change in the organization. It is considered an investment, but perhaps a necessary investment in terms of economic advancement. In non-financially focused studies concerning adoption of HIT, areas of improvement included increased productivity by the healthcare provider, improved patient safety and, subsequently, fewer adverse drug events (ADE) and time spent in hospitals to treat ADEs, and better physician decision-making. For example, the ability to reduce the "ordering of redundant clinical laboratory tests could produce an annual savings of $35,000 in laboratory charges." It is economically beneficial to improve the efficiency of healthcare.

In a day and age where nearly everything is digitized, it is only fitting a business as widely used as healthcare should follow suit. Adopting health information technology will improve provider efficiency while increasing consumer centeredness. Electronic health records are more personalized, more organized and more efficient. Although implementation of HIT is an expensive adjustment, benefits for both provider and consumer are apparent. Healthcare efficiency is important to society as a whole.

With efficiency of digital access to healthcare records comes the necessity of increased data security measures. The Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, known as HIPAA, was passed to establish a national framework for security standards and protection of confidentiality with regard to health care data and information. Fortunately, Giva makes HIPAA compliance very easy for our customers. The data center, hardware and software infrastructure of Giva's cloud help desk & customer service software meet the very strict HIPAA compliance regulations. See 7 Key Elements of Giva's HIPAA-Compliant Cloud Help Desk Software for Electronic Health & Medical Records.

Report Analyzes Extent of Data Breaches in California

Interesting reading from the NYT this morning:

"The constant drumbeat of data breaches won't cease anytime soon, according to a new report from California's attorney general, Kamala D. Harris.

There were 167 data breaches reported in California last year, an increase of 28 percent from the 131 data breaches reported the previous year. The information of more than 18.5 million California residents was compromised in 2013, a significant jump from the 2.5 million compromised records in 2012.

Those numbers were skewed by two widespread breaches last year. At Target, personal records for 41 million people were compromised, and at LivingSocial, hackers gained access to 50 million records. According to the attorney general, each of these two breaches put 7.5 million California residents' information at risk.

The majority of breaches — 53 percent — were because of malware and hacking, while a smaller number, 26 percent, was attributed to the physical loss of a computer or device. The report reiterates what many already knew: There is much more information to be stolen through hacking than physical loss. The vast majority of the 17 million records compromised in California last year — 93 percent — were attributable to malware or hacking, whereas only 1.15 million records were compromised by the physical loss of an electronic device."

 

Read more at data breach study in California.

Are your cloud applications HIPAA Compliant?

HIPAA Security For Help Desk, Change Management, Customer Service

Long before the commercial success of the Internet, Brian J. Fox invented one of its most widely used tools.

In 1987, Mr. Fox, wrote Bash, short for Bourne-Again Shell, a free piece of software that is now built into more than 70 percent of the machines that connect to the Internet. That includes servers, computers, routers, some mobile phones and even everyday items like refrigerators and cameras.

On Thursday, security experts warned that Bash contained a particularly alarming software bug that could be used to take control of hundreds of millions of machines around the world, potentially including Macintosh computers and smartphones that use the Android operating system.

The bug, named "Shellshock," drew comparisons to the Heartbleed bug that was discovered in a crucial piece of software last spring.

But Shellshock could be a bigger threat. While Heartbleed could be used to do things like steal passwords from a server, Shellshock can be used to take over the entire machine. And Heartbleed went unnoticed for two years and affected an estimated 500,000 machines, but Shellshock was not discovered for 22 years.

Many of the commercial tools that individual users and large corporations depend upon are built on top of programs that are written and maintained by a few unpaid volunteers in what is called the open-source community. That community, along with big companies like Google, adjusts and builds new things on top of older work. 

Sometimes there are flaws in that code. And over the years, the flaw becomes part of all sorts of products.

The mantra of open source was perhaps best articulated by Eric S. Raymond, one of the elders of the open-source movement, who wrote in 1997 that "given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow." But, in this case, Steven M. Bellovin, a computer science professor at Columbia University, said, those eyeballs are more consumed with new features than quality. "Quality takes work, design, review and testing and those are not nearly as much fun as coding," Mr. Bellovin said. "If the open-source community does not develop those skills, it's going to fall further behind in the quality race."*

Giva is a HIPAA compliant cloud provider for IT Service Management, Customer Service and Change Management. We reduce risk for companies by protecting their data and helping them exceed regulatory requirements. Naturally, we address vulnerabilities like Shellshock.

Give us a call to talk to one of our experts about how we address Shellshock and other vulnerabilities. Or, feel free to learn more about Giva HIPAA compliance on your own. 

* Attribution to the NYT

Experts Say 'Bash' Bug Is a Major Vulnerability

You may have heard the news about a vulnerability in Bash called Shellshock. Bash is a command processor that allows a user to conduct actions through a command-line interface for Linux environments. If the Shellshock vulnerability is exploited, a threat actor with access to a Linux server can run arbitrary commands. Many questions are emerging around how companies can protect their employees and customers.

We can help. Giva is a HIPAA compliant cloud provider for IT Service Management, Customer Service and Change Management. We reduce risk for companies by protecting their data and helping them exceed regulatory requirements. Naturally, we address vulnerabilities like Shellshock.

Give us a call to talk to one of our experts about how we address Shellshock and other vulnerabilities. Or, feel free to learn more about Giva HIPAA compliance on your own. We look forward to discussing this matter with you.

We take security seriously.

IT Help Desk + Customer Service in the Cloud

Watch our eHelpDesk and eCustomerService virtual demos and discover the Giva difference for yourself!

Join Giva for a live demo of our cloud applications to see the Giva difference.

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Twenty Tough Questions to Better Qualify Any Cloud Vendor

How can you more quickly qualify and evaluate any cloud vendor?

This white paper is designed to reduce the complexity of the cloud buying process by providing twenty penetrating questions to ask cloud vendors to become a more informed buyer. Customers interested in purchasing any cloud service (for example, IT help desk or customer service) encounter a myriad of problems and obstacles during the purchase process. The white paper provides practical "how to" advice to help avoid mistakes that even the most experienced professionals make that cost a lot of time and money. Use these questions to poke and prod at your list of cloud vendors.

How to Optimize Your Help Desk/Customer Service/Call Center Staff

Methodology for Optimizing Help Desk & Customer Service/Call Center Staffing to Save Money

 

This is an outline of the White Paper:

Call Flow Design - Understanding the Different Strategies

  • Gate Keeper Model
  • Call Sorting Model
  • Tiered Structure: Specialist Model
  • Tiered Structure: Generalist Model

Financial Impact of the Various Models

How Many Help Desk Staff Are Required For Your Call Volume?

  • Determining Direct Labor Requirements
  • Determining the Number of Potential Direct Labor Hours Available
  • Utilization Rate
  • Sample Formulas

Measure/Forecast Customer Service First Call Resolution Cost Savings

Measure and Forecast Cost Savings Attributable to Increases in First Call Resolution

 

Giva's first call resolution excel calculator tool allows CIOs and VPs of Customer Service to accurately forecast the cost benefits of programs to increase first call resolution such as using a knowledge base, investing in level 1 training, hiring more skilled level 1 personnel, etc.

The direct benefit of improved FCR is significant cost savings. Although hard to quantify, the indirect benefits are equally compelling:

  • Mean time to resolution is decreased, improving end-user productivity
  • Customer satisfaction increases
  • Up-tier resources can concentrate on higher level tasks, optimizing system performance and speeding other projects to ROI and completion
  • Job satisfaction improves for both Level 1 and Level 2 engineers
  • Relations between teams improve
  • Level 1 credibility builds, increasing utilization and opening the door for additional FCR opportunities

 

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