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Author Archive

Small Budgets, Big IT Needs

Towards the last few months of the year we hear from many clients who need guidance on how to best use their remaining technology budget. With a limited amount of money and the desire to spend it wisely, we’re often asked our opinion to help them. Most commonly we’re asked, “which item I should buy first?” Closely followed by “how should I prioritize my IT needs in the office?”   As you’re working through your end of year purchasing list, we wanted to offer some guidance.

Start with security.

If you have any computers in your office that are still running Windows 7, the upgrade of these machines should be your priority. You have backburner-ed this, but if your staff is still using outdated windows systems, your office remains vulnerable to an attack.

Next, determine the biggest technology challenges you are facing.  

Do you have enough laptops to allow your essential staff to work from home at a moment’s notice?

    • One thing 2020 has taught us, is that our new normal for work is anything but normal. We have had to learn to adapt, with that, we need to have a way to continue working from any location. BIS always has access to the lowest prices so let us know if we can help you equip your team.

Do you have software that allows your team to work together even when everyone is working from separate locations?

    • At BIS we are not only Office 365 resellers, we are also subscribers. Our team easily collaborates on office documents, and we stay connected via Microsoft Teams. If you are looking for a productivity suite for your entire office, let us know, and we will share more information on Microsoft subscriptions and how they helped transform the way our office works.

Is your phone system reliable?

    • We know how important it is for your taxpayers to be able to reach you and how imperative it is that you have a phone system that is stable.  A modern phone(VOIP) system will allow you to make and take calls through a web browser, an application on your cell phone, and even notify you via email for any voicemails. We use this system at BIS and so do many of our clients. If your phone system leaves a lot to be desired, let us know and we will gladly get you more information.

After helping our clients with hardware and software purchases for over 12 years, we are confident we can guide you with the purchases that will be the best fit.  We pride ourselves on being honest, and we will never just sell something that is not right for you, just to get a sale. We adhere to our mission to:

“Simplify our client’s IT needs, through old school customer service, with the ambition of revolutionizing technology in every area of government.”

We want to help you make the best decision within the boundaries of your budgets. Reach out today, and let us help you equip your office and your team.

 

Storm Response Ready

BIS may be known as an IT consulting company, but first and foremost we are in the business of caring.

The most important characteristic of our team members is not the skills they provide, it is their heart. One recent example of this is the way our team jumped into action as Hurricane Laura was approaching.

Our GIS department worked to create a map based on the storm’s projected path. Using that information, we were able to easily identify who might be in harm’s way. The customer care department then reached out to those people, whether they are our client or not, to make sure that they were prepared, and they knew the best way to protect their hardware and data in severe weather.

The IT team immediately began verifying that all our backup clients knew that we had their data safe and secure in case there would be a need to have to restore data after the storm came through.

After the storm, our customer care team checked in to make sure our clients are safe and sound. Thankfully, for this storm, we had only one client that needed to close the office for an extended period due to power outages and wind damage.

At the very heart of BIS is a team that cares about our clients and it shows in moments like these.

Cyber Security Training Deadline June 14th

HB3834 requiring yearly cyber security training for state and local government offices went into effect immediately when it was signed on June 14, 2019. That means that your cyber security training for this year is due by June 14, 2020.

As the deadline quickly approaches, many people still have questions about who needs training and how to report that your office has completed the course. With the help of information from the Department of Information Resources (DIR) we have put together the following FAQ to help you out.

Who is required to take cyber security training?

State Agencies
-Any employee who uses a computer for at least 25% of their required duties
-ALL elected or appointed officers of the agency must be trained REGARDLESS of how much they use a computer
State Agency Contractors
-Any contractor that has access to a state computer system or a database
Local Governments
-ALL employees who have access to a local government computer
-ALL elected officials NOTE: If the elected board members are PAID, they are considered to be employees, so they need the training. If the elected board members are UNPAID, they are not required to take the training but it is highly recommended

FY19-20 what is the deadline for completing cyber security training?

State Agencies
-June 1, 2020
State Agency Contractors
-During the term of the contract and during any renewal period
Local Governments
-June 14, 2020

How should cyber security training be reported?

State Agencies
-Submit the Executive Acknowledgement of Risk Form in SPECTRIM with the agency security plan
State Agency Contractors
-Send copy of certificate with your bid or directly to client
Local Governments
-Use the self-reporting tool on the DIR website found HERE.  NOTE: Only ONE representative from the local government office will fill this out for the entire office. You DO NOT need to fill in a form for each employee.

What is the deadline for reporting cyber security training compliance?

State Agencies
-June 1, 2020 – biennially
Local Governments
-June 15, 2020 – annually

Is there an extension to the deadline for training or reporting compliance?

No extension are being given for 2020

If you need training for this year, you still have time! Our training is online, on-demand, and only takes one hour to complete. To sign up, please fill in the form HERE.

If you have any questions, please contact Sandy Steele at ssteele@bisconsultants.com

 

BIS GIS Services

Whether you need a ground up GIS solution or a custom-tailored GIS application, you can rely on BIS’ team of professionals to get the job done.

BIS is a full-service GIS provider specializing in data conversion/management, scripting, online mapping applications, map generation, spatial analysis, statistical analysis, training/support, and other GIS processes. With years of experience, we have structured ourselves to become your source for all your GIS needs to further enable your success. Whether a large publicly traded oil and gas company, a rural local government office, or small business, we have seen and done it all. We have a variety of solutions to fit your business needs and objectives. Regardless of your industry, we can help you realize the value of geospatial data, analysis, visualization and mapping.

Recently we have focused new services on the emerging field of using GIS and statistical analysis to further refine mass appraisal processes. Using new Business Intelligence tools and scripting, we can take your maps and data to further refine the information, thus giving you better insight into the appraisal process. This information is then shared through a web page or some other application that allows you to visualize the data in charts, graphs, maps, and tables. You can then base business decisions from this information in a much more informed manner than just looking at raw data.

For more information contact our GIS department HERE.

Imagery Solutions

Traditionally, collecting overhead imagery for large swaths of land was time consuming and extremely costly. We want you to know that those days are over. BIS has partnered with aerial mapping specialist Beacon Aviation to provide the highest quality aerial imagery, with extremely fast product delivery, at the lowest possible cost. This imagery can be integrated into any business solution to help your mapping and data needs.

BIS was provided an opportunity to team up with a remote sensing company, Beacon Aviation. Beacon is located out of Wood County Texas and has been providing aerial imagery services for over 20 years. Beacon has two planes equipped with camera’s and geo-location technology that provides imagery at 6” or better resolutions with survey grade level of accuracy.

BIS will utilize our suite of GIS skills and products to take Beacon’s imagery to the next level for our customers. Using our GIS software, we can process and build an image service that can be brought into our online web maps or their desktop software. Our customers then access their web map or desktop software and then click through the basemap selector to choose the imagery they want to view. They can then view other GIS data layers that overlay the image service.

With this partnership, Beacon will be able to capture the images and provide us the ortho-rectified image file within two weeks of a flight. We will be able to process that image and have it added to a customers map within a week or two. This means that our customers will have the information they need within weeks not months or even years like many of the other providers deliver.

For more information contact our GIS department HERE.

Mobile Field Data Mapping Solutions

Bring your maps and data into the field with ready to deploy solutions tailored to your business needs. BIS has partnered with PivotPoint and ESRI to provide your company easy to use mobile applications that increase efficiency and time for your field staff. The days of carrying stacks of field cards and figuring out the proper folding techniques for those paper maps are over.

With the advent of mobile device technology, many of the business processes that were traditionally performed in the office can now be efficiently done while performing field operations. This allows your field staff to ensure they have all the necessary information they need to accurately perform their duties in the field as wells as providing additional insight using maps in data stored on a mobile device.

These solutions are native mobile applications (iOS, Android, and Windows) that supports a variety of field workflows based on CAMA integration, from simply digitally marking up record cards and sketches to reviewing and editing property characteristics through wizard type forms.

GIS integration provides the option for a map centric field appraisal experience, and allows georeferenced data generated through the Field App to seamlessly populate ESRI GIS platforms.

For more information contact our GIS department HERE.

Transitioning To A Remote Office

How prepared would your office be if you and your team were required to work from home? The 2020 coronavirus pandemic forced many offices to close to the public and state guidelines insisted that even for an essential business, if possible, employees should work from home. Over the last few weeks businesses found themselves needing to split shifts, change office dynamics and even provide working from home solutions for their staff. Our IT team quickly responded and provided safe solutions for our clients.  

We never know when the need to work from home may not only arise because of a global pandemic but for other reasons such as storm damage or flooding. How resilient would your office systems be if some or all your team had to work remotely? 

BIS can provide many tools, services, and systems that can help. We can supply and configure software to help your team stay in touch and be productive, such as Microsoft Teams, part of selected versions of the Microsoft 365 family. Our IT techs can set up SSL VPN remote desktop connections between your core office IT infrastructure and your team. We can supply desktops, laptops, web cameras, docking stations, monitors, network switches and cables to help with a remote office setup.  

If you need IT solutions for working from home, please call our IT team today and get a quote. We understand that having to relocate your team can be expensive, so we work with our vendors to get you the equipment you need at the lowest possible price.  

Call 1-800-247-9045 or email support@bisconsultants.com

Virtual Phones Help You Stay Connected With Your Customers

When social distancing closed the doors for many offices around the state one thing most businesses did not consider beforehand was the ability to answer calls while working remotely. If you had to quickly switch your office to a remote working environment could your team take their desktop phones home and keep in touch? Are you able to install an application onto a computer or smartphone and stay connected this way?  

If you answered no, it might be time to consider upgrading your phone system options. You can either replace your existing phone system or you can use another third-party system to add in one or more services as you need. We can supply and install digital conference phones with their own number for your ARB meetings. Our IT team can also provide your team with a software-based phone system that can be configured to allow incoming calls to ring directly to a cell phone or laptop. The call can then be placed on hold or even transferred to other extensions just like you were working in the office.  

There are so many ways to communicate these days, from messaging services, emails, video conferencing, even social media, but the humble telephone is still an essential part of the modern office. Is it time to upgrade your phone system? Call Britt or Blake for more information. 1-800-247-9045 or email bcallear@bisconsultants.com

IT Support From BIS

Computers save time and allow us to do more with less but can also be one of the most frustrating parts of everyday office life. How many times do we find ourselves impatiently waiting for our computer to do something? Do you dread picking up the phone to call IT support because you don’t want to listen to an automated system tell you how important your call is? 

We understand: you want to get on with your work helped by technology rather than hindered! Our Texas-based IT Techs are friendly, knowledgeable, and responsive. We are the IT support you and your team want to call. BIS IT Maintenance is much more than solving problems when they arise. We work behind the scenes to keep your computers up to date with the latest software and security patches. We make sure your anti-virus is current and monitor your backups.  

Our techs understand that IT issues don’t always start at 8am or stop at 5pm so we have a dedicated-on call after hours serviceWe aim to solve problems before they become problems, so that you and your team can keep working.  

As an IT maintenance client, you can reach out for support by phone, email and now online. We have a brand-new system that lets you easily log an issue for the IT team.  Make sure to register to submit tickets online HERE

Our expertise is not limited to fixing problems with your existing equipment. We can replace computers, servers, printers, scanners, and more. We have software solutions such as hosted email to help you and your team do their job efficiently. Whatever your IT needs are, let us know how we can serve you. 

If you would like more information on our IT maintenance service please email bcallear@bisconsultants.com

Remote Solutions – Online Forms

The COVID-19 global pandemic in late 2019 and early 2020 caused many businesses to close their offices to the public. The BIS Online Forms service will help you to reduce unnecessary foot traffic in your office and make processing forms more efficient. The system allows property owners to conveniently file appraisal related forms via the web. Appraisal district staff are then able to review submitted forms within the BIS Online Forms system and approve, deny, or request more information from the property owner without any need for face-to-face interaction.

 

Some additional features and benefits of BIS Online Forms include but are not limited to:

  • The system provides a safe and secure way to transmit sensitive, personal information.
  • Property owners automatically receive an email confirming that their application has been successfully filed, so there is no need for them to contact your office to confirm receipt.
  • Property owners automatically receive email notifications when any action is taken on their application.
  • Forms are easily organized through filtering and sorting features.
  • Property owners can upload supporting documents with their forms.
  • System Administrators can separate and assign forms to different departments to review and process.
  • Easily locate forms to address property owners’ questions without having to dig through a stack of paper forms.
  • Built-in archiving eliminates forms getting lost or misplaced.
  • Property owners can access ‘read only’ versions of their archived forms.
  • Saves postage expenses since the ‘form revision’ process removes the need to mail forms back and forth to property owners.
  • Easily export completed forms from the Online Forms system and import them into your CAMA software.
  • All forms within the system reflect up-to-date information and mirror the forms provided by the State Comptroller’s office.

BIS Online Forms currently supports the following forms:

  • Homestead
  • Agricultural Use
  • Business Personal Property
  • Disabled Veteran
  • Freeport

 

If you have questions about the BIS Online Forms system or would like a demo, contact us today at webmaster@bisconsultants.com or call us at 1-800-247-9045.

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