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Blog

The subtle art of listening
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People and process
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Strengthening the foundations
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Power to the people
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To infinity and beyond
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Access denied!
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Aggressive, persistent, brutal
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3 tips to keep your business running
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Don't get held to ransom
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It’s not nearly as bad as you think…
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You know GDPR is coming, but how do you prepare?
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Data, data everywhere! So what exactly does GDPR cover?
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GDPR: Data security got a whole lot more serious
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Team Challenge: Nutbourne Conquers Go Ape
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FSB London Business Awards Finalists 2015
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Microsoft Partner Network - Silver Award for Small & Midmarket Cloud Solutions
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Thames Gateway Business Awards
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Doitforcharity's Santa Fun Run 2014
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A Day in the Life of a 1st Line Support Technician
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IP Expo 2014- ExCel London
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Failures before Success – YDF Entrepreneurs Event
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Is it really possible to strike a good work / life balance when working on a new start-up?
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LEARN HOW TO CLOSE A DEAL
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SALES TALK
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AN APPRENTICESHIP: INTERVIEW WITH AARON PATERSON
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ENCRYPT YOUR SITE AND GET A HIGHER GOOGLE RANKING
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EXPECTATIONS VS. THE REALITIES OF A CAREER: A GRADUATE EXPERIENCE
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GETTING IT RIGHT: SALES AND MARKETING SUCCESS
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Page 1 of 7


THE SUBTLE ART OF LISTENING

Posted on 10/8/17 by Tom Holmes

As you transition from small to medium sized organisation, the number of staff you employ and the number of clients you service increases. Taking the time to manage both of these correctly can help to identify and avoid problems. The key is to listen to what they are saying.

“When you are a small company of six or seven people it is easier to talk to your staff or for them to raise concerns with you,” says Nutbourne Managing Director Marcus Evans. “When that number increases to say 25 or 30 it’s harder for employees to make their voices heard. Management’s default position tends to be to fight fires rather than preventing them.”

One of the biggest problems Nutbourne faced this year was that nobody had made time for management. Having grown from seven employees in 2013 to just under 30 in 2017, Marcus admits that the company were just about doing the yearly appraisals.

“The problem that creates is that most employees goals weren’t accurate. You, therefore, can’t hold them accountable because you haven’t steered them. Added to that, there were a number of grievances that we didn’t know we had.

“When I took over as Managing Director, I introduced daily management procedures. I meet with employees weekly for an informal chat, monthly for a more lengthy discussion about how work is going, and quarterly to look at the appraisal and see how it’s tracking.

“What this has given us is greater transparency in the organisation and greater motivation amongst our team. People are no longer sitting on problems because they haven’t spoken to management for months. They are empowered because we can track their progress against their appraisal. It is arguably one of the most important things we have done as a business.”

Equally important, Marcus adds, is the decision to roll out a similar policy with clients. Nutbourne found that every so often a client would serve notice without reason or any indication that they were doing so.

“We’d have no idea, or that it was even coming and there would be nothing we could do. We have an account management process we put in place a couple of years ago.

“We have monthly or quarterly meetings to talk about issues resolved, quality of work, satisfaction. With that in place they see we’re doing the job we’re paid to do and they can bring any problems to us and we can resolve them without it ever becoming contract threatening.

“Every aspect of staff and client management is all about communication. If you aren’t communicating you aren’t listening, and if you aren’t listening you aren’t able to make a decision about what to do because you don’t know the situation.”    

Posted in Business, Business Strategy


PEOPLE AND PROCESS

Posted on 02/08/17 by Tom Holmes

There’s a lot of crossover between people, process and procedure. To a degree, they support each and make each more effective. When you add software systems to that mix you enhance your accountability, transparency and rigour further. It’s a very important part of growing from a small to medium-sized company.

“Take for example our growth,” says Nutbourne’s Marcus Evans. “As we began to get bigger and people were given their own areas of responsibility, they became more accountable for what they were doing. So the good will that we built our company around becomes less relevant.”

So rather than good will where people put in extra hours where they need to, or go the extra mile, or take calls at home, processes and procedures are in place to ensure that those things are dealt with without impinging on one individual while everyone else is leaving the office. The same applies to efficiency too.

“When there are 20 or 30 tickets on the desk, any software programme will be able to show you those – we’re now average between 120 to 130 open tickets at a time. If you have six people in the first line dealing with them, and six people in the second line dealing with them you have a different problem.

“We had to put in a lot of processes so that we didn’t miss tickets. It’s very easy to miss things when people don’t know what they’re responsible for. It’s also easy for tickets to get missed and for clients to get unhappy.”

One of the things Nutbourne did was to get its software to the point where it could run, though it is close to reaching its natural lifespan as the company expands. A more integrated, end-to-end system will replace it and, according to Marcus, will provide the platform for the next level of growth.

“It’s far more efficient and means information isn’t lost. This is part of the growth from small to medium sized company – we have done that in sales, staffing and responsibility – the next step is processes and systems to make sure we have a robust base to grow from.

“You can grow into a system that can have 500 open processes at a time; with one that is limited to 120 you have to tinker with it to make it work. That doesn’t really work.”

“Ultimately, you need a strong base to grow a large pyramid. A five-person company can change into a 20 person company without more than organic growth. A five-person company will struggle to get to a 100 people without radically changing its processes and the way it does things.”    

Posted in Business strategy, Business development, software


STRENGTHENING THE FOUNDATIONS

Posted on 27/7/2017 by Tom Holmes

The transition from small company to medium company is rarely smooth, but it can be made much easier with the correct framework in place. A company that grows from seven staff to 27 staff takes on a considerable HR burden.  A company that grows from four clients to 68 takes on a lot more work and needs to be far more accountable.

Both aspects demand better processes and more rigour.When you’re a small company you’re six or seven people, you’re all doing everything, you’re doing what you need to do and there is not a lot of process or rigour, or documentation,” says Nutbourne’s Marcus Evans.

“It’s more a case of let’s get this done, we need to deliver and we need to pay the bills. When you start to get bigger and people get their own area what you’ll find is that you’ll start to get responsibility for set areas, you’ll be more accountable for what you’re doing.”

From a people perspective, the focus moves, Marcus adds. People that are organised and document their work become increasingly valuable because they follow process and procedure as a matter of course.

In their absence, things can still get done, whereas those that are disorganised will get their job done but when it comes to relying on other people in the organisation to help them, it’s a problem.

“So your HR focus shifts. When you need to recruit, you need people that buy into your organisation as a concept. You need processes and policies in place for discipline and accountability. You can no longer rely solely on the camaraderie you had when there were 5 or 6 people.

“People can hide in a group and you don’t know they’re not working hard enough. So we have put in place metrics like number of tickets solved in a month, quality of tickets solved – just so that we know what they’re doing.

“Of course you need to have the software and programmes in place to do this, which we have addressed too.”

In the next article, we examine how software, systems and processes have given Nutbourne greater transparency    

Posted in Business, Business strategy


POWER TO THE PEOPLE

Posted on 20/07/17 by Tom Holmes

Having the right people in the right place is vital for any business. They’re your biggest expense and your biggest asset. Getting it right is hard, but if you do get it right, your business will soar.

“HR has been the single biggest problem and the single biggest benefit to us in the last five years,” says Nutbourne Managing Director Marcus Evans. “You need to have the right people in the organisation or it doesn’t work.

“What you’ll find is, the wrong person put into a team can completely change its dynamic. You don’t realise this until you put one wrong person into a team that up until that point had been functioning very well.  That team starts not to work so well – and that’s why recruitment is so important to get right.”

Getting it right is tricky, and as you move from small to medium, the playing field changes. Recruitment is less of an issue when you’re small because you have a good narrative – we’re small, we’re niche, we’re taking on the establishment – when you’re medium you’ve achieved that.

“You find yourself competing against other known companies for employees. It’s a different challenge. The calibre of employees you need changes – you want someone that has a level of experience similar to where your organisation will be in two years. Those people are aware of the challenges and can help your growth. In that respect, HR becomes very important.”

“Getting recruitment wrong wastes everyone’s time. If you have someone who fails probation, and if they have been well managed in that time, you have made a hiring mistake. Some of these mistakes are inevitable, but this is why an interview process needs to be stringent. We hire one person for every eight first round interviews we do. For second rounds it’s one in four.

“We screen people out in a tough way so that the risk of a bad hire is minimised. If you do get a bad hire, get them out as quickly as possible. This minimises the time spent with them, and allows you to recruit that role again, but better. A bad hire that fails a three-month probation wastes five months of time, one month to recruit them, their three months in the role and one month to hire a new person. If you have too many of these the business won’t be able to cope with it.”

 The change in business dynamic also gives rise to another problem, namely that some of the people you had in the company when it was growing aren’t suited to it now that you are a medium company.

“That comes with an HR burden,” Marcus adds. “You need to get the wrong people out of the business with the minimum disruption to the business itself, and getting the people who are doing ok to where you want them to be. There’s a whole series of skills and processes there, that as a small company you don’t know you need until you need them.

“The other thing a small company should be good at is retasking. If you see someone who is doing well, or who has skills another department needs, don’t be afraid to change their focus. Sometimes you need to move people around, and if they are the right person they may help you in a number of roles.

“Therefore if they look like they might better suit a harder role to fill or one you have struggled to recruit for, it might be worth changing them and filling their old role, if it is an easier one to recruit for.”

Posted in Business, business development


TO INFINITY AND BEYOND

Posted on 13/07/2017 by Tom Holmes

So you’ve started running your own company. Things are going well. You’ve won some clients, made some sales and things are looking up. But, you want to take things to the next level, to move from a small to medium company. You know you need to plan, but where do you start?

According to Nutbourne’s Marcus Evans, there are two fundamentals you need to get right.

“When you’re running a business, it looks likes the key thing is delivery, but it’s not,” says Marcus. “If you want it to grow you need to take care of the figures as well, and that comes largely from sales.”

Nutbourne grew from six clients in 2013 to 68 clients at the end of 2016, and from seven staff to 27 in the same period. The recurring monthly revenue from sales is what Marcus calls the lifeblood of the company, and is what the company is built on.

“When we began to pay proper attention to sales we began to motor,” Marcus adds. “As long as you have recurring revenue that pays everyone’s salary – which is where we are – then everything else goes towards all the other things you want to do as a company. From those sales, we became a successful company.”

Nothing, he adds, is left to chance. Each year he writes a business plan, crunches the departmental numbers and works out the profit for that year. From there a decision is made on how to progress – what isn’t measured isn’t managed after all.

“You have to look at your numbers. What can you afford? What money do you have coming in? What debt do you have? You have to be meticulous.

“Do you have enough money to pay your bills? Can you advance credit? Are you able to get credit? Have you set aside money for your VAT and corporation tax bills? Those things can really stymie your business if they’re not managed properly.

“What this boils down to is that cash flow is absolute king for a small business. If you want to grow, you have to take care of that – it’s as simple and complex as that.”    

Posted in Business, Management, Best Practise


ACCESS DENIED!

Posted on 22/06/2017 by Tom Holmes

Like a gang of uninvited, itinerant youths standing in the doorway at a party, a DoS attack disrupts or stops a service by sending large volumes of data or traffic through your network until the network can no longer function. Like the annoying youths, it prevents normal service, only without the baggy jeans and menacing stares.

Most often DoS attacks happen via a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS). This means they will hijack multiple computers – without the users’ knowledge – and use them to send the traffic or data that will overload the system.

What’s the business risk?

The biggest risk for business is a security breach or restricting or denying online access. When these attacks have happened in the past they have targeted government agencies and banks as a form of revenge or blackmail.

For businesses that fall victim, a loss of service usually means a loss of revenue or sales; it could also mean vulnerability to other forms of attack and a loss of sensitive data.

What to look out for:

Like brute force attacks, if you’re under attack from DoS, your network will be unusually slow. Files will be slow to open and website slow to respond or unavailable entirely. You may also notice an increase in the volume of spam, or notice that your machine disconnects frequently from the network.

Stay protected:

There are simple methods to detect an attack early (simple for the tech guys anyway!). Running a script on your server to periodically send a message about traffic count will alert you to any abnormal spikes. Remote monitoring services also perform a similar check.

Because of their nature, DDoS attacks can be hard to prevent if identified. While you can take preventative steps – like rate limiting your router, or adding filters so that your router drops packets from obvious attackers – they will only buy you time.

In the first instance, let your ISP know that you’re under attack and then call in the help of a DDoS specialist. Think of them as burly reinforcements sent for to scare off the uninvited youths.    

Posted in security


AGGRESSIVE, PERSISTENT, BRUTAL

Posted on 15/6/2017 by Tom Holmes

Brute Force isn’t, as the name implies, a sledgehammer to your security system. Rather it is a steamroller, driving back and forth into your firewall until it finds a crack through which to enter.

Sounds aggressive. It is. Sounds persistent. It is that too.

Brute Force is all about trial and error; exhaustive trial and error. Automated software is used to try all possible combinations of characters in sequence until a code – password, Data Encryption Standard – is found.

It is a time consuming but infallible approach. The only downside for criminals is that it could take years to match a password.

What’s the risk to business? 

If your company website or operating systems require user authentication, then your company could be a target for Brute Force attacks.

The risks are many and varied. On the one hand, the security breach puts user accounts at risk. If those accounts contain sensitive data that is subsequently stolen or leaked, the ramifications for your business and for your customers are potentially catastrophic.

Often, the ulterior motive of Brute Force attacks is to launch another kind of attack. Vandalism, distribution of malware and disruption of service are all common motives.

What to look out for? 

Brute Force attacks direct large volumes of traffic to your site and is therefore relatively easy to detect. The main and obvious symptom is a slow network, characterised by poorly performing or inaccessible websites.

You may also see a dramatic increase in the number of spam emails received, or frequently disconnecting wireless or wired internet connection.

Stay protected: 

The simplest way to prevent Brute Force attacks is to lock accounts after a defined number of incorrect password attempts. The flipside to this is that numerous accounts could be locked simultaneously, resulting in a major disruption of service.

The simplest and most effective methods are to only allow logins from specific IP addresses or to use CAPTCHAs. Assigning unique URLs to blocks of users, so that not all users access the site from the same URL, has also proven effective. A combination of these three would represent a relatively robust system.

For help and support with a range of IT services, contact Nutbourne on 0203 137 7273. 

Posted in security, attacks, data


3 TIPS TO KEEP YOUR BUSINESS RUNNING

Posted on 08/06/2017 by Tom Holmes

Office flooded over night? Server given up the ghost? Ransomware locked all your data in the third circle of hell? Fear not. You can still run your business. Just put these three tips into action…

“Back up what you need,” say Nutbourne’s Technical Director Patrick Burgess. “Do it regularly. You don’t need all your data to run your business. In all likelihood, you need the last couple of week’s documents, you need the current accounts, the HR documents and the policy documents.

“Of all the data you have, around 5% of it is what you actually need.  If you’re staring down the barrel of an enormous back up thinking it’s going to cost you a fortune, you might not actually need to back the whole lot up.”

Have a business continuity plan and test it. It doesn’t matter how good your business continuity plan is, how much money you spent on it, or where it sits until you test it all that is irrelevant.

“It’s so common for people to put the backup system in, nobody checks it and then find out that it hasn’t been doing its job,” says Patrick.

“Test your continuity plan twice a year,” Patrick adds. “Pick a day when everyone is turned away from the office and told to work remotely according to the continuity plan. If individuals have left laptops or files in the office they’ll be unable to work. You have to make sure the plan is robust and that everyone works to it.”

Spread your data storage. “Things like Office 365 and Dropbox can be bad because they’re implemented poorly and they encourage data to spread,” says Patrick. “But they can also be a solution if implemented correctly.

“By storing different sets of data in different places you aren’t putting all your eggs in one basket. By spreading your risk you are limiting the impact of any attack on your data. This is not just for data protection, this is for business continuity. You don’t get this all or nothing scenario.

“These are things that don’t cost anything, but aren’t thought about. The business continuity plan is making sure systems are in place that can be used. These should be standards.”

Posted in Business, business continuity, planning


DON'T GET HELD TO RANSOM

Posted on 30.5.2017 by Tom Holmes

The recent WannaCry ransomware attacks were remarkable for two reasons. One, they exposed a glaring hole in the NHS’s security systems, and two, they were apprehended by a knight in shining armour (albeit inadvertently).

Said hero – blogger and security expert Marcus Hutchins – later declared that he expected the ransomware to return under a different guise, a sentiment echoed by many other security experts.

Now, while we can’t predict if or when that will happen, or if Hutchins will come the rescue a second time, we can offer some tips to avoid being held to ransom.

Knowing what to look out for is half the battle…

What is it? 

In the old days, ransoms tended to be issued by masked gunmen for hostages, the safe return of whom was somewhat guaranteed in exchange for a sum of cash. Ransomware works on the same principle, only there are no gunmen and you might not get the data back.  

Ransomware is an unwanted programme which gains access to your systems and then begins to encrypt everything it can get its grubby little hands on. If it isn't stopped it will encrypt the whole system, servers and all (dependant on if any stops are put in place). 

It was used initially to target individuals but there is a growing trend for business to be targeted too. Initially, this was only big businesses, but now it's small businesses who are being targeted as they don't have the robust systems that larger companies have in place as standard.  

What’s the risk to business? 

Most businesses have sensitive data, and most have sensitive data that is critical to their operations or that they don’t want in the public domain. They also have much higher budgets to be able to pay ransoms should they decide t do so (we always recommend not too). 

Typically, until a ransom is paid, you'll be locked out of everything and even if it is paid they are more likely than not to keep the block in place stopping your business operating. 

What to look out for? 

Most people aren’t aware that they have ransomware until they receive the ransom request or until a splash screen prevents access to their machine. More subtle signs are missing file extensions e.g. .doc, .exe, or files that won’t open. 

Stay protected: 

An up-to-date antivirus is a good place to start, though new variants of malware may be able to slip the net. In that instance, your next line of defence is your staff. 

Encourage vigilance and warn against opening attachments from unsolicited emails. 

Finally and most importantly always, always have a backup of your data. If you have an updated version of everything it is easy to restore it, rather than obey the whims of a company which has illegally encrypted your data in the first place. Make sure that backup is fully tested and works on a regular basis, and then even if the worst happens you have a disaster recovery option. 

Online backup is a great way to go, with an external hard drive plugged into the machine being useful too. Old tape backups are notoriously unreliable and the only way to be completely protected is to have an onsite and offsite backup which has been fully tested. 

For help and support with a range of IT services, contact Nutbourne on 0203 137 7273. 

Posted in data, security


IT’S NOT NEARLY AS BAD AS YOU THINK…

Posted on 10/05/2017 by Tom Holmes

A study from Veritas claims that there is a worldwide climate of fear over GDPR compliance. In fact, 86% of organisations polled are concerned that failure to comply will damage their business, and a further 20 % fear it could shut them down entirely. Is it that bad?

Well, no not really. As the old saying goes, it’s only worth worrying about something you can change. And in light of Veritas’s study, it bears repeating that compliance is entirely an internal issue – so you have the power to tackle GDPR compliance within your organisation.

In the previous article, we looked at the first four steps on the GDPR compliance roadmap. The following four, though more esoteric in nature, are all processes that you can start today.

You have 12 months to comply…

If you operate internationally, then you will need to find out which data supervisory authority you come under. There are elaborate arrangements for working this out. The authority will usually be where the organisation’s central administration is; this is simple for single branch/country organisations, harder for multi-site operations. Thankfully, there’s guidance at ico.org.uk.

The GDPR requires that some organisations designate a Data Protection Officer – either internally or externally. The individual(s) has to take proper responsibility for your data protection compliance, so should have the knowledge and support to do so. This ruling applies specifically to local authorities and those frequently handling and monitoring large data sets. Determine now if that applies to you.

Individual’s rights are still largely the same under GDPR as they are with the current Data Protection Act (DPA). Nonetheless, check your procedures to ensure they cover all rights and have plans in place for deleting the data should you be asked to do so.

It's also worth assessing your legal basis for processing the data you hold. Generally speaking, this is good practice, though entirely understandable if until now it’s not been a priority. Look at the types of data you hold, how it’s processed and your legal basis for documenting it. This again is broadly similar to the DPA, but still needs to be checked to meet GDPR’s accountability requirements.

Posted in GDPR, security, data, regulation


YOU KNOW GDPR IS COMING, BUT HOW DO YOU PREPARE?

Posted on 3/4/2017 by Tom Holmes

GDPR is a little over a year away - plenty of time to prepare right? Well, not exactly. It’s an intense set of legislation with damaging sanctions. The sooner you start to prepare the better.

Here are four things you can get cracking with right away.

Raise awareness

Get the word out. Staff, stakeholders, clients and service providers will all need to know the law is changing and that it means a change to working practices. Pay particular attention to staff and service providers who are involved in data processing. Consider formal training to get them up to speed.

Examine your information

This is the most obvious thing to do. Go through your data, find out what you have, where it came from and where it goes. A thorough audit will help you to identify where your data flows to and from, and where it sits. This, in turn, will help you to mitigate any security breaches. 

Outline and implement your reporting procedures

The GDPR introduces a new set of procedures for reporting data breaches. The ICO advises having policies and procedures in place to identify, investigate and report personal data breaches. Get these procedures and policies ready now and start working with them to ensure they work ahead of May 25, 2018.

Adopt a Privacy by Design approach

Under the current legislation, Privacy by Design is an add-on - with GDPR it’s part of the mix. Not following these practices will now put your organisation at risk in light of GDPR. If you begin implementing privacy-friendly practices now you can lower your risk of sanction and data breach, reduce compliance costs and future-proof your software.    

Posted in security, IT, GDPR


DATA, DATA EVERYWHERE! SO WHAT EXACTLY DOES GDPR COVER?

Posted on 26.4.2017 by Tom Holmes

Under the legislation, there are several key requirements that relate directly to the data companies hold and the rights of the individual. Some differ from the current directive, while others expand on it.

What data falls under GDPR?

The GDPR is designed to protect the rights of EU citizens whose data is held by organisations.  Under the legislation, private data is any data that can be used to identify an individual.

The legislation offers quite clear guidelines on what this constitutes. Simple things such as names, addresses, and photos – information that you would expect to find on a CV– all constitute personal data.

More confidential data such as bank details, medical records and IP address are also covered, as are slightly more esoteric data sets such as social media posts and browsing activity.

These are all items that would conceivably be held by most organisations and across different departments. Human resources hold CVs and medical information, accounts will hold bank details, and marketing holds an array of data on existing and prospective clients.

To expand on the above, consider the following: When an individual makes a purchase from a website, they leave payment and billing information. This information can be used for future purchases or follow-on services. This data falls under GDPR.

Similarly, someone visiting the site may be subject to GDPR without actually making a purchase. Information gathered, whether it exists online (IP address, browsing history) or in the real world (home address, vehicle registration) falls under the legislation.

A further obligation to comply with GDPR when the entity holding the data i.e. the company (known as the controller in GDPR) passes this data to a vendor or third party (known as the processor) for processing. Both organisations are obliged to ensure their diligence is paid, as well as that of the other party.

Given the importance of this activity to the organisation, this data must be managed under GDPR.

Data rights of the individual

The GDPR stipulates several rights for individuals and the data held about them by organisations. The legislation makes organisations far more accountable and gives control of the data back to the individual. Companies need to be aware.

Right to Access: Part of the expanded rights of data subjects outlined by the GDPR is the right for data subjects to obtain from the data controller confirmation as to whether or not personal data concerning them is being processed, where and for what purpose.

Right to be forgotten: The right to be forgotten entitles the data subject to have the data controller erase his/her personal data, cease further dissemination of the data, and potentially have third parties halt processing of the data.

Privacy by design: At its core, privacy by design calls for the inclusion of data protection from the onset of the designing of systems, rather than an addition. More specifically - 'the controller shall...implement appropriate technical and organisational measures...in an effective way... to meet the requirements of this Regulation and protect the rights of data subjects'.

Posted in Security; GDPR


GDPR: DATA SECURITY GOT A WHOLE LOT MORE SERIOUS

Posted on 19/4/2017 by Tom Holmes

On May 25, 2018, the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into legislation, replacing the data protection directive. It is designed to protect the rights of EU citizens whose data is held by organisations.

The GDPR is the most serious piece of privacy legislation for the last 20 years. Fines for non-compliance can reach €20m or 4% of turnover, whichever is greater.

And, although it’s EU legislation, GDPR affects all companies that handle or process data for EU citizens. So, although the UK will be leaving the EU by the time GDPR becomes legislation, it will affect the vast majority of companies operating on these shores.

Worryingly, according to a report from Gartner, fewer than 50% of companies that GDPR applies to will be compliant by the end of 2018. If that’s you, or you think it might be, you will need to get your skates on.

What do I need to know?

The GDPR differs significantly from the current data protection directive. Here are some key points:

Increased scope

The regulatory landscape is the biggest change. The GDPR applies to all companies processing the personal data of data subjects residing in the EU, regardless of the company’s location. So, for example, a company operating in the US offering services to EU residents will fall under GDPR.

GDPR will also apply across an organisation’s network, meaning that the companies they do business with must also comply with GDPR.

Greater penalties

The penalties imposed by GDPR are potentially so big that they could put a company out of business. This is deliberate. Under the current directive, fines are not much of a deterrent for non-compliance. In some cases, it is easier and cheaper to pay the fine than it is to be compliant.

The new penalty system works on a tiered structure:

·      A written warning for first-time or unintentional non-compliance

·      Regular, periodic audits

·      Fines of €10m or 2% of annual worldwide turnover from the previous year, whichever is greater

·      Fines of €20m or 4% of annual worldwide turnover from the previous year, whichever is greater

 These penalties apply to both the holder of the data and party processing it so even clouds, for example, will not be exempt.

Consent

The conditions for consent to hold, store and distribute personal data have been strengthened. Companies seeking consent will no longer be able to use illegible terms and conditions full of legalease. Consent must be clear and distinguishable from other matters and provided in an intelligible and easily accessible form, using clear and plain language. It must be as easy to withdraw consent as it is to give it.

Data breaches

Under the GDPR, the Data Controller ( will be under a legal obligation to notify the Supervisory Authority without delay. The reporting of a data breach is not subject to any minimum standard and must be reported to the Supervisory Authority within 72 hours of the data breach. Individuals have to be notified if an adverse impact is determined.

Posted in Business, IT


TEAM CHALLENGE: NUTBOURNE CONQUERS GO APE

Posted on 30/07/2015 by Clare Evans

This month our team tested their nerves with a trip to the tree tops at Go Ape in Trent Park. As part of our adventure we tackled swinging high ropes, rocking tunnels and challenging crossings, topped with a skateboard loaded zip wire!

Nestled in the park’s woodland, each site provided a wonderful view of the surrounding scenery, getting higher and higher till the grand finale – a 120 metre long zip line at the highest point of the course.

The most dreaded challenge was the Tarzan Swing, which some of us needed more encouragement to leap into than the daredevils amongst the team. But we all managed to make it safely across (with a few screams and stumbles along the way) and it was great that everyone helped and guided each other through the different obstacles.

We all thoroughly enjoyed this team building experience, and can’t wait to move onto our next Nutbourne adventure!

 

Posted in Social, Nutbourne, Events


FSB LONDON BUSINESS AWARDS FINALISTS 2015

Posted on 29/06/2015 by Clare Evans

We’re delighted to announce that Nutbourne are finalists for this year’s London Business Awards for Service Excellence, presented by the Federation of Small Businesses.

Currently in their third year, the awards commend the achievements of companies who have proven their efforts and determination to excel in their industry and as an enterprise. This year’s awards especially mark the theme of optimism for the future, with FSB’s London Regional Chair, Steve Warwick, stating that “London continues to be a hotbed for the creation and growth of new companies, with an invigorating atmosphere of optimism and opportunity in business”. Nutbourne are excited to be a part of the awards programme, which highlights the positive steps entrants are taking towards enhancing the London business community.

The 11 categories for the awards, including Apprentice of the Year, Business Innovation and Training and Development, were judged by business leaders in and around London who also strive to grow and innovatively impact in their fields. We’re very proud to have reached the finals in Service Excellence, as a recognition of our work towards helping our clients, and our mission to share and uphold our core values in everything we do. Let’s hope we can go for gold!

The ceremony for the awards will take place on Thursday 30th July, at the Hotel Pullman London. If you’d like to see the categories and finalists, you can find out more on the FSB awards website. Plus, you can look out for all the action at the awards at @NutbourneUK – I’m sure we’ll be posting plenty of photos! 


Posted in Social, Business, Events, Nutbourne


MICROSOFT PARTNER NETWORK - SILVER AWARD FOR SMALL & MIDMARKET CLOUD SOLUTIONS

Posted on 10/02/2015 by Clare Evans

As a Microsoft Network Partner member we’re proud to deliver quality cloud systems to our clients.  We share a responsibility to maintain Microsoft’s high service values, as a community of professionals engaged in driving value-added solutions in an increasing technologically orientated market. The scheme is currently expanding worldwide across 48 countries, as more than ever, ‘partners want to engage at every part of the customer lifecycle – from sales to renewal, from billing and provisioning, to support of their customers’[1].

We are delighted to receive the Network Partner silver award for Small and Midmarket Cloud Solutions. The award demonstrates that as a company we are trusted in our knowledge of Microsoft’s products and values, and active in raising the quality of service in the industry.

Posted in Business, Microsoft


THAMES GATEWAY BUSINESS AWARDS

Posted on 19/01/2015 by Marcus Evans and Patrick Burgess


Posted in Business, Nutbourne


DOITFORCHARITY'S SANTA FUN RUN 2014

Posted on 10/12/2014 by Clare Evans

Mud, sweat, and maybe a few secret tears summed up the Nutbourne team’s race for the Royal Marsden Cancer Trust on Sunday 7th December, not to mention the hundreds of red suited Santas who took part! Doitforcharity’s festive themed Santa Fun Run 2014 was a great success, and all of our Nutbourne runners thoroughly enjoyed participating, (even if we did ache on Monday morning!). We’d like to say a very big thank you to everyone who donated to help us raise our £800 target for Royal Marsden. We look forward to upping the challenge for our next charity feat!  

Check out all of our photos for the day on our Facebook page! You can also find out more about the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, and donate here.

Posted in Events


A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A 1ST LINE SUPPORT TECHNICIAN

Posted on 12/11/2014 by Thomas Little

 Admit it. When you think of 1st line support, your first thoughts probably aren’t of fame and glamour. I would imagine your mind will drift to the most recent episode of IT Crowd and the suitably geeky Moss talking about ‘turning it on and off again’. (Although I hate to admit that this is actually a good starting point). Despite this amusing overview, to say that the IT Crowd demonstrated the IT sector would be the same as saying Red Dwarf characterises NASA or Mad Men is what advertising companies do. There is actually a whole lot more hidden under the wires of the IT Support sector than may first be suspected. As one of the highest paying sectors within the UK, you’ll be sure to get your money’s worth out of this career if it’s the route you take and every day brings new and unusual challenges.

Firstly, the idea that not much happens day to day on the desk is an extreme misconception, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much I’ve worked on and learnt over the past couple of months. As it is my first job Nutbourne has shown me just what IT support really means. I’ve had to familiarise myself with tons of different software and hardware, work on a large number of different sites with different needs and network types. This is on top of actively dealing with issues as they come in, and keeping as professional as possible with customers (which is a whole skillset in itself!). It’s tough, but it’s also very rewarding.

So far I’m not even two months in and I’ve only scraped the surface of what there is to learn and solve. The whole process is made a lot easier by the team I work with, who are always helpful and ready to explain things no matter how simple my problem may be. It’s not all work in the office either, despite the challenges day to day the environment itself is positive and friendly, and we still have a good laugh with each other. The table tennis matches are pretty fun too, although with the way people act you might think they were Nadal or Federer! If you’re into computing, the people you meet in the sector are also very easy to get along with.

My apprenticeship here lasts a year, and I can only think how much I’ll have improved and learnt by then. You see the results all the time. Suddenly all of the annoying problems I’ve had with my computer over the years, but didn’t know how to solve, are very obvious to me. I’ve even helped some of my friends with their issues as well. Keeping a professional manner and talking to new people every day has also improved my confidence in speaking. It becomes very easy to have debates with anyone when you’re used to talking with respectable figures in nearly every sector.

So next time you have an issue with your PC, do try turning it off and on again (It really works I promise!). Though if that doesn’t work, feel safe knowing that there will always be someone within 1st Line Support who knows exactly how to solve the issue. And if you are thinking of a job in this sector, go for it. Take it from me, you won’t regret it.

Posted in Nutbourne


IP EXPO 2014- EXCEL LONDON

Posted on 12/10/2014 by Clare Evans

Wednesday 8th October saw Europe's leading cloud and IT infrastructure annual event here in London, and Nutbourne were thrilled to get involved in the IP Expo action. The day showcased exhibitors and seminars from three key events; the IP Expo, Data Expo and the Cyber Security Expo, all under one roof!

The exhibition was a great opportunity to share expertise with businesses who are leaders in their fields and discover new and exciting technology solutions. It was a privilege to attend the opening seminar from founder of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee. We were inspired by his projections for the online world for 2050 and can’t wait to take advantage of developments in the rapidly evolving technology sector.

The day brought even more excitement with magicians, prize draws, free popcorn and even a snowboard simulator. There was also a nifty Futures Den dedicated to providing opportunities for start-up companies in the industry. Most of all, it was a chance to provide knowledge to optimise UK and international businesses and celebrate of some of the greatest achievements in the IT industry. 

You can check out highlights and find out more about the IP Expo here: http://online.ipexpo.co.uk/

Posted in Events


FAILURES BEFORE SUCCESS – YDF ENTREPRENEURS EVENT

Posted on 13/05/2013 by Marcus Evans

Institute of Directors

Entrepreneurs hardly need to be told that small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are a vital part of the UK economy and that the road to success is never straightforward. In this event you will hear from a panel of business people about how their experiences of failed businesses have delivered lessons that have eventually led to success.

We encourage you to come armed with questions and ready to engage in lively debate with the panel.
To sign up for the event Please click here. You MUST PRE REGISTER VIA THE IOD LINK TO ATTEND.

Cost £28.00


Our Panel

Matthew Siddell 
Matthew started "Kin" with a donated PC, a donated fax machine and 2 spare desks in the basement of a friend’s office. Kin was an exciting genealogy business which traced lost or unknown heirs to unclaimed inheritance, all over the world. Matthew grew the business to a team of aroound 45 staff and over the course of 6 years united heirs with inheritances exceeding £125m in value. He has since started Opulen, a firm involved in a number of projects including property, IT and legal services.

Martin Port 
A technology pioneer, Martin founded Masternaut, one of the first UK companies to offer software-as-a-service, through its web-based vehicle tracking solutions. Martin took Masternaut from a small startup in 2002 to become one of the UK’s fastest growing businesses, with places in The Sunday Times Tech Track 100 in 2007, 2008 and 2009. In November 2009, Martin sold Masternaut to Hub Telecom. Now owner and Managing Director of Micronet Europe, World Leader in rugged Mobile Computers. Recently he became a Director and shareholder in R2C Online, the market leading asset management platform. His latest venture is BigChangeAppsCentre, which partners with companies that have a proven track record in developing high end platforms and software applications for the Micronet range of mobile computers.

Peter Whent 
Peter is a serial technology entrepreneur. Over the last twenty years he has started three businesses spanning a range of technology sectors from electronic document distribution to mobile telephony. He has also worked with a range of investors, from angels to well-known venture capital and private equity firms such as Apax, Cazenove and Kleinwort Benson. All four of Peter’s businesses were eventually sold to trade buyers for a combined total of more than $100 million. For the last five years Peter has been leading a turnaround of a private equity owned technology company in the e-commerce sector. Having taken the business from the brink of insolvency to financial health and sustainable profitability, Peter says he has an itch to return to his entrepreneurial roots and get involved in something more early stage.

Click here for more details

Posted in Events, Business


IS IT REALLY POSSIBLE TO STRIKE A GOOD WORK / LIFE BALANCE WHEN WORKING ON A NEW START-UP?

Posted on 04/10/12 by Marcus Evans

Following our Hot Topics debate earlier this week, discussions have started to materialise about how to strike up a good work/life balance, especially when working on a brand new shiny start-up. Have you suffered from the silent treatment? Has starting a new business from scratch cost you relationships? Or have start-ups created relationships? Does the hard work result in a good life/work balance? Can you find that work/life balance?

The main point of this blog is: can starting a start-up be socially endearing?

The people who have made it, would argue yes. Richard Branson is hardly shy of female attention. But yet again, not every start-up would travelled in a hot air balloon and have bold ambitions of space travel. Starting out can be very difficult. An article asking ‘can you have a girlfriend and a new start-up at the same time’ provoked a healthy debate on Quora which led to wide sharing and discussion across social channels.

"Good work life balance is important, never neglect your private life or risk burn out. A business partner can shoulder some start-up burden or you could try and tap into an existing work stream for a boost and shortcut initial marketing and sales preparatory work, allowing you more personal time."

Marcus Evans, Commercial Director, Nutbourne Ltd

Click here to read full article

Posted in Business


LEARN HOW TO CLOSE A DEAL

Posted on 11/05/14 by Marcus Evans

Learn how to ‘close the sale’ at an event organised by the JCI Cambridge business networking group for young professionals.

The workshop will be presented by Marcus Evans, co-founder and sales director for IT company Nutbourne.

He helps start-up businesses develop a co-ordinated strategy to enable them to make the best possible start in a difficult economic climate.

The event will include an introduction to cold calling, preparing for the meeting, how you build up credibility, objection handling – and the all-important closing of the deal.

The workshop starts at 6.30pm on November 8 at Eversheds, Kett House, Station Road, Cambridge. Entry is free for JCI members and first-time visitors and £15 for all others. To book your place, visit www.jcicambridge.org.uk

Posted in Business


SALES TALK

Posted on 04/06/2014 by Marcus Evans

Sometimes it’s tough to decide how to direct your efforts amongst the many avenues that bring work to your business. You and your sales team only have a finite amount of time, and it feels like you should maximise what works well for you and direct your efforts at that. After all it’s working already!

If all your work if coming from networking then logically putting more effort into this, and more hours, is guaranteed to get better results!

Wrong.

Sometimes you have peaked in a specific area and although you may still get gains from more effort and time invested, they will be lower than before and disproportionate to the effort. In comparison starting on a new area or new market may yield far better results for the time invested. It’s a tough call to make but diversity in working sources is key. As mentioned in a previous post if you only have a single portfolio area you’re asking for trouble should it slow down.

The only way to work out if you have saturated an area of sale is to look how much time you are putting in and the results you are achieving. If you have a cold caller making ten meetings a month it is logical to think that 2 will make you 20. Hold on for a second though. You then need twice as much data, and more controls in place to ensure they aren’t calling the same people. Maybe your target market is companies over 100 in London. Well there can’t be that many of them and after the second, third or fifth telemarketer you might find that another will not give you anything more. Even though on the surface a new telesales person would be good you have to check all the factors.

To find new work you have to try as many areas of finding work as possible. Also keep at any new area for at least six months. Some of the networking or partnerships take years to develop. If you give up after a month it would look like a wasted effort, but given a year it just might be your best client.

Posted in Business


AN APPRENTICESHIP: INTERVIEW WITH AARON PATERSON

Posted on 25/06/2014 by Clare Evans

We spoke to our employee Aaron Paterson, who since his apprenticeship with us has been working for Nutbourne for over a year. In this interview Aaron tells us about his first experiences as an apprentice and how the scheme has helped him to develop in the sector and work environment.


1. How did you enter into the apprenticeship?

I was looking for my first IT job after leaving school and applied for the Just IT scheme through the Apprenticeships.org.uk. I was sent forward and after my first interview I got the apprenticeship place at Nutbourne.

2. Can you describe your experience in the first few weeks?

For me it was an adapting stage. It was a bit of a shock to the system working in an office, and although the IT wasn’t a problem I had to get used to the customer service.

3. How you think you developed throughout the scheme?

The first three to six months were a teething stage, where I was getting comfortable talking to clients on the phone. Around six months though I became much more confident, and the guidance and support I received from the team really helped me develop. They were always fair and wanted to teach me instead of taking over, even if I was initially slower.

4. When you were offered a permanent position how did you feel, and what made you want to carry on in the role?

I had come to like the company and working with everyone. I also wanted to be loyal to Nutbourne and see the company grow.

5. How are you currently finding the experience and environment?

I’ve come leaps and bounds since the start, and I’m now finding my tasks considerably easier. But importantly I’m happy to have improved my relevant skills in and outside of work.

6. What are your future plans?

I want to continue in IT and specialise in a field, I’d like to work in networking.

7. And finally, what do you think the benefits are of an apprenticeship?

Definitely the experience of training whilst earning money. You can develop your soft skills, and it’s a good opportunity for people who don’t go to university to gain extra learning support.

Posted in Nutbourne, Social


ENCRYPT YOUR SITE AND GET A HIGHER GOOGLE RANKING

Posted on 21/07/2014 by Clare Evans

As web hacks are now more prominent and wide-spread, companies feel that tighter security systems are becoming increasingly urgent. As a top priority Google Search intends to favour encrypted web pages in its ranking algorithm, in order to promote the need to keep user data safe. On their Online Security Blog the company highlight the transition process for this endeavour:

We’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. For now it's only a very lightweight signal—affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals (…) while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS. But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.

Despite providing extra protection to prevent data leaking on Wi-Fi networks, sites have been reluctant to employ encryption as it can be expensive and create slower page response times. However, with Google’s move to serve encrypted pages at reasonable speeds, users will gain more confidence in this option for stronger online security. 

For more information see Google’s report here.

Posted in Tech News, Computing


EXPECTATIONS VS. THE REALITIES OF A CAREER: A GRADUATE EXPERIENCE

Posted on 30/08/2014 by Clare Evans

Securing a place at university I was like many students highly optimistic about my future career. Attaining a degree would be all I needed to get me my dream job - or so I thought. With this comforting knowledge I happily drifted through my university life. However as I approached my final year, it became more apparent that having a degree in English literature wouldn’t necessarily help me in working towards ultimate success. With increasing pressure for students to obtain a high-level degree and competitive graduate schemes, I was daunted at the prospect of finding a suitable position that would match my skillset. 

By the time I’d finished my degree, I was still unsure as to what I really wanted to do. I was left with endless career options and yet at the same time was quite restricted, and though I wanted to work in a corporate environment I began to apply for any job I could find.  I then applied for a graduate scheme for a multinational company, and after numerous online tests and a video interview I was selected for an assessment centre. Again my optimism flared, and although I had interviews, a group exercise, presentation and test to prepare for, I was so excited to finally be on track to having an entry level role at a prestigious company. The process was indeed very stressful, and by the end of the assessment I knew that the large enterprise environment was too overwhelming for me, especially as I hadn’t worked in one before.

In the past though I had done some work in PR and marketing. Even with this on my CV it was difficult to find many entry level opportunities for those without a directly related qualification, especially outside of London, and I struggled to really find a role I would enjoy. As it transpired Nutbourne was a valuable option for me because they offered a varied marketing role where I could develop the company, whilst at the same time continually learn and improve my skills. I have been able to gain confidence and a diverse understanding of areas in business and IT services, but also the important values of high quality customer relations. Ultimately I feel lucky to have begun my career path with a friendly company where I feel like a valued member of the team, even if it wasn’t my expected route!

Posted in Nutbourne


GETTING IT RIGHT: SALES AND MARKETING SUCCESS

Posted on 25/09/2014 by Marcus Evans

Sales and marketing are funny things. You often put lots of effort into a concept or function and get absolutely no feedback or new prospect engagement for what feels like an eternity. Then something suddenly clicks and you get a rush of engagement and struggle to keep up with the new work.

The other thing is that companies often don’t know what is working? Is it the networking? Is it the business shows? Is it the events? The cold calling? Word of mouth? A key reseller? Adverts in the paper? Yell.com? Data purchase?

The first half (the second being the actual mechanics of the sell) of having a successful sales function knows where its business is coming from and making sure you have more than one avenue. If you don’t know this and it dries up, what do you do? Getting new business is not luck, not long term anyway. You may be flat out with work from previous contacts but if you rely on this sooner or later you will go through a slow patch. Maybe some people are on holiday, or maybe you have been so busy delivering work you haven’t been pitching for new. Either way you are suddenly quiet and working capital gets tight.

Make sure you diversify and keep track of what you are spending your time on. Longer term this will ensure you have a much better pipeline and a more successful business.

Posted in Business