There is a great story about a brand new American university where the building was created from scratch according to detailed architectural plans. It was furnished and populated with a fresh intake of students. The interesting part of the tale is the fact that the architects intentionally left out the creation of any pathways. The whole campus was grassed and the pathways were created naturally by the students over the course of the first term. After the tracks in the grass had been worn away, so the pathways were built. We really enjoy this analogy as it reflects our own culture. We have created a carefully planned secure hub in docSAFE – it ticks all the boxes and offers a highly functional system used by thousands of professional firms and their clients. However, we listen to clients to update, refine and improve docSAFE. We have also set up a brand new forum in the latest version of docSAFE for clients to feedback their thoughts and requests. Our latest developments are as a direct result of client requests – enhanced messaging and more detailed permission levels. If you would like to know more about those and docSAFE in general, give us a call and we can set you up with a demo of docSAFE and talk you through its direct benefits. And we’ll listen carefully to your thoughts too.
Many things in life come full circle – flared trousers and vinyl records for example. Back in the day, before the supermarket giants landed, we enjoyed the attentions of our local shopkeeper who served us exactly what we needed with individual attention and knowledge of our buying habits and lifestyle. Just like the re-emerging popularity of these service-led traditions, we believe many business sectors will follow this pattern. Certainly in IT and business systems, much of the market-share gained by the big brand names are as a result of the buy out of smaller, specialist-knowledge businesses. At Online Practice, we have been developing docSAFE, our flagship secure portal product, for decades: refining, improving and adding functionality. We have responded to the requests and enquiries from our professional UK client base to create a product that does what is needed, and more. We are all at the mercy of some of the larger corporations, it is inevitable that we have to use their services – such is their market domination. But, where avoidable, we would always choose the smaller supplier with its attention to detail, where our custom counts for something, where our requests are considered and, often, actioned. In this day of recycled traditions, we firmly believe the smaller suppliers are about to have their day. If you contact us, you’ll talk to a real person, often Mike, the MD and the team around him.
To alleviate some of the worry or concern that the media (and social media in particular) is stirring up around the subject of GDPR, we have found a great resource that outines everything you need to know in an easy to digest format. It is produced by the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) and gives you a link to the different applications for GDPR. So, if you are a GDPR controller, marketer, processor or even the person who looks after the CCTV records, there is a link and checklist to help you work towards compliancy. CLICK HERE FOR ICO GDPR CHECKLISTS There is a lot to know but the key points are that you must have processes and policies in place that serve your organisation’s contacts. You must keep data safe and under control. You need to specify whose responsibility this is. All of this must be accountable and auditable in the case of an investigation. We can help with this through the secure docSAFE framework – we ensure that there is never any reason for information to leave the portal. You invite clients to access, view, collaborate and work within the same platform, with documents never needing to leave – even when they are being signed electronically. What’s more, we provide a full audit trail for accountability and security. This isn’t new to us – we created docSAFE long before GDPR was a twinkle in the government’s eye so we have been working in this way for many years – along with hundreds of our professional clients.
Secure communications have become bywords for so many things – we define it as making sure that every way you communicate is safe from misappropriation in any form. Your website – you may be quietly thinking that your website wouldn’t be of interest to a hacker – after all, you’re just a medium sized accountancy firm minding your own business. However – hackers do and can access your website for more than just the data. We were asked to look at a brand new client site recently and found hundreds of hidden links that took visitors away from the website. We soon sorted out a new website with extra layers of security to prevent it happening again. Your emails – whether by human error or malicious intervention, data flying around via email simply isn’t secure. Sending sensitive (or indeed any) client information by email is subject to it going to the wrong person or leaving it open for attack. We offer a secure portal where the information stays within the confines of docSAFE – available to be accessed, collected, collaborated on, signed or exchanged – all with complete confidence. Our document exchange system allows you to also send messages, not just exchange files. Ask us more – we build and develop docSAFE like a multi-layered fortress: safe, secure and effective. Your clients will thank you for it.
Our portfolio of services is all based around security and communications starting with our client portfolio, docSAFE. This allows professionals to manage all of their communications from a central place – like a virtual filing cabinet. We have implemented several layers of security which means that your information is safe – and more importantly for your business, your clients’ data is safe. Mindful of GDPR and its requirements we have included levels of security that mean you will be on the right side of the new government legislation that kicks in on 25 May this year. Regardless of GDPR, it makes good, sensible business practice to protect yourself and your clients from hackers, fraud and misuse of their information so we have been covering these issues for a very long time. In the spirit of ultimate security we advocate a ‘no email’ rule for any sensitive client communications including messages, data exchange, online signing and anything else that, if it left the docSAFE secure space, could be compromised. Risking email is just not safe enough so we prefer our clients to communicate within the safety of docSAFE. As part of the importance we infer on your online presence we also build websites for our clients, who are mostly all professional firms. As you’d expect our websites are robust but beautiful! And whilst you may assume your firm wouldn’t be a target for hackers, you’d be surprised – many small businesses are hacked for all sorts of reasons, some random, some planned. However, any breach has the potential to put you out of business so being prudent and meticulous with your data is vital. Talk to us about any aspect of your secure communications. Our services work in isolation or all together, however you prefer to mange things. We can talk through the implications of change and provide demonstrations of everything we do.
“People to have more control over their personal data and be better protected in the digital age” under new measures announced by Digital Minister Matt Hancock. You would have to be from another planet to not, at least, have heard the phrase GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). But what is it and how does it affect you? We’re all busy so, using the government guidelines, we have put together the bare bones of GDPR and what you need to have in place to ensure you don’t fall foul of the new laws as fines for non-compliance can be as high as €20M or 4% of annual revenue. Also, GDPR is still relevant, despite Brexit. It is a UK government backed regulation and furthermore, compliancy is vital if your business works outside of the UK. Laws aside, GDPR makes excellent business practice. Where is your company’s data? Understand what data you store and where it is located. This extends to any contact information you hold on anyone, anywhere in your business from central servers to databases on individual computers. Make sure the data you hold is compliant This means making sure that the data you hold is compliant, i.e. that it falls within all of the government guidelines for GDPR and data collection and also that you have gained permission to keep this information. Permission must have come directly from everyone on any list you maintain. Secure your data It is vital that you have taken steps to prevent the data being breached, lost or damaged. This is probably one of the most important areas of GDPR and is intended to prevent the careless leakage of people’s personal information. Show accountability As part of a GDPR check, you will need to show how you manage your data with all of the relevant audit trails and monitors in place. As we said at the start, this all makes for excellent business practice and it’s something we’ve inbuilt into docSAFE with layers of security and a deep understanding of how it needs to work to show your company is compliant and, just as importantly, professional and efficient. Talk to us and we can steer you through the challenges of GDPR.
It’s worth a quick recap on the many virtues of docSAFE and the reasons behind why thousands of UK professionals have been using it for over 15 years. So what is it? docSAFE is an online client portal. A safe place where you and your clients can store, exchange and collaborate on important, sensitive or regular documents. Why would you need it? There are many uses for docSAFE but the key ones are: security (and with GDPR on the horizon, this has never been so important), professional communications, online signing and professionalism. It replaces email, streamlines your processes and provides a legal audit trail (see who has read things, signed documents and make a quick list of any items that are outstanding, for example). How do you sign up? It’s quick, low cost and you’ll wonder how you managed without it. Speak to Mike for a quick demo and information on the next steps. It really is easy. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0121 794 0685. Or you could watch our 2-minute, quirky video that tells you more.
When we first developed docSAFE, our secure client portal for professional firms, we were definitely thinking about addressing the issue of exchanging sensitive data in the most effective way – in a way that can’t be compromised and leave our professional clients open to hackers and human errors. How this has become interesting is that it has evolved in recent years to include secure messaging. In the way you might have text, email or Skype styles exchanges, so you can converse through the portal. In all instances – whether you are exchanging files or having a message exchange, the crucial thing is that the content never leaves the portal. The recipient of the file or message is notified of its existence and goes to the portal for retrieval. We’ve found that this is a really exciting concept for our clients as it adds yet another layer of security on top of the many we’ve already included such as 2-factor authentication and encryption. It also impresses their clients in turn as it shows how important they considers client confidentiality. We have a dedicated following of accountants and, it seems, we are attracting cautious, technophobe solicitors too! Ask us if you need to know more.
What a long way we’ve come in the past few years. From websites that invested heavily in words and told the visitor EVERYTHING to a more sophisticated, image-led approach that tempts the user into finding out more. This is a broad overview of how websites have changed but of course there is so much more and, importantly, much more to come… Design You’ll know an older website design as soon as you see it – boxy, contained, no scrolling and lots and lots of pages. The new trend is for image heavy sites that have a wonderfully long home page with lots of access points to key places on your site. It will be fluid and not restricted to a box template and, importantly (but still not adopted everywhere), websites that work on every type of device. Accessibility Older sites are clunky and hard to navigate. The user experience can be frustrating but equally so for the website owner – you should be able to get in to your own website and make at least basic changes without incurring costs from your web provider. There will be probably always be a need for support at a higher level but the ability to change opening hours, typos and update crucial information should be at your fingertips. Images versus words We were crazy for telling the user everything – now you should hold back, create a breadcrumb trail to tempt your visitor to find out more (and preferably by picking up the phone and talking – the basis of all good professional relationships). Images include real photos (avoid stock if you can) and video if you have the resources. Videos are perfectly acceptable at phone video standard and the rawness of an unprofessional film can be charming and honest. Google’s role Increasingly Google has started to shape the way we choose websites. It favours websites with fresh, changing content. It likes https to indicate the security level of your site. And it likes websites to have good content, relevant and informative. This doesn’t mean it should be long and unwieldy – just enough to make sense and satisfy a Google search. Also don’t try and outwit Google, we promise they are cleverer than all of us! Duplicated pages, hidden pages or even association with some SEO providers can result in your site being banned from their index. Websites are amazing, they achieve so much for the businesses they represent but it’s easy to get left behind. Talk to us – we can help with security, visibility and functionality with our client portal and online signing functions.
What even is http, let alone https? Well, http – the prefix to your web address stands for “Hypertext Transfer Protocol” and with the additional s? “Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure”. The s actually stands for Secure Socket Layer Secure and that extra s makes all the difference for 3 key reasons. Reason 1: Https helps with SEO – when it comes to a competing Google search, you’ll always outrank any other business with the additional security layer provided by the s in https. Google favours security conscious companies, it’s that simple. Reason 2: Https adds an additional layer of security so what’s not to love about that? Anyone who is keen to protect their clients’ sensitive data should consider https as essential. Reason 3: Improved AMP (sorry another acronym). AMP is Google’s way of loading mobile pages quickly – Accelerated Mobile Pages. It needs https to work. If these 3 reasons aren’t enough – SEO, security and mobile-responsiveness – talk to us and we’ll explain more.