Giving Back: The Sanneh Foundation Learns Google Apps

Agosto had the opportunity recently to give back to the community through The Sanneh Foundation, a nonprofit that helps youth development and gender equity locally in St. Paul, and in Haiti.

The Foundation sends mentors to schools to meet with the students who are least likely to graduate. They tutor and mentor these kids to improve their grades and help them graduate. The program is growing, but they’re adding more schools in their program every year and seeing a huge improvement in their grades.

“There’s no way we could be that productive without a solution like Google Apps.”

And in Haiti, they have an after school program. The Sanneh Foundation helps develop the kids into leaders by teaching the importance of respect and equality. The kids have to meet minimum grade requirements in order to go to the program, which offers incentive for the kids to stay in school and study hard. About 300 kids come every day for soccer coaching. Soccer is used as a “carrot” to get them there, and then the coaches teach them skills that they will then take off the field and have for life.

The Sanneh Foundation was founded by Tony Sanneh from St. Paul. Coming from a single parent home, life was tough growing up. After years of dedicating himself to school and to his passion, soccer, the Minnesota Thunder signed him. Tony moved to Europe and played for club leagues. Going on to a very successful professional soccer career, he retired in 2011. Throughout his career, he had a desire to help kids from the inner city. That’s how the The Sanneh Foundation was born.

We were so excited to be able to help support the incredible mission of The Sanneh Foundation  locally and internationally. They had been on Google Apps for a couple of years, but had never gone through training. Many of their employees are millennials, and Gmail is what they use for their personal accounts. Most of the employees (locally, and in Haiti) knew how to use Google Apps in some capacity, but there had never been any written documentation to get everyone in the organization on the same page. As a result, many of the more complicated features were not used to their full potential.

We sent in our training expert, Mary, and our technical expert, Shane, to train The Sanneh Foundation to help them learn the full breadth of Google Apps so they can collaborate easier and faster.

The Foundation uses Gmail and Drive the most. They use it to collaborate with remote workers, even in Haiti. Google Apps enables them to help the community and continue to develop inner city kids.

“Mary and Shane were great. Mary was very in-depth. She kept it relevant for what we needed, and walked us through practical examples of the basic features with things we’ve never used before like Sites. We used the admin console very minimally, just to add users and make user groups. But Shane dove deeper into features like provisioning apps, which helped us grasp the product more holistically.”

7 Quick Google Docs Hacks & Tricks

When using a tool like Google Docs, no matter how long you’ve used it, there’s always something you’ve not yet discovered, or there’s always new features being released and improved.

Of course with such an innovative company like Google, there are so many fun easter eggs in everything they develop. There are some popular ones, like the konami cheat code in both Docs and Hangouts.

And there are actual shortcuts and productivity hacks collections to Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, Chrome, and the like.

Which is what this article is about.

I wanted to share 7 super quick things I find really helpful in Google Docs. You may know some of them, but I hope one or two Google Docs hacks are new to you!

  1. Paint Format
    With the Paint Format button on the left side of your toolbar in Docs, you can copy the format from one block of text to another. It’s especially useful when you create a custom header style and you want to quickly apply it to other headings.
  2. Publish online
    You can publish a document online so it’s easily accessible for anyone. Your servers won’t have to host the document, and it will give you a shareable URL to the new doc online. In a document, go to File > Publish to the Web.
  3. Searching for Docs in Chrome
    You can search your Google Drive files directly from the Chrome address bar. In Chrome, Go to Settings > Manage search engines and set the default to Google Drive. It’s useful if you’re a heavy Google Docs user.
  4. Link Between Google Docs
    When you highlight a word or phrase and right click to insert a link, you’ll see a list of suggested URLs based on what you’re highlighting. The cool part is that it will also suggest any documents in your Drive that use that word or phrase in case you want to link between documents.
  5. Working offline
    This one is critical. Traveling somewhere without wifi access? Here are the steps to take to work offline with Google Apps. Most people know that it can be done, but most don’t know how to do it.
  6. Edit Images
    Google Docs Hacks for images. You don’t need a graphic designer to edit an image’s transparency, brightness, contrast, or to crop it. You can do it in Google Docs. Select the image and double click (or go to “image options” in the toolbar). You can edit the image with the functions in the sidebar.
  7. Clear formatting
    Clear formatting is one of the most useful Google Docs hacks you need to know when copy and pasting content from a different document. If you ever paste text from a different document, chances are that you’ve had to reformat it. To quickly dismiss this nasty formatting, highlight the text, select “Format” in the menu bar and click “Clear formatting.” You could also highlight the text and use the keyboard shortcut, Command + \.

Do you have a favorite Google Docs hacks, shortcut or trick? We’d love to hear it, comment below!

How to Protect Against Phishing Attacks

I came across an interesting example of a phishing attack. Well, I’ve actually come across quite a few phishing attacks recently bearing striking similarities.

It brought up some big security concerns.

Here’s the story:

One day, a company’s CEO emailed a Director at their company asking to wire transfer a significant amount of money. It sounded urgent. After asking a few questions, he transferred the money.

A couple days later, the Director bumped into the CEO and said something like, “Oh, by the way how’d that thing turn out with the money I transferred?”

The CEO had no idea what he was talking about. He hadn’t requested a wire transfer.

They launched an investigation to see if they were hacked and if they were vulnerable in any other areas.

Once the dust had settled, I got a chance to be part of the investigation, starting with the email that began it all.

The original message appeared to have come from the CEO’s email, but looking at the logs it was actually spoofed from a 3rd party server. They knew exactly who in the company to contact to arrange a wire transfer, and they had even registered a domain that was very similar to the original to route the return messages to so that it would appear as normal when the Director hit the reply button. They had copied the CEO’s email signature. There were no visible red flags. 4 emails went back and forth before the wire transfer actually happened.

This was not a hack. This was social engineering, with maybe a bit of spear phishing. Through the logs, I could find no evidence that the perpetrator had ever actually accessed the CEO’s account.

It was likely that someone at a lower level had their account compromised through a targeted phishing attack, which yielded email addresses, names, and positions through their address list. The CEO probably sent out the occasional all-company email, or happened to have sent one to the person who was phished. This would have yielded his signature information and confirmed his email address.

With this information in hand, and some basic knowledge of email, it’s not terribly tricky to craft a message that looks like it came from someone else. Requests not just for money, but credentials or classified information can even more damaging.

So, interesting story right?

What can you do to protect your company from these sorts of attacks? There’s no silver bullet that can eliminate all phishing as a threat, but I have some steps that can greatly reduce your vulnerability.

The Human Part:

A large number of malicious attacks are simply social engineering attempts (duping users to do something they shouldn’t). Users must be educated and reminded about what not to do online.  If something seems fishy, it likely is (phishing). In the event that message slips through the cracks in the technical defenses, users need to understand threats, know how to identify them, and how to react when they do find them.

We can’t reasonably expect Larry from facilities to question every request to order more of that pink sawdust stuff. But making them suspicious of emails that may not make total sense, or lacking in details may help save your pink sawdust supplies.

And remember, this sort of threat reaches everyone from the CEO to Billy in the mailroom. Any user of an email system that gets compromised can provide inside information that can lead to significantly more targeted and harder to detect attacks down the road. Simple things like the global address book can deliver valuable information on active email accounts, organizational makeup, reporting structures, or phone numbers. Even finding an email from the CEO can provide a copy of their signature, making a targeted attack seem even more authentic.

No one should be exempt from security training. 

Looking out for the following red flags can help:

1. Badly written emails

In the age of mobile devices, these are getting harder to use as a red flag as everyone misspells and autocorrects, but be aware of a message that doesn’t read right. Simply reaching back out to someone before opening a link, document or other attachment can save the day.

This is an actual phishing attempt:

 

 

2. Are you expecting this?

I rarely get attachments or links to documents that I’m not aware of ahead of time. I would have heard about it in a meeting or in an email chain before it shows up. Getting a link with something vague like “take a look at this” or “I need your input” even if it’s from someone you trust can easily be an attempt to gather information. Replying with something quick like “What is it?” can be the difference between safe and compromised.

3. Use a lifeline: call a friend

If someone emails you to urgently transfer money, call them on a known number to confirm before you make the transfer — not the one listed in their email signature. The best way to thwart social engineering attempts is to refrain from doing as the scammer requests. Instead confirm the request is legit by contacting the requester over a different platform than they used to contact you.

4. Fake sites/bad urls

This is the most prevalent thing we see these days. Long gone are the days where attachments were the biggest threat thanks to Google’s excellent scanning and filtering. Instead, Hackers use links in emails to try and grab your data, specifically your login and password information. Thankfully, most of these scam sites have most of the same fatal flaws that the emails do. Badly written and poorly edited, but anyone questioning things will feel out of place as soon as the page loads. When in doubt, login to gmail.com. If going to Gmail.com loads, then you’re already logged in. If the link you’re clicking still asks you to login, it’s probably an imposter page trying to grab your information.

While these are strong basic tips, you can now effectively test your organization’s phishing readiness using services like PhishMe and ThreatSim who will run non-malicious phishing campaigns against your organization, offering results and additional training should anyone take the bait.

The Technical Part

Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) are two methods used to authenticate that messages came from where they said they came from. SPF is easier to deploy of the two, and more widely accepted. But it’s also easy to improperly configure, allowing too much to get through due to soft rules.

Sender Policy Framework

I highly recommend reviewing SPF Syntax (here) and running your own SPF record through a validator like the one found here.

DomainKeys Identified Mail

DKIM is a little less widely supported, but for our case here, it’s well supported by Google Apps. So in the effort to protect yourself from people pretending to be you, it’s the most effective method by a long shot. Unlike SPF that operates entirely on the origin IP of the server sending the message, DKIM actually has a rolling key-based system with cryptography that can’t be replicated. Every time you send a message, there’s a secure check against that key to make sure the message truly came from where it claims it did.

It’s a bit more tricky to set up, as it involves generating some keys for your domain as well as some DNS records, but it’ll be worth for the times phishing attempts get blocked. Check out Google’s how-to article on setting up DKIM here.

IPLock

The IPLock method is creating a mail rule on your own server (Google Apps) that says exactly who gets to send as your domain. It’s like creating your own SPF rule internally. In this rule, you’ll define all the servers that you as an admin permit to send on behalf of your domain(s) and block messages coming from other sources.

Trying to send a message as acme.com from a server that’s not whitelisted? Sorry, that’s not going anywhere. Google has a great help article on how to set this up here.

Setting up all three of these options will give your users the best possible protection you can have… from the technical side.

The Ultimate Safety: Two-Factor Authentication

You knew this was coming. You absolutely cannot have a security discussion without talking about two-factor authentication.

Two factor authentication is easily the most effective method of securing any account from intrusion. By using a separate authentication application, a physical key, or SMS messaging codes required at the time of login, it prevents anyone without physical hands-on access to a personal device get into an account, even if they do have the password. It’s the last line of defense, but it’s one of the most effective ones you can have.

Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most intrusive to end users. In the efforts to keep everyone happy, it’s rarely enforced.

Google helps to take some of the load off two-factor users by allowing specific machines to be remembered for up to 30 days. Having to pull a code from your phone a few times a month if you use multiple devices, seems like a small hassle when it offers the level of security this can offer.

At minimum, we recommend mandatory enforcement of two-factor authentication for any users in positions of authority or administration, as these are easily the most targeted users when it comes to phishing campaigns, but enforcing it across your entire domain will significantly reduce your risks.

Again, Google has an excellent article on setting up and using two-factor authentication here

If you have any questions regarding this article, please feel free to reach out to us.

How to Add Additional Domains to Google Apps

Hi there, I’m Shane. I’m a sales engineer, but today I’m blogging about how to add additional domains to Google Apps.

Let’s say you’re running your company Widgets.com on Google Apps. Thanks to unprecedented growth, it’s doing great. So great, in fact, that you’ve decided to launch a new brand, Bobbles.com.

Bobbles.com is going to be huge, and you need to look professional, unifying your new brand with your existing brand. Some existing employees are going to need @Bobbles.com email addresses, and your new Bobbles.com employees will need to be able to easily collaborate with everyone from both brands.

Don’t worry, you won’t need to set up a whole new Google Apps tennant just for these users. You can easily add Bobbles.com to the existing Widgets.com Google Apps tennant.

By adding an additional domain under your Widgets.com Google Apps tennant, you can assign Bobbles.com aliases to your existing Widgets.com users. Then your users can have just one mailbox for both brands, and you only need to use one additional license. In the future, users can be added as @Bobbles.com users from the start. All in all, every user is now part of the same Google Apps tennant, and has the same global address list and collaboration features as the existing users of Widgets.com


How to add additional domains in 5 steps

1.

The first thing you need to do is register your new domain. Providers like enom.com, 1and1.com, and networksolutions.com can all help you with finding an available domain, and registering it for a small fee annually.

2.

Open your Google Apps Admin panel, admin.google.com. In the admin panel, click on “Domains”. Then click on “Add a Domain or Domain Alias” at the top left of the page.

3.

There will be a pop-up window prompting you to insert your domain, and whether you’d like to add it as an “alias domain” or an “additional domain”. Changing options down the road isn’t easy, so it’s important to choose the one that applies best.

Alias Domain vs. Additional Domain 

An alias domain is only used for aliases, and upon creation, automatically adds an alias to all users matching their primary email address. If I created Bobbles.com as an alias domain, bob@Widgets.com would automatically get bob@bobbles.com as well. 

If you select an additional domain, it would allow you to add Bob@bobbles.com to bob’s widgets account, but it would have to be done manually. Additionally though, you would be able to make Bob@bobbles.com his primary login, and not just an alias.

When in doubt, we encourage people to choose additional domain, as it offers more options for control that aliasing doesn’t.

4.

Once you’ve added the domain, you’ll automatically be taken to verify the newly added domain. You need to prove to google that you own the domain before you can act on it’s behalf. You’ll see a dropdown menu with a list of domain registrars. Find yours on the list. Select it, and Google will give you a step-by-step on just how to complete this process, or in some cases, even an automated process.

If your registrar isn’t on the list…

Select “Other” towards the bottom. This will provide you with the contents of a TXT record that you’ll need to to your DNS records. If you’re unfamiliar with this process, check the help documentation available from your registrar or DNS provider. You can also call their support line.

5.

Switch back to the google verification panel, and click “verify”. If you were successful, it will tell you, and return you to your admin panel. If it’s unsuccessful, be patient. DNS updates can sometimes take as long as 24 hours to propagate to where google can see them.


Congratulations! After you add additional domains, you’re ready to start creating aliases, users, and groups all using your new domain name. If you have any questions about this process, ask us in the comments below, or contact Google support.

Chanoyu Tea Ceremony at Agosto Space

The Tea Ceremony (Chanoyu or Chado) of Japan embodies all the artistic and cultural refinements of Japan. Patricia Katagiri began her studies of Chanoyu after her marriage in order to learn more about Japanese culture. Chanoyu includes not just the preparation and serving of sweets and tea, but also spiritual aspects found in Zen Buddhism and Taoism. It even has some Christian influences. One who has studied and is a “master” of Tea should know about history, calligraphy, architecture, flower arranging, gardening, and much more. Even after 45 years of study, Patricia describes that there is much she still needs to learn.

Patricia recently used the Agosto space for a Tea gathering (chakai). She described her time with her friends and family, and agreed to allow Agosto to share these interesting and intimate details of this ceremony in words and images.

“Its design was perfect for us… especially with the small room next to the large gathering space to use as a preparation/staging area. We were very happy that our many guests could see the ritual of making Tea for the main recipients and then be served their own sweet and bowl of tea from the preparation area. The use of your kitchen area made it very easy to stage and serve the light dinner after the Tea presentation.”

“About one-third of the 60 guests we had were my Tea students. The rest were family and friends, many of whom had never participated in a Tea gathering before. They were very happy to celebrate with me in your beautiful space. We were able to share a slideshow of my journey in Chanoyu through the years, and also to hang several Japanese scrolls on the pillars and on the glass wall (which was reminiscent of Japanese shoji).”

After 45 years of study, Patricia was given a Tea Name (Chamei) from the Urasenke School of Tea in Kyoto Japan. To study Tea is to put oneself into the present moment and to walk a “way” of “learning” so as to “act in truth.” This is the principle of “Do Gakku Jitsu” (or “Three in One”).

Agosto was honored to be able to have Patricia and the rest of the Katagiri family celebrate this special ceremony. We hope that sharing this interesting, ancient, tradition that transcends time and place gives our readers some insight.

Google Wins Lifehacker Award for Best Cloud Platform

2014 Lifehacker awards named Google Cloud Platform the readers’ choice award for best cloud computing provider. Leading by “quite a comfortable majority of votes,” Google now has the best Cloud Platform because it has built an infrastructure with efficiency and scale that’s hard to beat.

Lifehacker surmised that Google won by such a margin due to their popular productivity suite coupled with the platform. Since so many people already use and trust their business tools, it’s not much of a transition to a cloud platform.

Agosto was named Google Enterprise Global Partner of the Year for Google Cloud Platform. With over a decade of experience in helping clients solve complex business problems, Agosto helps clients leverage the virtually infinite scale of Google’s platform. We create custom applications for machine to machine (M2M) communications and develop cloud products across the Internet of Things (IoT). We’d love a chance to discuss your future projects, so contact us if you have a big project. 

Google’s infrastructure is highly reliable and secure; it’s the same one that powers Google’s own applications.

You can read the Lifehacker announcement here.

Work Change Management with Google Apps

Work Change management (CM) can ultimately allow teams to collaborate and work more effectively through organizational transitions. It provides context and training to be more effective in everyday work using a new tool. Too often companies skip change management, leaving employees in fear of the very resource provided to help them.

Understanding the tools you’re using

I once saw someone driving an Audi R8 a full 15 mph under the speed limit. I was almost angry as I passed it on the freeway. That car tops out around 195 mph and can reach 60 in under 4 seconds.

You don’t have to be a car lover to appreciate the concept that they were not using the car the way it was designed. If they wanted to drive carefully, remaining under the speed limit, they wasted their money. They bought a car that was designed for pushing the limits.

CM makes sure that once you upgrade to a supercar, you don’t continue driving like you did with your old Buick LeSabre (no offense to any Buick aficionados – I know a heckuva guy who swears by his LeSabre.)

Of course CM is much more than this. Agosto has a specialized CM team based out of our Minneapolis headquarters that offers planning and implementation to companies across Canada and the U.S. We help organizations reduce transitional risks across the enterprise.

“70% of organizational changes fail due to inadequate change support.”

— John Kotter, as featured in the Harvard Business Review

Our CM specialists specifically help companies to understand the benefits of using Google Apps (or Google Drive) for Work. These specialists enable teams and/or designated end users to gain the knowledge and skills to quickly use Google Apps the way it was designed. This also ensures users truly adopt Google Apps as a tool that helps them to do their jobs better.

Ensure organizational readiness

There are two typical paths that employees take after an organizational change that can indicate the future success or failure of the change.

(1) With change management, employees are empowered to go down a path of:

  • Adoption
  • Internalization
  • Ownership
  • Increased skills
  • Expertise

(2) Without change management, employees are more likely to go down a path toward:

  • Confusion
  • Discomfort
  • Fear
  • Reversion to previous habits/tools
  • Self/group sabotage

Further, if employees are not willing or able to use the tool after the implementation, then there is no return on investment. It’s likely too expensive to overlook change management during a transition that affects a large number of (or all) employees.

Ensure your ROI with a cost/benefit analysis

For many companies, it costs more to not use change management.

Using CM

Hard benefits include reduced expenses with licenses, infrastructure, and maintenance.

Soft benefits include year-over-year increased productivity, reduced rework, and less redundancy due to increased collaboration.

Not using CM

Hard costs include licenses, additional deployment teams, and increased internal team hours.

Soft costs include project rework, project delays, lost productivity, and morale dip.

If you need a hand getting started with the organizational change management toward adopting Google Apps for Work or Google Drive for Work, give us a shout.

What’s one time you found yourself using tools more like an aging Buick than a new Audi?

Operational Improvement: 3 Collaboration Problems Every Company Faces

From project conception to completion, collaboration is the key to success for any business. Every company and team face its own challenges to achieve effective collaboration and operational improvement.

Technology has redefined how we collaborate, and the ever-growing marketplace shows countless applications for every use case possible. But the same core problems persist from a 15-person startup to a Fortune 100 company. Here are some of the common challenges faced by all:

1. Difficulty finding the right information

It can be a lot easier to find the hole-in-the-wall Italian bistro you visited 11 months ago than it is to find a spreadsheet from accounting from 11 months ago. People spend a considerable amount of their workday finding information, files, or trying to find the right person to talk to. Having a static intranet or email solution isn’t always the answer.  

An org chart looks good on paper, but in reality, the department head cannot realistically be a CTO and COA (Chief of Answers). Knowledge is as diversified as tasks are. It takes time to find the right person to talk to and to find the data that the person sent you a while ago.

Solution:

Find a solution that allows you to search your file storage and email in the same search bar. Also be sure you’re able to search by person, date, or file type to find what you need fast. Collaborative solutions need to get you to the right person or file as soon as possible.

operational improvement with employees collaborating at a table

2. Siloed information and communication between departments

People tend to communicate with their peers in their own departments. By its natural course, information is siloed by the department and by the team. The expertise that comes from each department can be leveraged by other teams within the company, and each team could be significantly more effective as a result. This type of collaboration can be especially beneficial for a growing and evolving company. 

“If HP only knew what HP knows, we would be three times more profitable.” – Lew Platt, former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard.

Solution:

This issue is a human tendency rather than a technological one. With collaborative systems making it easy to connect with anyone, there’s no excuse for not cross-collaborating. The fix is in creating a collaborative culture to support employees sharing their knowledge and research with other team members.

3. Difficulty adapting to new systems

When people don’t fully know the capabilities of their system it leads to ineffective employees and less productivity. This most frequently happens for new employees as they transition, and even happens company-wide when a company transitions to any new communication tools, processes, or systems. This transition period can be delicate, and if not handled properly could leave employees with a negative attitude toward change in the future. 

Change is difficult when people do not feel comfortable. During the change process, some might not feel like they’re properly equipped, or might just be intimidated by the changes around them. Not having the right systems in place can seriously hurt a companies ability to scale. 

Solution:

Change management is strongly correlated with project success. Fostering an environment where people feel comfortable to learn is key.

  • Many studies show a significantly higher ROI for projects with change management
  • Others show a strong correlation between change management effectiveness and meeting project objectives, staying on schedule and staying on budget.
  • Still, others find that leadership, employee engagement, and communications are prerequisites for successful changes.

Every company faces its own challenges. If any of these 3 common challenges are evident in your company, take action.

What is the biggest communication or collaboration mishap you’ve seen?  

How to Backup and Upgrade GADS

Many IT infrastructures use Active Directory (AD) for centrally provisioning and deprovisioning users and groups. Google has a tool called Google Apps Directory Sync (GADS) to couple AD with Google Apps so that provisioning and deprovisioning tasks can still be performed from the familiar AD interface.

Google recently announced a significant update to GADS. Currently, it stores the login credentials. The new GADS, version 4.0.2, moves authentication from a stored credential to an OAuth token. With the upgrade, it will assign a single use authentication token unique to GADS, which greatly increases security.

Google previously released an updated API, which the new GADS leverages. The legacy API will be deprecated in March 2015.  GADS installations older than 4.0.2 will stop synchronizing to Google after that date.  If you’re currently using GADS, any management tasks performed in AD, such as creating or renaming users, changing email addresses or contact information, and adding aliases will no longer propagate to Google.

Agosto strongly encourages you to upgrade your GADS installation to the latest version now to ensure continued functionality.

1.) Log into your local GADS server as the user that initially installed GADS

If this user is unknown, it can be identified by locating the GADS sync scheduled task and identifying the owner of the task.

2.) Open the Configuration Manager

This is typically found under Start > All Programs > Google Apps Directory Sync > Configuration Manager.

3.) Locate your active configuration file

Open the Task Scheduler on the GADS server, and look for a task referencing GADS. Within this task’s actions will be command to launch “sync-cmd.exe”. Within the arguments of this command will be an XML file. This is your active configuration file.

4.) Backup the existing config file

The upgrade process will write irreversible changes to the current configuration, so you want to have a safe copy around should you need to roll-back for any reason. Locate the config file on the computer, and make a copy of it. Change the “.xml” file extension of the copy to “.backup” and move it to a safe place that you’ll remember. We highly recommend making additional copies of this file and backing them up to other locations such as Google Drive.

5.) Download the update installer

On the GADS Server, open a web browser, and go to https://goo.gl/KqI46G.

On this page, you’ll find download links for the GADS tool. Select the appropriate version for your server type, and begin the download.

While the app is downloading, we suggest logging into the Google Apps Admin panel to check your Admin Audit Logs (Reports > Audit > Admin) to confirm which user GADS has been using to perform its administrative updates. This is usually pretty clear by looking for the log entries for the user who is performing the majority of the “User Creation” actions. You’ll ideally want to continue using that same user account, so you’ll need to be logged in as that user.

If you don’t know the password for that user account, be careful. If you change the password on this user, you may cause other applications to fail. You may have other tools like Google Blackberry Enterprise Sync (GBES) and Google Apps Password Sync (GAPS) associated with the same account, and both may rely on that administrator account to accomplish their tasks. It’s very common that one Google account has been used in the setup of all of these applications, if they’ve been deployed.

6.) Log in to Google using the GADS Account

Once you’ve Identified the user GADS has been using to synchronize, you’ll need to log into your primary web browser on the GADS server using that user’s credentials. This is important, as it will be used in the authentication process.

7.) Run the update installer

Launch the installer application you’ve downloaded in step 5. During installation, make sure it installs over of the existing installation of GADS by pointing the installer at the same directory as your current GADS installation.

8.) Launch the new Configuration Manager

Once the installation is completed, head back to the Start menu, and launch the new “Configuration Manager” application in Start > All Programs > Google Apps Directory Sync.

9.) Load and update the config file

GADS will always launch with a default blank template file, so you’ll need to open your config file manually. Go to File > Open, and open the file we identified in step 3. Upon opening your config, the software will let you know that it’s from an old version, and needs to be updated. This is accomplished by simply saving the active file (File Menu > Save).

10.) Re-authenticate the config file

Next, you’ll need to re-authenticate. On the left column click “Google Apps Configuration”. From here, click “Authorize Now” and follow the process. As you work your way through the authentication, make sure you’re logged in with the GADS account identified in step 6.

Once you login, you’ll need to accept the authorization, and copy the verification code that you’re presented with. Paste the verification code back into the configuration manager, and click validate. If everything went as planned, the window should close, and you’ll now see “Authorized” in green under the “Authorize Now” button.

11.) Save the config file

With the authentication handled, you’ll need to save the file. Simply do another File > Save.

12.) Validate the config

Simply click the “Sync” tab on the left hand column. You’ll now see a “Validation results” section that will list each section of the GADS configuration. In the right column, you should be met with all blue check marks indicating that all sections validate properly. If there are any warnings, you’ll have to rectify them before you can move forward.

13.) Perform a sync simulation

Finally, make sure everything updated correctly, so run a sync simulation to verify the next time GADS runs it won’t suspend users inappropriately. To run the simulation, just click “Simulate Sync”.

The Application will gather information from Google Apps and AD, and provide you a list of changes that it intends to make. As long as the changes are in line with expectations, you’re all set!

Contact Agosto for more information.

How to Win the Operations Game (Pt. 3 of 3)

The operations game is surprisingly tricky. Growing up, Operation was the classic board game that was probably stacked under a pile of others like Monopoly and Don’t Break the Ice in your hall closet. Almost everyone has played Operation once. It was thrilling to try to remove the tiny pieces from the electrically charged board.

With a steady hand, any child could perform open heart surgery on a patient (remember Cavity Sam?) who wasn’t sedated. Poor Sam! Business operations teams can also achieve success when considering difficult systems implementations, but it’s a much trickier path.

Heed the warning signs

Cavity Sam is rigged to buzz when something’s not right, loud enough to give an unsuspecting child a jolt. His nose even lights up, like Rudolph. It’s impossible to miss if you mess up the surgery.

For the other kind of operations, for COO’s and their teams, the warning signs usually aren’t as evident. When choosing new systems or processes that could improve innovation for your business, is your choice helping or hurting the company? When a new system hurts a company, the warning signs might not be as obvious as they are in the board game.

Warning signs might include a steady decline in employee satisfaction, morale, or productivity. If the new system is supposed to improve communications, and employees aren’t used to it, many projects can get slowed down, or worse lost altogether.

Let’s look at some rules of this kind of operations game.

Rule 1: Innovation drives operational success

As described in part one of this series, Innovation is Meaningless (And Why Companies Don’t Do It), if your company has lost the drive to innovate, start by optimizing internal processes. This carries low risk and high ROI.

Part two of our series, Why Your Company isn’t Being Efficient, covered that companies need to make collaboration a priority. In a culture that thrives on immediacy through social media, news, and microwaveable dinners, organizations need to accept evolution and change with their employees.

Rule 2: Change management is amazing. Yes, this is a rule.

Not having change management during a rollout is like not having a surgeon in an operating room. Sure, maybe someone else could do the job, but the potential risks are too high for most patients.

To plan for a massive rollout like switching systems across an entire company, you need a strategy that provides for professional help during all aspects of the project, which calls for adequate change management and training. This will ease the present and future burden on both IT and operations teams. A planned rollout should also fit naturally into employees’ flow of work, helping to simplify and reduce any cumbersome tasks. A Forbes post reminds us to listen to the voice of the employee, especially when we introduce new systems.

Rule 3: Don’t fall into common traps

Falling into the same old operational traps (remember the wrenched ankle on the board?) can frustrate even senior management, who need to be big supporters of large-scale projects. Do your homework; there are lots of resources and VARs who can assist when you’re ready to roll out new systems.

Keep an eye on finances (remember that pesky bread slice?) System upgrades might require additional spend to start things off right, but there’s a good chance you will actually reduce overall spending by implementing the collaboration-empowering systems that will reduce IT calls and increase employee output. Be sure to ask VARs to help you scope not just the cost but the ROI for big systems projects.

Maybe it’s time to take the old Operation game out of the hall closet, find a 9volt battery, and have another go at old Sam.

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