Remote Workforces Deliver Business & Employee Benefits

Remote Working Coronavirus

When considering the employee and employer benefits of working remotely, businesses are wise to change. The alternative could make your outfit less competitive.  

If you would like to gain a little perspective on how radically our culture has changed, try this exercise. Pick up a pencil and a piece of paper and write out a half-days’ worth of emails rather than send them electronically. You will probably discover the first one looks more like scribble than cursive writing. And, your productivity will completely tank.

Remote Working Coronavirus

At first blush, the exercise demonstrates our reliance on electronic devices and real-time communication. But on another level, it shows that thought leaders are wise to embrace technological advancements as they emerge. Remote workforces rank among the more innovative trends of the business landscape today.

“To remain competitive in today’s work-from-anywhere environment, companies will need to invest in responsive technology infrastructure and enhanced virtual collaboration tools, as well as training and tailored performance management and incentive strategies for remote workers,” director of HR at the Gartner research group Emily Rose McRae reportedly said.

This shift away from in-house staff to people working from home or on the road once earned mixed reactions from industry leaders. But the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted businesses across the globe to find a way to have valued employees work from home until health crisis passes. Employers and employees alike are discovering this advancement tend to be mutually beneficial when utilizing platforms such as Microsoft Teams.

Mutual Benefits of Remote Workforces

The health crisis has motivated businesses to shift to Cloud-based systems and Microsoft Teams strategies as a short-term measure. But HR departments may want to take the opportunity to scan the workforce landscape because work-from-home expectations are expected to surge and impact hiring.

“By 2030, the demand for remote work will increase by 30 percent due to Gen Z fully entering the workforce. Gartner’s most recent ReimagineHR Employee Survey found that only 56 percent of managers permit their employees to work remotely. Organizations without a progressive remote-work policy will be at a competitive disadvantage for attracting and retaining talent,” according to Gartner.

That being said, these are the reasons why the global trend to remote productivity is well-received by management and staff.

  • Commute & Stress Reduction: No one can dispute the fact that commuting to the office adds unpaid work hours. Sitting in traffic or being packed into commuter rails tends to be an unpleasant way to begin and end each day. Employees and employers share this stressful routine. Remote work platforms such as the Cloud and Microsoft Teams allow all parties to sit down with a morning beverage and log on from anywhere. No hustle, no bustle, no extra hours, and no commuter expenses.
  • Talent Without Borders: Before the massive cellphone footprint, people used landlines with rotary dialing, and long-distance was expensive. In those days, it was common to pay a premium just to call someone in the next state over. But just as your cellphone can connect you to people far outside your region without added expense, so can the Cloud. When projects are conducted in Microsoft Teams via a Cloud-based network, your remote talent pool expands exponentially. A skilled person 1,000 miles away can secure a job they are qualified for, and employers gain access to talent otherwise unavailable.
  • Reduced Infrastructure: An increasing number of organizations that do not necessarily require a brick-and-mortar footprint. These outfits can eliminate that cost in some cases. Other operations can reduce office space expenditures. With remote workforces, less can be more.
  • Live-Work Lifestyles: Millennials and the Gen Z crowd tend to see work and life more closely aligned in their lifestyle than previous generations. The Cloud has been a boon and securing offsite positions allows employees a preferred professional lifestyle. Raising children no longer comes attached to childcare expenses or limited “parent hours” jobs.

Microsoft Teams Supports Remote Workforce Culture

With dispersed workforces increasing, Microsoft Teams ranks among the most business supportive products on the market. It seamlessly works with Cloud-based networks and delivers real-time communication. The platform offers chat, video conferencing, managed channels, shared calendar options, and project space that can provide supervisors with top-tier oversight. In these troubling times, Microsoft Teams use has surged by tens of millions. But industry leaders may also want to consider the long-term benefits of embracing remote workforces into the future.

September’s Free Online Training

Every month, we host Microsoft Office and other technology training sessions. Our training sessions are completely free of charge and are available “on-demand”.  Yes, you can tune-in whenever and wherever you like.

Microsoft Outlook Training
This month’s training session: 4 Ways To Use Microsoft Outlook Efficiently.

Our in-house Microsoft training specialist, Dawn, will guide you through some very important tips and tricks, such as:

  • Quick Parts
  • Templates
  • Automated Responses
  • Signatures

Tune into this month’s training by clicking here.

How to Respond to a Phishing Attack

australia phishing

Phishing is one of the most commonly-used cyberattacks in Australia. Statistics from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner show that phishing accounts for 39 percent of all breaches reported. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of how to protect yourself at home and at work from phishing.

australia phishing

How does phishing work?

The victim receives an email that is simple in format and generally personalised and potentially from a known sender. It may look like an official email from a known organisation or company, and it invites the victim to click on an embedded link. Wording varies, but it may say, “click to learn more” or “click to see the image.” After clicking, the victim is redirected to a webpage and asked to enter their user name and password or for other personal information. Once the personal information is filled in the attacker then sends emails to everyone in the victim’s address book and the cycle repeats.

It’s a spam email issue?

It is and it isn’t. While having spam email issued from your own email account is annoying and a problem, the larger issue is that the victim has given the attacker their user name and password. With an email and password, the attacker can easily hack into anything the victim uses that email and password for. Most people repeat email and password data for multiple accounts. In the world of cloud storage, this can be several accounts including email, CRM, file storage, banking, and proprietary applications.

Will changing the password mitigate further damage?

Changing your password is a start. Depending on what each account holds, it may be appropriate to cancel or disable the account and set up a new one. However, an aggressive attacker can get into a lot of personal and/or sensitive information from the original login information. Changing just one email password may not be enough. You may need to change all of your work and personal passwords.

How can I know if changing the password has solved the problem?

Look for history of logging in and out of accounts. Once you change the password, there should be incidents of logging failure (from the attacker). However, there is some lag time, because your login information may access more than one sub-account or cloud account synchronised to the main account.

Once the password is changed, am I clear?

No. Depending on what has been accessed, the breach may fall under the Privacy Act and Data Breach Notification. If you’re at work, discuss your breach with the IT department immediately, so they can take the appropriate action. Within an organisation, it’s possible that you aren’t the only person affected, and other people may have fallen for the same trap. Everyone who received the same email should delete it completely without clicking on it. Communicate with anyone who is involved and determine whether this needs to be reported to the Commissioner.

All accounts are secure and communications sent. What next?

Once the fire has been put out, there still may be lingering security issues to strengthen or counter. These can be talking to IT to double-check everything, blocking email addresses, or improving the filters. Then you’ll have to investigate the compromise to see if it is an “eligible data breach” according to the NDB scheme.

You will have to ask some hard questions such as what information has been sent and received via email, stored in the cloud, or accessible via their login. Ask if that data were to be made public knowledge, what would the consequences be? Is there any kind of financial or personally identifiable information (PII) available? Will anyone come to harm (physical, financial, reputational, or emotional) as a result? In Australia, you have 30 days to conduct an investigation to determine whether it is an eligible data breach. If you’re certified for the European Union (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), you have 72 hours to decide. Check with your legal department for further instructions.

Anything else?

For better results in the future, it’s helpful to repeat training with all employees yearly on how to identify phishing and what to do in the case of a cyberattack.

Australian SMBs Severely Affected by Ransomware Forcing 1 in 5 to Close

Australia Ransomware

Australia Ransomware

Ransomware attacks have caused business interruption and other lingering damage to Australian small- and medium-sized business, enough damage that 22 percent have been forced to close after an attack. Ransomware attacks have paralysed business operations so much so that new research has reported that 31 percent of organisations have yet to determine how they were infected.

Telstra survey of IT professionals from more than 300 Australian companies found 48 percent of those surveyed had experienced a cyber attack in the past 12 months. This is up from 33 percent in 2018. Of those who suffered an attack, 81 percent experienced a ransom incident, and 51 per cent of them paid it.

What Does Research on Ransomware Attacks Show for 2018?

A yearly study, Malwarebytes Labs State of Malware 2019, has confirmed that potential damage from ransomware attacks extends far beyond the original ransom. Ransomware isn’t the same wide-ranging threat as it was in 2017, however it’s still a sizable problem. Overall trends have shown a drop in volume for the year (Jan – Nov 2018), but an increase in focused, sophisticated attacks aimed at businesses.

How Does Ransomware Affect Consumers vs. Business?

Overall ransomware attacks have dropped when measured against attacks in 2017. In 2017 the study recorded 8,016,936 attacks across businesses and consumers globally. Compare that to 2018, where there were 5,948,417 detections recorded—a decline of 26 percent.

Given that businesses house so much more valuable data and critical systems, they are proving to be a more profitable ransomware target for criminals. Not only do they have the potential funds to pay a ransom, they’re also likely to have multiple pressing reasons for wanting to get back to work. Ransomware delays can be incredibly costly, especially when an affected organisation has no backup plan in place and multiple endpoints to remediate. Incident response and digital forensics all add to the cost, which is often a lot more than simply paying the ransom.

Which Industries are Targeted by Ransomware the Most?

You might be wondering which industries are popular targets for ransomware? Which verticals took the hardest hit? Malwarebytes’ data shows that consulting is the top contender, and education is second place. Here are industries listed in order of most targeted to least targeted:

  1. Consulting
  2. Education
  3. Manufacturing
  4. Retail
  5. Government
  6. Transportation
  7. Telecommunications
  8. Electronics
  9. Healthcare
  10. Technology

Although there were major stories throughout 2018 regarding healthcare and government ransomware attacks, other industries actually felt the brunt of the ransomware menace.

Which Ransomware Viruses Caused the Most Problems in 2018?

SamSam

SamSam caused chaos across medical networks in the US, exploiting and brute-forcing its way into systems to make over $1 million US dollars ($A1445300) for holding systems to ransom. One of its many older variants revamped to be more appealing to criminals, charging victims a more moderate price than alternative recovery methods, making significantly more money as a result. From January to March, SamSam took down everything from hospitals to city services, including departments of transportation and city-facing applications in Atlanta, Georgia. Additional major attacks took place in September, with both the ports of San Diego and Barcelona suffering outbreaks.

Although law enforcement agencies believe they know who is behind these infections, the alleged duo are still at large, and we still continue to see spikes in attacks globally. SamSam will continue to be a strong source of malware infections well into 2019.

GandCrab

GandCrab was also a major player in 2018, making use of various exploit kits shortly after its first appearance in January. Numbers steadied and remained constant for most of 2018, with a huge spike of activity in February, thanks to multiple spam campaigns in Q1. Moving to the Magnitude exploit kit for distribution, GandCrab continued to cause trouble for network admins and home users. This is partly thanks to Magnitude’s unconventional malware-loading methods. Everything from fileless techniques to binary padding (where extra data is added to files to bypass scanning) were used in the race to make it the biggest source of GandCrab.

GandCrab, the top ransomware variant of Q2 2018, is also notable for being the first ransomware to ask its victims for a cryptocurrency payment other than Bitcoin. At a time when business ransomware detections were up by 28 percent, but the overall volume remained low, it became one of the leading sources of malicious ransomware campaigns in 2018.

How Does Ransomware Compare to Other Malware?

Although ransomware has lost ground to other malware players, such as cryptominers and Trojans, it still causes quite a bit of damage, and 2018 has been a year of quiet experimentation and reassessment. The public at large are much more aware of such attacks now, and the same old tricks won’t work forever. Expect to see more innovative reworkings of older files and strengthened ties to cutting-edge exploit kits to push ransomware further still in 2019. The Australian Government tracks malware attacks on the Australian Cyber Security Centre for the public to stay updated.

What Changes Can We Expect From New Apple Software?

Apple Australia

Apple Australia

The 2019 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in California has come to a close, and we’ve learned everything there is to know about the new software updates to expect from one of our favorite technology companies.

Say goodbye to the iTunes app.

If you’ve ever been frustrated by iTunes’ inability to successfully organise your music, television shows, movies, podcasts, and other media in a coherent way (or to retain your Apple ID password for more than a day), it’s time to rejoice.

iTunes is being dismantled.

What was once a Frankenstein-like amalgamation of all media rolled into one complicated program will now be three programs. Those used to working with iPads and iPhones won’t have much to adjust to. This is how their devices have been running for some time. But as soon as desktop users upgrade their devices to MacOS Catalina, they’ll see their iTunes icon disappear, and their media will be segmented into three apps: Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, and Apple TV.

Privacy improves on the iPhone.

As always, privacy is an extremely important aspect of Apple’s software upgrades. Today, more than ever, users are demanding better privacy all-around, and Apple is delivering, especially in regard to iPhone’s location controls.

First, it’s no longer a given that background apps will have the ability to track your phone using Bluetooth and/or Wi-Fi connections. Furthermore, if you want an app to track you in the background, this permission can be opted into on a day-by-day basis instead of having to give a flat yes or no. Of course, it’s possible for apps to still track you while the app is open.

iPhone’s photos app gets better … again.

Always on the lookout for better ways to organise your media, Apple’s come up with yet another spin on optimal photo arrangement within the Photos app. Mostly, they’re looking to provide better “glimpses” of recent events or highlights you’ve photographed.

With the new updates, you’ll be able to view your favorite snapshots and videos from a recent trip or event for reminiscing or sharing with others. Live photos and auto-play videos offer additional upgrades for camera-loving iPhone users.

Tap into your dark side with iPhone’s new dark mode.

See apps in their darker alter-egos and give your screen-drenched eyes a break. For those addicted to in-bed iPhone browsing at night or in the early hours of the morning, iPhone’s new dark mode makes it all a bit easier and clearer.

Sidecar lets you use your iPad as a secondary Mac display.

Graphic designers and those who work with their iPads as graphics tablets will love this one. iPads can now be connected by cable or wirelessly to your Mac for simultaneous use as a secondary screen.

Secondary screens can be extremely helpful for working on large projects or multitasking with a few programs at once. For those uninterested in investing in an additional monitor, Sidecar is a new feature that allows you to wirelessly connect your iPad screen to your Mac while still allowing Apple Pencil use.

iPadOS is the bigger, better operating system for iPad.

Speaking of iPads, Apple hopes to increase its use as touchscreen Macs with its bigger, better iPadOS. With the new software, users finally get support for using external drives and mice, and there’s even been an application for storing files added in. You will also be able to open multiple windows of the same app, use unique gestures for basic tasks, and go straight to websites in the desktop version instead of that pesky mobile version.

Get Ready for Changes to Your Devices

Whenever big upgrades come to your regularly-used devices, it’s best to brush up on the changes you can expect beforehand.

Automatic updates can be useful; however, the changes revealed may throw your routines off-course or even set your business back a few days if you’re not ready. Furthermore, you risk not knowing what updates will actually be useful to you if you’re unaware of what updates to expect.

iOS 13 has been released for select developers and will be broadly available later in June. The new iPadOS is set to be released in July of 2019. Another iOS 13 update is planned for release later in the fall of 2019; this will include updates such as dark mode for iPhone.

What’s New With Apple?

Apple WWDC New Things

Apple WWDC New Things

Building a worldwide brand takes an army — that’s an army of independent developers if you’re Apple. The latest WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) always includes a few unexpected tidbits that make the tech world salivate, and this year is no different. For 2019, Apple pulled out all the stops by not only releasing a new version of its ubiquitous iOS but also bringing a fascinating new iPadOS that promises to change the way you work in the future. From software to hardware to Apple TV Plus shows, here’s a quick recap of the cool new releases at this massive global gathering of Apple worshippers.

Enhancing the iPad

Since November 2, 2012, the iPad has quickly become one of the most universal crossover tools for computing on the market. Originally introduced as a way to consume content, iPads have now reached a new stage of their evolution with the introduction of the iPadOS that brings the tablet one step closer to being the primary computing device for business and creative workers. While the tablet still doesn’t have quite enough computing power to run intensive applications, the iPad Pro introduced in 2018 and now this new OS is allowing the platform to push the boundaries of what you would expect as far as functionality in a tablet. Screens continue to grow in size while the interface becomes more nuanced, with the ability to split the screen, pin widgets to the home screen and multi-task more efficiently. Add in the USB thumb drive support and the ability for software developers to tinker with the programming interface, and you’re inching closer to a viable alternative to a traditional laptop computer.

Apple Introduces a Secure SSO Option

Security is top of mind for individuals and organisations alike, making multi-factor authentication a requirement for business systems. While Apple has been lacking this type of advanced functionality, the new single-sign-on option allows you to authenticate with Apple without releasing your personal information to third-party apps. For consumers who are already utilising Google or Facebook apps, it may be worth the switch to Apple SSO as the software also generates a unique, random email address that will save your inbox from spam — and your devices from malware.

The Apple Watch Becomes More User-Friendly

Love your Apple Watch but really dislike the App Store experience? Apple listened and created a version of the App Store created specifically for the confines of the Apple Watch. The store is chock-full of applications that were built specifically for WatchOS and enhances the Watch to the point that you no longer need the tether to your iPhone for basic functionality. Plus, WatchOS is enhanced with new health-tracking abilities, a calculator, streaming audio and voice memos — all of which are targeted to making this device appeal to a wider swath of the population.

New Toys for Developers

Many of Apple’s latest releases are targeted towards the consumer market, but the software and hardware giant hasn’t forgotten the developers that helped make the brand what it is today. The announcement of ARKit 3 includes state-of-the-art augmented reality features that allow developers to layer AR around users in new and exciting ways in the future. Built to help make AR more interactive for users, it also makes life a bit easier for developers by “allowing green screen-style effects in almost any environment”, according to Apple executives who introduced the new tech during a keynote. Something that’s been missing in previous releases is the ability to simultaneously utilise the front and back cameras to allow users to interact in a more holistic way with virtual elements in a real-world environment.

One thing is sure: Apple’s annual WWDC never disappoints! This highly-anticipated event provides consumers with a glimpse into the future while firing the enthusiasm and creativity of thousands of developers from around the world. Surprisingly, the coolest new introduction at WWDC wasn’t even technical — it was design-focused. It might show you the level of control that Apple has over its OS to learn that there were extensive cheers with the introduction of the system-wide Dark Mode for iPad, as the Apple team noted: “iOS now lives in the dark“.

3 Security Tips For Australian Organisations

Australia Cybersecurity

Australia Cybersecurity

More than ever, cybercrime is a reality all businesses in Australia must face. No matter your industry, company size, or level of technology use, it’s up to you to ensure the security of your data and the strength of your security.

Together with the Cyber Security Working Group (CSWG), the Australian Taxation Office has developed 3 key tips to help businesses throughout the country combat cybersecurity. We’ve summarised these tips below.

3 Tips for Better Cyber Security

1. Ensure your system and individual accounts are constantly monitored.

All accounts owned or operated by your company need to be monitored constantly for unusual activity. This may mean hiring a security company to carry out consistent monitoring, but it will also mean checking your company interactions and transactions in-house. On an individual level, instruct your employees to follow the same self-monitoring protocol.

2. Train your employees in best practices for optimal security.

Evidence shows that phishing scams are at the root of most cybercrime activity. A phishing scam is generally conducted by email, but it can be done over the phone or by mail as well.

Most often, a criminal on the other end of the scam will send an unsolicited email to one or more employees in your company. The email will likely appear from a legitimate source, such as a bank, credit card company, security manager, or higher-up in the company. A key feature of a phishing email is the request to:

  • Reply with more information (usually personal or sensitive information such as a login or account number)
  • Login to an account you possess via a link the provided in the email
  • Click on a link for some other reason (to retrieve a prize you’ve won, for example)

In order to avoid phishing scams from affecting your company, the only truly effective measure is to train your employees in common cyber scam activity. Teach them how to avoid such scams. It’s important to teach your employees to:

  • Never click on links from or reply to suspicious emails.
  • Avoid providing sensitive information (logins, passwords, account numbers, access codes, etc.) when prompted by email. When in doubt, double check with the sender by calling them directly or speaking to them face-to-face to see if the initial message was real.
  • Never open attachments or programs from unknown sources.
  • Never leave their open or logged in computers or terminals unattended.
  • Watch your social media presence carefully. Not everything (meaning, sensitive details) should be shared on public accounts like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as hackers may come back to use this information with malicious intent. Make sure whoever is managing your social media accounts is aware of this.

3. Be wary of conducting business on public Wi-Fi connections.

Public Wi-Fi can be a tricky Internet connection to safely use because it’s not always secure from corruption by nearby hackers. This certainly goes for individuals on a personal level as individuals can easily be hacked via their bank account logins or by email, but it always goes for business conducted on company laptops or through company websites or cloud accounts.

This is often an issue “on the road.” Many businesses will send employees on company trips, during which they may want to use public Wi-Fi (at an airport, hotel, or restaurant, for example). In general, this should be avoided whenever possible, or, if it is absolutely necessary, only general, non-sensitive business should be conducted when connected to public Wi-Fi.

Is Cybercrime on the Rise in Australia?

Yes. Top businesses and the Australian government strive to attain optimal cyber defence capabilities. However, even as awareness of cybercrime grows, there are still mounting incidents of cybercriminals getting away with their crimes. This is partly because hackers can commit their misdeeds internationally — and most do. This makes them much harder to track as they often route their hacks through a variety of countries.

The best way to combat this type of criminal activity is to follow the directives listed above. Only thorough and attentive security monitoring and diligent training of employees can stop the threat of cybercrime to your company.

Introduction To Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams in Australia

Many organizations are turning to Microsoft Teams as a messaging app for the workplace, and for good reason. Microsoft Teams is a tool that emphasizes communication, real-time collaboration, app and file sharing, and meetings. This tool is a great way to keep everyone in the workplace on the same page at all times. If you don’t know much about Microsoft Teams, here is some information about this tool.

 

What is Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft Teams is a product created by Microsoft for business chat-based communication. This platform is comparable to Slack, HipChat, and other competitors. The essence of Microsoft Teams is that it allows users to set up Teams. Each Team serves as a hub for chat rooms, which are referred to as channels.

It is possible to house numerous channels in the same Team. Typically, each channel is dedicated to a different topic to ensure chats remain easy to follow. Conversations in a Team are threaded and flow from the top to the bottom. If there are updates to a conversation, the users who are a part of the channel are notified. If a face-to-face conversation is necessary, a user can jump into a Skype video or voice chat with other users in the channel at the click of a button.

Microsoft is advertising Microsoft Teams as more than just a platform for chatting. A major advantage of this product is that it is integrated with Office 365, which is Microsoft’s online office suite. Therefore, Microsoft Teams is integrated with not just Word and Excel, but also SharePoint and other cloud storage and sharing services. Delve, PowerPoint, OneNote, Power BI, and Planner are just a few other examples of the services integrated with Teams.

The reason this is so advantageous is that any documents, presentations, and spreadsheets that are shared within a Team are automatically synced and stored in OneDrive, which is Microsoft’s cloud storage. This makes sure that every user in a Team has access to the latest copy of the document. Collaborative editing on the content shared is also possible. Every time a user makes a change, this automatically reflected in real time for the other users.

Even if some of your employees don’t like to use Microsoft Teams, they can still be kept in the loop due to the integration with Office 365. Any important content or updates made within Microsoft Teams will be accessible outside of the platform.

If necessary, you can use Connectors so that team channels can communicate and interact with services outside of Microsoft Office 365. There are currently Connectors for services like SAP Success Factors, Salesforce, GitHub, Zendesk, MailChimp, and Evernote. If there is not a Connector available for the outside service you want to connect to, you can use the API framework to build one. This API framework is particularly helpful if you want to link Microsoft Teams to your own internal apps.

When Microsoft Teams launched, there were more than 70 Connectors and 85 Bots. Bots are able to participate in the conversations within a channel. Every channel in a Team has access to a T-Bot, which is a bot that will answer users’ questions about Microsoft Team. The virtual assistant Cortana is also being integrated into Microsoft Teams. This integration will allow your employees to use IP phones and conference room microphones to issue commands to Cortana.

Office 365 Groups and SharePoint controls access to the dashboard, files, and internal sites. Users are able to make new Groups. It is also possible to connect a Team to a Group that already exists when making the Team.

In terms of security and data protection, you have nothing to worry about when it comes to Microsoft Teams. This platform meets the same standards as Office 365 and is Tier C compliant. This platform uses two-factor authentication. Data is encrypted at rest and in transit.

How Can I Get Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft Teams in Australia

If you want to use Microsoft Teams, all you need to do is navigate to the Office 365 admin center and enable it.

As you can see, there are many reasons why organizations are jumping on the Microsoft Teams bandwagon. For more information about the advantages of Microsoft Teams for your organization, don’t hesitate to contact us.

 

How to build your business forecast using Microsoft Excel?

Business Forecast With MS Excel

Understanding your past financial data is essential to forecasting for the future. Without analysing the data, your emotions or your opinion of what you’d like to happen with your business in the future are likely to colour your forecast. One easy way to use your past data to predict your business future is to build a financial prediction using Microsoft Excel.


How to make an economic forecast using Microsoft Excel

1. Select your past sales data in Excel. The first step in creating your financial business forecast is to select the previous sales data that you wish to use. In most cases, you’ll choose the past three to five years. However, if a singular event, like the Stanley Cup Finals or the Winter Olympics being in town, dramatically impacted your sales and is likely to repeat in the future, your forecast will be more accurate if you leave that year (or at least that period) out of the data you use for your projections.

2. Click on Forecast Sheet on the Data tab. The next step is to click on “forecast sheet” located on the tab marked “data”. It’s located at the top of the page on the left side.

3. Enter the required information and hit Create. Next, you’ll need to enter the necessary information, such as the time period you’d like to forecast and, finally, hit create. You’ll have a forecast report projecting the sales and/or income into the period you selected.

How to use your forecast report to make smart business decisions

What can your forecast report be used for? If you know what your sales and income are likely to be for the next quarter or next year, you can make sure that you have the inventory, raw materials, staff and marketing that you need to support that level of sales. You can also use this report to discuss funding with your bank or another lender.

Business Forecast With MS Excel