Using the Cloud to Boost Business

The Cloud Business

Boost Business with the Cloud

Using the cloud offers a variety of benefits for your business. Find out more about how you can use cloud technology to boost business.  

The Cloud Business

The cloud has grown in popularity among businesses in all industries. However, if you have not already transferred your business’s data and operations to the cloud, you may wonder if this technology is really in your best interest to expend the time and energy you will need to invest in order to implement cloud computing.

Below are some of the ways the cloud can boost business for your company, making it well worth the investment.

1. The cloud saves you money.

Implementing the cloud for your business prevents you from needed to invest in the same expensive infrastructure and programming of a company with in-house operations. This can save your company a significant amount of money over time.
The cloud can also save your company money by eliminating the need for in-house IT personnel. When you make the move to cloud computing, all of the programs and services you use will be maintained by your provider. Thus, you won’t need your own full-time IT staff.

2. The cloud boosts productivity.

The programs and processes you are able to access when you utilize the cloud are often more advanced and efficient than those you could afford on your own. In addition, if you choose the right provider, your programs will also be more reliable and kept up-to-date at all times. This leads to enhanced productivity overall.

3. The cloud improves collaboration.

With the cloud, it is easier to connect with colleagues, share information and work on projects with others. These improvements lead to more collaboration within your company, which in turn improves outcomes.

4. The cloud grows with your company.

One of the best things about cloud computing is its scalability. You pay only for the services you need, making it much more cost-effective. These services can also be scaled up or scaled down easily when your needs change, allowing for easier growth.
Moving your company to the cloud may seem overwhelming at first, but the potential benefits are clear. If you are not already using the cloud, it is time to start exploring this option and considering how it can improve your business. Before making the switch, be sure to investigate different providers so you can find the one that offers the best services at a fair price.

To Lease or Buy a Copier?

Copier Sales and Lease

Should You Buy a Copier or Lease It?

Trying to decide whether to lease a copier or buy a copier? Find out the pros and cons. See when buying or leasing may be the best option for your business.  

Copier Sales and Lease

No single piece of equipment in the office takes more of a beating than the floor-standing copier.

Day in and day out it endures transitions between high heat and frigid office temps, paper jam tug-of-war, lid slamming and endless pieces of paper traveling at lightning speed across its rollers. All of this demanding work takes a toll on the device, giving it an average lifespan of just five years in a busy office.

Eventually, you’ll find yourself needing to find a replacement and the question arises: should you lease or buy a copier? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to that question. These pros and cons will help you make the right choice for you and your business.

Why Buy a Copier?

When you’re playing the long game, buying a copier is usually the less expensive option–when it comes to the cost of the copier. You’ll avoid finance charges and other fees. You’ll also avoid a hard credit check, which may impact your credit score. If you’re a smaller or growing business, you like to keep your credit as clean as possible.

And even if you did have to put it on credit, the printer is yours after you finish paying for it. Some high-quality floor copiers can last up to 10 years, especially if you’re not a high-volume office. So that may be a very good deal.

Okay. So it sounds like buying is the way to go. But wait! There are some cons to consider.

When Buying a Copier Isn’t Your Best Option

Since the dawn of time, technology has never stood still. And the rate of change is only getting faster. A bought printer may have everything you need today. But no one really knows what businesses may need in 10 years. That could put you at a competitive disadvantage against newer companies in the future with the latest technology.

If you needed to resell that printer because you weren’t using it like you thought or needed to free up cash, you might recoup 50% if you sold it immediately, but in 5 years, it would probably cost more for someone to move it than they’d pay for the copier.

Not unlike a car, it’s not going to hold its value.

If your rainy day fund is tapped out and you’d have to put buying a copier on credit, interest charges may make the copier cost a lot more than you think you’re saving by buying over leasing a copier.

Finally, an aging printer will also begin to require more maintenance to keep it running smoothly. And you might find yourself feeling like you have to keep it past its prime to get your money’s worth. That may cost you in employee productivity and lost wages.

Why Lease a Copier?

Leasing a copier does make sense if you need to have clear terms from month-to-month. You know upfront how much you pay each month and for how long. That’s often easier on the budget. If cash flow is tight and you’d have to finance a bought printer anyway, leasing may actually end up saving you money.

When your term ends, you’re not stuck with a printer that may now be outdated or breaking down. You can upgrade when you renew your lease. Or, depending on the lease terms, you may be able to buy the copier at the end of the lease for a minimal cost if it’s still working for you.

A newer copier needs less maintenance and functions more efficiently, increasing workplace productivity and reducing worker frustration around inadequate technology. If the leased copier needs maintenance or stops working entirely, that’s likely the responsibility of the leasing company.

That’s not an emergency expense you have to worry about.

When Leasing a Copier Isn’t Your Best Option

You will pay more for the leased copier than you otherwise would. Those pros of leasing listed above come at a price. It’s important to realize that those are what you’re paying for, not just the copier. In a way leasing is another way to manage risk. Not unlike buying insurance, you’re paying the leasing company to take on what would otherwise be your risk.

Every business has a certain amount of risk they’re comfortable managing and planning for. Leasing a copier may not make sense for you if you’re in a position where you can effectively manage more risk. That copier may last you 15 years or five. You just don’t know because lifespan is so strongly affected by how your office uses it.

Ultimately, deciding whether to lease or buy a copier is a very company-specific decision. So weigh these pros and cons and you’ll make the right choice for your business.

The Evolution of MSPs and the Benefits of Using Them

Managed Service Provider

MSPs and How They Developed Over Time

MSPs provide specialized services to small businesses who may not be able to hire a full staff of professionals.  

Managed Service Provider

Small business owners with limited resources can’t always afford to hire the professionals they need to help manage their business. They have the same basic needs as larger companies, just on a smaller scale. The problem is that, unlike their larger counterparts, they don’t have the budget or the resources to allow for such extravagances. In an attempt to fill these needs, MSPs were formed.

What Is an MSP?

An MSP, or managed service provider, is a company or team of professionals that offers specialized services to small business. They can be hired on contract or to perform specific jobs. MSPs are made up of professionals who have the advanced training needed to provide a variety of services that fall within their industry. There are MSPs in almost every industry. Professional service providers from each MSP can be hired one at a time or as a team to ensure the right people are selected for each job.

Different Types of MSPs

There are several different types of MSPs. IT and security management are two of the most common. There are also MSPs that deal with digital marketing and data analytics that help small companies reach larger audiences with strategically targeted marketing plans. IT companies help small businesses by setting up their digital network and making sure it runs efficiently. While the IT professionals work to protect the company’s information, security management MSPs help to protect the outside. They can install security systems and provide video surveillance cameras that allow the owners to see their property day or night.

The Reason Behind Their Growth

The main reason behind the explosion of growth that MSPs are experiencing has to do with filling a niche. MSPs provide specialized services for an affordable price. The owner of the small business only has to pay for the amount of time used or the services that are provided. With little money in the budget for hiring someone full time, using an MSP allows for the business owner to get the services they need at a manageable cost.

Why They Are Needed

One of the main benefits of hiring an MSP to perform specific tasks is that allows the owner to do what they do best. Manage their business. By focusing all of their attention on their business, they are able to maintain continued growth. Many small business owners don’t have the knowledge or experience to handle certain parts of their business. Hiring an MSP team of professionals allows them to hire someone with the knowledge and experience they need only for as long as they need them. This means better control of their business and not worrying about going over their already tight budget.

MSPs have grown considerably over the last few decades. Small business owners no longer have to worry about their lack of experience costing them money. Now they can turn to the professionals they need to take care of the tasks that sometimes went overlooked in the past.

Do You Know What to Do Now That Support for Windows 7 Is Ending?

Windows 7 End of Support

What to Do Now That Support for Windows 7 Is Ending

In just a few short months, support for Windows 7 will come to an end. Is your business ready?

If your business is currently operating Windows 7, it’s time to switch to Windows 10. Microsoft will be ending technical support for Windows 7 in January 2020.

 

An enormous number of businesses throughout the United States use Windows operating systems to run their companies. In fact, Windows famously runs the majority of the world’s entire population of computers — including those used in business and personal computers (PCs).

Each of these Windows computers has its own version of Windows’ operating system (OS). Right now, the most popular operating systems are Windows 7 and Windows 10. Windows 7 was originally released ten years ago in 2009, and Windows 10 was released in 2015.

Now, Microsoft is phasing out its support for Windows 7. According to the company, this was always the plan:

“Microsoft made a commitment to provide 10 years of product support for Windows 7 when it was released on October 22, 2009. When this 10-year period ends, Microsoft will discontinue Windows 7 support so that we can focus our investment on supporting newer technologies and great new experiences.”

So, when will this change take place?

According to the company, “The specific end of support day for Windows 7 will be January 14, 2020.”

They go on to say: “Microsoft strongly recommends that you move to Windows 10 sometime before January 2020 to avoid a situation where you need service or support that is no longer available.”

What Does the End of Windows 7 Support Mean for Your Business?

First off, it’s important to note that this change is definitely a big deal.

While the initial reaction of some companies and individuals may be that “end of support” doesn’t really matter, this assumption would be rather reckless. If you fail to update to Windows 10, Microsoft’s imminent cessation of support for Windows 7 has the possibility of causing your business huge problems. Specifically, the end of Windows 7 support means that Microsoft will no longer be providing any type of technical support and absolutely no software or security updates or fixes to this operating system.

As a result, if you run into a major technical problem with a computer running Windows 7 after the end-of-service date (January 14, 2020) or if your security is breached, you’ll get no assistance from Microsoft.

While this realization is shocking (and possibly rather annoying) for many, Microsoft has been warning users about the impending change for a long time. If you have Windows 7, you should have been receiving consistent advisories to this effect. Additionally, if you work with an IT service provider, they have likely been alerting you of the future change as well.

Security Issues With Microsoft 7 Moving Forward

One of the biggest reasons to update to Windows 10 is to ensure your company’s security in the face of possible cyberattacks.

When Microsoft says they’ll no longer be providing Windows 7 support, one of the things they’ll no longer be doing is providing security updates. Normally, Microsoft tracks security issues closely. When a specific cyberattack trend or weakness in their system becomes obvious, they release an update to fix the problem or better fend off would-be attackers.

On January 14, 2020, this will stop.

Unfortunately, cyber criminals are gleefully anticipating this date. They will take full advantage of the security gaps left in Windows 7 operating systems if they can. Those who fail to leave Windows 7 and move to Windows 10 will, of course, be the targets.

Have Questions About the Switch to Windows 10?

To be sure, Windows 10 promises to provide many useful updates and upgrades for Microsoft users. At the same time, the transition from Windows 7 to Windows 10 will certainly bring inevitable challenges. You and your employees will be forced to change some of your habits, and certain features you’re used to may become obsolete or have new properties.

If you haven’t already, now is the time to update your business’s software to Windows 10. Doing so sooner rather than later will allow for the fewest number of complications.

If you have questions or concerns about making a smoother transition from Windows 7 to Windows 10, speak to your IT service provider as soon as possible. There are steps you can take to make this transition less of a trial for yourself and your employees.

Using Managed IT Services to Save You Money

Managed IT Services

How Using Managed IT Services Saves You Money in the Long Term

Wondering how to make your business’ IT run better without costing more? One popular option to consider is managed IT services companies. 

Managed IT Services

Digitization. Network. Security. Mobile. As the average business sees more and more complexity in their IT requirements, it can become harder and harder to keep up with the necessary changes to protect your business’ interests and sensitive data. But what if the process could be easy without costing an arm and a leg? Managed IT services can provide this level of care, often at the same or even a lower cost than you would see using in-house employees. Here’s a quick look at how managed IT services can help make your business more efficient and effective.

Using Managed IT Services to Save You Money

Let’s start by defining what a managed IT service is and is not. A managed IT service provides you with a range of services. You pay a monthly subscription cost, and in exchange, the service takes care of your IT needs that are covered under those services. These services can include software updates, managed software-as-a-service options, backup services, website management and similar possibilities. Because they are responsible for these IT assets, these assets are carefully managed to provide you with optimum performance, security and efficiency.

Increase team efficiency by reducing downtime.

Well-run IT systems allow your employees to work at their highest levels of efficiency instead of focusing on computer problems and wasting their time updating systems and on hold with a help desk. Wouldn’t you rather have your people focusing on what your company is best at, promoting growth? When there’s a problem with your IT assets under your managed IT service, your employees don’t have to worry about fixing the problem – the managed IT service handles the entire process.

Every week, 140,000 hard drives fail. An estimated 44% of companies believe that an hour of downtime costs them about $10,000. Instead of having your companies having to stop their work and deal with distractions caused by an IT failure, they can simply continue on another device while the managed IT service takes care of the problem.

Enjoy peace of mind with better network and data security

Every day, we hear about another company that has had its data exposed through a security breach. In fact, in the first four months of 2018, over 260 million records containing sensitive data were exposed. You don’t want your company to be the source of the next big data breach, losing your company’s credibility and trustworthiness in the market, do you?

When you work with a managed IT service, their primary focus is making sure that your IT assets are current on all security patches, updates and anti-virus software, not the rest of the activities that your company undertakes. That allows you to focus on building your business, rather than about whether you’ll be one of the 60% of companies that go out of business within six months of a major data disaster.

Lower your company’s overall IT costs.

Though it seems counterintuitive that hiring out your company’s IT needs would save your business money, it’s actually been proven time and again. If you don’t hire a professional into your company, thinking it’s an unnecessary expense for a small business, then you’ll have employees wasting time trying to troubleshoot their own computer issues or waiting on hold for help desk personnel. Even if you do hire in a professional to handle your in-house work, how will they spend their time if there isn’t enough work to keep them occupied?

For these reasons, businesses typically find that the expense of a managed IT service is lower than that of trying to manage their own IT assets in-house. Because the managed service is only focused on the IT costs of your company and is focused on improving their own efficiency, these companies are focused on providing you with the most efficient service possible. They’re able to share the cost of education, new technology and equipment across a number of clients, reducing the cost.

As you can see, working with a well-run managed IT service can save your company time, money and potential risk. Are you ready to consider the options that are available to you? We offer a range of services, either in a package form or a la carte, should you only want help with a couple of areas. Please feel free to reach out today to discover how we can help your business get ahead through solid managed IT service solutions.

4 Ways IT Outsourcing Helps Your Business

IT Consultants

Do You Know the 4 Ways IT Outsourcing Improves Business Success?

Many small and mid-sized companies underestimate the drawbacks of not having top-tier IT professionals in place. These 4 benefits highlight the need for change.  

IT Consultants

Are a business decision-maker wondering about when the best time to outsource your IT needs? It was yesterday, and you are already late to enjoy the benefits of working with a third-party tech outfit that specializes in IT managed services.

It’s not uncommon for small and mid-sized companies to operate under the assumption that modest IT needs do not warrant creating a budget line-item on their behalf. Some designate an in-house person with seemingly good computer skills to run virus scans and update applications. Other outfits hire a single technology person to handle the responsibility of overseeing their entire network. Both of these policies are inherently flawed for a variety of reasons. After reviewing the following 4 ways IT outsourcing helps your business, you may gain clarity as to why working with a third-party expert is in your best interest.

1: Removes Peripheral Distractions from Profitable Goal Achievement

As upstart organizations begin to grow into mid-level outfits, the visionaries that propelled their success forward are increasingly beset by issues that detract from primary goals. Budget management, contract negotiations, and supply chains are top-tier items that further a company’s profit-enhancing goals. Tackling these items tends to be a good use of time and energy. If industry leaders are also tasked with maintaining and repairing the tools of the trade, essential issues cannot enjoy the laser focus they deserve.

When an organization shuffles computer and network duties to an employee or even a designated in-house tech person, network problems become part of routine oversight. An experienced third-party managed services provider takes proactive measures to maintain and repair your devices and network without you lifting a finger. Your vision drives the organization. That’s why it’s crucial to all of the key stakeholders involved that IT distractions are a non-factor.

2: Improves Network Efficiency and Productivity

Imagine traveling the road of handing off-network duties to an untrained employee or a designated tech person. Now imagine they call in sick during a critical business productivity cycle. Imagine further, they take a two-week vacation. What happens when your network starts to suffer glitches or goes dark altogether? The answer is simple: You lose revenue.

The reality of owning or operating a business in the technology age is that networks never sleep, they don’t call in sick, and they don’t go on vacation. Maximum productivity and efficiency require organizations to have 24-7 managed IT services in place. When you negotiate an ongoing services agreement with an experienced IT contractor, they can conduct remote updates, scans, and effect problem solving anytime your network runs amok. But that will happen a lot less frequently because high-level maintenance is usually part of the outsourcing package. Experienced IT experts deliver the laser focus to systems that help make your organization successful.

3: Reduces Risk of Cyber Threats and Financial Losses

According to reports, more than 317 million pieces of malware were created in 2018 alone. To put that staggering number into perspective, nearly 100 infectious threats were developed daily. Now add that business risk to the fact that companies suffered financial losses above $600 billion in 2018 and that figure upticked by $100 billion from 2014.

Compounding the genuine risk of doing business with technology is that too many small and mid-sized organizations incorrectly assume that cybersecurity breaches are almost exclusively targeted at large corporations with vast assets. The common misconception may be attributed to heavy media coverage of the massive violations suffered by household-name corporations.

While billion-dollar cybertheft makes splashy headlines, the overwhelming majority of cybersecurity thieves targets small and mid-sized outfits. Hackers, who may be sitting in an internet café halfway around the world, search for subpar network defenses and attack. In plain terms, you are the low-hanging fruit ripe for the plucking.

Outsourcing IT security to a third-party provider improves your cyber defenses from among the weakest links to the strong. Having the latest anti-virus, anti-malware, and next-generation cybersecurity protections in place quietly takes you off hacker hit lists. If these nefarious computer thieves are anything, it’s lazy. They’ll move on from your network and attack someone less secure.

4: Keeps Technology on Cutting Edge

An effective business network enhances employee engagement and productivity. If that sounds like a pie-in-the-sky idea about working on computers, consider the alternative.

When emails are slow to download, or that tedious “buffering” icon spins around, employees tend to disengage from work-related tasks. One moment they are plugging along on your company desktop, the next they are checking text messages, and social media posts on their phone. When that happens, employee engagement and productivity is not diminished — it’s non-existent. It may be even more unsettling to know that experts say that it can take more than 20 minutes to get back on track after task disruption. Sadly, that unnecessary loss of productivity could have been avoided by outsourcing your IT needs to a professional.

Will Your Business Be Impacted by the End of Microsoft Exchange 2010?

End of support Microsoft Exchange 2010

End of support Microsoft Exchange 2010

Will Your Business Be Impacted by the End of Microsoft Exchange 2010?

Exchange 2010 has been a great program for businesses for many years, but its time is now winding down. Find out what this means for your business. 

All good things must come to an end. For Microsoft Exchange 2010, that end will happen at a date in the very near future: January 14, 2020. Migrating away from an integral piece of business software can take some time, so if you’re not already planning this shift for your business it’s time to get started! While Microsoft is encouraging people to shift away from the perpetual license option and go towards Office 365, you can also move to Microsoft Exchange 2016 if you don’t want to move to the cloud. At the end of a product’s lifecycle, the manufacturer determines that the vast majority of individuals and businesses have already moved on to a new platform, and they stop providing new features, security and bug fixes, time zone updates and support. In today’s world, your email server is your first line of defense against malware and ransomware — making the lack of security updates a key reason for taking the time to upgrade before time runs out on your support.

What Does the End of a Software Lifecycle Really Mean?

As with most software companies, there are several stages in the lifecycle of Microsoft Exchange and other Microsoft Office products. They are generally defined as mainstream support, extended support and service pack support. Mainstream support is generally guaranteed for a minimum of five years after product ships and is valid while the vast majority of people are still actively using the platform. Extended support generally lasts another five years, and includes a more limited support infrastructure. There are limitations on the work that the software teams are willing to do on products in this stage of life: non-security hotfixes are not released and there are no new functionalities added to the platform. While the platform is still considered secure and supported, this stage is an indication that it’s time to start your search for what comes next. In the final stage, you only receive critical security updates and little else in terms of support.

Why It’s Time to Move On . . . Quickly

Exchange 2010 doesn’t support an in-place upgrade, meaning you’ll need to find the time and IT staff hours to migrate completely — setting up new servers and mailboxes if you decide to go the route of another perpetual license option. Moving to Office 365 may be a good option for your business, but there is still a bit of setup required before you can make this move. With only a few months left before security updates are no longer provided, many organizations are scrambling to be sure they beat the deadline and maintain a platform that is fully protected and receives regular security patches. Email is a mission-critical application for your business, making it crucial to ensure that you’ve made a decision and have a game plan in place long before January 2020.

Upgrade Options Available

There are a few different ways to get out of the woods if you’re still running Exchange 2010. It may seem intuitive to simply upgrade to Exchange 2013, but that product has already completed Phase I and II of its lifecycle and is no longer receiving cumulative updates. Exchange Server 2016 is a better option if you prefer to stick with perpetual licensing models, but the product is already several years old. Updating to the most recent version of Exchange 2019, which was released in late 2018, seems like the best option — but it’s important to note that you must first upgrade to 2016 before making the jump to 2019 versions. Moving to Exchange Server 365 may provide a range of benefits for your organization such as better integration, improved security and continuous updates but it’s also important to note that there are additional decisions to be made around the other aspects of Office online.

Finding the right solution for your business does take time and analysis, but it’s vital that you take the first steps soon to reduce the risk to your organization. Critical patches for Microsoft products are released on a fairly regular basis, and your business can be opened to cyberattackers if you miss a single update — much less several security updates. Completing your migration will provide your technology team with peace of mind knowing that your most important channel of business communication is fully protected by an up-to-date Exchange server.

Everything You Need to Know About the Dark Web

The Dark Web

The Dark Web

What Is the Dark Web and How Can You Stay Off It?

Ever heard of the dark web? It’s definitely not a place you want your company’s information to be. Learn everything you need to know about the dark web here.  

Most people have heard about the dark web in one form or another. It’s a place where criminal activity happens — from the purchase of illegal drugs to the hiring of assassins.

Of course, there is a legal side to the dark web as well; though, most people don’t know about. In fact, the origin story of the dark web is entirely legitimate and is even linked to the government.

Still, as a business owner or CEO, your relationship with the dark web (should you unfortunately have one) will not likely be good. It’s a bad sign if any of your information is found there. That’s why it’s important to know about what exactly the dark web is: Where it came from, what’s on it, and what you should do to stay as far away from it as possible.

What Is the Dark Web?

The dark web is essentially one “section” of the Internet. Specifically, it’s a section that isn’t included in mainstream search engines like Google. So, when you search a normal search inquiry, such as, “Where’s the best hamburger joint in downtown Pittsburgh?” you don’t get results from the dark web.

Instead, this section includes all sorts of illicit goings-on. Mostly, it’s a marketplace for things you shouldn’t be buying because they’re illegal to sell and/or buy. For instance, you can buy lifelong access to Netflix for a small price (six bucks). You can hire someone to hack into someone else’s computer for you and download their data or track their keystrokes. You can purchase credit card credentials. You can obtain prepaid debit card numbers and security codes.

How Does One Access the Dark Web?

We’ll reiterate again that the dark web is not a place you want to find yourself (or your information). However, for the sake of knowledge, we’ll explain that in order to access the dark web, you must download what’s called the Tor browser.

Tor stands for The Onion Router. This is basically the software that makes the dark web operate in the dark.

Where Did the Dark Web Originate?

The dark web began in the late 1990s as a way for the United States Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) to better hide their online communications. At this time, The Onion Router or Tor was brand-new.

Soon after its initial creation in 2004, the dark web’s Tor software was released for public use. Since that time, it has ceased to be solely a government resource and has turned into the “back alley” of the Internet.

How Can the Dark Web Affect Business Owners?

The dark web is a potential danger to all businesses of all sizes and in all industries. In fact, it can be a potential danger to individuals as well. But let’s talk about your business and the dark web.

Basically, it has been found that 60% of the web listings on the dark web could harm a business. That’s because, these listings offer individuals searching the dark web ways to obtain things like the following:

  • Customer data
  • Tips for hacking computers
  • Tips for hacking networks
  • Malware
  • Financial data
  • Phishing advice
  • Operational data
  • Intellectual trade secrets
  • Tutorials for cyber crime
  • Remote access Trojans (RATs)
  • Espionage services
  • Credentials access

How Can You Keep Your Business Safe From the Dark Web?

The best way to keep your business safe from the dark web is to have the proper cybersecurity measures in place. This means hiring a cybersecurity team or a managed service provider (MSP) to handle your company’s cybersecurity. Even if you’re a small business, hiring an MSP to have on retainer is a good idea.

They will make sure that you have firewalls and other detectors of malware in place for adequate security. It’s also essential to back up your data and to make everyone who works for or with your company aware of how to avoid phishing attempts.

Lastly, your cybersecurity team should be monitoring the dark web to make sure that none of your information lands there. This goes for personal information for you and your employees, as well as overall company information. Taking these measures is the only surefire way to ensure that your company does not end up on the wrong end of the dark web.

5 Incredible Benefits of Effective Managed IT Services

Business Meeting Talking About Managed IT Services

Business Meeting Talking About Managed IT Services

5 Incredible Benefits of Effective Managed IT Services

Managed IT services are one of the many ways an organization can choose to handle their IT needs. With managed IT services, a third-party handles the entirety of the tasks and responsibilities regarding managing IT and keeping the company running. The difference between this and many traditional third-party services is that it’s provided for a set cost. Instead of having access to an hourly consultant rate, you’ll be paying a flat rate monthly (or annually) in exchange for total coverage.

Every arrangement is slightly different and must be outlined very clearly in the Service Level Agreement (also known as the SLA). This document will arrange not only the cost structure, but also the exact services that are included in the partnership, and the metrics that are used to define success or failure.

There are many reasons that companies elect to go with managed IT services to handle their day-to-day needs. Here are five of the most compelling reasons:

1. Provides Total Alignment Between Both Parties

In a managed services agreement, both parties are aligned for maximum efficiency and performance. Since it’s not an hourly rate, the third-party is incentivized to handle your IT in an efficient and effective manner. Otherwise, they have to spend more time and manpower resolving your issues, which brings down their effective hourly rate.

Additionally, if they don’t live up to the metrics set forth by the SLA, they may be liable for penalties or even complete termination of the contract. In this way, it’s in both companies interest to do the very best job possible.

2. Focuses on Being Proactive versus Reactive

If you’re paying by the hour, the services you’ll receive are going to be reactive. When your company notices an issue, they’ll reach out to the third-party to help fix it. Managed services provide proactive support. Since they’re working for you no matter if there’s a problem or not, much of their time is spent preventing problems in the first place. This results in much smoother daily operations and the avoidance of problems that could potentially hurt your businesses but would be unavoidable with another type of arrangement.

3. Contains Simple Cost Structure

The simple cost structure of managed IT services will be much appreciated by your accounting department and whoever is setting the budget. Instead of seeing costs vary wildly by the amount of support required in a particular month, the amount will be a flat fee. You’ll also likely save a great deal of money versus hiring a fully functional team in-house since you won’t need to pay for things like recruiting, onboarding, benefits, and continued training.

4. Makes Projects Easier to Manage

When you need to roll out a brand-new technology or simply update an existing one, it can take a great deal of time and resources. This is especially true if the third-party isn’t used to the way your business operates each day and has to fit the entire roll out into a small window of time. If you have continuous support, however, it’s a much more manageable process. They can work on the project when they have a spare moment in the day. Since they’re fully integrated into your day-to-day processes, they’ll have a much better idea of how to implement a new system from end-to-end, including training and providing post-launch support.

5. Offers Access to True Experts

Unless you’re a massive organization, it’s unlikely that you can afford to recruit, train, and maintain the very best in the IT field. With an agreement with a top-notch IT firm, you gain access to experience and perspectives that you would be unlikely to otherwise access. These talented professionals will be able to help you with all of your IT needs, from daily maintenance to improving upon your existing systems and processes.

Managed IT services are only one of the many ways that a company can choose to handle its IT needs. However, it offers many advantages over some of the other options, including handling IT in-house and going with an hourly consultant-based fee schedule. If you believe that your business could benefit from controlled costs, improved support, and access to an incredible variety of IT talent, managed IT services might be the best option for your business.

What Are the Top Tips for Choosing the Best IT Company?

Two IT Company Professionals Working

Two IT Company Professionals Working

What Are the Top Tips for Choosing the Best IT Company?

Website outages, cybersecurity attacks, and any number of other IT incidents can cost your company hundreds or even thousands of dollars — every minute. For this reason alone, you need an outsourced IT company who is competent and highly qualified to handle your IT needs.

But how do you choose the best IT company?

Naturally, the IT needs of each individual business will vary. A medical practice will need IT assistance that specializes in privacy as well as cybersecurity because they’ll have a tremendous amount of sensitive data in their systems. On the other hand, your industry may require less focus on privacy and more focus on the particular type of software that you use.

Finding an IT company who specializes in your industry is the first step to locating optimal IT support.

Here are some other tips to keep in mind when choosing an IT support company for your business.

1. Look for experience.

As is always the case when you contract out services, you need to look for experience. It may be tempting to work with a brand-new, up and coming IT company in your area, but something as important as IT support warrants hiring a company who’s been in the business for at least a few years.

To establish that the IT companies you are considering have enough experience to get the job done right, ask to speak with their current or past clients. Also, ask for the list of credentials that their support staff possesses. These are the individuals you’ll be working with regularly, and you want to look for certifications and schooling in IT-related fields.

Lastly, make sure the experience that these companies have is related to your industry, specifically. We’ve already touched on this a bit, but it’s important to reiterate that it’s better to find an IT company who specializes in your industry than to find night one who claims they can “do it all.” Many IT companies specialize in healthcare IT, transport IT, or other specific industries, which means they know and understand these industries inside and out. That wants you want.

2. Choose a local company.

Some IT companies will claim they can take on your business from across the state or the nation. While this is possible, it’s unlikely you’ll get the level of quality service you actually deserve. It’s much better to go with a local IT company who you can work with directly.

In many situations, you’ll actually need IT support staff from your MSP (managed service provider) to come to your business for installations, troubleshooting, or network setups. This shouldn’t have to be a huge production. Having a local IT company available for quick service calls is a huge advantage.

3. Look for forward-thinking companies.

Not only do you want your IT company to focus on maintaining your current network and system structure, but you also want them to propel your business forward. Whether fast or slow, growing should be a primary concern for any business.

Some IT companies are more capable at scaling their services than others. Essentially, you want to find a company who will propel your business forward with their own IT ideas. They also need to have the employee-power and IT resources to scale your business up with ease and efficiency. As you expand, you don’t want to have to switch IT companies.

4. Make sure you can choose your level of service.

Again, needs vary where IT is concerned. You certainly do not want to pay for services you don’t need and won’t use. For this reason, look for an IT company who offers a range of service levels.

Most IT companies offer at least two or three levels of service. For example, they may offer an entry-level fee for simply monitoring your systems and alerting you as soon as possible if there’s a breach. If you require network setups, software installations, and other management services, you‘ll naturally want a higher level of service. Having options is the main concern here.

No matter what IT company you choose, it’s important to take your time, and do your research. Your IT company will be one of your business’s most important assets. Hire well, and you’ll reap the benefits of easier daily operations, higher returns on investment, and ultimately, more business opportunities.