4 Dangers of Hiring Printer Companies to Manage Your IT Services

Printer Repair Companies

4 Reasons Not to Hire Printer Companies

Thinking about saving money on your IT services with a printer company? Learn about the pitfalls and dangers of relying on support from companies without expertise.  

Printer Repair Companies

Hiring a printer company to take care of your IT services can seem like a great solution. You won’t have to consult with multiple vendors or negotiate multiple contracts. A printer company might even offer to take care of all of your IT services for less than what you’re currently spending. However, there are several reasons why you should not trust a printer company as your single vendor for all of your organization’s IT needs. Although you may pay less, that lower price comes with a higher cost – substandard service and support.

The delivery of substandard service and support from printer companies occurs due to the following:

  • A lack of experience
  • An inability to understand the true nature and components of IT services
  • Inadequate resources directed towards developing IT and IT services
  • Unstable organizations due to conflicts between printing and IT services

Insufficient Experience

By design, printer companies are specialists in troubleshooting and maintaining two items – printers and copiers. While these companies are experts at providing service on these types of devices, branching out into the world of IT services is not something these companies have done in the past. Even though the staff may have basic troubleshooting, sales, and customer service experience under their belts, they may only have limited experience with the complexities of managing networks.

Lack of Understanding

Since printer companies do not have decades of experience with IT services, there is often a skill and knowledge gap. Without an understanding of and experience with more complex computing devices, troubleshooting skills may be limited. Computing devices, servers, and network equipment are more intricate than printers or copiers. In order to configure, deploy, maintain, troubleshoot, and fix this type of equipment, advanced and interdependent knowledge is necessary. It is far easier for printer companies to overlook the source of a problem with network dependent devices and the network itself simply due to a lack of skill.

Inadequate Resources

Since these companies specialize in printers and copiers, it is more difficult to devote internal resources to IT services. This means that there may be little put into research and development, training staff on the skills they need to support IT services, and a lack of support staff designated to managing IT services for clients. In other words, printer companies tend to overpromise and underdeliver when it comes to supporting services and devices outside of printers.

Instability

When printer companies try to branch out into IT services, it can cause internal conflict. Staff that is managing printers and copiers may not be able to keep the company afloat, due to the fact that the company is not reinvesting what it should into its printer expertise. Consequently, both sides of the business begin to suffer, and animosity develops. Leaders within the company may decide to cut out IT services altogether, leaving clients without support.

Which Cloud Storage is Right For Your Business

Cloud Storage

Don’t Be Confused When It Comes to Cloud Storage Options

Cloud storage helps your employees share and collaborate like never before. Check out these three popular cloud storage solutions to find the one best for you!  

Cloud Storage

Businesses are making the switch from physical servers to cloud storage to increase productivity and streamline file-sharing capabilities. This short review looks at three of the most popular cloud storage options, OneDrive, Dropbox, and Google Drive, comparing their storage capacity, file-sharing capabilities, and pricing.

All three of these cloud storage solutions offer various plans for both personal and business use. OneDrive and Google Drive also have options to bundle cloud storage along with access to online versions of standard office applications. In this review, we will look only at the lower-priced standalone cloud storage business solutions available from OneDrive and Dropbox and the Business and Enterprise solutions from Google Drive that do include access to GSuite applications.

OneDrive from Microsoft

OneDrive has two tiers of dedicated cloud storage. Plan 1 costs $60 a year and gives you 1 TB of cloud storage. You can opt for Plan 2 at $120 per year if your business has five or more users, and you need unlimited storage. OneDrive does not offer per month pricing. There is a 15 GB limit per individual file.

When it comes to collaboration, OneDrive shines. It is easy to access stored files directly from the Microsoft ecosystem of products, or use the built-in search and discovery tools to find the files you need. Share individual files securely with a link and set permissions to prevent unauthorized changes. Plan 2 also comes with upgraded security, including data-loss prevention, to help you to monitor and protect your confidential information.

Dropbox

Businesses with three or more users can choose either the Standard or Advanced business plan from Dropbox. The Standard plan comes with 3 TB of cloud storage and costs $150 a year or $15 monthly. The Advanced plan is $240 a year, or $25 monthly. With a file transfer limit of only 2 GB per file, Dropbox’s Standard plan may not fit your needs, but its Advanced plan does allow up to 100 GB transfers.

Many, but not all, popular business applications are already configured to connect with Dropbox. Users have the option to share files through a secure link or to use Dropbox Spaces to allow other employees access. Administrators can create private groups for members to share their work.

Google Drive

Google Drive offers a Business plan for $12 a month and an Enterprise Plan for $25 a month. Both come with only 1 TB of storage unless you maintain five licenses. Then you receive unlimited storage. The maximum size of an individual file is 5 TB.

Both plans let you share files with links, and admins can set security controls to manage file permissions. The Enterprise plan offers data loss protection and improved security options.

For most businesses, OneDrive makes the most sense. It is already optimized to work with the Microsoft applications you probably already use. The only major drawback is the 15 TB limitation on file transfers, but this restriction won’t affect most businesses.

Communicate Consistently With Customers About Their Technology Needs and Your Value

MSP Customer Communication Leads to Deeper Long-Term Retention

Discover why it’s important that your managed services provider develops a regular communications schedule with each customer and what messages to convey.

MSP Communication

Managed services providers (MSPs) know that customer retention is a critical element of business success.

Communicating with your MSP customers is a must. But knowing how, when and what to communicate makes a difference.

How Frequently Should We Communicate with MSP Customers?

The frequency of communication is as much an art as it is a science. There may be some customers, especially those who are new, in the midst of a major project or in the throes of strategic planning, when more frequent contact and communication is necessary.

Face-to-face communication is the most effective means of communication, allowing for both a better give-and-take and a clearer interpretation of body language.

Ideally, you’ll schedule at least monthly in-person communication with your customers, meeting both with principals and other employees to understand what’s working and what could be improved. This communication, which includes a healthy dose of active listening, helps your customers feel heard, valued and respected, even if it’s an informal conversation over coffee and doughnuts.

What Brings Value to MSP Customer Communications?

Your customers look to you as more than a service provider. You’re also a valued advisor. You want your communications to have several elements that can bring value to your customers and how they perceive their relationship with you. These do not need to be a sales pitch, and usually should not be, but rather opportunities to demonstrate your expertise and insights, including:

  • Identifying solutions before you’re asked. If your client has, for example, recently had several cyberattack attempts that were the result of phishing attempts, you may want to suggest a heightened approach to employee education, including campaigns that test their responses to sample attack emails.
  • Looking forward. You want to provide insights on technology trends, emerging solutions and challenges, whether it’s a new version of software, regulatory changes affecting their business or the sunsetting of an operating system. Providing information that helps the customer consider the possibilities is a compelling way to demonstrate your value. These conversations can often unearth concerns and priorities that previously were not expressed.
  • Find synergies and partners. Look for connections and introductions you can make among your customers. You can also identify opportunities for partnerships or bartering opportunities, such as working with a printing company client to produce signage and business cards in exchange for a discount on provided IT services.

Value-added conversations that help your customers think in new ways are a powerful way of deepening customer relationships.

What Points Are Worth Repeating to MSP Customers?

One of the greatest outcomes of better customer communication is the opportunity to reinforce high-value and valuable services that are already being used or possible. Your communication should regularly reinforce some of the core values of working with a managed services provider. Driving these points home helps to make renewals, upgrades and the purchase of new services much easier.

Those key points are small reminders of why it makes sense for your customers to work with you, including:

  • Cost savings. Produce and walk your customers through how their managed services are reducing costs through improved efficiency, fewer downtime costs, lower operational costs for data centers and reduced internal IT staffing
  • Predictable costs. Customers need to be reminded that a fixed monthly cost for a range of IT services — help desk, vendor management, storage, disaster recovery, cloud hosting and security — means more budget certainty and fewer unanticipated technology expenses.
  • Less downtime. MSPs should tout their reliability and the high levels of uptime for services and systems. While these may be contractually mandated, it’s still an effective reminder of how committed your company is to their business operability levels.
  • Insurance. People and businesses purchase insurance to protect what matters most. That’s one way to frame managed services: insurance for your most critical systems, operations, processes and data.

A strategic approach to customer communications pays major dividends with regular, trusted and valued discussions.

Can I Use Windows 7 After January 14, 2020 or Do I Have to Upgrade to Windows 10?

Windows 10 Upgrade Questions

Can I Use Windows 7 After January 14, 2020 or Do I Have to Upgrade to Windows 10?

If you’re still running Microsoft’s Windows 7 on your computer, maybe it’s time to upgrade to Windows 10. After January 14, 2020, Windows 7 won’t be supported.  

Windows 10 Upgrade Questions

If you are using Windows 7 on your computer, you need to be aware that after January 14, 2020, Microsoft won’t release any additional updates or support for Windows 7. Even though Windows 10 has been available for about four years, Windows 7 (which was originally released on October 22, 2009), is still running on millions of computers worldwide. Since all of the Windows 7 support will end on the deadline of January 14, Windows 7 OS has been displaying ”end of support” notifications. If you’re receiving these notifications, that means your computer is still running Windows 7. Many current Windows 7 users wonder if they can still use Windows after January 14, and what will happen to Windows 7 after that date. To help decide what to do, here is a list of FAQs and answers.

Can I still use Windows 7 after January 14, 2020?

Yes, you can continue using Windows 7 after January 14, 2020. Windows 7 will continue to run as it is today. However, you should upgrade to Windows 10 before January 14, 2020, because Microsoft will be discontinuing all technical support, software updates, security updates, and any other fixes after that date. Your computer will become less secure without any updates the longer you go without them.

What will happen to Windows 7 after January 14, 2020?

Nothing will happen to Windows 7. But one of the problems that will happen is, without regular updates, Windows 7 will become vulnerable to security risks, viruses, hacking, and malware without any support. You may continue to get “end of support” notifications on your Windows 7 home screen after January 14. However, anyone still running Windows 7 Professional and/or Enterprise editions can purchase extended security updates through January 2023.

Can I reinstall and activate Windows 7 after 2020?

Yes. You should be able to install or reinstall, then activate Windows 7 after January 14, 2020. However, you won’t get any updates via Windows Update, and Microsoft will no longer offer any kind of support to Windows 7.

Can I upgrade Windows 7 to Windows 10 without losing programs and data?

Most programs and data should be transferrable to Windows 10, but you should back up your computer or network before you upgrade in case any problems crop up.

Does my current PC’s hardware support Windows 10?

If your computer is running Windows 7, it should be able to run Windows 10. In other words, the minimum requirement for both Windows 7 and Windows 10 are the same. It’s recommended that you use the official Media Creation Tool to upgrade, because it will scan your computer for any compatibility issues before you upgrade.

Is Windows 10 better than Windows 7?

Yes. Windows 10 is a better operating system than Windows 7. And, Windows 7 is 10 years old, and can’t give your computer the security level needed now.

Can I try Windows 10 before buying it?

Yes. You can follow the instructions to download the Windows ISO file guide to the most recent version of Windows 10. It will tell you how to prepare a bootable USB of Windows 10, and then you can install in alongside Windows 10 to try it out.

How do I upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10?

The process of upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 10 is easy to follow when you go through the steps outlined for the official Media Creation Tool. And most importantly, backup your computer BEFORE you download Windows 10.

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.

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.

Why is Effective Business Continuity Management Important?

Business Continuity Management

Why is Effective Business Continuity Management Important?

Business continuity management (BCM) denotes how organizations plan for and respond to risks. Mission-critical functions must continue to run after disruptions such as bad weather or hackers.

Business Continuity Management

A business continuity plan documents how your organization will continue to operate after a natural or man-made disaster, severe market conditions or sudden changes in leadership. This could be anything from a stock market crash to a hurricane to the death or dire illness of a key leader. BCPs are hot topics thanks to growing legislation and increased risks related to data security and other events. Every organization would benefit from adopting some kind of BCP framework, however modest.

What is Business Continuity Management?

Business continuity management (BCM) denotes how organizations plan for and respond to risks. Mission-critical functions must continue to run after disruptions such as bad weather or hackers. Smart planning also makes it possible for employees to return to business as usual quickly.

How Does Business Continuity Work?

The most effective way to achieve transparent, seamless risk management and disaster recovery is via a business continuity management system. This may require some outside assistance since any BCMS adopted should follow international standard ISO 22301 requirements. All businesses can begin the first phase themselves, however, by building a continuity plan that identifies and minimizes risks.

What’s the Big Deal With ISO 22301?

ISO 22301 lays out a road map for an effective BCMS and is the most credible resource for successful business continuity management. Becoming ISO 22301-certified signals to clients that your company has a game plan in case disaster strikes — certification helps clients decide that your firm is a solid investment for their business.

This certification proves to prospective clients that your organization will continue to provide the products or services they need, even if an emergency arises. It also gives you an:

  • Independent evaluation of your business continuity management, providing assurance or offering areas for improvement
  • Accredited certification with regular audits to ensure continual improvement
  • Oversight of regulatory requirements to ensure legal compliance. This could include the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or new state and federal privacy regulations impacting customer data collection and storage.

What’s is Disaster Recovery vs. BCM?

People are often confused by the difference between these two terms. They aren’t synonyms. Business continuity deals with relocation and business functions while disaster recovery, which is a subset of business continuity, deals with the technical recovery of systems and resources.

Disaster recovery outlines how to recover technical functions, sites, operations and applications. A business continuity plan may contain many disaster recovery plans.

What Are the Key Components of a BCP?

A successful business continuity plan includes the following:

  • Succession plans for key employees
  • Identification of critical functions with priority identified
  • All employees’ contact information and role in the plan
  • Tested backup strategies

Clearing Up The Cloud – Have You Harnessed Its Strategic Advantages?

Cloud Services

Cloud Services

The cloud may still feel like a new technology – but in reality, it’s been around for more than 10 years now.

Does that make you feel old?

Let’s be clear about something – the cloud is here to stay. In recent years you may have still heard the occasional “industry insider” suggest that the world may be moving too quickly to an untested and unsure platform in cloud computing, but no more. The cloud is now an integral part of daily life for private consumer and business users alike.

What Is The Cloud?

The cloud is a network of technologies that allows access to computing resources, such as storage, processing power, and more. That’s where the data is – in these data centers all around the world. Which data center your data is in depends on what cloud service provider you’re working with.

The Cloud’s Many Layers

Public Cloud

Ideal for small businesses that may have trouble budgeting for any other type of cloud deployment, a public cloud is simple and cost-effective. Your data is stored in a “communal” data center, which, while not offering the best possible security or compliance guarantees, is often sufficient enough for organizations that aren’t required to maintain regulated compliance.

Private Cloud

A secure, dedicated environment to ensure maximum performance, security, and functionality for your business applications and employees. This is usually deployed for complaint-driven businesses such as healthcare and finance.

A Hybrid Cloud

This is like a dedicated cloud computing resource on Office 365 and Azure Stack with an extension to on-premise resources for maximum performance, control, security, and functionality. This is for businesses that require maximum control and scalability.

Instead of entrusting your legacy solutions to a public or private cloud, many businesses are opting for a hybrid cloud. They use a mix of on-premise, private and third-party public cloud services because this provides an infrastructure where one or many touchpoints exist between the environments.

Using a hybrid cloud gives you the freedom to choose which applications and resources you want to keep in the data center and which ones you want to store in the Cloud.

The Cloud Isn’t As New As You Might Think…

Would you say the cloud is “new”?

To some, this may seem like a question with an obvious answer, but it’s not that simple.

The way in which we think about technology can lead to something feeling new for a lot longer than would make sense otherwise.

After all, the cloud is more than a decade old, but a lot of people still think of it as a new technology.

For context, it was 2006 when Google and Amazon began using the term “cloud computing” – not necessarily the beginning of the cloud, but as good a point to choose as any.

In that year, the now woefully dated Crash won Best Picture at the Oscars. The Tesla Roadster was still two years from hitting the streets. Netflix was more than a year away from launching its now prolific streaming services.

Does that put it in perspective?

How Is The Cloud-Delivered?

SaaS (Software as a Service)

Software as a Service (SaaS) applications are being adopted at a much faster pace today than in the past. These are productivity applications like Microsoft Office 365, cloud-based practice management solutions, accounting programs, and more.

Your SaaS provider helps you identify and select line of business applications that will run well in the cloud. They can migrate your data and integrate it with software platforms in your current premise or cloud technology stack, or help you implement new ones.

PaaS (Platform as a Service)
This is whole cloth delivery of web applications that are based in the cloud, all via a comprehensive platform. The idea is that, in accessing this platform, you can utilize, develop and even deliver applications based on resources that you don’t need to maintain on-site.

IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) delivers IT infrastructure on an outsourced basis and provides hardware, storage, servers, data center space, and software if needed. It’s used on-demand, rather than requiring you to purchase their own equipment. That means you don’t have to expend the capital to invest in new hardware.

Why Should You Use With The Cloud?
For the same reasons that thousands of other businesses around the world have already adopted cloud computing:

  • Computing Power: The cloud has the ability to activate tens of thousands of CPUs. This unparalleled power can quickly perform deep analytics of your data, and process nearly any ad-hoc queries that you require.
  • Reliable Costs: The cloud services subscription model offers the strategic advantage of low-cost, low-risk opt-in combined with a simple, predictable monthly fee.
  • Easy Scalability: Cloud services have the unique strategic characteristic of being able to stretch or shrink to suit your current level of demand. This is especially useful for businesses of scale or companies that go through seasons of activity.
  • Real-Time Collaboration: With cloud technology, your staff doesn’t have to wait for each other to be done with their part of the document or project in order to tackle their own aspect. They can all work on the same project at the same time to maximize productivity.
  • Remote Work Capability: This cloud feature allows you and your employees to work remotely as need be, which will give your business members the flexibility they desire to have a more balanced home/work life.

You Need To Keep An Eye On Your Cloud

As beneficial as the cloud can be, it’s important to note that it can also pose risks if it isn’t managed properly. It all comes down to the classic binary relationship between convenience and security.

The cloud gives you unparalleled access to your data from anywhere with an Internet connection. That means that external parties (including cybercriminals) can have undue access to your data as well if you don’t take the necessary steps to secure your environment.

That’s why you need to monitor your cloud. No matter who you entrust your data to, you should ensure that you or someone in your organization is given appropriate visibility over your cloud environment. That way, you can guarantee that security and compliance standards are being maintained.

If you don’t have the resources to manage this type of ongoing monitoring, then it would be wise to work with the right third party IT services company. Doing so will allow you to outsource the migration, management, and monitoring of your cloud. You’ll get the best of both world – security and convenience.

Small Business Owner? How to Choose Tech Support

Computer Engineer Helping Small Business Owner

Computer Engineer Helping Small Business Owner

Small Business Owner? How to Choose Tech Support

It is an unfortunate truth that many small businesses assume they don’t need to outsource their IT needs to a professional IT company.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, small businesses desperately need IT support — often, because they won’t have the resources to staff an in-house IT department.

Fortunately, IT companies generally offer support contracts that can work in a small business’s favor. Your company will be able to choose the level of support you specifically need. If you only require IT services occasionally, for troubleshooting network problems or setting up new software, for example, you can choose a low-level contract that won’t cost much. If you’re looking for more comprehensive coverage, you can always scale up.

Here are some other important tips to consider when choosing tech support for your small business.

Consider what type of fee structure you prefer.

IT companies generally offer two different types of fee structures:

  • A flat fee due monthly, biannually, or annually
  • A pay-as-you-go structure

Every business is different, but it is possible (and maybe even likely) that your small business won’t benefit from a flat fee payment structure.

This is because you may not actually end up needing the extent of services that a flat fee structure is best for. Larger businesses, certainly, will need to contact and get help from their IT company regularly every week or month. In fact, these companies often have in-house IT. But If your small business only uses IT minimally (for example, just for your website or for inventory ordering, etc.), you won’t use enough of your support package, and paying the flat-rate fee will get expensive.

On the other hand, we must note that niche industries may require a lot of IT tech support — even if your business is small. If this is the case for you, a flat rate monthly or biannual fee could be beneficial.

Look for IT companies who’ve been in the industry a while.

Brand-new IT companies often nab customers by claiming to know the latest trends in IT and how to best handle the most recent wave of cyberattacks. While these are both areas to be concerned about, as a local business or one that’s just starting out, these benefits (if they are actually true in the first place) may not be particularly beneficial to you.

As a small business, you basically want reliable IT support for basic security monitoring, troubleshooting, and possible software or hardware recommendations and/or setups. For this reason, it’s important to search for an IT company that is local and has been in the industry for a long period of time. This means they have the experience, which is exactly what you want. Ask the IT companies you are considering to speak with clients they’ve worked with for a long time so that you can get a handle on the kind of support you’ll be receiving from them.

Find an IT company that can help you grow.

Most small businesses are looking for ways to grow. If this is the case for your business, you should start looking for an IT company who can scale up your services when you eventually need them.

We’ve already stated the importance of having several payment options when it comes to your service level needs. This also comes in handy as you look toward the future of your business. While now, you may prefer a pay-as-you-go structure, you should work with an IT company who offers bigger, broader, flat-rate packages too. The extent of their services should also run the gamut.

With this in mind, also remember that an enormous IT company who won’t be able to provide personalized support to your niche industry isn’t generally recommended. The potential for scalability down the line is key here.

While you may assume that larger businesses are the ones who need all the major tech support, small businesses require IT expertise as well. It’s true that your IT needs may not currently match that of a mid- or large-size enterprise, but investing in the hire of an IT company will surely boost your business’s success as you grow and expand.

Use the simple tips above to locate the optimal IT company for your small business. We’re positive you’ll see the benefits of a good hire right away.

Microsoft Office 365 and Your Business: Boost Productivity with the Right Tech Tools

Modern Workplace

Office Workers In A Modern Workplace

Microsoft Office 365 and Your Business: Boost Productivity with the Right Tech Tools

The workplace is becoming more and more digital every day. New tech tools are developed regularly, and most have the same goal—to make your life easier. While some new developments end up making life harder because they are hard to learn, cumbersome, or have glitches or bugs, most are specifically designed to be easy to understand and use. Getting things done faster and more efficiently is a huge driver for technology generally, but that is especially true today.

Defining the Modern Digital Workplace

The “Modern Digital Workplace” is a phrase used today that describes utilizing the technology that is most useful for your team. It helps your team by:

  • Making collaboration easier
  • Training and educating faster and more efficiently
  • Compiling documents and information in an easy-to-use and access way
  • Automating processes, to the extent possible, in a way that make sense for your industry and your team
  • Improving digital processes not only internally, but also with partners, suppliers, and other third parties

Technology, when used properly, can make the entire workplace run in a much smoother, more efficient way. New tools allow your team to meet the needs of customers, and the business as a whole, better. When goals are easier to accomplish, productivity gets a huge boost.

The Obvious Connection: Technology and Productivity

In general, the new digital workplace focuses on improving three key areas of a company. These include the following:

  • Employee Collaboration. When employees can team up and get work done easier, it makes projects faster and more efficient. Sometimes talking to one another is the best way to come up with new ideas and simply ensure that everyone is getting their job done effectively and promptly. Making sure that information and the ability to connect with one another is all on one platform is one of the best ways to encourage and foster this type of collaboration.
  • Content Collaboration. Many teams work on the same content at similar times. Being able to share documents, files, and even external information at the same time can be a huge time saver within a company.
  • Business Application. Administrative processes, such as workflow, forms, and rules, can often be automated in a way that cuts down significantly on processing time and time spent requesting or obtaining status updates. Even something as simple as creating digital versions of forms and allowing employees or third parties to input the information themselves can be a huge time saver in many industries.

Transparency regarding work product and processes is one of the most effective ways to ensure that your team is getting their work done and creating a final product that is the best version that you can provide.

Certain technologies often focus on a different area of these three overarching ideas. Some attempt to address all of them, while others target just one or two sections of particular concern. When all three can be addressed, you have a powerful system that encourages accountability, efficiency, and, in turn, productivity.

Office 365’s Role in the Modern Digital Workplace

Office 365 has been created with the Modern Digital Workplace in mind. It is specifically designed to address these three major concerns in an easy-to-use way.

While Office is commonly associated with their most popular programs, like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, they have a whole host of programs that can significantly boost your team’s productivity because they make collaboration and transparency ridiculously easy.

Outlook

Microsoft’s email program, Outlook, has been a staple for many businesses for years. Outlook is more than just email, however. Users can use the calendar to schedule meetings and create task lists. They can also create contact lists and share documents through OneDrive. Outlook’s key focus is employee collaboration.

Microsoft Teams

This relatively new feature allows employees and third parties to chat, share documents, work on documents at the same time, schedule meetings, have audio and visual video calls, create notes, and more. It is also integrated with several very popular apps and services, including OneDrive, SharePoint, Yammer, Dynamics 365, and Skype.

Delve

Microsoft Delve shows what your team is working on, popular documents, and provides insightful information to workers who might be interested in them. Employees develop profiles, and they can find and organize information based on interests. It also allows workers to search for documents that are connected through SharePoint and OneDrive.

Yammer

Yammer is similar to a social networking site, but it is limited to your employees and other workers. It is designed to encourage communication throughout your organization. Its focus is on ensuring that information is accessible and shared at virtually every level.

Microsoft Planner

This tool allows your team to create new plans, assign tasks, share files, and organize projects. You can easily see what people are working on and get updates on progress for various tasks. This type of open communication makes assigning projects and getting status updates easy and more efficient.

SharePoint and OneDrive

OneDrive is a straight-forward means to share files, both internally and externally. SharePoint uses sites and files, team news, lists, libraries, and more to encourage collaboration on documents and files. Both are based on sharing information in the cloud.

Microsoft Flow

This tool is focused on making internal processes easier and more efficient. It helps automate and exchange data. It has built-in alerts and notifications to help address organizational processes like approvals, multi-stage processes, and more.

Using Office 365 to Help Your Business

Every company is different. Office 365 has enough unique tools focused on making your company better that you are bound to find something that fits well for your needs. Encouraging collaboration and automated processing can lead to huge productivity boosts for your business.