July 27th, 2009

For many small and medium-sized businesses, the cost of maintaining an old PC may be more expensive than upgrading to a new one. This insight comes from a survey conducted by research firm Techaisle, which polled 630 companies across seven countries.

Their research suggests that the average cost for SMBs to repair PCs over three years old can be 1.65 times as expensive as repairing PCs under three years old. Repairs include replacements, usually from hardware failure, and the cost to fix software crashes. Small business respondents with PCs older than three years experienced network card failures nearly eight times more than respondents with PCs less than three years old. This was followed by power supply failures, motherboard failures, software crashes, and virus attacks. Midmarket respondents experienced a similar trend, with network card failures at six times higher, followed by power supply failures and motherboard failures.

In addition, respondents said desktops that have been in use for more than three years are more susceptible to attacks from malware and viruses (28 percent), while older notebooks are 58 percent more likely to endure a virus attack. The cost of related lost worker productivity should also be factored in by companies wishing to hold on to outdated hardware.

Are you hanging on to old PCs in an attempt to money? Contact us today. We can help you assess the health and condition of your PCs, as well as determine the cost of maintaining existing PCs versus upgrading or replacing them.

Published with permission from Source.
Topic News
July 23rd, 2009

article_networkIn today’s challenging economic times, many small businesses like yours are reluctant to spend money. However, a modest investment in network maintenance can ultimately improve your profitability and reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) of your network infrastructure.

Your business depends on your network

Your revenue is directly tied to the availability and performance of your network, because it’s the backbone of your business. Your network houses critical applications, allows your employees to communicate, and gives customers access your goods and services.

When your network fails, your business suffers. Employees cannot access the applications and information they need to keep your business up and running, and basic means of communication, such as printing, filing, and emailing, are unavailable. At the same time, customers cannot access the information they need to buy your products. You’re forced to spend time and money to get the system up and running, increasing your TCO. The end result: productivity declines and revenue decreases.

Managing your network can prevent revenue loss

It pays to minimize network performance degradation and downtime, and a network management system will help you do this. Large companies have long deployed such systems, but as networks become more critical to smaller businesses, they have become important for small- and mid-size enterprises as well.

A network management system will provide tools that improve network performance, help network administrators manage the network more efficiently, and include an early warning system for network outages. These benefits allow your business to operate more efficiently, thereby cutting costs and preventing revenue loss—and reducing the TCO of your network infrastructure.

Need Help?

Finding a good network management system and deploying it correctly is by no means a simple task, but there are plenty of solutions that provide the necessary functionality at a relatively low cost. We can help you deploy an easy-to-use network management system that helps you manage your network more efficiently and save money at the same time. Contact us today for more information.

Related articles:

Assessing the business impact of network management on small and mid-size enterprises

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Topic Articles
May 28th, 2009

article_gogreenThese days there’s a lot of buzz about “going green” – helping preserve the environment, conserving energy, and looking for sustainable ways to grow the economy. The IT industry is doing its part as well, with “green computing,” which is basically computing by more efficient and sustainable means. You can get on board with some of the suggestions below:

  1. Save on energy, save on costs:A lot of today’s computing devices feature power management features and energy saving modes, thanks largely to US government efforts to develop energy-efficiency standards called Energy Star. This is a voluntary labeling program adopted by many vendors to clearly identify and promote their efforts in bringing down energy costs for customers as well as to showcase their own use of eco-friendly production processes and materials. When you purchase Energy Star products and make full use of their features, you not only help the environment but also save significantly on your energy bills.
  2. Reuse and Recycle:Consider retiring old equipment and replacing it with more energy-efficient models. Reuse what you can (such as RAM modules, cables, controller cards, and drives), and find a reputable recycler to help you dispose of remaining parts safely.
  3. Consolidate what you have:Be eco-smart about your purchases. Advances in technology such as machine virtualization now allow you to consolidate computing resources on fewer machines, such as all-in-one printers, saving not only upfront capital costs but also recurring operating expenses such as maintenance, space, power, and cooling. Over time this means less equipment goes into landfills, better utilization of resources, and more money freed up to apply where it counts – to growing your business.
  4. Do more with less:Instead of travelling, consider teleconferencing. Instead of hiring full time, onsite employees consider telecommuting arrangements. Not only do you reduce your carbon footprint by reducing transportation impact but also save a considerable amount of time and money as well.
  5. Outsource IT:For non-core elements of your operations, consider outsourcing, which leverages economies of scale by sharing resources among several customers without losing efficiency or effectiveness. For example, instead of hosting your own website, outsource it to a hosting service provider instead.

We have lots of ideas for going green at your office and saving energy costs along the way. Give us a call and we’ll be glad to share them with you.

Published with permission from Source.
Topic Articles
May 15th, 2009

My heading might appear to be a strange statement to make considering I run an IT company. But I stand by it. Let me explain: Many small businesses I come across are initially hesitant to meet with me or my staff. “But we already have an IT guy”, they declare. And indeed they do; It’s the owner’s son-in-law, or the guy from the computer shop across the road, or an employee’s brother who is studying IT at university, or the guy they called once from the yellow-pages.

Click here to read the rest of this blog post on Small Business Daily.

Topic Articles
May 4th, 2009

instant_messagingInstant Messaging, or IM, can be a boon for any business because it saves time, improves efficiency, and even enables greater employee/customer intimacy. IM allows real-time communication and interaction between two or more people via the Internet, and its use is growing steadily. IM provides users with instant feedback about the presence of online “buddies” or users you know – for instance, whether they are online, busy, or currently offline, what they are currently doing, and whether they are able to successfully receive your communication. Even when one party is not currently connected to the Internet, you can leave offline messages for later viewing. Information sent can be in the form of text, media, and recently even voice and video.

While IM has traditionally been used for quick and instant personal interaction such as chatting between friends and family, people are now finding that it can be effective in business as well. But before diving in and using IM in your organization, be aware that there can be significant risks. For instance, it can expose the company to outside threats such as hackers and viruses, or from problems from within such as employees sharing secret or sensitive information to outside or unauthorized parties. Finally, if not monitored properly, it can be a huge timewaster if employees spend their time chatting with colleagues, family, and friends instead of working.

Here are some tips to get the most out of IM safely and effectively within your organization:

  1. Create guidelines for use. Let employees know of the dangers and risks in using IM. Create policies to allow the use of IM only for certain people within the organization (such as sales) and only during certain times of the day. Ask your IT consultant to configure your network to enact the restrictions you want.
  2. Standardize. Choose one piece of IM software (such as Google Talk, AIM or MSN) and try using it internally first. You won’t be able to prevent some employees from adding buddies outside of work, so make sure to ask them to separate buddies inside the company from those outside. IM software allows you to easily create “buddy lists” to do this.
  3. Know when to use it. IM is a tool that can complement e-mail on one end and voice calls on the other. Consider using e-mail for detailed information sharing or communications such as memos, requests, letters, and proposals that readers need to refer to repeatedly. Consider using voice calls for more intimate interaction, clarifying communication, or in cases when you need to build rapport with the recipient. IM can be something in between the two, such as when you need to ask a quick question, send a short update, or get presence information.
  4. Keep it short. Keep IMs short and direct. In IM, unlike in voice conversations, you don’t need to do go through pleasantries. Unlike email, because of their real-time nature, IMs can be intrusive so be conscious of what the other party is dong and to make it brief and to the point when necessary.
  5. Use your status to your advantage. IM software allow you to set your status (i.e., Busy or Away) to let others know if you are free to take their messages. You can also set your status to Invisible so that you can be aware of others’ presence but be invisible to others.
  6. Set your preferences. Most IM software allow you to control certain behaviors, such as window pop-ups, whether to archive messages or not, whether to startup automatically when you log in, and much more. Explore the features of your software and use them to your advantage.
Published with permission from Source.
Topic Articles
May 4th, 2009

Research conducted by SIS International Research and sponsored by Siemens found that small and midsized businesses (SMBs) with 100 employees could be leaking a staggering $524,569 annually as a result of communications barriers and latency. The study identifies these top five pain points, in order of estimated cost:

  • inefficient coordination
  • waiting for information
  • unwanted communications;
  • customer complaints
  • barriers to communication

In addition, researchers determined that the time spent per week dealing with communications issues was more than 50 percent higher in companies with more than 20 workers. In hard costs, your company could be losing up to half a million dollars each year by not addressing employees’ most painful communications issues!
The good news:  we can help you implement applications and services to greatly improve your inter-company communications, including collaboration tools such as email and shared calendards and address books, social media technologies such as blogs and wikis, and IP-based communication tools such as instant messaging (IM) and Voice-over-IP (VoIP). Call us today and let us help you stop this expensive leak.Related articles:

Published with permission from Source.
Topic Articles, News
April 2nd, 2009

Janet Attard of The Business Know-How Blog posts 18 tips for small businesses considering outsourcing. She offers insight on how to get the best possible results from outsourced work. Among them:

  1. Know the results you want to achieve.
  2. Understand how long it should take to complete the work. (Ask others in your industry if you’re not sure.)
  3. Set a realistic time table for achieving results.
  4. Insist on all service providers and vendors document their work
  5. Offer feedback and praise

When it comes to your outsourced computer support and network management these are great tips to keep in mind.

Published with permission from Source.
Topic News
February 11th, 2009

Many small and medium businesses that I come across that have employed their own internal IT staff are never happy. Neither are the IT staff employed there.

I’m generally talking about businesses with upwards of 30 users who thought it wise to employ one or two internal IT staff – often because they saw no value, yet lots of bills, from their previous external IT support partner.

The reason I believe this is a lose/lose situation for the business owner and the IT worker is simple: Misunderstanding and a lack of a technology strategy in SMBs.

The Usual SMB IT Staff Scenario

So the small business IT manager is brought on-board and tasked with “making everything run better and making us more efficient” or similar. The IT guy is upbeat in his first week, dreaming of all the projects he can implement to make the place work like clockwork and improve the business.

But the business owner wants the IT guy to sort out “all the slow computers”. He tells all the staff to call the IT guy if they have any issues with their computers. Before long, the IT guy is spending 80% of his time fighting spot fires and performing mundane tasks like removing Fred from sales’ spyware infestation (for the 3rd time that week).

The IT guy is given no budget nor time to actually look at the situation holistically and develop long term plans to reduce problems and improve capabilities in the business through technology. Before long, the IT guy wants to leave and the business owner wonders why he ever employed him!

Dare to be Different

My advice for SMB owners is this: Only hire a permanent IT staff member if you have a clear strategy about the capabilities you are looking for from technology to achieve your business goals. Only ever let you internal IT staff work on projects that contribute to the company’s core business. Outsource any function that is more about supporting your internal resources and processes rather than a function of contributing to your core business.

Believe it or not, but many businesses are better off investing the $60,000 it might cost in salary for the internal IT guy, and then perhaps another $30,000 in outsourcing IT functions to a managed service provider. Why? Because that $30,000 investment actually frees up your $60,000 investment to become a revenue generating asset.

Ha? Basically, you might spend $30k to free up 80% of your IT managers time, allowing him to work on core business functions that ultimately generate revenue. With all that time, perhaps the IT Manager can implement a CRM system that sees repeat business double. Perhaps the IT Manager can develop a mobile sales system for your sales force, allowing them to spend less time in the office, more time on site and make 10% more sales pre month as a result. Perhaps the IT Manager streamlines you internal ordering process system, allowing you to expand your business without adding additional administrative employees. The point is, more often than not as far as I have seen, the business will generate a huge ROI on their cost of outsourcing, and generate it fast!

The end result is this: You as the business owner are happy because you can see quantifiable changes implemented as a result of hiring your IT guy. Your IT Manager is happy because he’s working on interesting projects that develop real results for his employer – and hopefully he’s being rewarded for it!

During the current economic climate, companies making the most of their existing resources to drive their core business goals and outsourcing non-core business functions will be the ones to prosper and thrive.

Topic Articles