Business graph showing ROI on IT upgrades

3 Ways Professional IT System Upgrades Can Prevent Computer Repair

Good upgrades to your business’s network infrastructure and IT systems can be a huge boost to your bottom line. It’s common for a business to have a standardized IT system that they acquired in the early days and just upgrade in pieces along the way. This can hold your company back because it wasn’t initially designed for the growth of the business. An upgrade can help customize the system to your needs, save costs, increase revenue, promote productivity, improve the customer experience, and more. In this post, we will go over three ways system upgrades can benefit your business to explain why and how such an update should be a priority project for growth-minded business owners.

Network Security

Everyone has seen the headlines in the past few years. Hackers are attacking businesses, breaking into their networks, and stealing data. Information stolen could be trade secrets, product designs, and internal protocols, or it could be customer financial and personal information that the hackers will use for identity theft. While big names like Target are the hacks that make the news, in reality, small and medium-sized enterprises are just as likely to come under fire from hackers. While the rewards are not as great, hackers know that most smaller businesses do not have as many resources to commit to security, and, therefore, are weaker targets.

Outdated network security is one of the easiest ways for hackers to get into a business’s network. As software ages, the companies that maintain it stop supporting it. For example, Microsoft no longer provides new security updates to Windows XP, so any business that is still using XP is running a significant risk. A new system upgrade to install new software and ensures everything is up to date closes all known security holes. This is quite valuable because many breaches exploit known holes instead of creatively finding new ones. Hackers want easy, soft targets, and a freshly upgraded system is neither of those things.

Upgrades Improve Processes

Right now, IT infrastructure plays a huge role in the productivity of any business. This will vary based on your industry, but there are very few companies that do not have a strong reliance on a functioning and effective network. It goes further than just whether or not you have a network: the quality of your whole IT system determines how much you can get done in a working day. With a new system, you can send files and data to one another more quickly, sharing results and designs. You have the ability to work through the day without worrying about whether or not the system will go down for one reason or another. Greater capacity means less downtime and better speed.

This is a qualitative difference as well as a quantitative one. Upgrades can unlock new features and tools that you were unable to access previously. For example, consider a new system that automatically backs up all of your important data to the cloud and stores it securely. If you have a power failure or a storm, you don’t need to worry about losing work. All of your progress will still be there when the office reopens. If you are a business that involves bringing customers or clients on site, then an upgrade might improve their experience by giving them a WiFi network for guests of the company. An improved network could allow for video-conferencing or other forms of communication that were not possible without the upgrade. Considering how critical IT is to productivity, it’s not surprising that a small upgrade project can pay big productivity dividends.

Expanding Workflow

Globalization means that companies can now operate across borders, hire staff in different countries, send their employees across the world on business trips, and operate with agility in any time zone. But that is only possible with the right IT infrastructure. You need, for example, the ability to allow workers to connect remotely from offsite locations and still work as if they were at the office. It’s not easy to do this and ensure the connection remains secure. It’s particularly true if you also want to allow connections from mobile devices. For example, if you want to make an overseas hire, or you have an employee at a client meeting who needs information stored on his work computer, the right IT system can make that possible. However, without a recent upgrade, it is unlikely that your network can provide all of the functionality you need. Remote work is becoming such a big part of business growth making it hard to justify holding off on making the investment now. Even if this kind of remote work is not currently part of your workflow, that might just be because you don’t have the capacity to do it. Once your network supports it, you will find all kinds of uses for connecting remotely. It lets you distribute your network’s advantages to workers who are not physically present, opening up a wealth of opportunities.

The bottom line is that the business world is becoming more fast-paced than ever. An IT upgrade project is an up-front cost that provides a return on your investment for a long time because you get access to the latest tools and gain more capacity. A good network will reduce the chances that you need computer repair and other forms of support because it will have superior uptime and fewer bugs than in an old network. Computer repair is a cost that businesses would love to cut, and partnering with itNOW for your IT upgrades can increase your revenue and significantly decrease your future repair costs.  By reaching out to us, you’ll experience a win on both counts.

using office 365

Using Office 365 To Improve Collaboration

What Is Office 365?

Office 365 is a powerful business suite that contains well known applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. What separates Office 365 from other business suites is its collaboration tools which push documents to the cloud and make them easily accessible to all team members. By using Office 365, you can easily enhance your project completion speed by allowing your employees to work on the go. You can access documents in Office 365 from any device that can connect to the internet, and other team members can see the edits made to documents in real time. Office 365 isn’t static, and you can easily upgrade to newer versions that become available over time. With strong security and privacy options, you can keep your data safe while working on new projects.

Using Office 365 to Boost Productivity

Businesses are always looking for new ways to stay competitive. But sometimes, the easiest ways to get a leg up go unnoticed or get glossed over. Although Office 365 is well known, most companies do not maximize it. By properly utilizing Office 365, you can easily access all of your documents with any device at any time. That means in-house projects and collaboration is easier than ever, and communicating with clients and sending out files is a breeze. Our team at i.t.NOW can help you troubleshoot through any issues that you might have with the business suite so that you can keep work disruptions and technical issues to a minimum.

Make Collaboration Simpler

Whether you are working on a spreadsheet, an animated video, or a Word document, sending files through email is inefficient. You can’t tell if your recipient has seen what you sent over, much less if they’ve been able to make edits or changes to your project. With Office 365, you can instantly see in real time if another team member is working on your project. With communication and collaboration made easier, you can speed up project timelines and deliver completed projects to clients faster.

Technical Support From i.t.NOW

When you use Office 365, you won’t be alone. i.t.NOW’s IT support staff will be there for you every step of the way. We’ll help you avoid technical issues so that you can continue to use your business suite while avoiding downtime. Our goal is to help you improve productivity and keep your suite up and running smoothly.

backup and recovery

Backup and Recovery Is Critical To Your Company’s Success

Downtime Is Damaging To Any Business

When your systems go down, your prospective clients can’t view your website. But downtime is more than simply a website that potential clients can’t see. That’s business that you are missing out on, and trust that you are losing. If your business develops a reputation for downtime and unreliability, your current clients and prospective business will take their dollars to a competitor. When your systems are down, you can’t provide the products and services that your clients rely on, and losing that trust can be difficult to overcome. That’s why the best businesses avoid downtime at any cost. You shouldn’t let downtime stop you from growing your business—with the right backup and recovery services, you can keep your clients satisfied and avoid downtime, damaged systems, and lost files.

Data Backup and Recovery Keeps Your Company Protected

Downtime doesn’t come on a predictable schedule. Your systems can go down after a disaster such as a flood or a storm. Or it can come when a hacker attempts to get into your systems. There are a variety of scenarios that can damage your systems or take you off-line, so you need to be prepared. Keeping your systems protected means using backup and recovery services that fit your company’s needs. Backup and recovery isn’t a monolith service—there are a plethora of different solutions that you can utilize. You can have a physical on-site backup, or you can have a physical backup off-site. You can also backup your systems in the cloud, or through virtual servers. And you aren’t limited to choosing a single solution either. You can backup your systems through the cloud as well as have a physical backup on-site.

Finding The Right Backup Solution

Every company needs to have functional backup and recovery services. But the chosen backup solution might be different for each company. You should determine your company’s needs—such as how much data you need to back up, and how much you are willing to pay for the service—before you determine which backup solution you want to choose. You can scale your backup solution upwards as your company grows, so if you start out with a small backup and recovery package, you can upgrade it as your needs expand. You can always rely on the IT experts at i.t.NOW to help your business find the right backup solution for your needs. If you are interested in backing up your company’s data, give our team a call today! We’d be happy to get to work on keeping your systems protected and helping you avoid downtime.

backup solution

Get the Backup Solution That Your Business Needs and Stop Worrying About Downtime

Why a Backup Solution Is Critical

Your systems are absolutely critical to your company’s success. Your employees depend on your systems being up and running to complete projects and communicate smoothly. Your customers count on your systems running properly so they can communicate with you through your website and other channels. When your systems crash for any reason, every second counts. Every moment down, is a moment where you are inefficient and your employees can’t effectively collaborate.

When your customers can’t view your website, they are likely to just go with one of your competitors. Downtime adversely affects any business, but it can absolutely cripple a small business. Losing customer trust can be a difficult factor to overcome. So why put yourself in that position at all?

Get a backup solution with i.t.NOW and make sure that your company’s systems are protected. Easily backup your systems and recover everything you need in the event of a crash. Every moment matters, and i.t.NOW will get your business’s systems back up in moments, not days or weeks.

 

Keeping Your Systems Safe With i.t.NOW

Keep your systems safe and get the peace of mind that you need to focus on growing your business. i.t.NOW offers several backup and recovery solutions that can help any business stay protected in the event of a natural disaster. Get high speed recovery, and get your systems back online in less than 15 minutes. i.t.NOW’s data loss avoidance and verified protection means that you can recover your data from an offsite backup and ensure its protection and functionally.

One of the best features offered by i.t.NOW is complete visibility, which allows your business to proactively monitor your systems and get alerts to potential issues before they can cause damage to your network, hardware, or critical files.

 

Customizing Your Backup Solution

Take full control of your backup solution and customize it based on your company’s specific needs. i.t.NOW offers several device storage capacity options along with customizable monthly service options such as on premise backups and cloud retention. Customize your backup to your company’s technical needs and get the options that best fit your long term goals. i.t.NOW can work directly with you to help you find the best backup and recovery solutions for your business.

Why IT Support Time Matters

Why IT Support Time Matters

IT support allows your business to handle customer questions and complaints in a timely manner. Not only can customers call you with their issues, but they can email, Tweet, post or fill online forms out on your website. Whatever way they use to get ahold of you, the faster you respond, the better for both your customer and your business. Studies show that slow response times can lead to a loss of customers, which is never a desirable outcome. Below we discuss in further detail why IT support time matters.

IT Support Means Shorter Customer Response Time

Studies have shown that customers are willing to spend at least 13% more money in the US with companies that provide excellent customer service, especially with short response times. Not only will customers in the US spend more on a business with good customer service, they are more likely to recommend that company to a colleague or friend, as well as consider that business for another purchase or service in the future. These studies show that great customer service is heavily correlated with loyalty.

Take Social Media Complaints Seriously

If your business has a Facebook page or Twitter account, it is important that you seriously maintain it and respond to customer inquiries in a timely manner. People are using these tools more and more, and if they don’t get any feedback via this medium, studies show they will abandon your company completely. Amazingly enough, there are still high percentages of businesses that ignore social media feedback from customers. This looks unprofessional, especially if you are running an IT company who thrives on computers and their networks for survival. Don’t forget that bad reviews of the customer service experience with your company can easily be shared on social media or business review sites.

Short IT Support Response Time Shows Consideration

Customers want to feel valued and appreciated for their business to a company. When there are long response times to their requests, the customer tends to feel neglected and is likely to move on. When it comes to IT support, there may be an entire business depending on your company to fix their problems, otherwise they are risking costly downtime. By tending to your customers’ needs in a timely fashion and with respect, it shows the customer that you value their business and they are likely to stay with you.

The Bottom Line With Slow IT Support Response Times

When it comes to customer service, you are never going to make everyone happy. However, it helps to know that a high percent of customers expect a response to their issue within 30 minutes. Even if this is not realistic, know that this is what people expect and be sure never to ignore them outright on a social media platform. Bad customer service costs US companies over $83 billion annually. Under 10 percent of customers will take the time to file a formal complaint, while the rest don’t even bother to come back after being ignored or encountering a long wait time. Make customer service a priority in your company so that your customers do not have to wait, otherwise you’ll be losing business left and right.

Click here for a speedy customer service for your customers with IT support time.

The Importance of Network Monitoring

Network monitoring is absolutely necessary for your business. The whole purpose of it is to monitor your computer network’s usage and performance, and check for slow or failing systems. The system will then notify the network administrator of any performance issues or outages with some kind of an alarm or an email. This system will save a lot of money and reduce many problems. It is the best possible way to ensure that your business is operating properly.

Security

One of the most important parts of network monitoring is keeping your information secure. It will keep track of everything and alert your network administrator of any issues before they become real big problems. A few of the things that a network monitor can tell you is if something stops responding, your sever fails, or your disk space is running low. Network monitoring is perhaps the most proactive way to deal with problems so that you can stay ahead of them, especially since you will be monitored 24/7.

Troubleshooting

Another great advantage of network monitoring is its troubleshooting abilities. You can save a lot of time trying to diagnose what is wrong. With network monitoring you can quickly tell which device it is that’s giving you the problem. Your support team will be able to pick up on a problem and fix it before users are even aware of it. Because your monitoring is constant, it can help you to track certain trends in the performance of your network. When problems occur sporadically or at peak times they can be hard to diagnose, but a network monitor will help you better understand what is going on.

Save Time and Money

Network monitoring will save you both lots of time and lots of money. Without it, a lot of time would have to be spent investigating, which would result in more hours having to be worked. This will not only cost more money but it will lower productivity. When you can quickly point out and fix network issues you are increasing your profits. When everything is running smoother, this gives you more time to run your business. When you understand how all of your devices are being used, you are able to identify what needs additional disk space so you can increase the capacity quickly and effectively.

Plan for Change

With network monitoring, you can track if a device is running near its limit and needs to be changed. It gives you the ability to plan ahead and easily make any necessary changes. All of the reports that you will have showing your activity and what type of health your system is in will come in handy as great tools for your business. They will allow you to easily prove to others what is happening and show why one of your devices needs to be fixed or replaced.

BYOD

6 Of the Best Time Management Apps

Time is money in business, so it is important to work as efficiently as possible. This sometimes seems impossible as tasks build up and it seems that there is not enough time in the day to get all important tasks completed. Luckily, technology always finds a way and it has brought us apps to make all aspects of our lives easier, especially at work. Below we discuss the 6 best time management apps for business.

Hubstaff

Have you ever wanted an easy way to keep track of your remote team and ensure they’re being productive?  Hubstaff delivers that and more with helpful time tracking software that allows you to see screenshots of the work your employees are doing and measure activity levels.  It has cool reporting that helps to see who’s getting things done and who isn’t.  It also has integration with a bunch of payroll apps that make getting your employees paid a breeze.  Pretty cool product that’s sure to save you time and money.  Check it out here.

Timely

Used by more than 40,000 companies and freelancers, Timely allows you to schedule your time and then log it. Plan ahead by the week, day or hour. There are features in Timely that are perfect for planning new projects at the office, delegating work to employees and seeing who is taking on too much. You can even integrate your existing calendar from places like Google and Yahoo with an auto-import.

 

Focus Booster 

Perfect for those who get easily overwhelmed or procrastinate, Focus Booster is the ideal app. If you find yourself looking on Facebook or Youtube all day, Focus Booster will nail you on it! This app uses the Pomodoro Technique to keep track of where you’re spending your time, then empower you to manage distractions and get more done during the day. The dashboard report then gives you a visual of your progress to improve your productivity.

 

Universal Password Manager

How much time is spent managing all the different passwords required for different sites throughout a given day? How about when you forget a password and have to wait for an email reminder or do a reset? Universal Password Manager app lets users keep all passwords in a single encrypted database, which is protected by one password. This makes it easier to use a variety of passwords so that you don’t compromise online security.

 

Evernote

Evernote is a popular app that lets users capture all of their thoughts, ideas and images via voice, notes, pictures and more. Record interviews, meetings, speech ideas, make lists and attach text or voice attachments to share with colleagues. With Evernote you can quickly access all of your notes in one location from anywhere over your mobile device, saving tons of time throughout the day.

 

Harvest

Harvest is the perfect app for teams to track time spent on different projects and other items throughout the day. The boss can approve the staff’s time sheets as well as set up Harvest to automatically remind the employees to submit their time sheets. Staff roles and permissions can be set up to meet the needs of the team. Harvest will produce reports that display how your business is performing and the way it is distributing its time across tasks, projects and employees. Individual filters will highlight only non-billable, billable, contractor or employee hours. Invoices are seamlessly created that organize billable hours so your billing is fast, accurate and easy.

 

Any of these apps will help with managing your time better and improve productivity within your business!

4 Mobile Apps for CPAs

Thanks to apps that run on our mobile devices, most of us can get through a work day without being tied to our desktop. This increases productivity as well as breaks up the monotony of being stuck in a cubicle or office all day. There are truly apps for everything and every profession, from CPAs to personal trainers. Whether they are productive or just fun, you can find an application for what you need. Below we discuss 4 essential mobile apps for CPAs that will make your business run more efficiently than ever before.

 

  1. Dropbox

Dropbox is by far the best and most popular file sharing app out there because of all it can do and how easy it is to use. Accountants have seemingly endless amounts of paperwork and digital files to contend with, but this app can help you organize and manage it all. Dropbox allows users to create client folders, sort files within them, then access them from anywhere with your iPad or iPhone. Files may be shared with other users, making Dropbox ideal for team collaboration. You also get the added security of cloud backup. No longer will a CPA be chained to bulky file cabinets, stuffed file folders or overflowing inboxes when they use the Dropbox app.

 

  1. powerOne Finance Pro Calculator

powerOne Pro Financial calculator is an app that is ideal for CPAs, to be used on the iPhone or iPad. This financial edition of the app will do 401k calculations, currency conversions, auto leases and loans, breakevens, cash flows, bonds and more. PowerOne even has a graph feature that helps users visualize information, which can be helpful if you’re explaining figures to a client.

 

  1. Keynote 

Keynote is a fantastic presentation app for when you need to address a group of colleagues or clients. Now available for iPad, users can create a detailed presentation with transitions, animated charts, themes and customized graphic styles, as well as many more cutting-edge features. To add or edit slides, you can open up Microsoft PowerPoint and simply add videos or photos with Media Browser. Access and edit presentations from your iPad, iPhone, Mac or iPod Touch via iCloud. Keynote will automatically save presentations as you make changes to them. Presentations can easily be copied to apps like Dropbox, and exported to PDF format or PowerPoint. Links can instantly be shared via Facebook, Twitter, Messages or Mail.

 

  1. iDonatedIt

Created by a CPA firm, iDontatedIt is an app that tracks values and reports non-cash donations to charity for income tax purposes. With this app, a CPA can assist those who have decided to donate items instead of having a time-consuming garage sale. When it comes tax time, iDonatedIt will have kept track of all the IRS compliant donations in an organized list as well as allow users to attach photos of the items.

 

If you are a CPA, we suggest using these apps to make your life easier and your business run smoother!

Staying in Compliance: The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)

online paymentDoes your business deal in point-of-sale transactions using any type of electronic payment method? If so, are you in compliance with The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)? If you’re unsure, then most likely you are not. This is an important security standard that applies to all types of business which conduct any sort of electronic point-of-sale transactions. While not being in PCI compliance isn’t against the law, it can result in many negative consequences including lawsuits, insurance claims, and government fines. IT Now is familiar with PCI DSS and what it entails for your business. We can help set up your point-of-sale terminals and assess whether or not your data is secured under this standard.

If your business engages in any type of credit card or electronic transactions, chances are that PCI DSS applies to you. Credit card machines, near field communication terminals, internet transactions, data storage, and many other elements of businesses are covered under this industry standard. At IT Now, our IT experts can make sure that your business is in compliance and also help you understand exactly what compliance means for you. We have experience helping our customers sift through technical jargon by explaining it clearly and politely.

As technology continues to develop and put itself into the hands of everyday users, it can be hard to know whether or not your company is in compliance with all the different regulations it needs to be in compliance with. IT Now will help you learn more about regulatory standards in your industry and what you need to do to be in compliance with all of them. While we certainly can’t take care of everything, we can definitely take care of your computer requirements. Additionally, our company is in compliance with several data standards which may actually help with other aspects of your business like accounting and reporting.

If you have any questions about regulatory compliance in your industry, don’t hesitate to get a hold of us. Here at IT Now, we are passionate about what we do, just like you’re passionate about your business. Let us help you out with all of your technology so you can focus your attention on your own passions. You can rest assured that we’ll help keep your business up-to-date with the rapidly changing environment of data standards, compliance, and certifications.

 

Cyber Security in the Information Age

Fifty years ago, security compliance was associated with having a picture badge, stopping at physical checkpoints, and remembering to lock file cabinets when leaving a room. In the age of information, security compliance protocols are increasingly about IT securities. Many companies still use physical securities like photos and physical checkpoints, but in a way these have become measures taken specifically to augment IT security. While leaving carbon copy documents exposed is certainly still a security concern, it is nowhere near as much of a concern as is a stolen password. The simple reason is that a single password has the potential to give thieves access to far more information that can be stored in carbon copy, and it gives thieves computing power to boot. Read more