How to Get Your Non-Techie Employees Up to Speed

The onslaught of technology is all around us. Whether you’re at home, work, or anywhere else, you’re inundated with smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other forms of technology.

Employers are becoming increasingly aware of how rapidly technology is changing and the need for their employees to stay up to date on devices, applications, and software.

So how do you get your non-tech savvy employees to get up to speed with the tech revolution that is all around us? Read more

How Virtualization Can Help Small Businesses

Virtualization and Small BusinessVirtualization is common for large companies, but some have wondered if small businesses draw in the same benefits. You don’t have to store data by the terabyte to profit from virtualization.

Virtualization is creating multiple computers with one piece of hardware. Special software creates these computers in a virtual space, so they don’t take up any physical space. This allows a business to split up resources among fewer machines. Read more

Surefire Signs Your Office Needs a Network Upgrade

Computer running slow at workMost businesses rely heavily, if not exclusively, on their office computer network to handle and perform all day-to-day business operations. When something goes wrong, the entire company can come to a grinding halt. To avoid this doomsday scenario, it’s best to recognize the signs that you need to upgrade your network before you NEED to upgrade your network. Here are some surefire signs you’re in need of an upgrade: Read more

Firewall Monitoring, Why do I Need It?

Hackers and criminals are out there every day working hard to crack into your network and database.  The best way to protect yourself from these vicious attacks is to have a secure firewall that is effectively monitored.

Simply put, a firewall is a piece of hardware or software that sits between a computer and the internet.  It allows or restricts data to pass through the firewall, depending on how it is configured.  Ideally, it blocks all internet activity except that which was specifically requested.  This can be problematic when certain trustworthy websites or computers try to reach your computer.   Read more

Why You need an IT Service Provider

Businessman using an office phoneMost small businesses start with just one or two people who handle every aspect of their business, from customer care to marketing and information technology.  While that may work, and even be necessary for a while, once the company begins to grow there is too much for one person to handle.

Hiring employees will mean more IT considerations, which takes time that could otherwise be used for building your business. Unless you’re an internet technology provider yourself, eventually it will make more sense to turn over the IT reigns to someone else, either by hiring in-house IT or by outsourcing to an IT firm. Read more

Use Technology to Increase Productivity in 2014

It’s no secret that productivity in the workplace has increased by leaps and bounds each year through the introduction of faster, more applicable technology. The O2 Business and the Centre for Economic and Business Research (Cebr) released results of a study last October that found out just how much that increase is. What they found is that “office worker productivity per hour is nearly five times (480%) more than what it was in the 1970s.” Additionally they predict that productivity related to information and communications technology (ICT) will increase 2.5% annually through 2020.

What then can your company do to make sure you are keeping up with the rest of the business world? Glad you asked. Read more

Common IT Mistakes in the Workplace

Technology advances quickly and with it our reliance on the newest and fastest. Too often we get comfortable with the technology we use and don’t safeguard against possible crises. In the workplace, there are many employees using the system and each one adds a risk to IT security. Any data loss or malware in the system cost the company a lot of money and time. Here are some common risks to watch out for:

Not backing up your OS and data: Big mistake. If there is any kind of crash, natural disaster, malware invasion, etc. you have lost everything. A backup is the first thing a company should take care of in the IT department. You need a backup that continually updates. You can keep one onsite, but also have one in a place that won’t be affected if your company is broken into or destroyed by a natural disaster.

Failure to update the OS and anti-virus software: Malware is constantly finding new ways to get through loopholes and chinks in your system. Updates to your operating system and antiviruses protect your computers from the latest threats.

Unprotected smart phones and/or tablets: Every employee should have a secure operating system and password on their device. With all the sensitive information that can be stored on your phones or tablets, they are a target for hacking.

Insufficient Tech Support: Many smaller businesses keep one IT employee on hand to take care of needs as they come up. This creates an indispensable IT staff. You can’t risk having indispensable staff. If he or she leaves, so does all the knowledge about how your system works and how to take care of special tasks. Take advantage of outside resources to take care of tasks that maybe are not suited for your internal resources.

Multiple employees using one account: When each employee does not have his own account, you can’t keep an accurate log of who has made what changes. If a problem arises as a result of a change an employee made, you need to be able to see in your system’s activity log exactly which user did it so you can give additional training or administer consequences. And in the same vein, make sure employees know the importance of not using a computer on someone else’s account.

Failure to test IT security policies: You need to know for sure that your backup and security plans will work when they are needed. Don’t wait for a disaster to discover any problems. Check out your programs and fix any flaws.

It’s not always an outside source that poses danger, but within the company as well. If your security is not up to date, an employee may accidentally or purposely sabotage your network. Don’t let your business be jeopardized by a common blunder. With all the resources you have invested into your business, you’ll want to keep it well protected.

Monitoring Employee Computer Usage – Their Rights and Yours

What your employees do while on the clock concerns you and the company. You expect your employees to perform certain tasks with efficiency so the salary you pay is worth their output. When your employees are browsing the internet they are not only using company property but also using up the company’s time. So, it makes sense that you may want to monitor their activities. Whether you prefer to keep a tight rein or allow some breathing room, that is your right. However, here are some guidelines that will help you work together and build a relationship that will keep your employees motivated.

Be Straightforward

Be upfront with employees about what they will be monitored for and if there will be consequences for certain violations. No one likes to be secretly watched. Keeping something secret sends a signal to the employees that you don’t trust them to do their work properly. Many companies include the information in a technology rights form that new hires sign before starting work. Some will even have employees read and sign it again at the start of each new year. It is also a good idea to review key points during orientation so as to avoid any confusion.

The foremost reason for computer monitoring is to protect the company. You need to know if workers are giving out company secrets or unwittingly downloading viruses. Monitoring software includes filters that can prevent employees from visiting certain websites, downloading malicious software, taking files home and more. You don’t need to be watching what everyone is doing all the time either. The software can send you alerts by email when someone is trying to bypass the settings.

Be Trusting

Being too strict and rigorous will lose employees’ respect and their motivation. It is best to save an investigation until you notice a pattern of decreased productivity. Is someone spending an inordinate amount of time watching popular videos and reading non-work email? That may account for the person’s decreased efficiency in their work and would signal that it’s time to have a chat with the supervisor.

Level the Playing Field

No one wants to work where they feel uncomfortable because of what their co-worker is watching or listening to. But they don’t want to be labeled as a snitch either. Individuals will be relieved to know that the field is equal for all employees because everyone is being held to the same standard. That means discipline must be dealt out for those who break the rules. Every good boss knows the vibe of the work environment is important to good productivity.

How to Choose the Right Equipment for Your Office

Setting up your own business can be an exciting time. Of the many decisions that you need to make – from staff size to logos – one important item is the equipment that you purchase for your office. The right equipment can help boost you abilities and your productivity, while the wrong equipment can turn into a liability. In order to make sure that you have the correct equipment in your office, here are some different factors to consider.

Unless you are running a business that goes back in time, you are most likely going to need a computer system. The first step in getting the right computer system is to assess the needs of your business. Do you do a lot of design work? Do you have secure information that needs to be guarded? Is the fanciest program you need Microsoft Word? The needs of your business will have a huge impact on the type, brand, and price range of your computer equipment. If you are planning a high tech operation, you will need the computer equipment that can both keep up with your vision and give you room to grow and expand. If all you need is a place to write the occasional memo, then you will not need a system with all the latest technology. If you are unsure of what level of computer equipment you will need, or what brands of computers are best suited to the work that you will be doing, consult an IT professional.

Part of the computer equipment includes the accessories, such as printers, scanners, copiers, and fax machines. Again, make sure that you pick equipment that will suit your needs and avoid spending money on gadgets that you will not use. When buying accessories, it is imperative that all of your computer equipment is compatible. The last thing you want to do is spend your money on a fancy printer only to learn that it cannot connect to your computer.

The third part of your computer purchasing is your software. There are lots of different software options for all the different aspects of your business, including accounting, databases, sales, etc. To help you make the best decision, contact the manufacturer for a demo version or a free trial. This is important, as it allows you to test the software, making sure that not only can it perform the functions your business needs, but is not full of unnecessary or unwanted programs. You never want to pay for things that will go unused. You also want to make sure that the software comes both with a 24-hour support line and a money back guarantee. If the company does not provide these three options, then you should look elsewhere.

In our next few articles we’ll take a closer look at the things you should consider for each specific type of equipment, helping you to make informed, smart decisions.

5 Great Apps for Your Small Business

Mobile technology is changing the way many companies do business. With mobile technology, not only do your employees have greater access to your IT components, but your customers also have easier access to your online presence as well as numerous tools to improve their experience with your company.

One of the big game changers has been the creation of applications or “apps,” which are programs available on a mobile device. Some apps help with access, some with productivity, and others with finances. It’s useful to know what types of apps are available to help your employees run your business and help you customers access your business.

There are a lot of sources on the best apps for your small business, but here are a few of our favorites.

1. QuickBooks Premier Edition 2013. QuickBooks is a small business accounting App that can integrate all of your different financials into one location. While not allowing you all the features of the QuickBooks desktop software, the App is a great starting point for businesses that are still small and/or uncomplicated. While Quickbooks can be a little pricey at around $400, it can also help you save money through your budgeting.

2. Evernote. Unlike the Quickbooks app, Evernote is free, and a great way to keep track of your notes, task lists, and meetings. If time is money, Evernote is a big money saver, as it helps you stay organized. It also automatically syncs to your cloud drive.

3. Adobe Acrobat XI. An App geared towards increasing productivity, Adobe Acrobat remains one of the best PDF applications that you can use in your business. This version allows you to electronically sign documents via your smartphone and tablet, helping you take all aspects of your business on the road.

4. Square. Square allows anyone with a smartphone or tablet to accept credit card payments, and there’s no monthly fees. The service simply takes 2.75 percent of the transaction fee. For small business that can’t afford the equipment, this app is a great way to conduct business on the go.

5. Skydrive. Skydrive is a cloud service that allows you to upload and share files and documents. You can use Skydrive in the place of a company email as well, since you can simply upload any documents that need to be shared. And the good news is the basic 5 gb account is free.

These are just 5 of the numerous Apps available for your mobile device. It is important that as you integrate Apps into your small business that you take stock of what you need as well as what is available. This way you will make smart choices on the Apps that you purchase, helping your business reach new heights.