Posts Tagged: ‘outsourced IT support’

Is It Time to Clean Up Your Act?

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“Hey, there’s not a single clean coffee cup in the entire kitchen!”

“How long has that milk been sitting out on the counter?”

“Wasn’t someone supposed to empty the garbage on Friday night?

What a mess! Anyone who works in an office environment has certainly heard their share of those kitchen complaints. If regular maintenance is ignored, things can deteriorate quickly. The same goes for your computers. Except your computers handle your most important assets: accounting, financial records, communications and client information.

Establishing a Maintenance Plan for Your Computers

Last month’s Geeks On Call’s Blog offered tips on keeping the outside of your computers clean. This month, the Blog presents maintenance guidelines for the “nuts and bolts” of your computer with the following tips:

Step 1: Windows and Mac both release security updates for their operating systems. Generally, these updates are set to run automatically. Follow these directions if you aren’t sure if the updates are complete or if you have disabled the automated updates:

Mac: Open the Systems Preference menu and choose Software Update. Select the updates you want to install from the list.

Windows: At the Start Menu, click on All Programs, then click Windows Updates. See the status of your updates and check on the automatic updates settings. You can perform these tasks manually or set your computer to download and install updates.

Step 2: Most recent computers offer hard drive maintenance as an automatic task. It defragments and reorganizes data storage for enhanced efficiency. It also provides disk cleanup by deleting duplicates and unused temporary files. On a Mac, this process is typically automatic. With Windows, if your computer doesn’t provide automatic hard drive maintenance, use the Start Menu to open and run the maintenance program.

Step 3: Periodically you should clear your Internet history or eventually performance issues will occur due to data build up. Internet browser tools can handle the problem with the following instructions:

  • Chrome: Hold Control and Shift, then click Delete to clear data. A new menu will open where you can erase selected data. Click on Clear Browsing Data when you are done.
  • Firefox: See Firefox menu and open Options to click the Clear button. This will erase cookies and cache data.
  • Internet Explorer:  Go to Internet Options control panel and click Delete on the General tab under the Browsing History.

Safari: Use the Edit menu to clear the browsing cache then select Empty Cache.

Step 4: Now that your computer is running more efficiently, be sure that the computer has a reliable backup system in place. There are many different options for backup solutions that are both reliable and affordable. Geeks On Call can advise you on a reliable backup system.

Step 5: Guard against malicious viruses by having an antivirus program on your computer. Protect your computer against losing important data or and save yourself from expensive repairs. Talk to your local Geeks On Call about your security needs

Step 6: Malware creates security holes that will compromise the performance of your computer. There are a variety of paid and free programs that will erase both spyware and malware programs. Also, be on guard and never download anything that comes from an unfamiliar e-mail address. Beware and never open attachments from unknown sources.

Take Care of Your Computers so That You Can Take Care of Your Business!

Regular computer maintenance, service and updates will keep your machine working at optimal efficiency. Geeks On Call can help you with backup solutions, malware virus and protection. Contact your local Geeks On Call to establish a regular maintenance schedule for your computers.

Take Your Business to the Next Level with an Outsourced IT Support Model

Is an IT professional currently handling the technology needs of your business, or are you contemplating transitioning to an outsourced IT services model like many other small businesses?  According to a survey completed by CompTIA 62% of the organizations surveyed planned to make greater investments in Outsourced IT Services (managed services) over the next two years.

If you are thinking about moving in this direction let us help you understand what your IT Service Professional should be doing to support and improve your business technology:

Trusted IT Expert & Advisor: Any IT Service Provider that you choose to work with must be an expert in consulting and providing IT service to small businesses.  The small business is unique in its needs and growth potential.  Additionally, they often come with a diverse and skilled workforce, which is difficult for small businesses to hire on their own.  And finally, they should have a comprehension about your business in order to make technology suggestions that will improve technology and increase profit potential.

Proactive Management: Proactive management of your technology equipment provides information on how your infrastructure is currently running, and allows for advance planning and knowledge regarding equipment upgrades and replacement to avoid disruptions in employee productivity.

Secure & Backed Up Infrastructure: When you move to an outsourced IT support model you no longer have to worry about the possibility of malicious online attacks to your equipment or network should your employees click on an unsafe link or open an infected email attachment.  They will also provide managed backups of all your company information and data so if something is deleted or a natural disaster occurs and everything is lost, they can quickly recover it and get you back to work.

Increased Efficiency & Productivity: They will work to identify slow running equipment and network issues, and schedule maintenance to fix these issues decreasing the amount of downtime your employee’s experience.  Technology upgrades provided by the IT support provider will result in a streamlined workflow that increases business efficiency and employee productivity.

Controlled Costs: An extreme benefit when moving to an outsourced IT support model for a small business is the ability to control and predict expenses.  When you moved to an outsourced IT support model you are given back control of your technology costs through one monthly bill that covers all of your technology needs.

Scalability: Since your IT service provider understands the long term goals of your business, they are able to take them into consideration as they are implementing new technology now and ensuring future growth potential will not be impacted.

IT Support Dedicated to Your Small Business

There are over 23 million small and medium sized businesses in the U. S. who are trying to remain competitive against large corporations with more money and resources. One of the main ways a small or medium sized business can continue to compete with these larger businesses is through the strategic planning and use of technology. Small and medium sized business owners see technology only as a device to increase productivity, increase communication with customers, and decrease operational costs. Expending past these obvious uses is sometimes difficult for small business owners to uncover.
As a business owner you should be able to answer the following questions:
o Is your business running an updated operating system?
o Will your business be impacted by the end of the Windows XP life cycle?
o Is your network secure against cyber-attacks?
o Do you have a reliable and tested backup system?

Smart business owners understand that their “job” is to work on the business, not in the business. Owners can stay competitive and focused by utilizing the functions of an outsourced IT service provider to enhance or even be the small business IT support department. We recommend you explore the following services that can be provided by an outsourced IT service provider
•Cloud Services: Currently 61% of small and medium sized businesses are running some type of cloud based programs. Cloud services give you the ability to have access to reliable data storage and back up systems, and a variety of industry and business software. Cloud based programs gives employees the ability to access many programs and files remotely, expanding their productivity and your profit potential.
•Security Services: With a new virus popping up daily, security services are becoming increasingly more important. In 2013, digital assaults on small businesses had increased by 18% over a two year period. Of the businesses that were impacted, over 60% folded within six months. Absence or inadequate security services can compromise critical client and business information. Additionally, with the end of life cycle for Windows XP happening on April 8, 2014, those who have decided to ignore the warnings you will be leaving their business vulnerable to criminals who are waiting in the wings to attack computers that are still running XP.
•Managed Services: When you take advantage of Managed Services you can really give your business an edge. You have a Trusted IT Service Advisor at your disposal to manage all of your technology and the vendor relationships, you will receive predictable and stable billing, and you are able to create customized plans that fit your business needs. Outsourced IT support is able to provide a helpdesk for your employees to utilize, accomplish specific technology upgrades and fixes, or manage your entire IT infrastructure. They are also able to make technology recommendations when equipment is aging or new products are launching that can make your business more profitable and productive.

Is Your IT Professional Also a Trusted Business Advisor? They Should Be!

Posting Date: 03/17/2014  |   Filed Under: Data Back-up, Security, Technology, Tips  |   No Comments
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As a business owner, one of the best moves you can make is to outsource your IT services to a professional provider. When it comes to outsourcing your IT service needs, there are a wide range of service options that involve varying levels of management responsibilities and costs. An IT professional can provide service for a single specific task such as help desk support or managing network security. At the other end of the service spectrum, an IT professional can assume management responsibilities for a client’s entire IT infrastructure. The advantages of outsourced services are improved operational efficiencies, cost savings and predictable service for a nearly-fixed monthly fee.

Redefining the Role of Your IT Professional
Redefining the Role of Your IT Professional

An increasing number of businesses have switched to the outsourced IT service model. If you are already working with a contracted IT professional, then you have given your business the advantage of a head-start on the competition. The next big question is whether your business is actually making the best use of your contracted IT professional? It is likely that your IT professional is responsible for repairs, fixes and upgrades for your business’ computers and network problems. Computer repairs might be a key part of the contracted job, but there are probably some value-added IT skills that your business might not be fully utilizing.

Do You Need a Trusted Business Advisor or a Computer Repair Service?
Do You Need a Trusted Business Advisor or a Computer Repair Service?
  • Trusted advisor is an important role that an IT professional can fill by understanding the business owner’s goals and long range plans for the business. By understanding the “big picture,” an IT professional can share expert technical information while understanding various solutions, costs and the latest technology trends. Functioning as a trusted advisor, an IT professional can make experienced recommendations that are in the best interests of the business’ long term goals as opposed to implementing quick fix, computer repairs.
  • Decisions about new technologies might not be in the comfort zone of most business owners. How can a business owner be fully versed in technology and able to identify the difference between the latest hype and a proven strategy? Which technology is going to provide the best return on investment? Is it the best strategy to implement a new technology now or wait until next year? Is your business currently compliant with network security requirements? Is your data safe? If your business needs to update its operating system, is now the time to purchase new computers? If your IT professional is acting as a trusted advisor, these larger issues can be explored together with the shared goal being the long term sustainability and success of your business.
  • Technology coach is another important element of the trusted advisor’s role. As a member of the client’s “inner circle,” the IT professional needs to bring a variety of skills to the table including the ability to carefully explain technology solutions. The ability to really listen to the business owner is also critical. One size does not fit all – especially when it comes to technology decisions. A knowledgeable IT professional must be able to not only recommend the best technology solutions, but also make the best recommendations for a business’s particular needs in the context of their industry, finances and long range goals. A proactive IT professional will be constantly evaluating new technology products, solutions and reliable vendors that will best serve the needs of the client’s business.
Thinking Beyond Computer Repair Services

As a business owner, you know that we all need to think “outside the box” more often. Geeks On Call encourages you think outside of the “computer repair” box and see that your IT professional is a valuable asset that you might be able to utilize to even greater advantage. Geeks On Call values your business and we want to be your trusted advisor when it comes to technology solutions! Give your local Geeks On Call office a call today. We are ready to listen.

What to Consider When Hiring a Small Business IT Support Provider

As technology grows more complex the small business owner is struggling to manage these complex systems.  Many are starting to outsource their technology support needs and are looking for an expert Small Business IT Support Provider.

Here are a few items small business owners need to consider when looking for IT Support Provider:

Listens & Understands:  When you are “interviewing” a small business IT support provider (and it may be wise to meet with more than one) you should be doing the majority of the talking.  They should be gathering information about your business, your current technology infrastructure, and your long term business goals.  They will also describe the services and technology they can bring to your business, but by developing an understanding for your business first, they are able to provide details about the technology that suits your business best.

Fixes the Issue: You are likely searching for an IT support provider because you have an immediate technology need or you can no longer manage the complex technology system within your business.  Any IT support provider should diagnosis your immediate issues, explain the issue and resolution in a way you understand, and quickly implement a solution so your business experiences as minimal downtime as possible.  Only after any technology issues you have are resolved, should they begin  offering you preventative measures and additional services that will benefit your business.

Stabilization & Recommendations:  Once the Small Business IT Support provider comprehends your business, the current technology infrastructure, and has fixed any immediate items that are preventing daily operations they should begin to move into the role of a trusted IT advisor.  In this role, they should be maintaining and proactively managing all technology within your business to minimize downtime, looking for ways to increase productivity, bringing new technology that will enhance the business, and offering a customized Managed IT Business Solution that encompasses all technology management under one monthly bill.

Business IT Support: Are you prepared for 2014?

Posting Date: 12/27/2013  |   Filed Under: Data Back-up, Internet, Security, Technology, Tips  |   No Comments
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As 2013 comes to a close, many will spend this time reviewing the what they achieved this past year and begin making plans of the things they hope to achieve in 2014. For the majority of people this will include both personal and professional plans. When developing new business goals, it often includes increased efficiency while saving time and money and learning to work smarter not harder.

As you begin to establish and outline your goals and resolutions for 2014, we would like to take this opportunity to encourage you to consider establishing an IT support plan for your business.

 

How a Business IT support Plan can Benefit your Business

Moving into a Business IT Support Plan (also known as a Managed Service Contract) provides you the opportunity to find someone who can assess your current technology systems and understand the needs of your business.  After the initial assessment and understanding of future needs, a service plan can be developed that will move the IT responsibility into the hands of an expert IT professional, freeing you up to run the business.

Advantages of Establishing a Business IT Support Plan in 2014: 

•You have the ability to control costs, and have less “surprise” technology costs, when you outsource this to a true IT professional.  With this model you are only paying for services that your business needs, you are not responsible for many of the costs associated with a traditional employee, and you have someone monitoring your equipment that will be able to inform you of issues on the horizon that you can proactively address.

•When you move to this model you gain an immediate increased level of efficiency and expertise.  The IT professional that you have chosen to hire should provide an extremely high level of technology knowledge and have the ability to stay ahead of product trends for you and your business.

•New viruses and technology threats are emerging every day.  Are you convinced that your business is properly protected?  Your IT professional should make your business needs regarding security a number one priority, establish a plan if something were to go awry, and maintain updated knowledge on how to protect you against new threats.

•Save time and money by running and managing your business not your technology.  A Business IT Support Plan will allow you to rely on the suggestions and guidance of highly skilled IT professional so you can make informed decision on how to move and maintain your business technology at a managed cost.

6 Reasons Outsourced IT Support is a Good Idea!

Posting Date: 07/26/2013  |   Filed Under: Technology, Tips  |   No Comments
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Outsourced IT support is becoming more and more popular with regard to both small and medium sized businesses and large corporations.  Outsourced IT support usually consists of a combination of the following services: hosting as well as web development and maintenance; data storage and back up via cloud solutions; application and computer software development; database development and management; program support and management; telecommunications; data security; help desk and/or tech support services.

Business owners see the value in outsourcing as a way to remain competitive by access the latest technological know-how and utilizing skilled technology professionals while still keeping the bottom-line in mind.

Here are 6 reasons why Outsourced IT Support may be a good idea for your business:

1: Equipment Cost Control: A new business can really benefit from the cost savings associated with the cost of IT infrastructure. Although, a business at any stage of maturity can use the money saved related to IT infrastructure and re-invested into various revenue making initiatives.

2: Stability: An important factor for any business is stability. Moving to an outsourced IT support model can help your business gain the stability it desires (at least for your IT department). Time wasted on employee hiring and training will be a thing of the past, equipment upgrades will be handled at convenient times that you deem acceptable and technical problems will be monitored proactively so they become almost nonexistent.

3: Efficiency Technical Expertise: This benefit can be felt immediately, true technology experts will be able to seamlessly integrate and easily become familiar and understand your systems.  Those who focus on delivering outsourced IT support have technical expertise and offer efficient strategies to benefit their clients.

4: Operational Cost Control: You are only paying for the IT services that you have outlined as needed with your outsourced IT support provider, therefore keeping costs controlled. You are also able to save in other areas like rent by needing a smaller workplace for fewer workers, less equipment, and other personnel related expenses.

5: Remain Competitive: You don’t need to break the bank on IT expenses to stay competitive. Outsourced IT support providers can use their leverage, having multiple clients, to get you access to “big business” technological know-how and professional expertise for a low budget prices that you need for your business to remain competitive. This competitive edge will make an impression on your clients.

6: Run Your Business: Concentrate on your business and what you do well and stop wasting time and energy on technology issues. When you trust your business to an outsourced IT support service professional they handle technology issues and take a proactive approach to preventing issues.

Is Outsourced IT Support Right for Your Business?

Posting Date: 07/25/2013  |   Filed Under: Consoles, Technology, Tips  |   No Comments
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Numerous companies are beginning to utilize Outsourced IT Support, but the fact of the matter is very few people know what it is and how it can help their company. We have leaned on a seasoned franchise owners to help us uncover the answers that surround the questions about Outsourced IT Support and why your company may wish to consider this option.

According to a survey completed by CompTIA 62% of the organizations surveyed planned to make greater investments in Outsourced IT Services (managed services) over the next two years.

Q: What is Outsourced IT Support?

A: Removing the frustration of ensuring your computer, network, and server is functional while ensuring you or your own staff is performing the roles they were hired for and are experts. By allowing an organization that has the expertise and ability to properly support your computers, you can forget about technology equipment except as vehicle to help you in achieving a profit.

Q: How should you evaluate if Outsourced IT Support will be beneficial?

A: If you are spending over an hour a week dealing with laptop or computer issues, if anyone automatically associate technology with various “descriptive adjectives”, if you have more than 3 employees/systems or your needs extend past just one computer, you need an outsourced IT support crew.

Q: What products/services does an Outsourced IT Support model implement as well as support?

A: Anything and everything in the IT world that’s needed to allow you to focus on your organization objectives.

Q: Does this Outsourced IT Support model work better for certain corporations and industries than others?

A: Without a doubt.

Q: What questions should you ask when assessing an Outsourced IT Support provider?

A:

  • What is the service guarantee?
  • What is included as service?
  • Are added maintenance items charged or included in the monthly service?
  • Does the provider work proactively or reactively?
  • What is the expected response time?
  • What is the expertise and skill level of the provider? (Can the support networks as well as servers, etc).
  • Can the provider show a listing of clients?
  • Can the service provider actually fix things or is it just smoke and mirrors? (try them on a project basis first).

Q: What business indicators can suggest that an organization should consider Outsourced IT Support?

A: An Outsourced IT Support provider needs to be used if:

  • The primary machine(s) for the business are not recoverable or properly backed up
  • Minor issues linger over time (account details, email, install of Line of business applications and updates).
  • If the Infrastructure has not updated or evaluated for over 30 days.
  • If anyone person in the company spends more than 5 hours a week on IT issues.

Q: What benefits do your customers find moving to an Outsourced IT Service Model?

A: Less stress, more cost effective, single source of contact to solve issues among multiple vendors, proactive solutions regarding equipment and computer software, reduced time researching problems, difficulties, solutions, accountable historical data such as tickets and reports, reduced worry on moving to various platforms.

Q: Is there a cost savings when moving to an Outsourced IT Support Model?

A: Initially, no. After the first two or three months, the savings begin to appear. The start of agreement may be costly while the IT infrastructure is base lined and brought up to date. Afterwards, the ROI expands because systems demonstrate improved efficiency and reduced down time. As the IT Infrastructure recedes on the “front burner” of issues, the IT Infrastructure produces better return on investment by processing properly and allowing the business to focus on the primary company objectives.

Q: I understand this can be this a proactive method to IT Support rather than reactive, can you explain how that is helpful?

A: By finding issues before they impact the organization, any down time can either become eliminated or moved to non-productive hours (after hours). For example: if a hard drive is failing and swapped out during off hours, the computer is not offline from use and system / data is saved. If the hard drive announces its failure during the day, the organization down time of not having that machine as well the potentially lost files or programs can certainly linger and impact the company for days or weeks (or longer). Presume the accounting laptop or computer is failing: if it is repaired and operating without impacting the organization, it makes money. But if that fails and accounting data is lost for the year (or longer), the impact is felt for a year; especially during tax season.

Q: What should your Outsourced IT support provider actually provide and be the client to establish trust?

A: Honesty: If the provider makes an error, they should admit it and have a plan to resolve the error. Experience & skill: Not measured in years, but in work performance. Responsiveness: The provider needs to respond quickly and work to eliminate the problem quickly.

Q: Once the decision is made to move to an Outsourced IT Support Model what’s the process to convert a business?

A:

  • A provider should perform site survey and consult EVERY users for their technology  pain points.
  • The service provider should detail the transition method, the milestones, and offer regular status updates around progress.
  • The client should anticipate a flurry of activity for the first few weeks as systems are base lined (hopefully after hours).
  • The client needs to have control of the items being worked on with the service provider. For example the service provider, as well as client, should agree on the resolution plan and timeline before the work begins.