How can a good IT infrastructure benefit your small business?

Your business may have a brilliant product or service but without the right IT infrastructure you will compromise your ability to operate effectively and securely.  Your IT infrastructure includes your computers, software, internet connectivity and networks and if set up well enables everyone in your business to work with ease, so that your business can thrive.

Planning

If you are reviewing and updating your IT infrastructure it is worth planning it carefully so that your current and future IT needs are considered, this will enable you to scale your business as it grows, quickly and cost effectively. 

Focus on critical business needs

Every business requires an IT infrastructure that supports it’s operational needs. If your staff work in different locations and away from the office you will need software that enables them to work remotely and access office files via the cloud. Think about what your business needs to operate effectively and invest in tools that enhance the way you work. It may be as simple as upgrading or servicing hardware so staff are not hampered by things like slow computers.

Connectivity/Internet

Businesses today rely heavily on email and online services, so it is imperative to have a reliable and fast internet connection that allows you to work online and without interruption.  Good connectivity enables your staff to work more productively, as well as delivering a better service to your clients. Your internet plan will detail what speed of service you subscribe to so you can determine if it meets the needs of your business, or whether you need to upgrade.  You may even consider a new supplier if the service is not reliable.

Network

A slow network hampers productivity and incurs maintenance costs. Investing in a carefully planned IT infrastructure will be more efficient and accommodate the changing needs of the business.  Without proper planning you can end up with a confusing array of cables that may go untested and be incorrectly placed, which can lead to reduced functionality and safety issues. A well thought through network will enable your staff to share files, printers and scanners as quickly and reliably as possible.  If you have a small business it may be a simple case of a wire and switch connecting two computers. Files can also be shared using a cloud service such as Microsoft 365.

Security should always be considered and it’s important that you secure your data network.

Data Storage

Many businesses are now moving their data storage to services in the Cloud such as Microsoft 365, as it provides flexibility, scalability and is more secure and cost effective than an on-site server.  The best solution for your business will depend on how much data storage is required as well as the level of security and control required. If you are unsure get advice from an IT expert who can assess your current IT infrastructure and provide recommendations and costs to upgrade.

IT Security

With the proliferation of cyber-crime IT security has become a critical element of any IT strategy.  Your IT infrastructure should be protected and include a robust back-up solution so that if you ever have a security disaster, such as a failed hard drive or malware damage, you can quickly recover data with a recent back up.  IT security not only protects your company data but ensures legal compliance, it also protects you from reduced productivity through cyber-attacks and viruses.

Leverage technology

When a company invests in the latest technology it can transform the way they work and enhance collaboration with staff, clients and suppliers.  It is worth finding out what IT solutions companies within your industry sector find beneficial, but always do your research because making the wrong IT investments can be expensive in time and money.

Software

Your software needs will range from the operating system your network will be running upon, to the productivity tools you and your team will need to run the business. Assess your needs and shop around for technology solutions that will either support or streamline your processes.

Microsoft 365 will provide many small businesses with the IT solutions they need to operate efficiently, cost effectively and flexibly.

Enterprise email

An efficient email system is a fundamental tool for any modern business, as many businesses have found during the current pandemic. A reliable and fast system such as Outlook, when set up correctly, can enhance efficiency, collaboration and reduce stress. Setting up your own email system with suitable IT security can be a minefield, so if you lack the know get advice from an expert.

VoIP vs Landline

Many businesses are switching over to VoIP (voice-over-internet-protocol), a cloud-based phone system that provides a secure and professional telephone service at a fraction of the cost of a traditional landline. VoIP offers the same quality of service as traditional PSTN phone services but may not be the ideal solution for every business as it relies on a reliable internet connection.

How to manage your IT infrastructure

Regardless of your business needs, make sure you get expert advice with a view to your future requirements, which will help you scale more easily and will be more cost effective. Whether you intend to hire internal IT support or use Managed IT Services, it’s important to know that your IT infrastructure will be designed, installed, and maintained by knowledgeable and experienced experts who will enable your business IT to run smoothly and securely.

If you need IT advice, or want to book a free consultation with one of our IT infrastructure experts, please contact Adept IT Solutions today 01603 451810 / hello@adept-it-solutions.co.uk.

How to thrive working from home

The current pandemic has forced many of us to work from home with varying degrees of success.  Some people really flourish with no strict schedule whereas others struggle to be productive and find it hard to motivate themselves.  Now that businesses have set up their staff with home working it looks like there will be a shift in work patterns.  It may take time to work out how best to organise yourself so you can work effectively and keep your sanity; here are a few tips.

Circadian rhythms work when you work best. If you are most energised in the morning this is when you should do the most important tasks, whereas if you are an owl you may start the day with the menial tasks to ease you gently into the day.

Unique perks – embrace the positive aspects of home working. You may find that you have more time, especially if you save time on commuting each day, so why not use this time to learn something new, spend quality time with your family or cook a tasty lunch.

A good workspace is critical for productivity. Find somewhere with minimal distractions, is comfortable and inspiring with enough natural light. If your phone distracts you put it in another room, and if you have children, and it is possible, work in a different room.

Get creative – if you have a mental block step away from your computer, find somewhere different perhaps with a nice view, and use pen and paper to put down your ideas.

Take breaks – to promote your well-being take time-out for yourself away from work and tech – do something enjoyable whether it is intellectual, creative or physical. Research shows that exercise can help you stay focused, and improve your memory, however do something that you enjoy.

Regular working hours – research shows that keeping routines is important to enhance productivity. It also enables you to leave work at the end of the day and helps you maintain a work life balance.

Get your technology sorted

  1. Internet – connectivity is vital so invest in a high-speed internet connection from a reliable provider.
  2. Router – wifi strength and speed diminishes the further you are from your router so consider repositioning it or using wireless access points. You can also try a homeplug that will provide a fast and stable wired connection. Old routers can affect the speed and range so if it is more than 5 years old consider replacing it.
  3. The right hardware and software – make a budget and invest in a good working computer and any other hardware or software to enable you to carry out your job properly. If you are unsure what products would work best for you seek expert advice so you make cost effective choices.
  4. Be proactive – fixing issues early before they escalate into bigger problems is more cost effective in time and money. If your computer is slow or glitchy get it serviced before something catastrophic happens and you can’t work at all.
  5. Proactive monitoring and maintenance service – this will help ensure your computer runs efficiently, securely and with minimal downtime. Our Bronze Plan costs £10/month per device.
  6. Cybersecure – there is a proliferation of adware, spyware and malware so good quality AV software is essential e.g. ESET. Keep up to date with cyber threats, our online Cyber Security Awareness course makes it easy and is only £2/month.
  7. Passwords – keep them strong and unique and change them regularly. Consider using a two step verification process and if you need multiple logins use a password management system like RoboForm or LastPass.
  8. Collaboration tools– technology that facilitates collaboration is extremely important if you are working from home. Sending around multiple copies of the same document for different amendments is fraught with potential problems, such as, keeping track of changes and the latest version. Fortunately, there are many services to assist with this, from Office 365 to Google Drive.
  9. Shared mailboxes – the advantage of sharing a mailbox rather than forwarding emails to your colleagues is that you know when emails have been read, replied to and dealt with, reducing the risk of emails being ignored or multiple replies being sent.
  10. Shared calendars can help improve communication and efficiency. Calendars in Office 365 are continuously synced so the information is up to date, making it easy to plan projects and schedule meetings, even if all your team are working from home.
  11. Virtual meetings – whether you use Microsoft Teams, Zoom or Skype many people are now adept at using apps for virtual meetings. Find a couple of applications that work for you and have the functions that you need for your meetings e.g. screen share function allowing everyone on the call to make notes on the screen, reducing misinterpretations. Train your staff so that meetings are professional and effective.   
  12. Headphones – when you’re on video chat use headphones with a microphone, especially if your home has a lot of background noise.
  13. Group channel – now that you’re not in the office create a place where you and your colleagues can ask questions and everyone can contribute. Discussing things with your colleagues will minimise misinterpretations and make you more productive.
  14. Video messaging -whether you need to present something, ask for assistance, or share something of interest, you can video message your team and they can view it at a time that is convenient for them.
  15. Shared task lists – this is another feature in Office 365 that enhances collaboration and productivity while everyone is working from home. Information is continuously synced so it makes it easy to coordinate activities, prioritise tasks, and meet deadlines.
  16. Second monitor – if you’re used to working with a bigger screen than your laptop has, or find two screens makes it easier to work get another screen or use your television as your desktop or second monitor by using an HDMI cable.
  17. Online training – budgets are tight but there are many free online courses to enable your professional and career development. These government courses are free and designed to improve your digital skills: https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/find-a-course/the-skills-toolkit

Working from home can be very rewarding and improve the quality of your work. However to make it work you need good routines, have the right technology in place and robust IT security.

For more information about how we can improve your home working, or help your business get the right technology to thrive please call 01603 451810 or email hello@adept-it-solutions.co.uk.

How can Office 365 improve your business?

Office 365 for business Norwich

A successful business relies on effective IT systems, but keeping up to date with the latest technology can be difficult and time consuming.  In the last twenty years there have been huge innovations in IT that have made enterprise level IT, such as Office 365, accessible and affordable to smaller businesses.  However many companies continue using outdated technology because they don’t realise that the right investment in IT will be cost effective and improve the way their business operates.

There are many reasons why companies are slow to invest in their IT.  Some companies lack the in-depth knowledge to know where to spend their IT budget wisely or are concerned that migrating to a new system will be disruptive, but by taking expert advice a cost effective solution will be achieved along with a smooth transition.  Another worry is the hassle of training staff, but as Office 365 is based on Microsoft Office, which is familiar to many, it need not be a concern.

Many companies don’t realise how much their current systems are hindering productivity until they move to Office 365. However before you make any decisions get advice on which Office 365 subscriptions will meet the needs of your business and get a quote of how much it will cost to set up professionally. 

What are the benefits of Office 365?

Improved security 

Keeping your business secure is vital and a key reason why companies migrate to Office 365.  Office 365 eliminates the possibility of data loss through system crashes and if you lose any data through human error the data can easily be restored to a previous version.  It has advanced security features that protect against external threats and provides internal access controls.  If you lose a phone or laptop the administrator can remove the data from that device whilst still allowing access to that information from other devices.  It is GDPR compliant and other security features can be bolted on so you can ensure you meet the security levels required for your organisation.

Flexibility to work from anywhere

Office 365 allows you to work on any device with an internet connection allowing to you to access any file, email or contact whenever and wherever you need it.  Whether you are working on the train, writing a report from home or travelling abroad you can access the information you need, and connecting remotely is easy and requires no technical skill.

Reduced maintenance and environmental costs

Office 365 stores data in the cloud so you no longer need an on-site server, which can be expensive to maintain.  It offers a greener solution with reduced hardware and energy costs.

Scaleable with predictable monthly costs

Many businesses find it hard to predict their growth patterns, but as Office 365 is a monthly subscription and you are not tied to lengthy contracts you can scale up and down as required.

Increased productivity with file sharing

Office 365 synchronises all files, emails and calendars so all your colleagues are looking at the latest version of a document, current emails and all new calendar entries.  

All new entries are mirrored across all devices and with SharePoint Online you can work on a document using one device and continue editing from another device such as your smartphone.

Microsoft Teams enables you to collaborate easily with colleagues on projects so you can screen share, co-author documents, chat and make video calls.

Tools to make you more productive

There are a plethora of Office 365 features that can enhance the way you work as well as all the tools you are familiar with such as Outlook, Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Publisher.

Data back up

Microsoft back up all Office 365 data, including emails, in their data centres, which they ensure are secure.  The data can be restored to a previous version so you can get working again and is protected from natural disasters.

Office 365 is a cost effective solution that enables you to work more efficiently, cost effectively and with greater security. Call us for more information on 01603 451810.