Five Ways To Take Your Business Paper Free

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

If you’re a small business owner, chances are you always have one eyes on your operating costs and the best way to reduce or eliminate extra expenses and improve staff efficiency.

One great way in which you can gain some great cost savings is by eliminating paper.

Paper-based tasks increase storage, postage, and compliance costs and can be a major overhead for modern-day businesses.

Here are five ways you can reduce paper usage and save yourself some cash in the process.

Smart Project Management

Traditionally, the process of managing company projects that involve different departments and multiple people generates massive amounts of paperwork.

More contemporary organizations are taking the smart project management approach through the use of cloud-based solutions, such as Basecamp, Asana or Trello, which allow you to ditch the paper while running a project online with unlimited users.

Electronic Payroll

Rectifying payroll issues costs half of all small business an average of $850 annually. Using decent payroll software reduces the errors and facilitates paperless processing. An electronic payroll system automates all the manual calculations such as tracking hours worked, calculating salaries, and filing taxes.

Salaries can also be paid electronically rather than printing checks or visiting the bank.

The additional benefits of electronic payroll include self-service functionality, and allowing staff to view their payroll data, such as personal details, tax deductions and pay slips online from any device.

Receipts and Invoices

Eliminate paper (and postage costs) by offering customers the option to receive electronic receipts either by email or text.

Your customer will then have it for future reference. Ask suppliers to issue and email digital invoices, which you can save into your accounting software.

Cloud Storage

Small businesses spend a lot of money to purchase, fill and maintain filing cabinets!

Switching to cloud storage can reduce most of this cost as many services, like Dropbox, offer a free allowance.

Most cloud-based options also allow you to organize documents into separate folders.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software

CRM software can reduce the extent to which you rely on paper to store and track customer details, purchase orders, quotes and other correspondence.

Features include the ability to store customer data and interactions, manage staff details and vendors, and store documents.

The Cloud Can Propel Your Small Business To The Next Level

The cloud has changed the way we do business and allows small enterprises to connect better with customers and innovate more rapidly. Organizations are moving more and more of their business operations to cloud-based platforms in a bid to take advantage of the speed, flexibility, and engagement opportunities these applications offer.

But what exactly do you stand to gain from embracing the cloud?

Speed
The cloud is helping businesses to bring new products and services to market much faster than ever before. As opposed to internal budgets and red tape to get a project prioritized, more and more organizations are turning their attention to the cloud to get things done.

Enhanced customer engagement
Data is big business in the contemporary business world, and an estimated 54% of the world’s top firms use big data to market, target, and retarget their products and services. The cloud is offering SMBs an ideal mechanism by which it is possible to connect more closely with customers to understand their behaviors and what they need.

A flexible system
Using the cloud is far from an all-or-nothing investment. In fact, most cloud-based service providers allow you to scale your usage in accordance with your business needs. If your data storage needs start off small, you can secure a suitable plan for what bandwidth you will actually use and then gradually upgrade the plan as your needs change. This means you can avoid large initial capital investments and simply pay a monthly fee that is aligned with your consumption.

An Introduction To Cloud Computing

Anthony Glover is Tech Expert’s network engineer.

So what is cloud computing? In definition, it’s the practice of using a network of remote servers on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, instead of a local server or a PC.

Ideally, cloud computing is the future of computing, from creating a backup to managing cloud software. Think of this as the easy-access entity for your computing devices, network, etc.

Using the cloud improves mobility and, should you find yourself in a situation with data loss or equipment damage, it shortens disaster recovery time. Additionally, it can significantly lower prices on hardware.

So why utilize the cloud?
Today, the cloud is broadly used and anyone that doesn’t use it today is left in the dark in several ways. The main issue is the redundancy and the ability that can be utilized with the cloud.

A cloud interface for items – such as local software, local backups, your everyday access of traditional programs used throughout your organization – can all be gathered and placed in a cloud environment, making them obtain a failsafe attribute that no other service today can provide. The ability to access, change, and provide these features end-users live for through a managed cloud-based environment is essential in any technical environment today.

How secure is the cloud?
The cloud is the safest environment for your data – as well as the most cost effective and easiest way to manage each and every aspect of computing at your business.

Your data can not only be backed up via the cloud, but can also be expanded just by paying for additional space rather than additional equipment. Some services even provide real-time backups that update as you add new material to your PC. This brings in the peace of mind that your data is not only backed up, but safe.

How fast is the cloud?
The cloud is as seamless as your Internet connection. The faster the Internet connection, the faster the cloud connection. Of course, network equipment can also be a contributing factor when having a seamless cloud environment. With that said, the faster the networking equipment, the better.

Of course, there are recommended system requirements for any cloud device or service, however they do vary based on the solution depth and complexity.

Can I have multiple devices backup to the cloud?
Yes, you can. You can have multiple seamless cloud backups going at once that can not only be real time, but managed by a professional to make sure that all of your critical data is accessible and up-to-date.

At Tech Experts, we can provide a solution that can fulfill your cloud back-up needs with a managed environment you would expect from a technical provider.

I’m interested – where do I sign up for the cloud?
The cloud is closer than you think. In fact, it’s just a phone call and a service visit away.

Call one of our trained and detail-oriented professionals today at (734) 457-5000 to inquire about a cloud-based managed solution that’s suitable for your small business.

Five Ways Cloud Computing Can Improve Your Business

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

Regardless of the size of your business, you can harness the power of the same high-tech tools used by Fortune 500 companies, thanks to cloud-based technology.

According to recent studies of small- to medium-sized businesses, those using cloud computing greatly outperformed those that didn’t. One study showed an average of 26% more growth and 21% more profitability for small- to medium-sized businesses using cloud computing over those that only had their heads in the clouds.

Here are five concrete ways the cloud can help your business:

Reduced costs
Cloud computing eliminates the need for a large IT department. With the data centers located off-site, your business is not responsible for the electricity to run, maintain, or periodically upgrade those servers. The money saved by using cloud computing can then be redirected into growing your business or marketing to new clients. [Read more…]

Technology Considerations When Moving To A New Office

Michael Menor is Vice President of Support Services for Tech Experts.

Moving your office is never an easy task. You have to move furniture, personal objects, and above all else, your technology infrastructure. There’s nothing simple about moving your office’s technology, but it’s still nothing to get worried about. That’s why we’re here to help – from suggesting the optimal network cabling, to the proper deployment of new and improved technology solutions.

For example, let’s take a look at your office. You have a certain number of workstations, one for each of your employees. These workstations need to be connected via cable to your business’s network. Otherwise, your team could go without required software, data, and other important resources. Your cabling infrastructure could quickly grow to be uncontrollable, especially if you don’t approach your cabling procedures correctly.

[Read more…]

How Cloud Computing Can Benefit You

Michael Menor is Vice President of Support Services for Tech Experts.

Is your business using the cloud in 2016? If not, you should know that it’s a great tool that’s designed to help your business better manage its data and application deployment.

However, the cloud can be used for so much more and it’s quickly becoming an indispensable tool for SMBs.

Here are four ways that cloud computing is changing the way that small businesses handle their technology:

Data Storage
The cloud is a great way to share data among your entire organization and deploy it on a per user basis.

Businesses can store their information in a secure, off-site location, which the cloud allows them to access it through an Internet connection.

This eliminates the need to host your data internally and allows your employees to access information from any approved device through a secure connection, effectively allowing for enhanced productivity when out of the office.

Microsoft Office365
Access Office from anywhere; all you need is your computer – desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone – and an Internet connection.

Since the software is running in a data center, you just connect to the Internet to access the software.

Another benefit to this is that you have a central location for all your data. If you need to make a change to an Excel spreadsheet from your tablet and you share the file with your colleague, they will be able to view the changes that you just made.
Gone are the days of emailing files between members of your team and losing track of the most up to date file version.

Virtualization
The cloud can be an effective tool for virtualization, which is a great method for cutting costs for your business. By virtualizing physical IT components, you’re abstracting them for use in the cloud. This means that you’re storing them in the cloud.

Businesses can virtualize servers, desktop infrastructures, and even entire networks for use in the cloud. Doing so eliminates the physical costs associated with operating equipment, allowing you to dodge unnecessary costs and limit the risk of hardware failure. For example, you can deploy all of your users’ desktops virtually from the cloud so you don’t need to rely heavily on more expensive workstation technology and can instead use thin clients. Simply log into your company cloud and access all of your applications and data on virtually any Internet connected device.

Backup and Disaster Recovery (BDR)
A BDR device relies on the cloud to ensure quick and speedy recovery deployment. The BDR takes snapshots of your data, which are sent to both a secure, off-site data center and the cloud.

From there, you can access your data or set a recovery into motion. If you experience hardware failure, the BDR can temporarily take the place of your server, allowing you ample time to find a more permanent solution.

The cloud is crucial to the success of a BDR device, simply because the cloud is where the BDR stores an archive of its data.

Does Your Backup Plan Stand Up To A Disaster?

Michael Menor is Vice President of Support Services for Tech Experts.

Technology, while a great asset that can be leveraged for your benefit, can also frighten businesses due to how unpredictable it can be at times. The constant threat of data loss, identity theft, and hardware failure can cripple your business’s ability to retain operations.

Specifically, businesses can learn about risk management by analyzing the processes used by an industry where risk management is absolutely critical: nuclear power plants.

In the wake of two of the most destructive and violent nuclear disasters, nuclear power plants have begun to crack down on how they approach risk management. The Chernobyl incident of 1986, as well as the tsunami-induced disaster at Fukushima in 2011, are the only nuclear disasters to reach the peak of the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES) at a rating of 7.

This means that they had an immense impact on the immediate vicinity, as well as the environment on a worldwide scale.

The meltdown at Chernobyl was the result of an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction, ending in an enormous explosion that resulted in fire raining from the sky and radioactive core material being ejected into the vicinity. A closer inspection of the incident revealed that the explosion could have been prevented, had the plant practiced better safety measures and risk management, like having a containment system put in place for the worst-case scenario.

In comparison, the Fukushima plant was prepared to deal with a failure of operations.

The problem that led to a disaster was one which couldn’t possibly have been prevented: the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and the resulting tsunami. The Fukushima plant had a contingency plan to shut down the plant in the event of a disaster, but tsunami prevented this from happening properly by flooding damaged power lines and backup generators, leading to heat decay, meltdowns, and major reactor damage.

Disasters like these lead to professionals searching for ways to prevent emergency situations in the future. For example, the Fukushima incident kickstarted conversations on how to prevent problems caused by the unexpected issues.

In response to emergency power generators being flooded or destroyed, off-site power generation will be implemented as soon as November 2016.

One other way that nuclear plants have chosen to approach these new risks is by outsourcing this responsibility to third-party investigators, whose sole responsibility is to manage the reliability of backup solutions. In a way, these investigators function similar to a business’s outsourced IT management, limiting risk and ensuring that all operations are functioning as smoothly as possible.

What we want to emphasize to you is that businesses in industries of all kinds expect the worst to happen to them, and your business can’t afford to be any different.

Taking a proactive stance on your technology maintenance is of critical importance. While your server that suffers from hardware failure might not explode and rain impending doom from the sky or expel dangerous particulates into the atmosphere, it will lead to significant downtime and increased costs.

In order to ensure that your business continues to function in the future, Tech Experts suggests that you utilize a comprehensive backup and disaster recovery (BDR) solution that minimizes downtime and data loss risk.

BDR is capable of taking several backups a day of your business’s data, and sending the backups to both the cloud and a secure off-site data center for easy access.

In the event of a hardware failure or other disaster, the BDR device can act as a temporary replacement for your server. This lets your business continue to function while you implement a suitable replacement.

My Predictions For The Top Security Threats Of 2016

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

The year 2015 certainly saw its share of unusual technological security breaches, ranging from the Ashley Madison hack to controlling Jeeps from afar.

With the ever-growing breadth of technology services and gadgets, the opportunities to exploit them grows as well.

These are my predictions for the top security threats for the coming year:

Cloud Services
While cloud services solve countless storage and file-sharing issues for businesses, they also amass huge amounts of sensitive information in a single spot. We expect to see hackers try to sneak past the security measures in place on these services to hit paydirt on business data.
[Read more…]

Pros And Cons Of Cloud And Physical Backup Solutions

Scott Blake is a Senior Network Engineer with Tech Experts.

When it comes to backing up data, you have two choices – you either maintain physical copies of your data or you utilize cloud services to host your data. Before you make a decision, you should look into the pros and cons of each and determine which one is a good fit for you.

Pros of Cloud-Based Services
Utilizing the cloud requires no capital investment for additional hardware or personnel to monitor and maintain your data locally.
Cloud service providers offer scalability to your data needs. No more adding additional drives or servers to maintain your data.
Data stored in the cloud is safe from any disasters that your office may have.
Your data can be accessed from any Internet connection in the world.
No maintenance of data drives. The cloud service provider takes care of everything on their end.
Cloud-based storage for your data will remove any risk of data corruption or hardware fault. This will allow you to reduce overhead by reducing the amount of IT staff personal assigned to manage and maintain your company’s data.

Cons of Cloud-Based Services
Cloud storage requires an Internet connection for uploading and downloading of data. If your connection is slow, you should expect slower uploads of data and increased access time to your data.
While almost every cloud service provider offers plans that come with data encryption, not all do. Make sure your cloud provider is securing your data.

Pros of Physical Backup
No vendors to deal with. You are in complete control of your data. You control how it’s backed up, accessed and maintained.
Data backups tend to take less time. There is no dependency on an Internet connection for backing up or accessing your data.
You are in complete control of the security process that protects your data.

Cons of Physical Backup
Localized data storage does offer the sense of control and knowing where your data is. However, that piece of mind can incur some high costs and overhead.
As the size of your data grows, so does your investment in storage media such as flash drives, external hard drives, internal hard drives and additional servers.
Physical devices will fail. It’s not “if,” but “when.” All mechanical devices will fail at some point in their life cycle. Additional IT staff will need to be put in place to monitor and maintain the physical equipment to ensure data integrity. This increases overhead.
In the event of a disaster in your business, data accessibility and recovery will be dependent on if extra steps were taken to secure physical copies of your data off-site.
Doing this will require the purchase of additional hardware and additional manpower to ensure the data is corruption-free.

Again, before deciding which method to implement, figure out which solution will work best for your business. Not every company’s backup or data storage needs are the same.

For assistance in setting up either cloud-based or local backup solutions, call the experts at Tech Experts: (734) 457-5000.

The Importance Of Centralized Storage

Scott Blake is a Senior Network Engineer with Tech Experts.

Do you know where all of your data is? Is the file you’re looking for saved to workstation-01 or workstation-12? What happens when a user deletes a file you need from their workstation? What happens if your workstation dies?

If you’re a business owner or manager and have trouble answering those questions, centralized storage of your data may be your answer.

You can remove the stress of accidental deletions, have direct mapped access to your files, secure your data from intrusion and, most importantly, make it easy and simple to back up your data.

Centralized storage can include an external hard drive, USB flash drive, NAS (Network Attached Storage) device, cloud environment, or storage on a server. The best method is determined by your business structure.

Smaller businesses may opt for simple external devices attached to a workstation or a NAS device to save and back up their data. Simple external devices such as larger-sized USB flash drives and external hard drives are a low-cost solution.

NAS devices cost more, but they are useful additions to business networks. Most mid-ranged NAS devices offer raid levels 0, 1, and 5, so they can be customized for speed or data protection.

Some NAS devices are running a server-style operating system that will integrate into your existing AD. This will offer additional security features over a simple external hard drive or USB flash drive.

Businesses and home users that opt for the simple and least expensive method need to be very diligent about their data. Smaller devices are more susceptible to theft and damage.
They also tend to have shorter lives than other more costly methods. Should you go this route, make sure you maintain backups of your data and immediately replace your device at the first sign of possible hardware failure.

Data recovery from a simple solution device may not always be possible and it can become very costly to try.

Closeup of open hard driveLarger businesses will want to opt for on-site storage with network drives and backup solutions in place. Or they may want to invest in the cloud for a storage. Most medium-to-large scale businesses already have some form of a network server and backup in place, so all that may be needed is additional hard drive space or the creation of folders to house data.

You may also want to install a dedicated server for just data storage and possibly to handle your printing management. Cloud-based storage can be costly depending on the amount of data that needs to be stored, the security level, and the number of simultaneous connections to your data.

Cloud-based methods tend to be best as a secure backup option, but can be used for raw storage. With web-based access, all your employees need is an Internet connection to access their data.

Both on-site server storage and cloud storage offer strong backup options, the ability to restore deleted files, ease of access from off-site locations, and the sharing of files and folders across a wide area.

Whether you choose to go with a low-cost simple solution or a more robust solution, centralized storage brings peace of mind that your data is accessible and secure.

Your business will become more efficient and streamlined just by maintaining your data in one easy-but-secure location for your employees to access.

For more information about implementing centralized storage in your business, call the experts at Tech Experts: (734) 457-5000.

(Image Source: iCLIPART)