Using Technology To Maximize Your Business’ Efficiency and Communication

In today’s world, we have so much technology that we barely know what half of it does, let alone how to use it. We tend to stick to what we know and forgo the rest. However, once you understand how you can optimize the relevant tech in your business, you can radically improve efficiency and communication.

One easy way to increase your business’ efficiency and keep everyone on the same page is by using a group-based calendar.

Staff can see what the plans are for the day, who’s going to be out of the office, schedule meetings and appointments, and more. Everyone can plan their day around each other’s availabilities and come in every day knowing what to expect.

Shared drives, either on a network or through a hosting service like OneDrive for Business, can also save time and increase work efficiency.

Shared folders and drives can be divided by department (like Marketing) or use (like Scanned Documents), ensuring files can be accessed instantly in their current version by all allowed parties. You can also filter out who has access to certain folders.

If it would be a right fit for your business, it might be worth looking into a customer relationship management (CRM) system.

A CRM system does what it sounds like: it tracks your relationships with your clients. It does much more than digitize your client files; these are a powerful tool that can do a lot of heavy lifting in organizing your business, managing your clients and workload, marketing, collaboration between employees, and client satisfaction.

There are many, many webpages written on the topic and many CRM options to choose from at all different price points, so some independent research will benefit you here.

We use a CRM program at Tech Experts to track all of our clients’ service tickets, manage invoicing, build marketing campaigns, monitor statistics, and more.

Back to the tech that’s easier to implement. If you use a fax line, you may be able to switch to an email-to-fax/fax-to-email service or an online fax service.

These solutions function just like a regular fax line (make sure the provider you’re considering is HIPAA compliant, if needed) and are often cheaper than a traditional fax machine when compared. These faxes can be sent from anywhere, to multiple parties at once, and save on paper and equipment costs.

Many companies, including ours, use an online library (also known as a knowledge base) to store employee training and reference materials.

This makes it easy for both new and established employees to check procedures without having to interrupt another employee; they simply log in and find the article they need to complete their task.

Additionally, if someone does need to ask for help, they can be directly linked to detailed processes, saving time for everybody involved.

These also allow you to control who has access to what spaces. Services like this are typically browser-based, but something similar could be set up on shared network drives as well.

With the amount of people that are currently working remotely or people who will be working remotely in the future, communication is key.

Not only can these help with communication inside of your business, but also assist in communication with your customers.

Modern Utilization Of Tech In Schools & Workplaces

Everywhere you look now, there is some type of technology in use and nearly every industry takes advantage of it. Between food delivery apps, the capability to review your accounts online, or the self-scan check-out lanes at the grocery store, we use technology every day and it’s all part of our common experience.

While we may overlook a lot of it in our daily lives, the right tech can make your professional life much easier and efficient. Convenience is one of the main reasons we innovate, right?

One way you can bring helpful tech into the work setting is by using a company-wide chat. You can have a group messaging system like Discord or Slack, but even a group chat over text messages can be a helpful addition in the right workplace.

A company-wide chat allows you to have conversations as needed and communicate with minimal interruptions. Questions, updates, and requests can be reviewed, then responded to a timely matter or addressed right away. It creates a “paper trail” as well, so past messages can be referenced easily.

With chat, you are able to touch base with your peers, employees, or bosses anywhere and anytime. Instead of having ten people trying to reach the same person all at once, they can send them a message and have a reply almost instantly. Unlike email, chat is less likely to be buried in conversation chains, coupons, and other mail.

Another good way to use modern technology is by utilizing remote access. Being able to work remotely is a huge time-saver and a great help for online collaboration, in both schools and the workplace. It allows us to work from anywhere with an Internet connection.

Remote learning is also a very good use of new technology because it allows students to work from home and have all of the same access to resources as if they were sitting in the classroom in front of a teacher. For working professionals, it’s the same – they can complete their work from anywhere as if they were sitting at their desk in the office.

Another great way that technology has influenced the workplace for the better is automation in repetitive tasks. Some examples are network monitoring, notifications, emails, file-sharing, and time management.

Automation allows employees to focus on critical tasks instead of repetitive, time-consuming ones that aren’t necessarily as important. It also prevents some things from falling through the cracks by sending reminders or by entirely handling a task without human intervention.

Automation can also take on many forms, and you may already be benefiting from it. One example of automation that we use at Tech Experts is that our incoming service tickets, sent via email, are automatically disseminated to the right team. If this was not set-up, someone would have to manually sort every ticket that came in. The programs and apps that you already use in your business may have options to make your life easier through automation, such as email rules in Outlook.

Current technology has come a long way. Copiers, calculators, and faxes used to be amazing, and now, some of us can work entirely off of the phone in our pocket. Sometimes, it may seem overwhelming, but even small tweaks – like email rules – can have a big impact. Embracing the efficiency of tech can give you freedom and time back so you can make the most of your work hours.

How Much Of Your Business Can Be Automated?

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

Automation is transforming the way the world works.

Businesses of all sizes are embracing huge advances in technology to help them get things done on autopilot.

Implemented well, automation will help reduce your staff’s workload, increase efficiency, reduce costs, boost the quality of customer service, and help you use new data and insights to optimize performance.

The benefits will be felt by customers as well. As your competitors start to transform their businesses through automation, expectations can quickly change. If you don’t adapt, you risk falling behind and losing customers.

Here are three of the main areas that are ripe for automation in many businesses. [Read more…]

6 Low-Cost Productivity Tips To Increase Competitiveness

Increasing workplace productivity can mean the difference between a business that succeeds and a great idea that fails. When a company produces more products or delivers higher-quality customer service more quickly than the competition, it gains the advantage.

To get the most benefit out of technology, however, organizations need to match the technology solution to the business need. Start by assessing business processes to identify areas for improvement. For instance, do employees find themselves bogged down with paperwork? Or does distance hinder effective collaboration?

The following low-cost productivity tips will help address productivity problems without breaking the budget. Some cost relatively little to implement, while others pay for themselves quickly in productivity gains.

Low-Cost Productivity Tips For Remote Workers

For many employees, remote work has become a way of life. A few essential technology items can significantly boost comfort and productivity for remote workers. Here are some examples:

Desktop comfort: Start with a wireless mouse, a Bluetooth keyboard, and a laptop stand.

Headsets: Wireless headsets enable office corridor roaming on calls and generally doing two things at once. Studies show that using a headset increases productivity by up to 40 percent.

Video conferencing technology: When employees spend hours each day on video conference, the right technology makes a significant difference. Start with an external webcam and a dedicated mic. Headsets can increase sound quality, as well.

Multiple monitors: For many jobs, such as customer support, dual monitors increase productivity by streamlining the process of copying between windows and improving multi-tasking.

Fewer Meetings, More Communication

Nothing interrupts a good work rhythm more than a useless meeting. On the other hand, when teams integrate communication technology into the workflow, productivity rises.

For instance, Microsoft Teams incorporates group chat directly into its popular Office apps. This allows team members to conduct just-in-time communication without leaving the work at hand.

Put It On The Calendar

When employees get in the habit of putting everything on the calendar, they work more efficiently. And when groups share a calendar, colleagues can determine availability at a glance, even for team members in another office.

Facilitate Information Sharing

In a data-driven environment, workers require on-demand access to up-to-date information. Cloud-based document management systems make essential documents accessible anytime, anywhere. And when employees share critical documentation through centralized information repositories, people have the information they need to work effectively and reduce errors.

Automate Repetitive Tasks

The more organizations automate repetitive tasks, the more employees can focus on core business tasks. Take an inventory of bottlenecks in your organization and determine whether automation can help solve the problem.

For instance, automation can help reduce time-consuming paperwork such as invoice processing and expense tracking. Likewise, sales and marketing departments benefit from automated call logging and tools that manage social media publishing.

Use Existing Tools More Effectively

Sometimes the solution lies not in purchasing new technology, but rather in optimizing the technology already at hand.

We can also help you adjust your network management and cybersecurity systems to ensure business continuity. And we can assist you with determining optimal email settings and retention policies to streamline communications. Call us today to discuss more low-cost productivity tips.

Best Tips To Maximize Efficiency When Working From Home

A quarter of people plan to work from home either permanently or more regularly when the pandemic is over.

No surprises there. Many people feel more productive when they work from home. And three-quarters believe there are fewer distractions at home (when the kids are at school, anyway).

Here are five things we recommend you put in place for everyone who’s going to be working from home, long-term:

A dedicated working space

Trying to work in the same space as other members of the family is testing for everyone. Help your team to identify where they will work and set up a proper work environment. This will also help them draw the line on the day’s work when they leave their workspace.

Fastest possible Internet

Slow speeds are the biggest frustration. There are often options to speed up Internet speeds. Maybe you could subsidize them upgrading to a better service?

Dedicated tech

62% of home workers would like their company to provide better technology to help them stay connected to what’s going on in the business.

From a data security point of view, you’ll have a lot more control if you give team members a business device to use only for work.

Collaborative software

Whether it’s Microsoft Teams or other software, it’s so easy these days for anyone working anywhere to stay up to speed on all relevant projects.

Help them feel involved

This can be as simple as sending pizzas to everyone’s houses, so your team can have lunch together on a video call.

Four Useful Features in Microsoft OneNote

OneNote is a brilliant tool for staying organized and on top of all of the bits of information you collect throughout each day.

But are you using the Microsoft 365 app to its full potential? Here are four useful features you may not have tried out yet.

Integrate it with other apps

OneNote integrates very well with the rest of the Microsoft 365 ecosystem. Did you know there are also a load of third-party apps that integrate with it?

From Zapier to Feedly, it’s worth exploring the ways that OneNote can work better with the rest of your technology.

Turn on dark mode when the lights go down

If you’re burning the midnight oil and the bright light of a white screen gets a bit too much, OneNote has an excellent dark mode feature. It turns everything dark while still maintaining enough contrast to make it easy to keep working.

Password protect private sections of your notebook

If you’re using OneNote to write or organize information you want to keep private, you can password protect individual sections of your notebook.

This can make it difficult for others to view things you’d rather they didn’t see.

Be careful though… adding a password doesn’t encrypt it. And if you lose your password you lose access to your notebook.

Extract text from images

OneNote supports Optical Character Recognition. This lets you throw a picture into OneNote and have the software automatically extract the text for you.

This can save a lot of time if you need to get hold of text from an image and then paste it into other documents. It can make quick work of a stack of business cards, avoiding the need for you to type all of the phone numbers and email addresses into your computer.

Microsoft 365 Is The Best Thing For Staff Productivity

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

Pandemic + Work From Home = relying on technology more than ever before.

The tools available in Microsoft 365 have developed to help us stay productive wherever we’re working.

If you’ve been using Microsoft’s software for years, now’s a good time to discover new features.

If you haven’t started exploring yet, you’re missing out on loads of ways to boost productivity and make your life easier. Here are some of the main things to explore.

Microsoft Teams
Teams has made communication and collaboration even more effective than traditional ways of working face-to-face. [Read more…]

Goodbye 2020! Here’s How To Boost Productivity In 2021

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

What a year we’ve left behind. Thankfully.

Although we didn’t have control over many of the negatives, there were some positive changes we could implement, especially with our businesses.

Many businesses now have people working from home on a permanent or semi-permanent basis. We’ve seen offices downsize and change. More flexible locations and schedules are being implemented.

As much as no one asked for this, it’s been great to see how many businesses that we work closely with have adapted and become more flexible.

This flexibility often results in a more motivated, engaged workforce who really appreciate the ability to work different hours and often work from home (WFH). [Read more…]

Three Big Ways To Improve Your IT Next Year

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

As we head into 2021, are your IT system due for an upgrade?

Here are three key things you can do to improve your IT and keep your business running smoothly into the years ahead.

Move applications to the cloud
The benefits of moving your business to the cloud are clear.

It will reduce your IT costs, improve the level of security, and give you the ability to quickly scale up your IT resources as needed.

You may currently work with a hybrid setup with bits and pieces of your IT in the cloud and other parts of your business still running locally.

With the right IT support team helping you, moving fully to the cloud is smooth and effective.

Take security seriously
It’s hard to read any technology news without reading about the damage cybercrime can do.

Cybersecurity issues can impact all devices connected to the Internet, and businesses are prime targets for hackers looking for an easy payday.

Fall victim and your business could grind to a halt. And your reputation can take a real battering.

Investing in help from a proactive IT support partner who knows what they’re doing is key to keeping your business safe.

Treat your team to new computers
Upgrading your computers is an investment worth making.

You’ll get a happier and more productive team for sure.

New computers will also reduce the amount of time your staff spend fighting with technology that’s slowing them down. The mental boost this can provide is huge, as are the productivity gains your company will see.

Is Your Network Stealing Your Staff’s Time?

Jason Cooley is Support Services Manager for Tech Experts.

At some point in the last six months, maybe you’ve been on a Zoom call or chatting away in Microsoft Teams and wondered what would have happened if Covid had come along in the 1980s or even 1990s.

Let’s be honest… the world would have totally shut down. Business would have completely ground to a halt. We couldn’t have done the last six months without the amazing technology that we now totally take for granted.

Depending how old you are, what we can do easily today was literally the stuff of dreams just 20 years ago.

But as much as great IT has made working from home easier and enabled many businesses to keep going, we also must remember that bad IT can still be a massive time thief.

We’ve all become so reliant on computers that we’ve forgotten how to perform simple tasks ourselves. And we go into panic mode when they stop doing what we expect of them.

Most businesses find that even the most committed staff in the world will jump at the chance for a little bit of office down time. So, when computers aren’t doing their job that’s a great opportunity to down tools and do very little.

If they’re in the office, people sit around chatting or go home early, while every second your business is losing money.

That’s not to say that all employees want to take the easy way out. There will be others who like a challenge and want to try their best to make things better, using their own limited IT knowledge or good old Google to guide them.

Unfortunately, IT set ups are complex. And if you don’t really know what you’re doing you could end up digging a far bigger hole for you and your entire organization.

Well-meaning staff, no matter how lovely and helpful they might be, can cause more problems than you could ever imagine.

Just like you wouldn’t want someone who did a biology class 20 years ago to perform open heart surgery on you, you really don’t want someone who’s just watched a couple of YouTube tutorials fixing your business’s computer system.

This is what we do, day in, day out. And we’re the local experts.

If you want to ensure that your workforce doesn’t grind to a halt when things stop running smoothly, it pays to invest in experts who can:

a) Stop most things from going wrong in the first place, and
b) When they do go wrong, get you back on track quickly and reliably

That means minimal downtime, less chatting and more getting things done.