How to reduce your business costs?

Reducing business costs is a “no brainer” win for most businesses, you get the upside directly into your net profit without investing more capital & the gains are ongoing. So in your business, where are the best areas to look for cost savings?

The hierarchy of costs in most business are;

  • Cost of Goods – cost of goods sold, distribution costs, inventory holdings and losses.
  • Payroll – staff wages, superannuation, annual leave, long service leave, workers compensation,
  • Overheads – rent on premises, travel, insurance, car, utilities, telecoms, broadband, & IT systems.
  • Marketing – advertising & promotion, printing, postage, web marketing, agency & creative costs.
  • Transactional Costs – banks charges, credit card charges, freight.
  • Outsource – accountant, lawyer, cleaning, specialist support services.

How to finding cost savings in your business?

While every business is different, as a business owner you can employ the same strategies as large corporates or cost analysis teams use to find cost savings:

  • Request Quotes – from existing & alternative suppliers.
  • Reduce Investment – seek alternatives to investing in new infrastructure or assets.
  • Operations – is there a better or new way to operate to achieve your operations goals?
  • Review Business Practices – does your current staff structure match your current requirement?
  • Support – internal staff versus external outsourcing.

When performing this task to finding cost reductions, quite often the answers are not available internally. Often external suppliers & outsourcing companies can tell you about alternatives and what competitors have done that might deliver savings to your business.

In our business we call this an “IT assessment”, where we go into a company and look at their current IT setups, review their business practices, assess their operational goals, and then give recommendations.

How to find ICT cost savings in your business?

We recommend the same approach as the generic saving strategies above: here are some examples of how these types of saving can be achieved;

Telephones & mobiles

  • Ask you existing supplier for a current contract, approach alternative telco for quotes on mobiles, landlines & broadband; this should be done every 2 years as plans change often, particularly with data allowances growing. Remember to approach the SMB focused channels as they generally have cheaper plans to retail shops.
  • Introducing a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy for your business, providing only calls and data to employees this saves contracting phones and tracking devices while the employee get to use their favourite device (iPhone or Android) without you footing the bill.
  • VOIP (Voice over broadband) developments have meant that roaming between office, home, travelling, or even overseas can be seamless to the caller – this means your phone number can follow you around and have integrated messaging with email & SMS.
  • Businesses can reduce investment by not investing in a physical PABX, but using a hosted PABX which is VoIP enabled. Charges are typically by the seat by the month but with cheaper calls and full PABX capabilities.
  • Office 365 includes features such as Skype for Business & Yammer (an internal social media platform) that allows teleconferencing, cheap external calls, internal messaging, and profile tracking that could reduce your external communication & travel costs.

 

IT Systems

  • If you have an external supplier for IT support ask them for a new contract and at the same time seek an IT assessment from another supplier. The key is to compare similar service levels and requirements, at the very least you can be assured you are getting value.
  • If you have internal staff managing your IT then you need to compare costs against the outsourced alternatives. Requesting an IT assessment from an external IT support supplier will be enable you to compare costs, remembering internal staff carry at least a 30% overhead component above their wage cost. Internal staff are often not aware of alternatives or may have a vested interest in not recommending substantial changes to IT support & systems.
  • The development of Cloud Computing has meant that many SMB’s can change business practices & IT structures by shedding internal IT staff, reducing internal IT infrastructure, and outsourcing the remaining support requirements with savings of up to 50% of costs.
  • Switching from internal infrastructure to hosted infrastructure, such as Office 365, can save you on the substantial initial capital investment for hardware & licences. It can also provide flexibility for future growth/decline, plus you save on running costs for rent, air conditioning, electricity, and on premise support that is a necessary part of having an on-premise infrastructure.
  • Cloud hosted systems such as Microsoft Office 365 offer great flexibility & save time for staff to access email and data while not in the office (in fact it can be accessed from anywhere around the world), & from multiple devices. This can only be delivered securely by the centralised Office 365 portal developed for remote management & administration of business accounts.
  • We often find that some companies just use their main business application vendors support desk for general IT support. This can be a very expensive approach to IT support – we recommend splitting applications vendor support from the general IT on premise & user support, this can again save up to 50% of the general IT support costs.

Reducing business costs is great way to improve your businesses bottom line, but it does require a focus on seeking alternatives to current operations and structures.

Call us for an IT Assessment to help find cost savings & reduce your IT costs?

So there are few ways you can drive more savings from your ICT. Ultimately for business we recommend giving us call so we can make a time to discuss your needs and put together recommendations on how we could help your business save ICT costs.

Let the experts at Computer Troubleshooters work with you to assess your IT needs and develop a customized plan for your business to reduce your costs. Give your local Computer Troubleshooters office a call and one of our computer professionals will be happy to help you

Microsoft OneDrive – What is it?

Microsoft Office 365 is increasingly integrating cloud capabilities within it’s core Office range (Outlook, Word, Powerpoint, & Excel), cloud applications such as Microsoft OneDrive are fully included in most subscriptions.

Microsoft OneDrive is an external storage resource located in the Microsoft Data Centre in Australia, available as part of your Office 365 subscription package. OneDrive will simply appear as drive in your computer when you migrate to Office 365, much like any other external directory such as your C: drive, USB or portable hard drive. So when you go to save a file you have choice to save to your own hard drive or the OneDrive drive which is located in the Cloud.

Why use Microsoft OneDrive?

OneDrive is great place to store & share files, as simple as if you would like to hold a duplicate external copy of your file for protection, or you wish to access the file from a remote location from a different device.

OneDrive however is much more, it allows syncing between your devices and sharing with external parties with a permissions. OneDrive for Business is particularly useful for small businesses who may share files on a continual basis and provides a similar advantage to a server in centralizing access and versions with permissions for access. Office 365 business subscriptions include a 1TB data allowance of storage per user, this is a very large amount of data stored in secure & external data centre operated by Microsoft, The three main benefits of OneDrive:

Store – Offsite Storage for up to 1TB of files per user

Sync – OneDrive syncs files changes from any device  or location back to the central version so you always get the most recent version

Share – OneDrive allow files to be shared and accessed with permissions both internally within your organization & externally.

Small business in particular may be able to get most of the benefits of a file server by using OneDrive with little additional cost – so why not use it?

What are the limitation of Microsoft OneDrive?

OneDrive is wonderful cloud enabled extra in the Office 365 package, but it does have limitations and you need to consider warnings when you choose to move any of your storage to the Cloud.

Data Transfer – like all cloud based service the transfer of data from your premises to the data centre can come with a costs either in additional data usage costs, or in data traffic congestion of your network. The effect on your business will depend on your broadband connection method, ISP, and rate plan, but if you slow down your core business IT infrastructure, it can spell disaster.

Sync – OneDrive is driven by a syncing mode that means newer versions of files can be overlaid over older versions, this is a great feature when you have multiple users using the same file and ensures you always access the latest version, however if you are using OneDrive for backup purposes, the backed up original version may automatically be overwritten by the sync mode.

Off Site but Connected – While the OneDrive storage is physically located remotely from your premises, it still is connected as drive to your system and network. As it appears a dive on your machine (much like your C: drive), should you catch a virus or worse a malware Trojan, such as Crytolocker, it can easy be encrypted or corrupted like any other data on your system. If you are using OneDrive for backup we still recommend a rotation of media or specific backup facilities to fully protect you.

Are you Ready for Microsoft OneDrive?

OneDrive for Business is a place where you can store, sync, and share your work files. As part of Office 365, OneDrive for Business lets you update and share your files from anywhere and work on Office documents with others at the same time. It can be a great way to great the benefits of a server network without the upfront cost.

Office 365 is increasing the preferred IT platform option for most businesses, we can help with the user setup, data migration, & ongoing administration of the your Office 365 environment, as well as making sure you get the most from the other value added Office 365 services such as OneDrive, Skype for Business, Sharepoint & Yammer.

Computer Troubleshooters can help you understand how your business can benefit by using OneDrive as part of your Office 365 solution and ensure you understand the limitations and recommendations we have around the implementation of these services. Call Computer Troubleshooters today to see how we can get you started with Office 365 and at the same time get you started with OneDrive for Business.

How to recover deleted files – File Recovery

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As IT support specialists virtually every day we are asked to recover deleted files. With so much valuable information now stored in digital format, with so many devices and options we are all increasingly vulnerable to human error! That’s right over a quarter of data recovery requests are as a result of human intervention.

The good news is that of all the file recovery requests we receive, accidentally deleted files are regarded as our most likely to have a successful file recovery. Recovering deleted files can still be complicated and may require an expert to use Data Recovery software to examine computers storage to find the hidden remains of the deleted files and extract them back into a workable form.

What to do if you accidentally delete a file?

Don’t Panic – we recommend that you keep the computer turned on, and all applications open while you investigate the simple solutions below:

  • Deleted Items – if in email, check the deleted items folder (it is generally near your inbox) this holds all deleted emails until you close your email application. If you can see your deleted file in the deleted items folder just click & drag across back into your inbox. File restored.
  • Recycle Bin – if the file deleted was a document or image file, check your recycle bin, which has icon that is generally found on your desktop, click on the icon, it will show you deleted files that are awaiting permanent deletion (generally these are deleted when the computer powers off), just click and drag back onto your desktop.
  • AutoSave –applications such as word and excel have an Autosave function that can sometimes saved an automated version copy. Within the application click on the top left Office button which will show a menu that includes an item such as Word Options & Save Options, this will generally show the autosave settings and the file location of the autosave directory. You can then go to the indicated location and recover the deleted file (this may vary on depending on which version of Office is installed).
  • File Search – Use the Microsoft Search function located in the Start Button (on the bottom left) to try find your file as you may have saved into the wrong directory or you may find an older version.

If you tried these simple solutions with no luck, then it may be time to get serious,

  • Restore Backup Files – if you have a backup in place you should be able to restore the file back on to your main computer hard drive or course it will only be a version available from last time you backed up. It will depend on where and what software you are using for you backup how this can be done.
  • Software Retrieval – this will mean you need to consult a professional to use data recovery software to interrogate your drive, find, & restore your deleted files. Do not run any disk cleanup or defragmentation tools in the interim as these will overwrite drives which may contain your deleted files. Call your local Computer Troubleshooters for this professional service.
  • No file found – of course we do find times when even we can’t retrieve an accidentally deleted file, that’s when we call in our data recovery partners. Our data recovery partners have specialist equipment, software and use dedicated data recovery technicians to extract hidden data.

Hopefully you will recover your deleted files, of course being proactive about protecting your data is the best protection, back up regularly whether it’s for your business or your personal data.

Yet even with a tested and reliable backup system, sometimes unexpected accidents can still happen. Of course the other 74% of data recovery involves physical damage or corruption which can happen to all data storage devices including hard drives, cell phones and memory sticks.

If required we can use our Data Recovery Partner for the following specialized data recovery services:

  • Hard Drive Recovery: Hard drives are becoming increasingly less common in laptops. External storage devices are in greater use but are at greater risk for being dropped, damaged and compromising your data.
  • Cell Phone and Flash Drives: Flash drives are no moving drives problems such as deleted files, corrupted partitions, file system damage and physically damaged devices can be remedied by their recovery experts.
  • Notebooks, Tablets, Digital Cameras and MP3 Players:  recovery services for Notebook PCs and Tablets. Damaged image or audio files can also be recovered..

Computer Troubleshooters is Here to Protect You and Your Data

If you have accidently deleted files; don’t panic, if approached logically the deleted files can generally be retrieved.

If you need for help recovering a deleted file, or more serious data recovery services, or assistance in establishing a reliable backup solution, call Computer Troubleshooters and one of our technology professionals can help you.

Can Office 365 Transform Your Business?

Microsoft has invested heavily in Office 365 as the way of the future for software licensing and it clearly turned out to be a winner! Both the consumer and business markets are enthusiastic about Microsoft’s Office 365 based on its user-friendly flexibility, effective communications and online productivity solutions. Have you thought about transitioning to Office 365?

Does Your Technology Support the “Time is Money” Viewpoint?

Advances in technology have enabled small and local businesses to participate in the global marketplace by maximizing productivity; delivering enhanced communication capabilities; providing affordable
e-marketing; and offering efficient customer service. It’s becoming increasingly common for small businesses to have user-friendly websites; online catalogs; call centers; customer relationship management tools (CRM); and streamlined inventory management systems. Technology is now primed to wring every ounce of efficiency and productivity out of a business to keep it one step ahead of the competition.

How Can Office 365 Benefit Your Business?

If you are an individual user or a business owner managing a team of employees, Office 365 offers many benefits including:

  • Work Whenever and Wherever: Access your Office tools from anywhere on any device. Create and edit Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote files and share with your team using cloud-based file sharing. Even the Small Business edition can support up to 25 users. All editions provide great storage capacity for your data. You can also use Office 365 with your desktop version of Office.
  • Email and Calendar: Sync your email and calendar with Office 365’s hosted business class email system. Stay in touch and on schedule with instant messaging. Secure and private communications are delivered across various devices with anti-virus and anti-spam protection.
  • Easily Manage Your Website: With easy to use DIY online tools you can quickly make changes to your website. You can add your existing website, domain name and domain-based email address to Office 365 without any additional web-hosting fees. Make a great impression by taking control of your website and keeping it up to date.
  • Online Conferencing: Take advantage of HD video conferencing for online meetings with desktop sharing. Save time and travel hassles with efficient online meetings that offer real-time note taking features.
  • Mobile Apps: View and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint files on your mobile device. When you return to your office, you can easily reconnect to these files from your computer with intact formatting and content. No time is lost when you can start working where you left off.
  • Subscription Advantages: Save money upfront with the subscription service format. You can pay by the month with the ability to cancel the subscription at any time. You can easily upgrade your subscription to another edition or bundle services within a service segment. No need to purchase new versions of software ever again.

Is Your Business Ready to Take Advantage of Office 365?

You can reshape the way you are doing business by reshaping your workforce. Office 365 offers a range of advanced tools that enables your employees to be productive anywhere and at any time across a range of devices. Gain the competitive edge for your business by boosting the collective performance of your employees through Office 365’s powerful cloud-based solutions.

Embarking on the Office 365 journey requires guidance so give your local Computer Troubleshooters office a call today and one of our technology professionals will be happy to discuss how Office 365 can benefit your business

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Windows 10 is coming – What do I do?

If you haven’t already noticed a new Windows icon in your system tray in the lower right corner of your desktop, you will soon. Microsoft is offering Windows 10 as a free upgrade to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 customers. We are advising our clients to click on the “reserve your free upgrade” at this time. This doesn’t mean you have to or should upgrade to Windows 10 once released.

Why?

  1. There is no compelling reason to upgrade now. Zero. Nada. Don’t do it…please. As the old saying goes, “Free” is seldom free.
  2. The free upgrade offer will be available until at least 29th July 2016 so there is no rush.
  3. Like all new releases of Windows, we advise waiting until the bugs are cleaned up. Even then, we may advise against it depending on your situation. Stay tuned.
  4. Some of your applications may not work properly or some features may not function. Quickbooks has been identified as a potential problem, for example. Some do not have Windows 10 on their supported Operating Systems.
  5. Windows 10 introduces a totally new browser called Microsoft Edge/Spartan, replacing Internet Explorer.  This is sure to offer challenges and compatibility issues with web based applications many of our clients depend on every day.

What?

  1. This means that by clicking the “reserve your free upgrade now” you do reserve your free upgrade, as with most Microsoft promotions they don’t last forever.
  2. This means we can work with each of you to know when best to move forward to Microsoft’s latest Operating System.

Specific Recommendations:

I have Windows 8.1, What do I do?
Windows 8.1 is supported by Microsoft until January, 2023 (although your current hardware will disagree). Windows 8.1 is stable and runs most apps problem free. The main issue people have with Windows 8 is the default user interface. Many people are frustrated with navigating through the tile-like view of applications and features. While the Start menu and Desktop views come back in Windows 10, we can assist you in configuring Windows 8.1 to look like Windows 7.

I have Windows 8.0, What do I do?
Windows 8.0 is not entirely stable. You should upgrade to Windows 8.1 now, this can be an involved process and we can assist you for a smooth transition. Please note that Windows 10 is not even an upgrade option for 8.0 installations.

I have Windows 7, What do I do?
Windows 7 is supported by Microsoft until January, 2020 (although your hardware may disagree). Windows 7 is a stable operating system and all software is compatible and runs well. There is no reason to upgrade now and plenty of reasons not to.

I have Windows Vista, What do I do?
Mostly likely, your computer is over five years old, the threshold where problems making any changes are not worth the effort. Consider replacing. For the time being, we can still help our customers acquire Windows 7 computers (more on this later).

I have Windows XP, What do I do?
As has been covered many times previously, here and in the press, you need to replace your PC. At this time, that does not make us haters. In fact, we are very optimistic about the future of Windows 10 and fully expect it to be as successful as Windows 7, but not yet. Perhaps in 6-12 months, all the early adopters will have suffered through the initial launch bugs and the software vendors will have addressed the issues Windows 10 presents for them.

Your HOME Computers and Windows 10.
For your HOME system, if you get the alert, feel free to run the upgrade as you choose. As with all upgrades from any computer system, please ensure you have good backups of your system and data before you run the upgrade. Murphy’s Law applies to any upgrade of software on any device (iPhone, Android, laptop, etc), always assume something strange will happen and be ready for it. To be clear, the upgrade is generally safe and painless.

Managed Contract Customers and Windows 10.
For BUSINESS systems, we are requesting all our contract clients to postpone any updates until Computer Troubleshooters evaluates your unique needs and software. This will ensure no issues or compatibility issues arise as a result of older software working on the newer operating system. Computer Troubleshooters will schedule a time and do a full test with different equipment at your site. Once all test results are in, we will discuss with you the pros and cons of upgrading along with any anticipated costs. If you choose to do the upgrade, we will do the work for you. Some labour may be covered by your contract agreement for normal Microsoft related upgrade labour (upgrading of other software or hardware may incur an added charge).

For more information contact your local Computer Troubleshooters office.