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Don’t let “Software Drag” pull down your business

MicrosoftDynamics1Definition: ‘Software Drag’ when the software you are using begins to adversely affect your business rather than providing efficiency, savings and productivity.

Often once the excitement around a new implementation has died down and the original product champions have moved on, it’s easy to forget that there is still huge potential in the business software you have invested to reduce costs, increase efficiency and make your business more profitable. So how do you continue to benefit from your software investment after the initial implementation? Here are my tips for avoiding stagnation.

Ownership

Find somebody within the business to take ownership of the product and not allow it to stagnate. An internal product champion who sees value in the product, and creates and develops it in a systematic fashion.

Education

Make sure your staff are 100% familiar with the functionality, “I didn’t know it could do that” is a statement I hear all too often on customer sites but is not an excuse when time is money. Attend events and webinars, read the free advice blogs and news bulletin provided by your supplier to understand what new features and functionality are available now and in the future.

Partnership

Find a supplier who is as interested in the success of your business as you are: An IT partner who is willing to really engage with you and keen to help, not one who judges and classifies you by your IT spend per annum. Call your supplier and ask for a system review. Do it now rather than later.

Discussion and review

Talk to your account manager about what you want to achieve, and if you haven’t got an account manager, get one with your supplier. Undertake a system review with your staff and your partner.

Walk the floor and spend a day meeting the users, understanding their views of what the system does well, what it could better and what it doesn’t do at all. Establish the problems that need addressing and new features you may be able to use, collate them a prioritise them. Then plan how you move forward.

If you would like to discuss your Dynamics software needs, call Advantage Business Systems on 020 3004 4600 or email info@advantage.co.uk.

Maximising your Software Support

SoftwareSupport1Software support is a bit like insurance, nobody wants to pay for it but when the pipe bursts you’re really glad you’ve got it. Actually, that’s not entirely fair, most of us accept that to insure against the unforeseen we need to spend but we are often looking to optimise the service we receive whilst mitigating the cost. So how do we do that?

Give yourself time, save money

Often support renewals are automatic. The first you know is when the invoice lands on your desk 30 days before your renewal and then it’s too late. Check your support contract now and note the renewal date. More importantly look up your notice period. Then get your supplier in with plenty of time to discuss your options.

Review your use of support

Review your use of support over the year. If you paid a five figure sum for only three fifteen minute support calls for a system that is static and mostly running day-to-day trouble free, then you should look at restructuring your support. Look at more cost-effective options like a bundle of support calls or “pay-as-you-go” support.

Review the quality of support

Examine what you’re getting for that annual fee. Your supplier should be offering you real “value added” whether that’s product updates, customer events or networking opportunity and not just a support desk. You’re paying a tidy sum so you should be getting something back.

Dedicated account management

Having an individual who is responsible for your well-being (well at least your businesses) is great. Somebody who you can bounce ideas off, escalate problems to and share your plans with at any time and at no additional cost.

Shop around

If your supplier isn’t ticking the boxes for value and quality, search for alternatives. Even if you decide to stick with your current supplier it won’t do you any harm to look at what the rest of the market is doing.

If you would like to discuss your software support needs, call Advantage Business Systems on 020 3004 4600 or email info@advantage.co.uk.

Game Changer IT Advice: Do We Need a Better Firewall?

Q: “As a small to medium sized business dependent on internet access – do we need a better firewall?”

A: Using a business grade firewall often reduces risk and helps manage internet traffic.

ITGameChanger2aA firewall is software or hardware based and filters information coming through your internet into your private network. If incoming data is flagged by the firewall’s filters, it is not allowed through.

The computers in your company have network cards allowing them to connect to a network. Without a robust firewall, each device is a potential target, spreading a virus to other devices.

The fast growing ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) phenomenon is a major IT security topic. Proper firewall management is an essential security measure against invasive threats to SMEs.

Firewalls generally use one or more of three methods to control traffic flow in their network:

  • Packet filtering – Packets (packages of data) are analyzed using pre-set filters and allowed or denied access to the system.
  • Proxy service – Information from the Internet is retrieved by the firewall, analysed and then sent or not to the requesting system.
  • Stateful inspection – A newer method that checks key parts of the packet against a database of trusted information before deciding whether or not to let data in or out of the firewall.

Many SMEs use firewalls which are no more secure than a home computing model. You may benefit from evaluating if your firewall is suitable for business within the context of workable computing.

If you would like to discuss your IT needs in more detail, please call Advantage Business Systems on 020 3004 4600 or email info@advantage.co.uk.

Game Changer IT Advice: Do We Need an Office Server?

Q: “We are a small company with 10 stand-alone PCs. We do not have a server. What advantages are there in investing in a business server?”

A: Modern businesses of your size have an inexpensive server as a ‘must-have’. A central server would:

  • ITGameChanger2aAllow the central management (and location) of PCs including virus software and windows updates
  • Provide for the central management of security of accounts and PCs
  • Allow users to share company files and folders
  • Allow for a central backup of all shared files and even PCs
  • Offer faster recovery in the case of a disaster
  • Allow for options to run other shared platforms like CRM, ERP and accounting

Make IT outsourcing more effective. There would be less problems with PCs due to central management. This equates to less user problems and quicker resolution of issues.

If you would like to discuss your IT model in more detail, please call Advantage Business Systems on 020 3004 4600 or email info@advantage.co.uk.

Game Changer IT Advice: IT Manager or Outsourcing Company?

Q: “We are a small company. Should we outsource IT Support instead of employing an IT Manager?”

A: IT Managed Services are now sophisticated and uncomplicated enough that most companies with under 50 staff should be able outsource IT support rather than hire an IT Manager or extra IT staff. ITGameChanger2a

We suggest some questions which will help with   this decision.

  • Would a support company cover what your IT Manager does?
  • Would new elements to your IT model remove internal IT tasks e.g. remote monitoring, a central server to manage all PCs, an element of cloud (e.g. Office 365) etc.?
  • With outsourced assistance, could you assign IT actions from managerial to administration staff?
  • Would an outsourced helpdesk team be easier to contact than an internal IT Manager?
  • Would savings from an outsourced company allow you to upgrade your IT system? (savings traditionally equate to 50% plus of related internal costs).
  • Would outsourcing offer extra savings as you won’t need ‘holiday cover‘ on top of paying for internal IT?

If the answer to most of the above is ‘yes’, you would benefit from outsourcing IT support.

Advantage can provide:

  • a detailed list of what our standard IT cover provides
  • pricing for annual support based on no. of users
  • our support structure and escalation process
  • an audit of your system

If you would like to discuss your IT model in more detail, please call the Managed Services team at Advantage Business Systems on 020 3004 4600 or email info@advantage.co.uk.

Contact Advantage Business Systems

Advantage Business Systems Limited (Main Office)
No. 1 Poultry, London, EC2R 8JR, UK

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