It’s no secret that new technology can be useful for a business, unfortunately too many businesses struggle with their technology implementations. When adding new tools to your business, you will need to understand that the more deliberate you are, the more success you will find. Rushing any new deployment is sure to have some types of issues. For today’s blog, we take you through some of the best practices of adding new technology to your business.
Final Source blog
As you have read in our previous blog posts, the vendors we use and our relationships with them are critical to our success as a company. Vendors can drive new growth and help us achieve profit goals and revenue gains. They are central to many activities and processes in our organizations.
Why is Vendor Management important?
When we’re caught up in the daily grind of running a business, it’s not easy to keep track of time spent and time wasted. Some very reliable estimates tell us that Business Executives spend an average of 15 minutes a day on hold.
I know what you’re thinking: “Fifteen minutes? Big deal!”
Sure, that doesn’t seem like a lot of lost time for one day. Now let’s see what the real damage is. That time adds up to:
- 75 Minutes per week
- 300 Minutes per month
- 3,600 Minutes per year
That’s about seven and a half days you’re losing each year. A week and a half you could be used to get projects done, launch new products, or grow your business. Now you can see the importance of efficient vendor management.
Effective Management of Vendors
In our previous blog posts, we’ve talked about the importance of managing vendor-business relationships effectively. It’s no longer the case that procurement is only buying services or goods. In today’s business environment, vendor partnerships need to be a key part of your business growth strategy. You need to work with your vendors and manage your relationships strategically to reap the rewards.
Who does your Vendor Management?
As we’ve mentioned in the last blog, vendor management isn’t widely implemented by SMBs, nor is it well understood. So, to make sure we’re all on the same page, what do we mean by vendor management?
Vendors are the businesses and individuals that provide services and goods to your company. You might work with many different vendors and pay varying rates, have varying contacts, and varying contract terms. This can be a minefield in terms of management and so you might find that you end up overpaying for services and goods. You also might lose money on lots of hidden costs.
Vendor management can help with this. Simply speaking, this is a process involving: the research of vendors, the seeking of quotes, the negotiation of contracts, the management of vendor relationships, the evaluation of vendor performance, and the paying of vendors. Overall, you can save yourself both money and time if you streamline these processes.
Why is Vendor Management important?
Managing your vendors can reduce risks. We’re talking about unforeseen costs and regulatory compliance. For example, with vendor management, you can track supplies and have the necessary data available to identify risks to mitigate them.
Another reason why vendor management is essential is so you can measure and track their performance. That way, you can make sure that the vendor meets your business needs and requirements.
Essentially, vendor management will help you reduce your costs. With increased visibility, you will see hidden costs and will be able to control them to save money. You might be able to negotiate a better deal or access incentives and discounts. With this in mind, you might be interested in reading our previous blog on being nickel-and-dimed with additional costs.
As you know, loyal relationships are also good reasons to focus on vendor management. A good vendor isn’t easy to find. If you find one, you’ll need to do all that you can to build your relationship with them to build trust and loyalty.
Protecting your brand
Ultimately, you need to look after your business. Vendor management can help you do that. Your brand is your reputation and it holds lots of value. An unethical or unprofessional vendor might tarnish this reputation. With vendor management, you will reduce the risk of serious incidents that stem from poor vendor actions.
We can help!
We know this is a lot to absorb. So, if you still have questions about managing your vendors, contact us. The more things we can take off your plate, the more time you have to focus on more important stuff! And that will give you peace of mind, better Vendor relationships, and about a week and a half of your time back.
Businesses use cloud resources all the time; and, they use them for many different reasons. Some use them because they have to support a remote workforce, some use them so they don’t have to come up with large swaths of capital or don’t want to pay interest rates for financing their central hardware. Some only use them sparingly to fill in the gaps created by product and service demand.
For SMBs that want to take their business to the next level, you need help from your vendor partners. Unless you have this help, your business might not reach its potential. We all know vendor partnerships are key to strategic growth and longevity. Therefore, we need to become actively involved in that partnership.
Why do we need strong vendor relationships?
Having a strong partnership with your vendor is vital to continued business growth. It will mean your clients receive better service and will provide PR opportunities that raise your business profile.
Without a strong relationship, your business can stall. It might lack the resources or momentum to get to the next level. Securing and continuing to build a great relationship is critical to growth. Vendor management is one of the most underappreciated, yet critical functions you are responsible for. Luckily, this is something that can be easily addressed. So, how do you get that secure relationship where you become the vendor's favorite partner? Let’s find out!
Make the vendor the center of your growth strategy
If you give your vendor relationship the central place in your growth strategy, you’re headed in the right direction. To be successful and grow, you need your vendor to think of you as a partner and not just a customer. A key approach is building up the relationship you have with your vendor account manager. Needless to say, this a very important step, so don’t let the relationship dry up.
Oftentimes SMBs will avoid emails or telephone calls from accounts managers as they see them as irritating. They’re trying to avoid sales pitches trying to get more money. But, if you take the opposite line of attack, you might see things change in your favor. For example, don't wait for a sales call from your vendor, call them yourself and ask how you can become their favorite partner. With this approach, you show the vendor that you're willing to make this a two-way relationship that can help them as well as you.
Take a forward approach
Being forward in this way can be quite surprising for vendors. They mainly spend their time dealing with SMBs that ask for discounts or favors. What's more, they don't often have them asking to help them.
In this regard, it’s good to have a bit of inside knowledge of how vendor account managers are measured in terms of performance. It might come as a surprise to learn that it’s not only their sales volume that is considered. Additionally, vendor account managers are measured on the sales pipeline visibility and how many new SMB partnerships they get.
Furthermore, it's a good idea to open up communications lines with vendor account managers so they see the sales opportunities that arise. This will also mean that the vendor account managers can report sales pipelines accurately to their management.
Making direct introductions
Remember we said this is a two-way relationship – help your vendors by making introductions directly. Talk to your peers about the work you do with your vendor partners. Tell them what you enjoy about working with the vendor and how your business has grown thanks to the good relationship.
These activities might seem unusual as recommendations usually go the other way. After all, not many are doing it, which is why you can become your vendor partner's favorite client quickly.
Does this yield results?
With this sort of helpful attitude, you will notice your partnerships flourish. You build trust. This trust will result in quicker resolutions to technical and supply issues more quickly – a bonus for your clients.
There really isn’t a downside to building a strong relationship with your vendor. Correspondingly, your relationship will become a real partnership with mutual commitment leading to success for both.
If you want to move your business to the next level, approaching your vendor relationship in a different way can help to achieve growth. Without such a relationship, your growth could hit a wall that you might struggle to get beyond. If you have questions or need help managing your vendors, please contact us to discuss how we can help in this area.
Are you getting ‘nickel-and-dimed’ by your vendors? This is a great phrase that you’ll hear concerning charges for extra services within a larger service or purchase. According to Grammarist.com, the phrase ‘nickel-and-dimed’ has been around since the 19th century. Originally, it meant small amounts of money. It wasn’t until the 20th century that this phrase became a verb and an adjective for descriptive purposes. It’s a relevant phrase when it comes to the SMB-vendor relationship. Being 'nickel-and-dimed' means you're spending more on extra services than you agreed to. The phrase makes you consider the impact unknown costs can have on a business and its profit margin.
As a business owner, you need to decide what level of IT support is right for you. Small businesses frequently operate under the “break-fix” model. Break-fix is exactly what it sounds like: you run your business normally until something breaks, then you pay someone to fix it. Managed Service Providers, like us, offer a monthly service agreement to handle all of your IT support.But remember, not all managed services are created equally - don't get nickel-and-dimed!
While the break-fix model appears the simplest out of the gate, it ends up costing more than you think. The ‘breaks’ cost you more because you're stuck with unexpected hardware and software costs, and the ‘fixes’ cost you a lot more due to downtime, outages, and lost potential revenue. At some point, you’ll get tired of your CFO running into your office with a stack of bills from all of last month’s fixes.
Finding a vendor that works well for your business is essential. SMBs often seek out vendors that offer full solutions. These deals are usually better for the client as well as their revenue and profitability.
Choosing a vendor that offers a complete solution means you won't get 'nickel-and-dimed.’ When a vendor gives you the option to pick your solutions it often sounds too good to be true. However, this way often makes things more complicated for both you and your client. It also makes it hard to predict revenue and costs going forward.
SMBs need efficiency
Efficiency is paramount for SMBs and this translates to your customers too. When vendors offer features individually, the SMB purchases separate parts as individual products. With a turnkey solution, they have one single comprehensive package. Otherwise, you're spending money on features that you thought were included. Unbundling your service might also mean ending up working with multiple vendors. What you need is a single vendor; a one-stop-shop for all of the features you need. Bear in mind that this vendor also needs to be able to adapt to you in the future too.
What SMBs need their Vendors to know
SMBs need a vendor that recognizes their role in supporting your business. We buy, employ and use their technology to run our businesses. SMBs should expect their vendors to listen to them and help them build their business. If you suspect you're being nickel-and-dimed, then this isn't a partnership worth pursuing. Don't stick with it because it might seem like an easy option or because it's hard to find a vendor that checks all of the boxes. You can maximize profitability and ROI with a vendor that works for you and works with you.
When new features become available, they should not be a separate offer or a stand-alone service. SMBs need to ensure the vendor they work with can future-proof their plan to add any new features onto their existing offering.
With a complete, fixed-price solution, vendors will earn your business each month and will then continue to improve their solutions without having to ask for extra money. A good vendor will focus on lowering the costs and not try to upsell new opportunities as they arise.
Final thoughts – don’t be nickel-and-dimed
You need a solution that will meet your needs straight out of the box. It should be a ready-to-go turnkey solution that will make you satisfied in the knowledge that you have all you need to be able to solve any business problem – all while paying a reasonable sum. You also need your vendor to incorporate new additions into your product as they arrive without it costing you more. It's vital not to settle when you're looking for a vendor. If the vendor doesn't look out for your and your customers' interests, can you call them a partner?
If you are having issues with your vendors, please contact us at any time. We want to be sure you're getting what you're paying for.
It’s no surprise that mobile technology has infiltrated the workplace in more ways than one. Many businesses issue company-owned devices to their employees to get work done while out of the office, while others allow employees to bring their own devices, or use their own laptops and smartphones for fulfilling their day-to-day duties. That being said, it’s important to remember that mobile devices need to be managed in a very specific way to maintain security.
Businesses use technology to varying degrees, but even small businesses have a lot of technology that must be tracked on a daily basis. With so many devices floating around the office, how are you making sure that you know who has which device, when it was issued, and how it’s being used? We suppose the question is not “how” you are keeping track of it all, but “if.” For this task, we recommend implementing an inventory tracking system for your business’ technological assets.
When we talk about the cloud, what springs to your mind? The cloud might sound like a business buzzword, but in reality it’s one of the most important components of a technology infrastructure, especially in today’s online environment. Considering the ongoing pandemic and unpredictability that the situation brings, you don’t want to wait any longer; you should have started thinking about implementing the cloud yesterday.
Today, employees have to be a major part of every business’ cybersecurity attempts. The reasoning is simple: attacks are more likely to come in the form of end user correspondence than on a direct assault of the network. As a result, it is important that cybersecurity is more than just another line item on a task list, it has to be built into the culture. Let’s discuss a few ways to get your employees to care about cybersecurity.
This is the final blog post in our series of four on the topic of remote and hybrid working. In it, we’ll summarize what we’ve talked about in the previous three blogs and finish with a quiz so you can see how much you’ve taken in.
The start of the Covid-19 crisis seems like it happened a long time ago.But these past 12 months or so have caused the biggest shift in working practices in modern times. Before 2020, few companies were offering their employees the chance to work from home. You'd see the occasional ‘hot desk’ company or the workers who logged onto coffee shop Wi-Fi for a change of scenery. Ultimately, though, remote working wasn’t common practice.
A few stats
COVID-19 changed the way we do business. Social distancing caused us to modify the way we interact. Owners are deciding how things will look in a post-pandemic world. Some business owners seem to have a “trust” issue with employees they cannot keep an eye on. Many workers and businesses don't see a complete return to office working anytime soon.
Pre-pandemic, less than 20% of employees across the country worked from home.
Currently, up to 70% of employees work from home at least one day a week. And that number is expected to grow.
Surprisingly, almost 50% of businesses in the U.S. do not allow their employees to work remotely. There are many reasons for this, but the number one reason is usually this: productivity.
However, the statistics show a completely different story. Several studies came to the same conclusion; remote workers have less unproductive time, work more hours per week, and are up to 47% more productive than the workforce in the office.
Moving forward, we see more of a hybrid model taking place. Many businesses were able to downsize their office space, so they can’t bring everyone back. And, the fact is, the employees are getting used to the new arrangement. At least 50% of remote employees wish to remain remote, even after the pandemic has run its course.
The benefits of remote work
Forced to adopt the practice of remote working, many businesses call it a success.What started as a challenge has turned out to be a benefit. Mostbusinesses are planning to keep their employees remote at least on a part-time basis.
This means companies have had to improve the performance of their networks. Their IT infrastructure has changed to be more efficient. MSPs have certainly played a role in this and have had a big part in improving the IT systems for businesses around the world.
Small and large companies have turned to MSPs to help them with their IT needs during the pandemic.These MSPscan access the latest technology and offer 24-7 support, Around-the-clock supportisn’t possible with in-house IT teams who work 9-to-5.
Remote working risks revealed
Of course, with such changes, companies have experienced the downsides to remote working too. With remote workers, there’s often a higher risk of cyberattacks or security breaches. MSPs have helped in this regard too. They monitor for threats, back up data, and give peace of mind that they're always on the lookout for threats.
After the Pandemic
Many companies have enjoyed the new way of working more than theyanticipated in the first place. With the experience and confidence in remote working, it is thought that many companies will strive to keep at least some aspect of remote working going forward. And it will remain even once the pandemic has ceased.
Hybrid working means different things for different companies but essentially, employees have more freedom as to their working pattern. They might be required to work in-house for one or two days a week and be at home the rest of the time, for example. There are lots of ways in which hybrid working might work but it is likely to mean that there isn’t as much need for office space in the future. With hybrid working being highly likely, we expect to see an increase in Managed IT services too.
MSPs and the hybrid workforce
Many companieshad to adapt during the pandemic, but so did MSPs. It could be said that their challenge was greater in some ways, given that they had to learn and adapt quickly so that they could help their clients more efficiently.
MSPs were able to help companies be available for their clients with great success and have shown how they are key partners in a company’s functionality. That’s not to say that MSPs have taken over and there is no need for in-house IT teams, quite the opposite. MSPs’ work complements that of existing in-house teams.
Conclusion – remote work in today’s world, is it for you? If you have any questions about supporting a hybrid workforce please contact us. As a Managed Service Provider, we can help you find the perfect solution. Remember: we’re your business growth partner, so take advantage of our knowledge.
With the future so uncertain, it’s no surprise that many organizations are turning their focus toward business continuity. There are a lot of components that go into making a successful continuity plan, and if you want to optimize your chances of survival in the face of a disaster, you need to ensure that all your bases are covered.
In our last blog, we mentioned how companies have adapted their workflow amid the pandemic. We now expect that this new hybrid practice, where employees mix home working with office working, is here to stay. To put a figure on it, the Institute of Directors carried out a study, which showed that 74% of companies are going to offer support to employees who work remotely after the pandemic. Of course, this is good news for many but it is also a challenge for those in IT.
When the majority of employees only visit the office a couple of times a week, it becomes important to have a smooth-running IT infrastructure. There are many challenges to overcome, including data security, reduced visibility, and home Wi-Fi connection issues. To work effectively and keep businesses moving forward, hybrid working needs IT support.
The global health crisis of 2020 created many challenges for most companies. It was an opportunity for us to enhance, shift, and adapt to our new reality. Managed Service Providers quickly learned how to help businesses stay available for their clients as well as their employees at home. However, many companies still used static and inflexible network designs. This meant they had to make big changes to be able to support their remote workforce. Poor bandwidth was the first big hurdle. Security issues and increased cloud traffic meant many companies had to turn to IT professionals to help them adapt.
MSPs as key partners
Managed Service Providers have worked tirelessly to help solve the new problems arising from the increase in remote working. What makes MSPs effective in their role as a key partner is their relationship with the network operators. This means they can find the best available services for their clients to help them solve their problems. MSPs also help remote workers with phones, software, data storage, and security.
An MSP complements any existing in-house team. They can monitor network security and server performance and prevent potentially costly outages by increasing security. Essentially, a good MSP minimizes disruption to key functions in a business.
Another thing that MSPs can offer is mobility support. This means they can arrange plans and devices for remote workers to help them be just as effective at home as they were on site. Setting up phones, tablets, and webcams will ensure your team never loses connection with you.
With remote working at an all-time high, cloud technology has been essential. Forbes believes that almost half of the data in the world will be cloud-based in 2025. MSPs can help businesses migrate their IT infrastructure to a cloud-based system. This means employees can continue being just as productive wherever they are working. This ease of accessibility needs to be secure, and MSPs are there to help.
Automation can help the hybrid workforce by removing a lot of the friction they encounter. For example, repetitive processes – e.g. data entry – can be an automated task. That means employees can focus on other, more complex tasks. They become more productive as a result, which means the business can grow.
It is also possible to automate other things, such as diagnostic tools. With automated diagnostics, employees can troubleshoot, identify and fix small issues on their own, remotely. This reduces pressure on other team members and saves the company time.
Automation also helps improve visibility in the organization. It means that interactions, progressand updatesare kept in check for all to see. This is vital to preserving transparency when hybrid working is involved.
Final thoughts – helping companies adapt to their new ‘hybrid’ way of working
The hybrid workplace is going to be around for a long time. Perhaps forever. MSPs can help companies embrace the changes that the pandemic forced upon them. They can help businesses maintain their continuity and provide them with the support they need for their future growth. Simply put, an MSP can help companies reap the rewards of a solid IT support base.
If you have any issues or questions concerning your network infrastructure, or about creating a hybrid workplace, please let us know. As your MSP, we are here to help you with everything technology related. Contact us to discuss your needs!
Since Coronavirus turned things on their head, businesses across the globe have responded well to enforcing remote working. And now, things are on the move again. Businesses are trying to decide how things will look in a post-Covid world. Many workers and businesses don't see a complete return to office working anytime soon, therefore introducing a hybrid workforce.
Recent surveys tell us that over 50% of workers in the U.S. favor a mix of office and home working. Other surveys predict the numbers of remote workers will double before they begin to drop. Pre-pandemic, less than 20% of employees worked at home. Whatever the final number happens to be, businesses need to be flexible to the constant changes.
Currently, businesses are dealing with these changes in different ways. Some companies have set dates for their employees to work remotely until the summer of 2021. Others have started to bring back people into the workplace on varied schedules.
And some are letting the individual employee decide where to work. Everyone is trying to figure out the best possible life/work arrangement.
Companies across the globe are beginning to consider what things will look like in the long term. They're looking at how to structure work hours, office communication, and physical presence. What many businesses are considering is a hybrid working model that combines office working with remote working.
What would Hybrid Workforce look like?
When we use the term ‘hybrid’, it sounds like we’re giving employees more freedom. With hybrid working, employees often decide where they work and when they work. This means employees have more autonomy to decide how their work fits in with other things in their lives. In an ideal world, hybrid working provides sociability and structure alongside flexibility and independence.
One common approach is to decide on specific days for working ‘at the office’. On such days, there are meetings and discussions. And on ‘remote’ days individuals can focus on their own specific tasks.
With hybrid working becoming more common, companies will likely reduce the amount of office space they rent. They simply won't need to accommodate so many office workers at any one time. Plus, downsizing office space is a great way to trim the budget.
What is the Optimal Amount of time in an Office?
Current studies show that two days of remote working is the optimal time for balancing quiet work with collaborative work. This will also allow employees to benefit from commuting less. Of course, you need to decide what works best for your business.
What does Hybrid Working need to be successful?
Companies need to aim for equalization between workers. In an ideal world, all employees would attend the office during the same hours.However, this will make social distancing difficult.
It is also important to instill an ethos of transparent communication.This means that all communication is shared with everyone equally as needed to avoid unnecessary conflict. Every employee, no matter where they are working, needs to be on the same page.
How to make a Hybrid Workforce work.
Arguably the best legacy of the Covid-19 pandemic is the improved focus on employee wellbeing and health. This is paramount to success. Prioritizing a safe working environment and healthy work practice is going to mean businesses retain workers while improving efficiency.
Without the necessary technology, support, and resources, a hybrid team simply won't work. The team needs to be equipped with the devices and technology they need to do their job while working remotely. Businesses need to consider video conferencing software, how to share documents and files, Wi-Fi connections, and messaging apps, just to keep track of everyone.
It’s clear to see that remote working is going to play a big part in many businesses in the coming years and the future beyond. Companies should start planning for a hybrid workforce. Proper planning will make it work well for you and your employees.
If you have any questions about setting up remote workers, or if you need to restructure your office network, contact us. We can make sure you’re set up for any workforce structure you need.
Software runs our lives. It certainly runs your business. What if I told you that this essential cog in your business’ operations can also be the thing that is most susceptible to being exposed by outside attackers? It’s true, software can be the very door that hackers and scammers need to get into your network and run amok. Let’s take a look at the unsung service that is patch management and why it is so important.
Windows has no shortage of capabilities to offer its users, with many of these tools coming with an associated Windows shortcut. Since keeping track of all of them can be a challenge, we wanted to assemble a list of most of them for you. This blog will serve as that list, so make sure you add it to your browser’s favorites for quick reference!
Data breaches have a tendency to destabilize relationships. With so many data-related problems befalling businesses nowadays, it is important that each side of every data-driven relationship understands their role in the protection of other organizations’ data. Today, we’ll take a look at the issue and how to determine if your partners are putting in the effort required to keep your data secure.
For many businesses, their telephone system can be extremely expensive, especially considering the need for extra mobility as many people are still working remotely. VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, presents a cost-effective solution for any business’ telephone needs. Let’s take a brief look at VoIP and how it can be a game changer for your business’ communications.
Not everyone has a living situation that is conducive to working from home. That’s why many people have some problems as they are forced to work remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the problems with not having a dedicated space or the right type of situation to get work done from home is that your physical health starts to suffer. Today, we thought we would go through a couple of ergonomic suggestions that can help any remote worker feel better when working long hours from home.
Managed IT services are well known for being an incredibly useful service for a business as it helps offset the cost of keeping their technology up and running. What they aren’t as well known for are all the other services that they do to add value for their customers.
In a recent post, we talked about the various image formats you should use when sharing images over email or online. The goal is to generate an image (or images) that are the smallest file size possible to make them easy to share and quick to download, without reducing the overall quality of the image.