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What are Managed IT Services?

Managed IT Services Managed IT Services allow business to concentrate on their core business activities and forget about the hassle of looking after their computer systems. The service provided will vary depending on the Managed Service Provider and the client requirements. However regardless of the actual service provided the goal remains the same.

Provide cost effective IT Services to business owners, so that they can spend their valuable time running their business rather than working on computer systems.

Most business outsource an element of their business services, where they have a specialist requirement but do not need to employ full time experts. Typically this includes services like:-

  • Payroll
  • Legal
  • Human Resources
  • Marketing Lead Generation

IT is a Business Service, like any of the services above.

When Businesses need Managed IT Services

Most businesses go through the different phases of development where they use services differently.

  • Start-up – Do everything themselves to keep costs down
  • Initial Growth – Business Owners don’t have enough hours in the day
  • Consolidation – Focused on making sure the business delivers the right services to the right customers
  • Expansion & Acquisition – How to grow the business and increase profitability

The time when businesses will typically engage a Managed IT Services Company is during the Growth phase, when they realise that they no longer have the time to do everything and need to start delegating some functions of the business. At this point they don’t need full time IT people, but they will typically need more expertise than they have themselves. If the Managed IT Services Company does a good job for their client and demonstrate the value of Managed IT Services they will also be able to help in the subsequent phases of the business.

What do Managed IT Services Provide?

Most Managed IT Services companies will list the features of their service. i.e. The things that they do

  • Backup
  • Patch Management
  • Fault Resolution
  • HelpDesk
  • VoIP Telephony

Most Business Owners don’t think in terms of the features that Managed IT Services companies provide, they will however know they things that their business needs in order to survive and grow.

  • Data Security – We need access to every document and email we have ever created, sent or received; even if the building burns down.
  • Our computers must always work, regardless of what happens or where they are
  • Fault Resolution – If something does go wrong, we need it fixed as soon as possible – preferably without interrupting the working day
  • HelpDesk – If we don’t know how to do something we want someone to provide some advice and guidance
  • VoIP Telephony – How can I let employees work from home, without:-
    • Loosing touch with the office
    • Costing the company a lot of money
    • It being difficult for clients to contact them

As a Small Business Owner they also need to keep an eye on budgets and cash flow, so ideally want all of the above for a fixed monthly fee regardless of how many times the HeldDesk is called or how many times files need to be restored.

Next Steps for Small Business Owners into Managed IT Services

If your business has reached the point where you need some help with computers and Managed IT Services can help your business to grow then you need to contact a Managed IT Services Company to discuss how they can help your business. SystemAssure ~ Managed IT Services for Smart Businesses

If you are in the UK and like the sound of Managed IT Services for your Owner Managed Business then contact SystemAssure and see how we can help. Either click on the SystemAssure link to go to our website or click on the Call-Me-Now button below and enter your, UK, phone number and we will call you right back.

Call-Me-Now
Click to call meClick on the Call-Me-Now Icon, on the left, and enter your, UK, phone number and we will call you right back to discuss your requirements. At the same time you will hear the quality and flexibility of a hosted VoIP phone system. Call-Me-Now is a standard part of the Voiplicity phone system, so is something that you will be able to do on your website with just a few mouse clicks.

Go ahead and find out more about Managed IT Services, today.

Create your own personal email signature

To help you generate your own personalised email signature for Outlook, or any other email client, we have put together a simple email form. The form will take the details that you provide and then generate four different email signature styles for you to try in your Outlook signature.

The signatures include the legally required information in the UK to comply with the Companies Act and ensure that your email signature is legally compliant. You can review the current UK legal requirements for email signatures in the attached post.

Simply provide the details requested below and we will email you a set of personalised email signatures for you to use. Complete the form below and we will email you a completed email signature.

Once you receive the emailed signatures just follow the instructions outlines in the article  adding an email signature in outlook and you will be able to start using them straight away.

email signature generator

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Your Phone Number

Your Job Title

Your Name Company Name

Company website address

Company Registration Number

Full Registered Office Address


To be kept updated with tips from ComputerSpot and to get your personalised email signatures sent direct to your inbox just click on the button.

You will receive your personalised email signature very soon, they will be sent to the email address that you give in the form above. If the email doesn’t appear in a few minutes check that the email hasn’t been caught in your Spam, or Junk Mail, Filter.

Don’t see the email signature that you are looking for?

If you would like a different format of email signature, or want other information added let us know though the comments form below and we will look to add it as another format for everyone.

If you like the email signature generator I suggest that you also download our complete Business email check list

Business Continuity - Can your business survive the Winter?Business Continuity, Is your business disaster proof?

Do we really need Business Continuity for Small Businesses? The snow and general bad weather, at the beginning of the year in the UK, meant that many people were unable to get into work for a while. Did you loose business as a result of the weather because you weren’t able to get the phones answered, you weren’t able to deal with email or were unable to get into the office for a while?

Whilst, for the UK at least, the weather conditions were unusual there are several other problems that can cause similar problems for your business. Most people think of the major disasters, like flood or fire but what about a power cut or your ADSL line being down.

There is no reason why you should loose business as with the technology available today you can have access to email, your phone system and even your PC in the office from almost anywhere that has Internet connectivity. So how can we provide Business Continuity for Small Businesses?

What does a Small Business Continuity Solution need to provide?

How does a Business Continuity solution work and what are the minimum services that it needs to provide? Think about the way that you do business on a day to day basis, do you recieve a lot of phone calls, is most of your customer communication via email?

Make sure that your primary ways of doing business are covered, typically the immediate concern is managing existing customers and prospects – i.e. Can we continue to ‘Do Business’ ?

So for 90% of Small Companies that is:-

  • Send and receive email
  • Answering the Phones
  • Generate Invoices

Below are some of the methods that you can use to make sure that you have a business which can survive a disaster and have a viable Business Continuity plan in place.

email access methods

Webmail

If you have a laptop, or webmail access, you have probably been able to keep up with your business email, even if you haven’t been able to get into the office. One of the big advantages of email systems is that, typically, you can get access to them from anywhere that you can get an Internet connection. That is certainly true of things like Hotmail, Googlemail or Exchange Online, where all you need is a web browser.

Most companies that use Microsoft Exchange, or Small Business Server (SBS), will also provide webmail access through Outlook Web Access (OWA). OWA allows you to send email and read your company email from any web browser, you can also look at your calendar etc, just as though you were using Outlook in the office. If you don’t have access to any form of company webmail then its worth talking with your IT department to see if they will set provide you access to OWA.

Mobile devices

If you have a Blackberry, iPhone or Windows Mobile device (SmartPhones) then you can probably get access to your company email on that. In most cases it is a relatively simple task to configure SmartPhones to work via your Exchange Server and to send and receive your company email.

Don’t forget that if you send email via OWA or your SmartPhone and its going via your Exchange server then you will have a copy saved in your sent mail items and, if your signatures are applied on the server, then your email will get all of the correct footers, branding etc. that it would have if you sent if from your desktop machine in the office.

Hosted Exchange

Hosted Exchange is now a scalable, cost effective solution especially for Small Businesses. Microsoft have entered the hosted market and offer Exchange Online, either on its own or as part of its Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS).

In the UK you can get Microsoft BPOS for £6.71 a month, per user or just Exchange Online for £3.36 a month, per user. There is a minimum number of 5 users.

BPOS is a great way of providing a low cost, scalable, robust, enterprise grade, Business Continuity solution for small businesses.

Business Continuity and Phone Systems

If you use a hosted VoIP phone system, then you can easily make and receive calls from anywhere that you have an Internet connection. These calls will appear to come from the office number and will get billed to the office rather than your home phone number. So in the bad weather you can work from home and appear to be in the office. Even if the power is out in your office using a hosted VoIP solution means that your calls will still get delivered, as all of the redirection is carried out in the hosted PBX. If you have a softphone on your PC then the calls don’t even need to get redirected they just get delivered to your softphone.

If you don’t have Internet connectivity then its simple enough to make a phone call and get your calls re-directed to your mobile phone or home phone. There is no need not to be able to receive the office phone calls even if no-one can get into the office to answer the phone.

You can even use the Hosted VoIP solution to make sure that all of your calls still appear to originate from the office number, even if you are using your mobile to make the calls. What happens in practice is that our Hosted PBX calls your mobile, then dials the number you want to talk to – as soon as they answer the calls are connected. Its really simple to configure, in just 2 mouse clicks and is included in your base cost.

Call Me Now

Click to call meClick on the Call Me Icon, on the left, and enter your phone number and we will call you right back to discuss your requirements. Call Me is a standard part of the Voiplicity phone system, so is something that you will be able to do on your website with just a few mouse clicks.

So we can provide Business Continuity for your phone system, from anywhere with Internet access.

Off-Site Backup

As part of a Business Continuity plan we to need to consider what you would do if the office was destroyed. If you have gone done the route of Hosted Email and VoIP then you will probably be able to continue to ‘do business’, but what about all of your company records, customer details, contracts etc? How are you going to be able to access that information if the office no longer exists?

Data Backup

You should have off-site copies of your computer backups, after all there is no point in keeping your backup copy next to the server. At a minimum the daily backups should be held off site in a secure location. That could mean taking the daily tape home and keeping it safe, or using of of the many Online Backup services.

Online Backup

An Online Backup, or Hosted Backup, service will continually take copies of your data and ship it to a secure data center. Depending on the service you subscribe to this could be a continuous backup, or scheduled on a daily basis.

Most of the services allow for a local copy of the data and the off site copy. The local copy allows you to quickly restore files in the event someone accidentally deletes a file. The off-site, or hosted copies, are for disaster recovery / Business Continuity in case the office gets destroyed.

Hosted Services

If you use Microsoft BPOS, Google Apps, or any of the other hosted services then your data is held in a secure data center. It will actually be held in multiple geo located data centers, so your data is secure. In this case you can continue to work and not need to worry about your data. You also have access to your applications from anywhere in addition to having a copy of your data.

One thing about Hosted Service and Online backup services, make sure that you select a vendor who will host your data in your country, or legislative area. The reason for this is that not all countries have the same approach to Data Security and Data Protection, so you want your data where it is covered by the same data protection laws as your business.

Remote PC Access

You can also use systems like LogMeIn, GoToMyPC or the functionality built into Remote Management Systems like SystemAssure that will let you access your office PC from a web browser. Typically this type of application will let you print on your local, home, printer and also copy files and documents between your office PC and your home PC. If you are a BPOS user you wouldn’t even need access to your Office PC, as all of you data will be stored within the SharePoint Online section of BPOS.

So whatever the weather, if its snow, floods or even if you want to sunbath in the back garden rather than go into the office there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to do everything that you can do from the office. You can either do this will a combination of different applications that you put together yourself or let SystemAssure take the strain and do the work for you.

Business Continuity For Small Businesses

Yes it is entirely possible to provide your small business with a cost effective Business Continuity solution. By doing this properly you also increase the scalability of your business and also remove the need to ‘step’ investments in hardware as your business grows.

Planning Business Continuity for Small Businesses from day one can dramatically reduce your need for capital investment and also give you flexibility in work practices.

Need Assistance with Business Continuity planning?

If you would like assistance in designing and  implementing a Business Continuity plan for your small business then please contact me through the SystemAssure Website.

Do you still Make Conference Calls?

Most business still have a requirement to have occasional conference calls, where you need to bring 2 or more people together in the same phone call. If you suddenly find you need to hold a conferencecall you can do so at a moment with Powwownow. Even if you hold regular conference calls Powwownow is a very cost effective way for businesses, small or large, to hold conference calls 

Phone Conference Calls

Powwownow (www.powwownow.co.uk) provide a ‘pay as you’ use system which anyone can use. Everyone in the call pays for their own part of the conference, through their phone bill. Powwownow provide 3 levels of service:-

  • Open Access
  • Enhanced Access
  • Premium Access

Open Access: you simple generate a PIN for you call. Let everyone know the PIN, Time of the Call and the Powwownow number. Its that simple.

Enhanced Access: offers great extra features all for free! Register a few details and receive the following benefits:

  • Low-cost call rate of 4.3p/min+VAT
  • Your very own personalised PIN
  • A dedicated dial-in number 0844 4 73 73 73
  • Low-cost international dial-in access
  • Free web conferencing with Showtime
  • Free scheduler tool to invite participants

Premium Access: features include:

  • Choice of dial-in number and rate (0844, 0800, 0207)
  • Unlimited conference calling
  • Free web conferencing with Showtime
  • Secure call recording at the push of a button
  • Real-time reporting for all your calls
  • Branded welcome message to greet call participants
  • Unlimited chairperson and participant PINs
  • Conference calls accessible from any location with no booking
  • Free scheduler – an easy way to invite callers
  • International access from over 100 countries

Web Conferencing and Desktop Sharing

If you need to show other people a presentation during the call they offer a web conferencing product, Showtime, you can show your desktop and demonstrate an application.

Does your Business Ban Access to Facebook & other Social Networks? 

Do you let your business users have unrestricted access to the Internet and social networks during the working day? Do you know if they are spending their time surfing the ‘net or on Facebook, or any of the other social networking sites, when they should be working?

Why would you ban Facebook and Social Networks at work?

Facebook and social networksThis is a difficult business decision, get it wrong and you either; loose the trust and respect of your employees or have your employees spending too much time on the Internet during the working day. Some of this will depend on what your business does and whether the information from the social networking sites is relevant to the way that you do business, take a look at our blog on Xobni and social networking.

Really you have a couple of choices:-

  1. Ban access to social networks altogether during business hours.
  2. Only allow access to social networks during lunch hour.
  3. Allow your employees unrestricted access to social networks, but monitor the usage. 

Option 1 is going to alienate a lot of people and human nature says that people will find other ways of accessing social networks, such as using mobile phones etc. So this is probably a self defeating policy.

Option 2 may work but you then need to know when everyone is going to be on a break and have to implement a service which will allow you to give different users access to different sites at different times of day. This will probably be complex to manage and will cost some money to implement.

Option 3 is the most sensible approach, however if you are going to monitor your employees usage of the Internet you need to tell your employees in advance. Form a legal perspective and good HR practice point of view you will need an ‘Acceptable Usage’ Policy that states when they can use social networking and what is excessive usage and you will need to inform your employees that the company is monitoring Internet usage.

So should you ban access to facebook and other social networks?

In most businesses there is no practical value in banning access to social networks.

If you must do something than option 3 is really the best way, can be implemented at very little cost and is a good compromise. It shows that you are a reasonable employer, that you allow your employees flexibility, but also that you are keeping an eye on overall usage of social networks and will intervene should people start to take advantage.

Send Large Files to Customers

Just imagine the situation, you have just finished preparing a PowerPoint presentation and you want to send a copy to one of your clients. So you zip the presentation up and email to your customer, along with a message telling them that they need to unzip it.

A couple of minutes later you find the message in your inbox, along with a message from the clients email system stating that they don’t accept large emails. Now what are you going to do! You promised the client that you were going to email them the information and now you can’t get it to them.

Why does this happen?

Lots of companies set file size limits on email, so that their system doesn’t get clogged up with large files being sent back and forwards. Exchange allows you to set several different limits, a default maximum send size, a default maximum recieve size and then override sizes for specific people – like the MD. So how are we going to get round the problem?

What are the different ways of getting round the problem?

  1. We could just increase the maximum file size that we can send, that should work. – As you can see from this case we were able to send the email, it was the clients system that rejected the email due to a policy set by their System Administrator.
  2. We could copy the presentation to CD and pop it in the post. – Not a very quick solution nor a particularly Green solution, but it would work.
  3. We could use a service like ‘YouSendIt’ www.yousendit.com

YouSendIt

YouSendIt is designed specifically so people can send large files to customers. YouSendIt has  couple of different services with different costs varying from Free to $30.00 a month.

  • Lite – Basically a free option for occasional use – max file size of 100MB
  • Pro – $10.00 a month with a max file size of 2GB per download
  • Business Plus – $30.00 a month same sizes as Pro but designed for teams of users.

The full details are on the YouSendIt website.

They even have plug-ins for Outlook, so that if you try to attached a file greater than a specific size it will automatically upload the file to your YouSendIT account and put the download link in the email, so you don’t have to think about it or change the way that you work. https://www.yousendit.com/outlook-plugin 

How YouSendIT enables you to Send Large Files

Send Large Files with YouSendIt

1Easily select and send your large file, or document, quickly and easily by uploading it through a web browser, from your desktop or right from within your favorite application such as Microsoft Outlook. If you use the Outlook integration, then even if you ‘attach’ the file to your email it will actually be sent via YouSendIt 

2The YouSendIT system store your file(s) securely on the YouSendIT servers and then sends an email to your recipients containing a YouSendIt link for them to click on and quickly and easily download the file.

3Your recipient receives the email notification, clicks on the link in the email and downloads the file. Done!

Green Business

Help to make your business a Greener, more efficient, Business by cutting out the need for Couriers, CD’s etc. By using a service like YouSendIT to send large files and documents you can also improve the turn around time to customers as well as saving money and reducing the Carbon Foot print of your business.