Category: Tips

Big companies almost always have an information technology department. The IT team not only helps the organization with troubleshooting errors and issues but also provides long-term planning and overall business support and strategic planning.

If you’re a small business owner, though, chances are you do not have an IT department. So how do you manage your information technology to keep your business running smoothly? Do you need an IT department for your small business? And when do you hire someone to take on the IT functions? Before you hire an IT manager, it’s important to understand the role of an IT department, the financial investment in hiring, and when to scale up the IT team as your business grows.

Role of the IT Department

The IT department is typically known as the team that “fixes things.” When a computer crashes, the printer has an error, or someone forgets their password, they call the IT guys. In reality, though, an IT department does much more than troubleshooting (although they do that, too).

The IT department is a critical component in overall business success. The team has three areas of concern – governance of a company’s technological systems, maintenance of IT infrastructure, and monitoring and improving the functionality of all systems.

 

Governance of Technological Systems

IT governance is the ‘big picture’ of how IT integrates into the overall business. It examines all the ways IT can provide a return-on-investment for a business owner and its stakeholders. For example, if a business goal is to increase customer service response times, the choice of software to meet that goal would fall under IT governance. IT governance ensures businesses have appropriate decision-making processes and controls in place so that the interests of all stakeholders are balanced.

IT governance is essentially a set of policies and procedures designed to align IT functions with overall business strategy and success. Having a formal set of standards in place helps to maximize value, set IT strategy, reduce risk, and measure performance.

Maintenance of IT Infrastructure

Most businesses understand this function of an IT department – maintaining the IT infrastructure. This includes many of the ‘behind-the-scenes’ tasks such as:

  • Software and hardware maintenance for physical and virtual environments
  • Network administration
  • Data and storage upkeep including cloud systems
  • Management of virtual and remote assets
  • Implementation and maintenance of wireless and wired access
  • Email management
  • Cybersecurity programming

Monitoring and Improving System Functionality

IT departments just don’t “set it and forget it” when it comes to IT infrastructure. The IT department continually monitors and improves functionality to minimize loss and maximize return. Using tools, employee feedback, and documentation, the IT department refines and improves the current systems.

 

Financial Investment to Start an IT Department

 

Small businesses can hire an in-house IT professional if they have the financial stability and resources to grow their staff. The financial investment varies widely depending on the type of IT professional needed to support the business. According to Indeed.com, the average salaries of the most common IT professionals are:

  • Computer Support Technician: $33,000
  • Computer Support Specialist: $34,000
  • IT Support Specialist: $41,500
  • IT Technician: $74,400
  • Computer Systems Analyst: $76,000
  • Systems Administrator: $79,000
  • IT Manager: $85,000
  • Director of Information Technology: $120,000

The cost of hiring an IT professional extends beyond the salary. According to the Society of Human Resources Management, the average cost of hiring a new employee can exceed $4,000.

Scaling IT as Your Business Grows

For any business, having the right people in place can make all the difference in the success of the organization. How do you know when it’s the right time to add an IT team? What works for some businesses may not work for others, so it’s important to first assess your situation to determine when – and if – you should hire. If you own a small business, ask yourself:

  • Does someone at my organization take on IT tasks in addition to their regular workload?
  • Do I need to support a remote work environment?
  • Am I at risk for a cyber threat? Do I have sensitive information that could be hacked?
  • Do I have applications or computer programs that require support? Is this managed by a vendor?
  • Does my business model rely primarily on e-commerce?

If you answered yes to these questions, you should consider adding IT support to your small business. But what if you cannot afford to add a full-time team member to your staff? The good news is you can get the IT support you need through Managed IT Services.

Managed IT Services for Small Businesses

Many small business owners are operating on tight budgets and cannot financially support an in-house IT team. Managed IT Services is a way to get the IT support you need that works with your budget and goals.

Managed IT Services allows business owners to delegate their ongoing information technology processes to a third-party company like Everound that specializes in the IT industry. For a fraction of the cost of hiring an IT professional, Managed IT Services improves overall organizational efficiency and productivity while also reducing operating expenses.

As a Managed IT Services provider, Everound offers IT support including:

  • Help Desk
  • Network and Server Administration
  • Network Monitoring
  • Hardware and Software Installation and Configuration
  • Computer Patching and Software Updates
  • Backup and Disaster Recovery
  • Software Customization
  • After Hours Support

If you own a small business and are ready to add IT support in a cost-efficient way, reach out today to discuss how we can help. We can work with your budget to support you and your IT needs. Let us focus on your IT so you can focus on your business.

 

 

Technology helps improve productivity, collaboration and is arguably the driver of success for business goals and priorities. Sometimes, though, information technology creates a headache for its users. Issues with printer connections, login credentials, and even software and hardware configurations can cost companies money in downtime and can distract leadership from focusing on the business itself.

As a managed service provider (MSP), Everound provides IT help desk support for businesses to alleviate the stress and frustration caused by both day-to-day and long-term IT challenges. But what is help desk support? And what services are included in help desk support?

Help Desk Defined

At its core, an IT help desk team supports internal staff at an organization and solves problems ranging from minor issues such as a lost password to larger, more potentially risky issues such as a company-wide network outage. Essentially, a help desk is internal customer support led by a trained information technology support team that can handle technical problems.
A help desk team provides information and support on an ongoing basis to its customers (ie: the company’s employees). This is achieved by not only responding to specific issues and problems but also by proactively seeking and addressing potential IT pain points.

 

What Products and Services Are Provided by a Help Desk Team?

The main functions of a help desk address immediate day-to-day IT issues as well as prevent future IT headaches. At Everound, our monthly help desk services include:

  • Real-time IT assistance: through a help desk ticketing system, employees have immediate access to IT help for issues related to email, hardware and software.
  • Networking: proactively manage and maintain your operating systems, servers, and applications to ensure everything is running smoothly and there are no potential issues. Review and make recommendations for network infrastructure that is out of warranty or at end of life.
  • Microsoft or other software administration: installation, implementation, and administration of Microsoft solutions or other industry-specific software.
  • Ongoing technology recommendations: review current technology investments and identify areas of opportunity and improvement.
  • ISP support: continually monitor and support internet service provider (ISP) functions to address real-time issues including dropped Wi-Fi and other internet-related challenges.
  • Liaison between 3rd party software and or hardware vendors: manage the relationship between the business and its software and hardware vendors to ensure products meet the needs of the business.
  • Antivirus and malware assistance: routine scan and reporting of potential cybersecurity risks including viruses and malware.
  • Disaster recovery: regularly back up data in case of hard drive malfunction, cyberattacks, and natural disasters.
  • IT documentation: thorough IT documentation to provide a historical analysis of solutions as well as create a knowledge base for employees.
  • Monthly maintenance: provide monthly IT maintenance during a predetermined maintenance window that does not interfere with or interrupt employee workflow.

 

Why You Should Integrate a Help Desk at Your Business

 

Some organizations have an existing help desk team in place, while others rely on someone outside of the IT department to address technology issues. While the latter approach may appear to be a cost-savings measure, it will, in fact, cost a business money in the long term.

For example, if everyone in a company runs to the recently hired college grad for help with their computers, that college grad will be focusing on IT support, not the job function they were hired to do. Adding a help desk team to your company is an affordable and strategic business decision to help your business become more efficient and profitable.

At Everound, we support small and medium businesses with their IT help desk needs. Our full-time staff is dedicated to our client’s successes and works with each of our businesses to create a custom approach to let them focus on their business while we focus on their IT.

Interested in learning more? Reach out today for a free IT assessment of your current IT needs. We will help you understand if a help desk is right for your business. 

Choosing an IT provider and hiring the right information technology consulting company is paramount to ensure both short- and long-term business continuity. A strong proactive information technology strategy and approach can create efficiencies, improve communication, and ensure sensitive business data is secure.

As an IT consulting and managed IT services provider, we know there are many companies that provide similar services. With every IT company promising the same thing, how do you choose an IT provider? As a business owner, it’s critical to understand what to look for when choosing a partner to help you with your IT needs.

Here are 5 key qualifications when choosing an IT provider for your business:

 

choosing an IT provider

Availability

Nothing is worse than having to track down your IT support team when you are having a critical issue that needs quick attention. A reputable managed IT services provider should be available and on-call to respond to issues quickly. When choosing a provider, ask about guaranteed response times, direct access to the IT support team, and if they offer 24/7 support services. 

Onsite Support

Even though remote work is becoming standard for businesses, brick-and-mortar companies still need onsite support for IT challenges. IT consulting firms and managed service providers should offer onsite support included in their scope of services to help employees with their IT needs. From hardware and software installation to general troubleshooting, onsite support is critical in an ongoing IT support relationship.

Innovation & Outside the Box Thinking

Many IT support companies will use a cookie-cutter approach to IT services for their clients. For some functions like software installation, using the same approach is most likely appropriate and even efficient. But individual businesses have specific challenges that are best solved through innovation and custom solutions. Ask your managed IT services company if they understand your specific needs and how they will approach problem-solving as your IT partner.

Disaster Recovery and Response

Are you prepared for an emergency such as a cyberattack, network failure, power outage, or even a fire or other facility loss? When you choose an IT service provider, be sure they are properly helping you plan for an emergency or disaster with cloud services, cybersecurity planning, and proactive disaster recovery and response programming. 

Relationship-Focused

Above all, your managed IT service provider should be relationship-focused. Many companies push their client into an annual service level agreement and then once signed, forget about the relationship. Business owners should feel like their outsourced IT team is not outsourced at all, rather as an extension of their own staff and team.

The Everound Difference

We do things a little differently at Everound. We believe relationships and trust are the drivers of a successful partnership. We work diligently to build, maintain, and improve upon relationships in all that we do. How are we different?

  • Full-Time Certified Staff. Everound does not outsource our clients’ work. When our clients call with a question or send us an email, they are connecting with our full-time, certified staff, not someone off our payroll in an office across the country. We believe in building relationships with our clients, not pushing them to an outsourced contracted employee.
  • A Dedicated, Accessible Team. When our clients have an issue, they know who to call, always. Our clients call us directly and are not routed through an answering service. We share our cell phone numbers and emergency contact information with our clients so they can reach us at a moment’s notice. We know IT challenges can be frustrating, and a quick response is critical. Our goal is for each of our clients to think of us as an extension of their full-time workforce.
  • The IT Factor. Unlike other companies that require an annual service agreement, we work hard each and every day to earn our clients’ trust and business. If our clients are not satisfied with our services, we will help them find another provider that can meet their needs. The IT Factor is our promise to provide outstanding customer service that allows our clients to focus on their business while we focus on their IT.

If you are interested in improving your IT infrastructure and programs, reach out today to learn more about how we can help. Whether you are frustrated with your current provider or are considering choosing an IT provider for the first time, we are ready to listen to your needs and help you make an informed decision.

 

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed business for millions of us. Lots of our workers have been sent home to work.

This creates a new dilemma:
How do we make sure that everyone is productive even when they’re not in our offices?

In truth, it’s not hard as long as you have a plan and know how to follow up with your newly out-of-the-office staff.

What are some steps I can take?
  • Create clear goals, every day. Every day, start with an expectation of what will get done. Look at your year’s goals, then break that out to the month, then the week, then to days. There will always be changes in the plan, but that’s the best place to start.
  • Start every day with a meeting. Every morning, the whole team should be on a call to talk about the day’s plan. If your staff is too large, break out by department. The most important part is that everyone gets a chance to talk about challenges and the day’s goals. Remind everyone of the week’s goals as well.
  • Post goals on the group chat board. Put the goals up on the group chat or management boards. That gives everyone a place to go if they get sidetracked. You can also put up the future goals and the goals that were missed recently.
  • Have a Project B. There should be a second project that your team can work on if they get stuck on the main one. For example, if they’re building an app for a client and suddenly need to know something, they need to email the client (or you) and wait. Have a second project, maybe a website or another app. If you have a law office and your paralegals are at home, have a number of documents in the queue to work on. If one hits a roadblock, they can start on a different one.
  • Use the cloud. Keep documents in the cloud so everyone can access what they need, no matter where they are or when they’re working. The cloud is only as secure as your passwords, so institute a strong password policy. Make sure files are neatly organized so everyone can find everything, but the cloud is the place to work.
  • Encourage collaboration. Using Zoom, Skype, or any number of other meeting apps, your team can work together. Invite everyone to a group lunch one day a week to just grab a bite and chat. The more your people feel connected, even remotely, the better they’ll work together.
  • Everyone in. Keep everyone in the loop. No one can be left out of meetings. If it’s completely outside their purview, make sure they’re invited, but their attendance isn’t mandatory. It’s very easy to feel shunned when you’re not face-to-face. It can even make people feel paranoid. Invite everyone, but only the essential personnel to any project needs to be there.
  • Be available. Make sure that you’re available to answer questions as much as possible. Have your chat function open. Make sure your phone is on. Get email notifications. Schedule “office” hours where you’re available to help people grow and learn.
  • Assign mentors. If your team isn’t used to being remote workers, mentors can help them stay on task. Simple things, like prioritizing the day, staying focused, even setting up a desk, can seem daunting when you’ve been working in an office for decades.
  • Use video for new projects or skills. Create instructional videos that show your team new skills or introduce new projects. This will let them feel like you’re right in front of them and will give them something to look back at if they get lost.
  • Share contracts and customer documents. Letting your staff see what’s been promised to a client makes it easier for them to have buy-in. It lends clarity to their work. When they’re in an office and can simply ask the boss, it’s easier. When they’re at home, often working by themselves, seeing what the whole project is supposed to look like can help a lot. It also conveys trust.
Productivity Software

There are literally thousands of programs and web based apps to help your team work together. The big ones, like Microsoft Teams and Google G Suite, are everywhere, but any search for collaboration tools will get you endless pages of companies that have solutions for you.

The key is to look for what your team needs. If you’re dealing mostly in documents, Google is great. If you’re creating apps or doing graphic design work, you might need a specialized collaboration tool.

If you’re not sure, ask some business contacts or look in trade magazines or on trade websites. Even a Google search, like “collaboration tools for app designers”, should get you some options.

Keeping It Secure

Start right from the beginning with a strong password policy. There are lots of random password generators and vaults in the world such 1Password and LastPass, some of which have free packages. Otherwise, set down some rules and teach your team to create tough passwords.

It might be important to put everyone on a VPN, especially if they’re sending sensitive information back and forth, such as accounting data or medical office records.

Staying Organized

The most difficult part of working in an office, let alone remotely, is keeping the files, images, documents, and more all neatly organized is difficult.

Take the time to create a set of standards for creating anything. What to name files, how to date them, how to record versions, etc. should all be in your policies. Write the policies out and speak to your team about them. This way, everything is standardized and will make it much easier to find things if you’re not the person who created the original file.

A Note on “Productivity Trackers”

Some bosses like “productivity trackers.” These are programs that take a snapshot of the employee’s screen randomly, track what websites they go to, and more.

Many employees find these offensive. They are, essentially, spyware. They allow the employer to see everything that an employee does. They’re only supposed to work when the employee is “on the clock”, but many of these jobs are salaried or flat rate contracts.

From our perspective, if you distrust your staff that much, you need a new staff. If you create a list of daily goals and those goals are met, that’s really all you need to worry about. If you think that staff can get more done, add more goals.

This type of software is a very clear sign that you don’t trust your people. That’s not going to create the loyalty you need to make remote working successful.

The companies that sell this type of product will tell you how innocuous it is. Consider, do you want someone to be able to take a screenshot of your computer any time they want?

It’s easy to keep your team productive and working well together. Over-communicate, give them lots of tools, and trust they’ll do the very best they can every time.

Everound has been successfully engaging and supporting businesses to adapt to this new era of remote workers. From every facet of a company’s IT, we can assist, from employee experience to data center to cyber security and much more. If you need assistance transitioning your company to a work from home environment, we can help. Contact us today using the contact form below or by calling us at +1 717.312.5890!





    COVID-19 hit, and all your employees went home to work. We all thought this would be temporary, last only a few weeks, maybe a month… Employers are now seeing remote work is possible. Users can be efficient from a spare bedroom. What does this mean for IT? How can we make sure our company is secure? How do we optimize our budget? Let’s talk.

    Define what will need to be accessed by employees within the LAN.
    Step 1: What and How are employees accessing work data since COVID-19?

    Let’s review what will need to be accessed by employees. Commonly, file servers are still used by many small to mid-sized businesses for their low cost and easy management. While this is ideal when employees are onsite, you are now over utilizing your firewall with VPN and slowing transmission speeds from your users downloading and constantly accessing large files. Solutions such as Egnyte, Dropbox and SharePoint can offload your data to a secure cloud while retaining IT security and disaster management over the files.

    Next, you have applications on local servers. Consider VDI or Remote Desktop to minimize access. By using VDI, we can narrow down VPN access to one entry point and control the traffic. VDI will also give you the ability to increase resources to the backend of the infrastructure to, you guessed it, improve your user experience!

    The key to success here is to keep thinking, constantly review your environment. What do your users need access to? Ask why. Shutdown, remove or lockdown the areas that will not need to be accessed remotely.

    Decide what applications can be moved to a cloud environment.
    Step 2: Did COVID-19 strengthen our move to the cloud?

    Can we offload old applications? How many times are we hanging onto legacy apps or databases for no reason other than lack of time or the disruption to users? Well now disruption is everyday! Now is the time to review these systems. Is there a better cloud app out there? In most cases, a couple minutes of “Googling” lands you a solution someone with the same problem decided to fix and sell.

    Selling these applications to the CEO can be easy. Remind him how Joe spends 3 hours each day connecting to VPN, opening an SRSS report, running a report, exporting to CSV, formatting, and saving to PDF only to email it to 30 colleagues. This new app automatically emails the report every morning and there’s a mobile app! Sold! Another server decommissioned and more users off VPN.

    Spend the time to understand what your users need to be successful. Use this knowledge to present new solutions.

    Review your security and device management. Do you still have the same control?
    Step 3: Review security and management since COVID-19

    Are you still in control? How are you handling group policies and windows patching? The traditional SCCM build isn’t going to work if no one is connecting to VPN. Consider solutions such as Azure Admin Center, Datto, PolicyPAK, ManageEngine or VMware Workspace One. All provide many tools to help with RMM, group policies, software installs and windows patching for your remote users.

    What can you reduce or remove from your internal network which is no longer useful?
    Step 4: Reduce from COVID-19

    Identify areas of your network that are no longer used. We’ve just looked at areas where you will need to spend money to improve the experience of your employees and also to keep them secure. Now we need to identify where we can reduce cost.

    Look at your circuits, do you have empty offices or servers with less applications that can be combined. Review the use of your PRIs and VOIP platform. Finding areas to reduce cost and using that budget to optimize your infrastructure with new technology is proof of a successful IT professional.

    Speak with your CEO. Understand the long-term vision
    Wrap up

    Key to any changes you make, is to be aligned with your company. Speak with the President, CEO or board. Understand the needs and direction they plan to take long term. Your agility to adapt to their vision will solidify the success of your department.

     

    Additional reading can be found here https://www.cio.com/article/3545534/sharp-it-budget-cuts-expected-in-wake-of-covid-19.html.

    Everound has been successfully engaging and supporting businesses to adapt to this new era of remote workers. From every facet of a company’s IT, we can assist, from employee experience to data center to cybersecurity and much more. If you need assistance transitioning your company to a work from home environment, we can help. Contact us today using the contact form below or by calling us at +1 717.312.5890!