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Productivity

Starting Out: The IT That Is Worth Investing In As A Startup

Starting Out: The IT That Is Worth Investing In As A Startup

By | blog, Productivity

Setting up a business is a busy time, as well as a time when money seems to fly out of your pocket – insurances, equipment, overheads and travel (not to mention wages at the end of the month). 

Forking out for the latest, expensive technology and software isn’t always necessary in your first few months; however, there are some must-haves out there that will save precious hours, as well as pennies. 

We’ve got a list of software, applications and IT processes you should be investing in when you start a business.

The cloud.

Nowadays, almost every business is using cloud-based services.

You probably use cloud technology already – think Spotify or DropBox. Both use the cloud to store files that are readily available on any device with an internet connection.

Working in the cloud and using cloud-based tools like Office 365 and G-Suite allows your team to work from almost anywhere that has Wi-Fi. 

These services use multiple layers of security, as well as managing updates, hardware maintenance and multiple redundancies on your behalf, reducing your chance of downtime and file loss if hardware breaks down or is damaged. 

Meanwhile, most of these services offer fixed prices, enabling you to pay for what you need on a subscription basis.

Regular backups. 

While the cloud provides you with some security and steps to protect against file loss, investing in quality and regular backups is the best way to reduce the impact caused by file and application loss. 

Consider how long it would take to get back up and running if you lost all the files and applications on your computer? How much money could your company potentially lose? Not to mention the reputational damage if you lose your customer’s personal data in the process. 

Start your business as you mean to go on and invest in a quality backup and disaster recovery process.

Automation.

As technology advances, a lot of the tedious admin tasks that come with running a business can be automated – hurray! 

Automating your backups is a perfect way to make sure data is protected. It also means that you can recover from a loss of data, whether accidental or malicious. However, a common misconception is that if it’s in “the cloud” it’s already safe and backed up.

This is not true.

This is why we automatically back up all of our client’s data from one cloud provider to another to ensure you can recover.

Set Up Protection of Important Folders OneDrive

Choose which files you would like to Autosave in OneDrive

 

What good is a backup if it’s empty?

Have you ever been told to make sure that you save all files in a specific location? This location is usually on the server instead of your desktop and this extra step ensures that it is backed up. But, sometimes we simply forget to move/save files into this area, right?

Our backups of the cloud are automated, and making sure all of our client’s data is automatically saved into the cloud business server. So, whether they save files on their desktop, documents or pictures, our clients don’t have to worry. 

One way to do this is via OneDrive’s Known Folder Move (AKA Autosave)

In the meantime, applications like Zapier and Microsoft Flow allow you to connect services like Outlook, Slack, Trello, Asana, Gmail and social media platforms to work better for you. 

With Zapier, your imagination is pretty much your limit. But, to give some examples, you can:

  • Automatically create calendar events.
  • Track your work hours.
  • Send emails when a new Trello card is created.
  • Add Slack channel messages to an Excel spreadsheet.

Starting Out: The IT That Is Worth Investing In As A Startup

Digital accounting software. 

One of the top things new business owners worry about is taxes; submitting tax returns, dealing with expenses and tracking finances. 

By using digital accounting software from the very start, you can ensure everything you need is in one place when it comes to filing that pesky Self Assessment to HMRC. 

“The government is currently undergoing a Making Tax Digital transformation that will eventually require all businesses to use approved digital software to submit records to HMRC,” Vicky Parkinson of VSP Accountancy says.

Popular systems like QuickBooks, Xero, FreeAgent and Sage are another example of cloud-based services. You can access them on-the-go and all the information HMRC and your accountant needs are in one place. It can also be exported to any connected device you own. 

Vicky Parkinson of VSP Accountancy

Vicky Parkinson of VSP Accountancy

Expenses tracking.

Of course, most of the above-mentioned programmes offer some form of expenses tracking. 

One expense that a lot of us business owners struggle to record regularly is mileage. If this sounds like you, you can use a mileage tracker app on your phone, such as MileIQ. 

“MileIQ automatically tracks and records the miles you travel by car for your business, allowing you to claim expenses on your fuel accurately. It turns something that was usually quite admin-heavy into a breeze,” Vicky adds. 

MileIQ unlimited is included with Office 365 Business Premium subscriptions. So, if you’re thinking of transitioning to the cloud, this is just one extra reason to sign up to Microsoft’s cloud offering. 

If you want to find out more about expenses tracking, VSP Accountancy has written guides on digital accounting software and how to claim mileage allowance relief.  

If you’d like a hand with any of the above, we offer monthly fixed-cost plans that include all of the above set up and more. Give us a call today to see how we can help you

Title Image For Improve Your Video Calls With These 7 Easy Steps

Improve Your Video Calls in 7 Easy Steps

By | blog, Productivity

Sometimes, it’s not feasible to have multiple employees or clients visiting one office to have a meeting.

This is where video and conference calls come in handy; being able to discuss business from your own home, or when on-the-go, is a lot more cost-effective, time-efficient and environmentally-friendly than several individuals travelling across the country to be in one place for a few minutes.

However, most of you know that video calls are not always the smoothest of operations. One person can’t hear anything, one person’s picture is distorted, and another’s computer keeps crashing. While some technical difficulties are unavoidable, there are some areas where you can ensure that your business calls run much more smoothly than before.

Set out your objectives.

Let’s face it, many of us have been to meetings, both in-person and virtually, where we have no idea what we’re there for. Start the call with introductions and clear aims. And, if you discover that there’s not much point in having a full-blown meeting, maybe set up a group chat on a messaging app like Slack or Microsoft Teams to discuss your meeting topic instead.

Be organised.

Make sure everyone knows the date and time of the meeting and has everything they need to be prepared, whether that’s documents, images or a mindmap. Tell everyone to add it to their diary, or send out a calendar invite with the day and time of the call.

Send a reminder.

Nowadays, thanks to online calendars like Google and Outlook, we usually get an automatic reminder of our appointments. But, it’s a good idea to send out an email the day before. Some people don’t check their calendars as often as others, so they could still forget if not reminded.

Send out the agenda. 

You should have a structured plan of what needs to be talked about during the meeting. Giving everyone the information beforehand helps everyone get on the same page from the very start of the session.

Arrive early.

Try to be at least 10-15 minutes early so that you can check any equipment and your internet connectivity. This way, if there is an issue, you have some time to address it and fix it. Encourage other attendees to do the same so that they are ready to start before the meeting even begins.

Have a designated note-taker.

It’s always good to take notes, but it can be hard to focus on the conversation while scribbling in a notepad. Your note-taker could act as a moderator for the call, or be one of your employees within the video link. These notes should be sent out to all attendees post-call, just in case someone has missed something or needs to refresh at a later date.

Alternatively, and if everyone agrees to it, you could record your video chat to look back on in the future.

Give everyone a chance to speak.

A moderator is a good way to make sure everyone gets their say. There can be many voices during a business call, so it’s vital that everyone has a chance to contribute.

Of course, face-to-face meetings are often the best way to discuss business. But, we know it’s just not possible sometimes, especially if you have employees or clients across the country or even the world. Using video call technology is a little more personable than an email or phone call, and you can chat with multiple people at any one time. We hope, with these tips, your next video call runs so slickly, that it’ll feel like your colleagues are in the same room as you. 

Speak to a member of our team about how you can boost your team’s productivity with technology. 

Working Remotely Success Tips Title Image

5 Tips For Successfully Working Remotely

By | blog, Productivity

Working remotely from home is on the rise, with flexi-time rising by 12.35% between 2012 and 2016.

In fact, an estimated half of the UK workforce will work remotely by 2020.

Working away from the office can boost productivity, allowing your team to fit their schedule around family and home life. But, there are risks to consider for your business, especially if you jump into remote working blindfolded.

We’re here to give you some starting points to help your team stay secure and productive.

Strengthen your security when working remotely.

Invest in security.

Antivirus, firewalls and backups – even if no one in your team works remotely, you should have quality software to protect your data and applications.

Moreover, it’s essential to push cybersecurity to the forefront of your employees’ and colleagues’ minds. Humans are often the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain and can easily undo any hard work put in by security software and systems.

Raise awareness about cybersecurity. Stop sharing passwords, think before you click on a link in an email and think twice before you hook up to the dodgy free Wi-Fi in your local coffee shop.

Keep your software up to date.

Viruses and ransomware are becoming smarter by the day, with new versions of the malicious software being released all the time.

Your antivirus and security software is only as reliable as its last update. Keep on top of updates and make sure you have the latest release installed so it can battle the most advanced threats.

Set up a VPN.

If your remote workers wish to work on-the-go, you need to consider investing in a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

This creates a secure tunnel between the user and the internet, preventing prying eyes from (notoriously unsecure) public Wi-Fi hotspots peeping in on your connection and data.

Read our blog on how to use public Wi-Fi safely.

Increase productivity when working remotely.

Manage your projects seamlessly.

It’s challenging to stay on the same page when you’re not all in the same office. But, with advancements in software, it is possible to keep everyone on track when they’re scattered around the world.

One simple way to keep on track with deadlines, meetings and dates is to put them in a shared calendar on Outlook or Google Calendar. Meanwhile, project management tools like Trello, Asana and Monday are brilliant for assigning tasks and moving projects forward, quickly.

Communicate and collaborate.

Again, it can be challenging to get everyone in the same room when you have a team of remote workers.

Instant messaging tools Microsoft Teams and Slack are built for businesses like yours. What previously would have been a quick (potentially unnecessary) meeting or long-winded email thread, can now be a five-minute group chat.

However, when you do need a face-to-face discussion, video conferencing software like Zoom and Skype connect people from all over the globe. All you need is an internet connection.


Thinking of remote working, but not sure where to begin? We can help you and your team get off to a great start, give us a call today.