Onestop IT Solutions provides IT services to your business. Established in 2003, OnestopIT has grown to a staff of 9 with 3 offices covering Edinburgh and Glasgow. The team offers IT support, IT strategy, IT security and IT compliance support. At Onestop IT we care about understanding the specific needs of your organisation and translating these needs into action plans to support and develop your business.
In this post, we examine how small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can develop and implement an IT asset database. We also discuss the reasons for having a computerised asset management system, what it should include and some of the issues that could arise without such business information to hand. Business Assets and Effective Management Discover more The post How to create asset management databases appeared first on Onestop...
In this post, we examine how small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can develop and implement an IT asset database. We also discuss the reasons for having a computerised asset management system, what it should include and some of the issues that could arise without such business information to hand.
With no list of assets, attempts at inventory management are likely to be mere reactions to immediate problems, rather than being proactive. In contrast, with a functional database, decisions and effort can focus on working towards long-term, optimal solutions that will be in the best interests of the organisation. Thus, although perhaps not an obvious task to cherry pick, asset registers add considerable value to a growing business.
With a proper system in place, it is simpler to identify, track and report on the following:
Through its asset register, a business can record information, optimise usage and reduce costs where desirable, to ensure that it obtains maximum value from its expenditure and capital investment. With an effective inventory recording system, it is easier to avoid duplicated purchases, unnecessary expense and costly penalties for non-compliance with licence conditions. Additionally, having electronic asset data to hand facilitates internal charge back in larger organisations that use this accounting convention.
Maintaining accurate computerised hardware records also means that when necessary, the company will be able to take advantage of equipment warranties that are in force, instead of mistakenly paying for support or corrective maintenance when not needed. Other benefits might include minimised administration time and improved service desk information. Additionally, self-service information will be available to end users via the company Intranet or other networked database systems, thereby reducing time-consuming requests for manual access to information. Extending this latter principle, some larger SMEs choose to integrate inventory databases with other company software including asset discovery systems, to ensure quality and consistency.
There are some important considerations to take into account when an organisation designs and configures a new asset register. Designed properly, an inventory tracking and management system can automate clerical work and speed up repetitive tasks. Consequently, administration time spent on initial requests, sign off and approval, distribution and maintenance documentation are all reduced, while work records are trackable for on and off-site warranty claims.
Importantly, companies that operate from more than one office or branch premises will need to allow for multi-site integration and access to the database, to ensure that everything gets onto the books. Apart from facilitating forecasts of future equipment needs and providing convenient access to company data, the unhindered access to management information will foster regular, accurate record keeping and minimise pilfering and theft.
From the earliest planning stages, it is wise to agree on a precise specification to achieve the above aims. During database design, prototyping and initial user testing, project management and development staff should consider including features and functionality so that the asset management system is:
Usually, companies that use the Microsoft Office software suite have access to MS Access, a database program that makes creating an acceptable user interface relatively straightforward. Alternatively, it is possible to model an asset database on an existing template. For these reasons, Access represents a good entry-level choice for smaller SMEs in particular. However, the limitations of this software application tend to manifest themselves as organisations grow in size and their user bases expand.
For larger applications with a higher number of users and a broader selection of customisation options, the use of SQL (Structured Query Language) offers extra advantages. Its fewer restrictions and greater adaptability mean that in general, this computer coding system represents a more attractive option. Significantly, though, programming skill is necessary to develop bespoke solutions of this type.
In the above context, the various Internet developer and user forums contain a lot of gleaned knowledge and timesaving fixes to resolve some typical snags, such as data storage and multiple concurrent user limits. Within the published resources, experts discuss the relative merits of building a database that combines Microsoft Access with SQL Server, versus creating from sample code. Notably, in the latter case, it might also be necessary to comply with extra licensing requirements and acknowledge the authors of the original code.
In summary, by keeping detailed and up-to-date asset records, a business knows where it stands financially and what potential challenges it might face with equipment and resources. Having sufficient information readily available via an asset register gives time to create strategies, control obsolescence and manage support or expansion requirements. It also enables IT managers and technicians to put company IT inventory to the best use possible, thereby providing maximum return for the business.
Offering businesses an innovative approach and a focus on process-driven solutions, Onestop IT is a leading information technology consultancy based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Its experts specialise in supporting growing SMEs at affordable rates. In particular, Onestop offers considerable experience in the areas of computing strategy, support, compliance and GAP analysis.
At Onestop, the friendly and professional team will be delighted to assist business owners and decision makers with digital asset registers, including bespoke and customisable databases. Alternatively, if more appropriate, specialists will offer unbiased and confidential advice on selecting the most appropriate off-the-shelf package to meet the needs of an individual SME. For further details, click here now.
Why is preparing an IT budget within SMEs (small medium enterprises) essential? And, how can having a strategic budget propel your organisation towards success in the modern, competitive marketplace. Here, we delve into the main steps involved in creating an IT budget. Although busy, time-pressed managers and executives might well understand the necessity for Discover more The post Why Your Business Needs An IT Budget appeared first on Onestop...
Why is preparing an IT budget within SMEs (small medium enterprises) essential? And, how can having a strategic budget propel your organisation towards success in the modern, competitive marketplace. Here, we delve into the main steps involved in creating an IT budget.
Although busy, time-pressed managers and executives might well understand the necessity for preparing a budget, some may feel bewildered or uncomfortable with rows and columns of digits. Others may dread the time-consuming prospect of having to justify, explain and convince. Consequently, even in organisations that have budgeting procedures in place, there is often a temptation to opt for something similar to last year’s format and figures (if available). Nevertheless, instead of being something to endure, the IT budgeting process can instead be a crucial decision-making tool to assure the success of a company.
When used well, a strategic IT budget is a vehicle to identify initiatives, set priorities and shape the future of an organisation. Instead of being a monotonous duty or tedious obligation, it can become a bespoke roadmap to business success, specifically crafted to mould the strategy for a growing enterprise. In short, then, it is a documented plan to make the most efficient use of the computing resources available.
Initially, smaller businesses and start-ups often authorise expenditure with impromptu conversations in corridors or around office water coolers. However, as companies grow, ad hoc and informal ways of working become difficult to manage. Such companies usually willingly opt, therefore, for a more organised budgeting system.
Having decided to prepare a strategic budget, the first step is to identify expense categories. Typically, headings might include ongoing staff, hardware and software costs. These broad-brush categories then expand into further detail. Also, there will be separate project expenses, each itemised by hardware, software, consulting and general outgoings, plus any extra administrative overheads for temporary office space, etc.
In contrast, larger businesses may choose to operate a chargeback system whereby departments or teams assume a proportion of overall IT expenses. Although these intricate accounting systems facilitate a comprehensive analysis of business area performance, the methodology is more complex and may require additional skilled staff. Consequently, systems such as these tend to exist in organisations with more than a hundred employees.
Although IT leaders and decision makers are usually those who present and oversee their budgets, it pays to engage and involve line managers, supervisors and consultants too. These key team members tend to know their company well. Consequently, they can provide valuable input. Next, a combination of thorough preparation, good presentation and effective communication form part of selling the budget plans at management level, to help gain approval and minimise resistance.
It is necessary to understand what the business has and what it needs – from hardware licences to computing power and payroll. Equally, an efficient expense tracking system is as essential for preparing accurate budgets as it is for effective financial control. With proper records of expenses, the right information will be at one’s fingertips when necessary.
When estimating future expenditure, the various sources of information include records from previous years, along with current contract documentation. Also, it is useful to consult individual departments and, where possible, optimise costs in advance to avoid the figures being brought into question later. If there are projects in the offing, it is shrewd to communicate and ensure – tactfully – that peers and other management colleagues appreciate the necessity for and importance of these plans.
Once up and running, a planned budget for IT enables leaders and management to monitor and analyse which teams and projects are using resources efficiently. Equally, those areas that are under-resourced and over-committed will stand out, as will overspending and areas for improvement. Examples might include surplus software licences, costly support for outdated systems or unnecessarily high infrastructure costs that may favour migration to cloud-based systems.
Some organisations compare their spending against that of their competitors, a useful yardstick when available. Typically, small businesses spend up to seven percent of revenue on IT, whereas larger companies enjoy cost-reducing economies of scale. To some extent, the business sector and company expectations will also influence how much turnover gets ploughed back into computing. Regulated industries such as financial services or communications and media companies frequently have higher tech spends than industries such as retail.
Identification and acceptance of company-wide OKRs (Objectives & Key Results) aid budgeting. Organisational OKRs might comprise internal employee engagement, proper user testing or repeat business and revenue targets. OKRs increase clarity, focus, and collaboration, so staff move together in the right direction.
When finalising their budgets, some managers hold short meetings to ask team leaders or senior staff what resources they need to make their working lives easier. Alternatively, they ask their direct reports to list the three things they need most. Later, after submitting the draft budget for approval, it helps to maintain lines of communication open.
Budgetary approval involves multiple variables and, at times, external factors. The path to success involves balancing tactical requirements and liquidity against the need to upgrade and set future strategy. If cutbacks are necessary, a good understanding of business priorities should help to identify those cuts that could have the least impact on long-term objectives.
Finally, for effective management, it is not enough for a Head of IT to have a superficial understanding of pricing – of a server rack, for instance. Rather, it is also necessary to be familiar with the granular cost base: salaries, power, cooling, maintenance, and technical support overheads, to continue the example. Staying on top of detail is essential; in the most successful organisations, there is usually someone who keeps a keen eye on contractual obligations, payment due dates and unplanned purchases.
Here, we have seen the business advantages of creating and maintaining a budget to manage IT. With the right tips and expert advice, it is possible to simplify year-round budgeting. If you have any queries about implementing an IT budget in your company, our team at Onestop IT will be delighted to advise.
Based in Edinburgh, we are a leading Scottish IT services supplier that helps SMEs to access enterprise technology solutions and best practices, at affordable rates. As well as customer care, we focus on delivering timely, process-driven strategy and support solutions to growing organisations. Should you require more details, please contact us here.
What is VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol)? And how can modern SMEs successfully deploy the latest intuitive and easy-to-use communications solutions to boost their competitive advantage? Staying Competitive Management teams in growing businesses understand how important it is to stay in contact with their client base. Despite the ubiquitous smartphone, packed with applications Discover more The post VOIP Business Solutions In Scotland appeared first on Onestop...
What is VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol)? And how can modern SMEs successfully deploy the latest intuitive and easy-to-use communications solutions to boost their competitive advantage?
Management teams in growing businesses understand how important it is to stay in contact with their client base. Despite the ubiquitous smartphone, packed with applications and features yet paradoxically underused for speaking, there is still little that beats the immediate feedback and interaction of direct verbal communication with customers. It is for all these reasons that marketing, sales, and accounts payable departments make dozens if not hundreds of telephone calls every working week, in businesses across the country.
Given that it is so important to promote dialogue with prospects and maintain contact with existing customers, how can companies minimise ongoing expenditure? Is it still possible to maintain the same level of outgoing calls while making the most of new, flexible communications packages? And what other benefits can the latest communications technologies offer an expanding business in today’s rivalrous and sometimes cutthroat marketplace?
The answer is in Voice over IP calls, sometimes also known as computer audio. Internet telephony is another term used to describe the new way to make digital voice calls, instead of connecting via the long-serving public switched telephone network (or PSTN) that uses analogue electrical signals. Rather than the copper cored electrical wires of telephone lines, Voice over IP telephony uses computer networks – whether broadband ADSL or fibre-based – to transmit the call, video and other information. The latest protocols supersede ISDN (Integrated Services for Digital Networks), which was a bolt on to the older infrastructure and still limited by the typical capacity of conventional telephone cables.
In contrast, computers, new IP telephones and smartphone handsets that use VOIP software now send audio and video signals in data packets. In effect, these signals are bursts of information that use a special sequence of network handshakes and validation to check the sound quality and general call performance. In technical terms, the way in which computer systems transmit these packets of data can follow various digital methodologies. Some leading examples include Skype, Cisco, PBX, SIP or open source protocols.
Apart from numerous technical advantages and additional features that provide up-to-the-minute flexibility, Internet voice and video calls deliver significant cost benefits in comparison to traditional telephone systems. Each call is more economical, taking fixed line rental charges into account and given that many businesses already have Internet service provision in place. Ideal for free or low-cost calls to customers and suppliers in remote sites or distant offices, the latest high-speed services are reliable and offer businesses top quality service featuring life-like sound.
With the latest digital offerings, there is no longer any need for a modern company to rely on consumer-grade Wi-Fi to power its communications. Simply upgrading the contract bandwidth to a professional-level business package is sufficient to ensure clear sound quality and excellent reliability of service. Moreover, larger SMEs may find it cost-effective to opt for individually hosted professional communications services, should they so wish.
Available anywhere that has a reasonably good connection, Internet calls also tend to facilitate increased mobility and new ways of working. According to industry sources, the rapid deployment and extra flexibility are ideal for more than seven in ten home workers. Now, remote staff can take calls on their PC or their mobile with ease, with seamless call transfer that is often invisible to the customer. What is more, cloud-based management enables network monitoring from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection, whether by cable or satellite.
Because calls made using VOIP software are significantly cheaper, the new communications method is currently experiencing an unprecedented CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of almost 10 percent a year. This impressive uptake looks set to continue at the same level until at least 2021, as businesses switch from old telephone and landline-based systems to save costs. Innovative companies are quick to appreciate the benefits of little or no up-front capital outlay, combined with the considerable savings to be had from the outset.
Reassuringly, Voice over IP service providers advertise that call quality is of similar or superior quality to that experienced when speaking via standard telephone landlines. It is possible to make Voice over IP calls using computer headsets (for hands-free working) or from special telephones, similar to conventional equipment but boasting additional functionality yet still easy to use.
Typically, VOIP calls use only a fraction of the connection’s available broadband capacity and the processor power of a modern PC or workstation. Some of the other advantages of VOIP calls include:
Edinburgh-based Onestop IT offers a fixed cost VOIP software service from only £10.00 per month. The company is a leading information technology and communications services supplier that specialises in helping growing SMEs to gain access to quality enterprise technologies at affordable prices. If you are an IT decision maker and would like to optimise your business communications with leading-edge Internet telephony to engage customers and empower employees, please click here for further information.
Your employees are the backbone of your business. The life and soul of the organisation, the people creating and pushing your product or service. So, surely, they can’t be putting your business at risk? Well, that’s where you’re wrong. It’s 2018, and not to make you skeptical, but there’s a lot of malware Discover more The post How Your Employees Are Impacting Your Organisations IT Security appeared first on Onestop...
Your employees are the backbone of your business. The life and soul of the organisation, the people creating and pushing your product or service. So, surely, they can’t be putting your business at risk? Well, that’s where you’re wrong. It’s 2018, and not to make you skeptical, but there’s a lot of malware out there ready to cause you and your business all sorts of security issues.
In order to overcome and prevent security disasters, staff training is of high importance. But, what are we looking for? What do we need to be training our employees on or teaching them to prevent large-scale IT security disasters? And how are employees putting my business at risk in the first place?
Well, there is a multitude of ways security can be breached, some more simple than others.
Here are a few examples:
Passwords – yup, as easy as that. You wouldn’t believe how easy it can be for someone to hack a password, especially to that all-important-data that is most definitely confidential and detrimental to your organisation in the wrong hands.
If you picture one employee having an easily cracked password, multiply that by how many employees you have (with weak passwords) …that is a lot of passwords and access in the wrong hands. A recipe for disaster, a data-security-disaster to be specific.
First, you need a “password policy” within your organization. Perhaps implement a system which means employees have to regularly change their passwords, for example, every 3-4 months. There are simple and effective solutions easy to implement throughout your organisation. Introduce passwords prompts that only accept nine character passwords that are a combination of numbers, symbols, and letters both lowercase and uppercase. By educating your organisation’s employees on the need for password strength, as well as introducing policies for passwords, you will be taking a huge leap in the right direction, protecting your company from within.
With multiple employees, it can be difficult to keep track of everything going on – after all, more often than not they are in charge of their own working area and devices. When an employee innocently downloads an extension or is swayed into clicking on a link from a dodgy email server – all hell can break loose in minutes. In saying this, your employee was probably trying to help whether that be to increase productivity or efficiency, and it backfired. Once a virus is downloaded, it can travel relatively quickly, and not just through that one isolated workstation, often through the whole network. The last thing your business wants is the virus or hacker getting to important data, so maybe it’s time to think about some network isolation.
If you have a disaster recovery plan, then daily backups should already be set in motion. If you don’t, it’s a good idea to think about running virus scanners daily. This method can help eliminate virus’ on a single machine and help reduce data loss and consequential damage.
Downloads should be limited, so again, educating employees is key. Inform them of the dangers of clickbait via emails and ensure the company forms a security-focused culture to prevent any mishaps in the future.
You’re in a hurry, or you’ve not paid last month’s Wi-Fi bill and you need internet quickly. That’s all very well for your weekends spent in cafes browsing the news and the latest football scores. But in the workplace, no, no, no! Public Wi-Fi tends to be unencrypted which means that anyone in a radius of the connection is able to intercept it with the right knowledge and skills.
Remember, most hackers do this for a living and are very equipped to cause some serious data issues. Employees on their work devices accessing public Wi-Fi are leaving themselves (and your organisation) open to harmful website redirects and virus’ getting to work as you browse.
If you find yourself using public accessed Wi-Fi regularly then it’s time to purchase a virtual private network and give your computers, laptops, and tablets that extra layer of protection. This will help to improve security levels when devices are using the Wi-Fi or any other remote network.
This is every employee’s worst nightmare – the dreaded misplacement of an important piece of work equipment, please not the laptop, please! Believe it or not, it happens all the time. That flying business trip to Belfast, a mere 30-minute flight but you appear to have left your laptop in Starbucks. Not a great start. As an employee, you’re already picturing your bosses face, but, perhaps you should be more concerned about who gets their hand on your lost goods.
Not only does this make the data on your device vulnerable, it opens doors to your organisations network – some easier to close than others.
If you’re the kind of business where devices seem to follow you around, ensure all data is encrypted to the device drive and not just folders here and there. By doing this, next time your laptop or tablet goes AWOL, panic levels will decrease dramatically AND your organisation and network will be safe.
These are just a few of the ways how cybersecurity can be impacted. But remember, staff training is key. Take your organisations security seriously. Security disasters are easier to prevent than they are to fix!
If you are looking for more information or are looking to solidify your security, speak to us at Onestop IT. Not only do we provide exceptional IT security services to defend your organisation against cyber threats but we offer cybersecurity awareness training for you and your staff. Get in touch today!
The post How Your Employees Are Impacting Your Organisations IT Security appeared first on Onestop IT.
Are you struggling to build and develop a solid business strategy? Do you have an IT strategy in place that is helping you grow in an ever-changing digital world? At Onestop IT, we believe having a solid IT strategy in place is key to your overall business success. That’s why we have decided Discover more The post Build A Succesful IT Strategy Workshop appeared first on Onestop...
Do you have an IT strategy in place that is helping you grow in an ever-changing digital world? At Onestop IT, we believe having a solid IT strategy in place is key to your overall business success. That’s why we have decided to run a workshop to focus on all things strategy.
This unique event is team based – so bring everyone along to make the biggest impact possible and really nail your IT strategy. Whether your organisation is just starting out or has been in business for decades, Onestop IT wants to help.
Ally Hollins-Kirk has been leading Onestop IT for the past 14 years. Ally is a big believer in life-long learning. With this, Onestop IT has embedded learning and education within their culture in order to further develop every team member. And, it is exactly the same with Onestop IT’s customers, Ally will be further dedicating his time to helping educate fellow business owners and their teams on the importance of I.T strategy and how you can build a solid framework for success. After all, Onestop IT’s job is to help you achieve your goal. So, make your goal to build and develop a successful IT strategy and join us on Friday 31st August.
Another bonus – completely free! This offer is limited to one company/team per month so sign up today and join us on Friday 31st August at Onestop IT to solidify your IT strategy.
Onestop IT are proud to be sponsoring Edinburgh business owners’ well sought-after event quarterly business planning event on September 19th at Norton House Hotel & Spa, Edinburgh. This event is a chance to step out of the office and really focus on your goals for the next quarter. As a business owner, if Discover more The post Quarterly Business Planning Event appeared first on Onestop...
Onestop IT are proud to be sponsoring Edinburgh business owners’ well sought-after event quarterly business planning event on September 19th at Norton House Hotel & Spa, Edinburgh.
This event is a chance to step out of the office and really focus on your goals for the next quarter. As a business owner, if you have huge ambitions but perhaps need a little bit of structure to progress and grow even further – then this event is for you!
This fantastic event is a quarterly workshop designed for businesses to create tactical plans for the future. Here you will develop strategies that will help you efficiently master your time, highlight priorities and help you get in the right mindset to achieve your goals. This event is for business owners, with many choosing to bring along one or two of their senior team. This will be a full day designed to allow you time to focus on opportunities and challenges that need to be faced in order to allow your business to move forward. There is a very high chance, you’ll know what needs to be done but getting the ideas down on paper and executing the plans is where you will struggle. This is where quarterly business planning helps.
The event hosts a number of opportunities to talk business with a variety of other business owners, get guidance and help from guest speakers and business coaches. Here, they will inspire and assist you in building a step-by-step tailor-made action plan for the next 90 days, with the overall goal of driving more profit into your business.
This event is ideally suited for managing directors of 15-150 employee companies. We are only sponsoring two places at this fantastic event. Take action today – book your place now!
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