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Protect Yourself From a New Hire Disaster With These Questions June 28, 2017

 

Whether you’re in the process of starting your own firm or adding a new location to your business, hiring the right people is a critical undertaking that requires a systematic approach. Like any personnel, hiring the right Managed Service Provider (MSP) to support IT functions inside your small medium-sized business. We want to empower your decision-making to be a lasting and productive asset to the core operations of your business. If you’re shopping online for a managed services in the Detroit area or heading into the first introductory meeting to discuss IT support, arm yourself with these questions:

  1. How long have you been in business?

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, roughly 50% of small businesses fail within the first 5 years, your ideal candidate will have a track record for staying open well past the 5-year plateau.

2.How many engineers do you have working on your helpdesk, what kind of specialized training does your company mandate before technicians will serve my company?

Your goal should be to find a firm with multiple technicians that specialize in a variety of services. Most MSP’s incorporate the philosophy of being good at everything. We all know in reality this is not possible. The great Managed IT support in Detroit focus certain technologies on a core group of people in their staff. This ensures your outsourced IT department will have engineers dedicated to a singular project handling different processes

3.Do you have a ticketing system that prioritizes my specific needs?

Your company is unique, your MSP should recognize and sort through your needs based on every attribute of your business. Utilizing a ticket system coordinates all points of contacts that have been made, conveys the urgency of certain problems and creates a uniform understanding of the stability in your environment.

4.Are you on the MSPmentor 501 list?

MSP Mentor Top MSP's nationwaide

This places a good measure on your chosen partner that you’re interviewing or through online search. Each year MSPmentor publishes the highest rated MSP’s in the world. If your candidate in on this list, they must be doing something right. Bonus Tip: don’t hesitate to ask an MSP to provide references.

Signing over key components of your business can be a daunting task, but if you know the right questions to ask you will find the right fit for your company. Start your search today with confidence!

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Managed IT Services are a Perfect Fit For Detroit Business June 15, 2017

 

 

Say you have an idea that is setting your business up for future success. Actually, you have a GREAT idea; one you believe can find its place in a competitive small-and-medium business market to benefit the Detroit area. So, what are the next steps to fund, nurture, and grow your fledgling company into prominent viability?

This used to be a daunting question for many. However, in the past 5 years, Detroit has shown resiliency for small businesses across a multitude of industries. And what’s even more impressive is the success achieved by taking the path less traveled.

Small and medium sized startups across the U.S. are thriving- particularly TechTown Detroit, which has established itself as one of the most vibrant. According to the Michigan Economic Development Commission, private investments for startups totaled $770 million, in 2015 alone.

There is a lot of hype pertaining businesses in Detroit, and for good reason. A different kind of consumer exists now where a combination of unique needs for products and services is at an all-time high. No matter the industry or stage you’re in, an investment into your company’s IT is one of the most critical early steps many underestimate.

Managed IT services are the perfect fit for Detroit business in three ways:

1. Access to a local enterprise-level IT support staff

Focus is a tremendous challenge even for mature companies with years in their industry. To build structure to your organization, a focus on sales and marketing needs to be unwavering. Getting the right people on your bus, so-to-speak, is important, but your time and funding are finite. One of the greatest benefits of working with Vision Computer Solutions’ Managed IT Services is the immediate access to several technical staff across multiple departments. This allows you to alleviate time spent on finding 3 new hires for security, and 2 more just to take care of your end-users troubleshooting.

2. Network and Infrastructure expertise

A lot of small and medium-sized business in Detroit thrive off innovation and impact technology brings to their company. Whether you’re aspiring to be the next big software company or just looking for more office space to grow your 10-seat law office, chances are you won’t have the technical staff whose skills and knowledge are ideal to keep up with vast network and infrastructure changes constantly. Instead of forcing a talented developer or employee with light knowledge of networking to wear multiple hats, your goal should be to build a talented team which allows breadth and depth. Consider partnering with managed IT services to work on the MSP model becoming a valuable asset and extension to your organization. Let your employees do what they were brought on to do, and Vision Computer Solutions will handle the rest.

3. Scalability

Whether you’re in the first 2-3 years as an organization or an established entity- one of your primary concerns should be scalability. One person in-house working for your staff of 4 is quite normal, but in a year or 2, what happens if you employ 30 more across multiple office locations? Planning a business roadmap accordingly is a make or break and in this market, there is a viable opportunity to experience

that kind of growth in a short period. As you grow, your extended managed IT support will have the resources and equipment to scale your success and measure what you need along the way.

As a managed IT services firm in Detroit with over 20 years experience, Vision Computer Solutions is ready to serve all of your networking, security, planning and support needs. We’ve been a leading IT provider committed to helping Michigan businesses thrive. When you succeed, we succeed.

 

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The Secrets to Keeping Your Employees Working (And Extremely Happy) June 1, 2017

Telecommuting and Flexibility 

Not all work and productivity happens between the hours of 9-5, nor does it need to happen inside the office. Today’s high demand for customer satisfaction around the clock forces business to operate outside standard operating hours. Remote work is fast becoming the new norm in the small and medium-sized business. Your employees will start to feel a sense of freedom and flexibility and also, for local smaller businesses, plus you can start taking advantage of a workforce that is outside of your normal boundaries for hire.

Cloud-based tools such as SharePoint or OneDrive are huge when bridging the gap between remote workers. This technology is easy to collaborate in a virtual environment where teams can work together in real-time on Office documents, or share saved files with accessibility to certain users. And don’t forget, your team will enjoy working from home but be sure you make weekly plans to interact weekly catch-up meetings. A hyper-collaborative work environment will only foster unity when employees can depend on each other.

Excellent Communication

With great access to tech tools that will empower your workforce, you also have the power and means to communicate proficiently with anyone at any time. Despite major improvements to workplace messaging, most companies still rely on email. You should still use email inside your company but having different avenues of communicating will keep employees from feeling that they’re always stuck in an email rut.

Per CareerBuilder, 55% of employees felt cell phones and texting were the biggest productivity killers, and 26% named email. Better communication leads to increased productivity, which can also tie in with employee retention. Office365 offers a ton of user-friendly programs featuring role-based project management and messaging to stay updated on progress for campaigns and internal events. If you have Office365 right now, look to Microsoft Teams, Planner and Skype for Business for the benefits mentioned above.

The Right Tools
There may be personal reasons for sticking with the old when it comes to technology. Unfortunately, this may affect how you’re perceived by your employees. If you embrace innovation your employees and brand are likely to follow that same path. And if your employees notice this, soon your customers will too, which ultimately leads to a transparent companywide mission that reinforces a unique culture. Above all, with the right technology solutions and IT provider, you can boost your organization’s efficiency and productivity.

Team members who are empowered to make the right decisions with their out of office roles will be your happiest and most fulfilled in the long run. And to make their job easier, leveraging technology cloud-based tools to automate at least some of their assignments throughout the week can match the increased demands in the workforce.

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Signs That You’re Falling Behind With Your Current IT Service Provider May 24, 2017

Your business only extends as far as its intended reach. Your current IT department may have started with a freelance expert, or maybe the family member or recent college grad who is “good with computers.” Doesn’t matter how you got here, but chances are, your business has developed more complex needs that are unique to specific personnel inside your company. All things considered, you may have outgrown your current model and may not even be aware. Here are the most common signs that it’s time to move on from your current IT solution:

Your email is frequently failing or just down completely

If your organization is consistently suffering from email outages or daily visits from your IT technician to reboot your server there is a strong possibility you’re behind in upgrades- delivering a serious decline in productivity, not to mention security.

Gone are the days when you needed to have your own dedicated email server, software, and technical support. Today, cloud email services are the new model for small and medium sized businesses. With a cloud email service like Office365, all you need is a connection to the internet and you’ve got mail. Also, with this solution, you can take out the grueling downtime and lost emails.

Your current IT support isn’t proactive, just reactive

If you look around your office and just see desktops running old versions of Windows operating systems, your IT provider should be urgently guiding you toward a plan to replace outdated and unsupported software. If you’re using end-of-life machines that are not supported with the latest software you’re taking the critical risk of doing business while operating a vulnerable network, which jeopardizes clients, partners, and your employees. If your outdated network is the only reason your current provider keeps getting your business, can you say they’re truly looking out for the health of your company?

If you’ve noticed that you are never in a position to make decisions for the future, but just relying on quick fixes to negate the past it’s time to begin searching for a new IT provider.

Searching for your new IT service provider

The first thing you need to do is evaluate your technology and overall company goals. Consider what benefits your organization needs when outsourcing your IT department. Vision Computer Solutions is a managed service provider (MSP) that can help you transition. Read our guide to managed service benefits or contact us for tailored solutions that fit any size business

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3 Major Points you Should Know About your Managed IT Service April 26, 2017

Partnering with any type of service provider you should be able to expect nothing less than gold standard when it comes to responding to issues pertaining to their provided service and your business. With today’s business environment, if you’re experiencing lagging issues with consistency and finding resolutions to your daily problems, your IT bubble is on the verge of popping.

If you’re continuously getting poor or no response from your IT provider, strongly consider reviewing your service level agreement (SLA). As a Managed Service Provider, we base our client’s success on our own ability to find resolutions in a secure and timely matter. A response time should be something you can rely upon under any circumstance. When evaluating a response time for your consideration, here are some major points to consider moving forward:

• Proactive network IT solutions: What services provided by your IT staff would you consider being actual proactive measures? This should be your number one priority when leveraging Managed Services as a remedy to your environment for your office. Instead of always counteracting the downtime by waiting for responses, make sure your IT department understands your wish to maintain a low-risk downtime in your investment of technology.

• Inconsistent helpdesk: Inconsistency is a magnet for bad customer relations between clients and employees. Again, this plays into having a preemptive strategy of technology. For example, if you’re running an e-commerce storefront and experiencing abandoned carts due to server complication, that’s just poor customer service.

• Speed is not always the best metric: Speed doesn’t compensate for poor decision making. Working with a managed service provider is in part, about having an efficient process for business continuity. Your managed service provider should cultivate a culture of partnership. Their staff should take the time to understand your complete processes as well as comprehend what process are most vital to your business. Simply going through the motions ticket after ticket, providing quick band-aid fixes for the sake of just getting things done shows incompetency. Not to mention, doesn’t help your productivity if you’re continuously calling in about the same issue.

The most reactive solution, break-fix, may seem like cost savings without having a monthly fee. With this model, typically you find a professional when something breaks and they fix the problem. However, often times this is a temporary fix and doesn’t address the root cause of the issue. In this model, typically you end up dealing with a lot more of same problems, technicians profit off your downtime and can be actually deceiving you when it comes to fixing instead of prolonging the inevitable. You’re paying the emergency response rate which can cost a fortune in a small amount of time. If you want a rundown on how SLA could impact your business check out the three models of IT here.

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5 Ways SMB’s are Using Technology as a Differentiator March 1, 2017

5 ways SMB's use technology as a differentiator

Technology can be a critical step differentiating your business. But it can seem like heavy investment involving regular setbacks as well. From servers to the cloud, PCs and mobile devices-where do you start?

To pursue these 5 ways of differentiating your own SMB, it’s all about how you transition from where you were to where you want to be in the future. Your small or midsized business will stay ahead of the curve in your industry by making a series of small steps in technology to make a huge leap. The overall goal is to utilize technology as a business advantage. According to Boston Consulting Group, technology leaders far outperform their peers in the marketplace and create jobs two-fold.

Charting your path won’t happen overnight. But having the right staff and IT personnel to transition your technology will guide you in the right direction:

Get Work Done Virtually. Anywhere

Across PCs and devices, get the files and applications you need to do your job wherever you go. Being productive on-the-go is a key element to rivaling leaders in your industry. Today, 85% of Small and Mid-sized business had employees in different cities and right now 27% of SMB’s are doing business internationally.*

Collaboration

Your IT decisions for your company will have a direct impact on your employees. Technologies such as cloud productivity and mobile help SMB’s empower their workforce to collaborate in-depth. Last year, 43% of SMB owners said cloud technology enables employees to work better together.

Customer Expectations Have Changed, Too

26% of SMB’s said their customers expect them to use solutions such as productivity software and mobile devices*. Using data insights and productivity to your competitive advantage will help you understand how your customers connect with you on a digital level. Connecting with them on their terms on a consistent basis is the key to creating happy customers with repeatable outcomes. Do your competitors know your customers better than you do? This a key question you need to ask yourself.

Increase Your Sales

Creating more outlets for relevant customer relationships will yield reachable goals towards your bottom line. Engaging your customers with tools you own and are familiar with will establish an exceptional setting to successful sales conversations. Don’t hold back your ability to transition to digital space where you can captivate your audience.

Protect and Serve Your Data

Is protection keeping you up at night? Investing in a modern platform to count on built-in protection for your IT is absolutely essential. Stop worrying about protection and focus on the core of your business. From your server to PCs and devices you have a solid option starting with the latest Windows 10 Defender buff.

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Is Poor Technology Driving Your Best Employees to the Exit Door? February 21, 2017

technology employee turnover

Most will agree that intensive screening and vetting of applicants is common practice. Your talent acquisition team might not have any problems acquiring the best talent in their pool, but are new hires finding the exit door sooner than you’d expect? One of the highest costs to your business could be attributed to employee attrition. In today’s competitive employment market this is problematic.

Could unsatisfactory technology and poor processes be urging your best talent to the exit door?

Common signs that technology could be driving people away from your business, and some insight on how to fix that include:

  • Too many tools to do their job
  • Overuse of communication tools or lack of
  • Too intensive to adopt

1. Is Your Business or Department Using Too Many Tools?

Everyone needs their own toolbox for the job but are you filling it to the brim with processes and programs you don’t even use? Imagine a scenario when you need to respond to a client. You have multiple ways of doing so, but is there specified uses on what tools you need to be using in some cases to solve an issue? Having a centralized suite of tools can sooth us into making better decisions while also staying rigid to your own set of processes.

Of course, your team needs to be agile, but you still need to be dynamic. By evaluating a job description you should be able to assess three must have tools. Try sticking to those 3 programs and you’ll start seeing simplicity.

For example, Microsoft Planner and Teams are great extensions to the office 365 suite that many employees are familiar with.

2. Collaboration: Gift and the Curse

Recognition and collaboration are more than just Employee-of-the-Month. When people see their role in a digital workspace such as Skype or Microsoft Teams it fosters a collaborative environment. Similar in concept to the idea of too much in the toolbox, too many avenues to communicate and collaborate can leave an employee confused.

Activities such as ongoing supervising of a project or task, paired with mandatory check-ins convey a sense of distrust in your talent’s ability. Rather, use digital collaboration, its a great way for constant feedback between employees to share constructive thoughts.

3. Is the Learning Curve Steeper than the Value Curve?

Constant technology outages, difficult tools to adapt and poorly integrated teamwork all spell disaster.Vet the wrong from the right with your technology partners. User adoption is the greatest barrier to technology adoption recorded by 41% of employers, according to Unified Communications Report.

In fact, 50% of all technology rollouts fail to hit adoption targets.

What this means is you need technology solutions that are intuitive and easy to adopt. There’s no one answer to solve employee churn but there are strategies you can deploy to decrease your rate. Bad technology is a path to the exit, but great technology can create a work environment that reinforces a work/life balance.

How can you make an impact with the churn? HR and I.T. play pivotal roles in peaceful onboarding and in producing the loyal highly motivated talent you sought to hire in the place.

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A Comprehensive Guide to a Balanced Diet of IT Support February 14, 2017

IT Support Model

As your company evolves, so does the need for Managed IT support. The adjustment phase for IT teams and business owners can be a real challenge for both parties involved. Your organization is maturing in the market and seeking the best opportunity to train and hire staff but you’re not sure where you’ll be in the next year in order to keep that staff. This is a common problem but, there is a recipe that could be the best IT model for your Managed IT support.

Traditional means of IT support exist either solely inside your company or outsourced IT support (that exists primarily in another city or country). Today, however, there are companies that are finding a balance. A balance to keep organization operations and overhead lean; yet, flexible enough to act as entire department for an unforeseen expansion in numbers. This model represents a hybrid approach to the traditional, that offers an internal means of internal IT inside your business. The other side of the coin represents a supplemental IT service provider that bridges the gaps to make your entire IT department seamless. A team can also deliver a wide-range of product information on the latest technology so you don’t have to spend time researching.

Is a Balanced Diet of IT Support Right for Your Company?

Major benefits of a hybrid Manage IT support model that you could start seeing right away include:

1. Reducing Cost: No more “Sunk costs are sunk” when it comes to technology expenditures. Typically, most businesses working with a Managed Service Provider start seeing a more energy efficient machine that could lower your energy costs in weeks. A proactive approach to IT can also help predict your future technology downtime, forecasting to prevent issues. Proactive = freeing up human capital with repairs and also cash resources.

2. Focus on the Core of your Business: A balance between internal and external IT Managed Support means more attention to your core business. Let your internal personnel focus on workloads that need the most attention and then pass tasks such as help desk to your Managed Service Provider.

3.Stay Upgraded: Cloud migration, network upgrade, and software patches can take a painstakingly long time. A diverse team of experts that are certified and focused in certain areas of technology for your business will keep you running at where YOUR business should be. Keeping up with industry changes will help your business solve technology problems faster.

4. Network Health: Managed IT support should require a Network Security Specialist to be at the helm. This is going beyond your regular firewall and anti-virus products. Your Network Specialist can offer a wider range of disaster and back-up solutions to quickly respond and detect any threat to your health.

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Microsoft’s Latest Windows 10 Update is More Secure Than Ever February 9, 2017

safe ransomware login

If your firm processes sensitive data, operates in regulated industries or develops intellectual property, then you know compliance and security are your highest priority. Microsoft has made security a top priority, carefully developing an operating system to protect your business with the same level of protection used by some of the world’s largest organizations.

Windows 10 latest iteration, version 1607, is the most secure OS published by Microsoft yet. The update has incorporated multiple solutions to make help protect your PC, delve into the details by reading the white paper: Ransomware Protection in Windows Anniversary.
Major improvements highlights include: 

Browser hardening: Microsoft Edge is the best it has ever been. Vision Computer Solutions’ Service Desk Manager, Chris Warnick, applauds Edge for its bolstered security. “In theory, if more people ran Edge for web browsing it would be pretty hard to get a virus. Edge’s sand-boxing virtually blocks any malicious code and exploits the virus’s hidden locations.”

The purpose of the sandbox is to limit information traveling from your browser to your system and your data. This isolates damage that could potentially wreak havoc moving from file to file inside your PC.

Windows Defender Improvements: Aimed at detecting Ransomware-related activities, Defender is proactive in the cloud and in your client. The Advanced Threat Protection helps Microsoft Business E3 customers identify and target issues.

Ready to upgrade your operating system?
The most secure edition of the Windows OS may be the most flexible. You can easily adapt to changes within your business with per-user, per-month billing. Upgrading to Windows 10 E3 lowers upfront costs, plus easily protects data, devices, and identities allowing you to focus on what your business needs to be doing. Call VCS today at (248) 349-6115 to get started on your business upgrade.

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Financial Firm Best Practice: Defending Your Firm From Zero-Day January 26, 2017

 

Zero-Day Defense

You could make the argument that no business is nine-to-five. With many applications running 24/7, this creates demand for round-the-clock availability and secure supervision of your technical infrastructure. Due to the high demand should require a vigilant search of someone who can manage stringent requirements over the confidential information your firm pledges to uphold.

As regulatory affairs become increasingly complex with mandates, more organizations are doubling their efforts in information technology. Hiring a Managed Service Provider (MSP) could be your answer to take on the bulk of this preemptive solution, but do your due-diligence. Finding the right partner to manage these operations requires evaluation. Aligning your financial firm with best practice ideals starts here:

Transparent Network

A complex firm needs to have all eyes on their network at any given time. Visibility into your environment will give you the ability to implement control when needed and also not worry when it’s time for compliance audits, making it simple to generate reports. Managing and monitoring securely gives you real-time access to portals for even more transparency.

Reliability in Your Agreements

Don’t be afraid to set high expectations for your Managed Service Provider. Always insist on an SLA that fits your operation. When determining an SLA, be sure to define how outages will be handled. A timely restore of services and procedure should be understood through a thorough disaster recovery process. Put together your own disaster recovery plan, and ensure your MSP is aligned with your expectations.

How Much Should Managed IT Services Cost?

Evaluation of any provider comes with a price: time. You can’t save it and it’s a resource you cannot get back. Don’t waste time with an IT partner that doesn’t hold themselves accountable month-to-month. Fixed IT management is a great way to oversee a stable spend on IT and stay up-to-date on changes in your industry with the latest adoption of new technology for your firm.

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