Microsoft Office 365 Logo

Is Office 365 Right for Your Business?

How often have you struggled to keep up with software vital to your day-to-day business dealings and wished there was an easier, and cheaper, way to upgrade? The Microsoft Office applications we know are now cloud-synced and accessible from any device, so you’ll never be without them again.

Not all office resources give your business the same functionality. Using outdated software can slow your employees, cause confusion, and impact your productivity, ultimately affecting your bottom line.

Anderson Technologies hears many first-hand accounts of clients struggling to cope with sub-par yet well-known applications. If you’re fighting poor cloud services and incompatible programs, consider Microsoft Office 365 Business to make your company’s operations cohesive and your applications more integrated.

What Does Office 365 Offer?

Depending on your business software needs, Microsoft offers several license plans to fit your budget.

Here are three popular choices for small businesses:

  1. Business Essentials provides users with business email and other collaborative services such as Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams, SharePoint intranet, and OneDrive cloud storage and sharing. It is meant to help your team members work together effectively from many different locations at a reasonable price point but does not include ongoing licensing for standard Office products like Word, Excel, etc.
  2. Business is for those who want cloud licensing for applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook, but not business email or many of the collaborative options. It also offers OneDrive cloud storage and sharing services. With this option, you receive both installed and web-accessible versions of the Office product family.
  3. Business Premium includes everything in Business Essentials and Office 365 Business, as well as extras such as Microsoft StaffHub and Business Center.

Office 365 works well for a business that needs a variety of applications and team tools or one that merely wants reliable email and cloud storage. For a reasonable monthly cost, users receive access to a suite of applications and tools, making it easy for your business to begin collaborating with ease no matter where you work.

Why Should You Consider Office 365?

Office 365 provides:

  • Full productivity, email, and applications in one integrated account
  • Streamlined mobile access from anywhere on any device
  • Continually updated software
  • Functionality with minimal glitches or lag

Anderson Technologies works with Box as well as other providers and believes Office 365’s OneDrive/SharePoint offering provides an integrated solution for cloud services and document sharing. Some cloud services suffer from routine glitches in file sharing and lags in uploads, downloads, or collaborative real-time work. Clients who switch to Office 365 report a more satisfying and efficient user experience.

Like Google Docs, Office 365 keeps the most recent version of your document up to date and marks the location of each active user in a file so you can work together collaboratively at the same time without worrying about overriding data.

All the applications in Office 365 are designed to be used together, which saves time otherwise spent ensuring various software functions effectively together. Since Office 365 provides you with the most up-to-date version of applications, you can ensure all members of your team are saving to the same compatible file formats.

Email Migration

In addition to these tools, it’s wise to have an IT professional assist with the transition. A managed services provider like Anderson Technologies can make this transition as seamless as possible.

The Hidden Gems of Office 356

While the features listed above make up the bulk of Office 365’s usefulness, there are a few aspects you may not be aware of that can save your business money and hassle.

  • Non-profits: If you’re a non-profit organization, Office 365 should be on your radar. Microsoft offers 510(c)(3) non-profits free email services and a considerable discount on all other business-related products. These are the same enterprise-grade applications and services for a fraction of the cost.
  • Compliance: Ensuring private data meets federal privacy standards can be a daunting task, especially when you want to move your information to the cloud. Microsoft works to make its offerings complaint for a variety of regulations, including FISMA, HIPAA, and HITRUST.
  • Privacy: Microsoft explicitly states that they are “the custodian or processor of your data.” This means that you are the sole owner of your data and Microsoft will use it only “for purposes consistent with providing you services you pay [them] for.” There is no worry that Microsoft will access your data, use it for marketing information, or hold it hostage should you chose to leave. They also offer complete control to determine who in your organization is allowed access to the data you store.

Figuring out what products work best for your business is a decision you shouldn’t take lightly. Software and cloud storage solutions are an investment, and you should consult your IT department or managed services provider before moving forward with any major purchase. Office 365 works well with other vendors, and we recommend switching if you’re not happy with your current services.

Are you ready to upgrade to Office 365? If so, contact Anderson Technologies at 314.394.3001 or info@andersontech.com today!

Use Managed IT Services to Handle Common Tech Problems

4 Common Tech Problems Impeding Your Business’s Growth

Like most business owners who live and breathe their enterprises, you and your long-time employees are probably familiar with the quirks and qualms of your office technology.

Does one of the front-desk workstations sluggishly boot up at the beginning of the day or frequently crash? Do your mobile devices only pick up a wireless internet connection on one side of the office? Simply coping with these issues costs your business valuable time and money.

Without a consistent framework for growth in place to manage your technology, your business may face unnecessary challenges preventing it from reaching full potential. This was the case for the corporate office of a large property management company based in Florida that manages many residential properties throughout the southeastern US and Arizona.

Having grown from a start-up to midsize company in just a few short years, the company inherited a significant number of legacy IT systems and hardware from acquisitions.  It didn’t have a scalable platform to support further growth.  “We’d been growing very quickly and didn’t have a solid foundation for IT,” says Todd Reid, Vice President of Finance and Administration. “As we acquired new properties and hired more people, we decided we needed one standardized system that met all our business requirements and was available to all employees. We couldn’t afford to continue with a mix-and-match approach. It wasn’t efficient.”

“It also became clear that we needed someone to manage IT on an ongoing basis,” says Reid, “not only for the right functionality, but also for security and helping us make the right choices.”

When Reid contacted Anderson Technologies, it was not only to bring on a managed IT services partner to handle an expansive company network, but also to build a platform that could be used to efficiently onboard new properties for years to come.

Principal Mark Anderson worked closely with Reid, first evaluating the corporate headquarters’ immediate needs. The two also discussed to what extent Anderson Technologies would be involved. “At first, we looked at using a consultant,” says Reid, “but we quickly realized that we need more than just a part-timer who is ‘on call.’ We needed someone who was willing to take ownership.”

Anderson quickly identified areas where the company had learned to cope and where radical improvement was needed. With the help of Anderson, Reid and his team became aware of how legacy infrastructure adversely affected the company’s operations.

Four common technology problems came to the forefront after an initial assessment.

  1. Unreliable and Slow Internet Connection

One of Anderson’s first priorities was helping Reid get their internet up to snuff. “The company network was completely wireless, and they were paying for a 300 Mb connection,” says Anderson.  “However, their laptops were only getting anywhere from 1 to 12 Mb. Abysmal!”

From VoIP telephone services dropping or not receiving calls, to slow access to vital documents, a temperamental internet connection has many costs. Inconsistent access or frustrated clients may result in lost sales and wasted time.

Not only was the network unreliable and slow, the entire network was running on a single wireless router provided by their internet service provider—a router without an enterprise-grade firewall. “We had an unsecured network that really didn’t have any kind of firewall on it,” explains Reid.

Anderson recognized the office’s physical environment was greatly impacting the network’s performance and reliability. “They were in a high-density office building,” Anderson says, “so tons of businesses were fighting each other for clean Wi-Fi.”

Wired connections to stationary devices proved a perfect solution. Hardline connections aren’t subject to severe weather or frequency interference. Anderson says, “Unless you hammer a nail through it, the wire in the wall is good forever.”

Maintaining a wireless option was still important to the company. Employees who travel to the properties need an internet connection for their laptops and mobile work devices while they’re at corporate headquarters. To give them the wireless support they need, Anderson Technologies installed a Meraki device, an enterprise-grade wireless network and security appliance.

“What’s great about our Meraki solution,” says Anderson, “is it automatically detects channels with lots of interference and auto-selects the cleanest one. The speed is now dramatically improved.” After Anderson Technologies’ intervention, its wireless devices now regularly see 250 Mb instead of 1 to 12 Mb!

  1. Outdated Hardware

Reid had many remote employees who work on machines that should have been retired years ago, not realizing their equipment barely qualifies as home-grade. This was especially the case with many of its more mature properties. Every property operated under varying technological standards. Machines at some properties were still running Windows Vista!

“We’ve grown really quickly through acquisition,” says Reid.  “Elena [a member of the Anderson Technologies team] helped us put together a survey of all our hardware [at different properties]. She made sure that we knew what was out there and made recommendations for replacement.”

Because the organization was growing so quickly, discovering this information and securing recommendations was vital. Anderson Technologies got “everyone onto hardware that actually works for what we need,” according to Reid.

The recommendations ensured that not only was hardware up to date, but they were enterprise-grade and protected against today’s cyber security threats.

  1. Inconsistent Email Configuration

Beyond building out the company’s hardware and network infrastructure, Anderson Technologies also took charge of internal organization. When onboarding new properties, Reid noticed wildly disparate email configurations. “It was clear that the way it had been configured wasn’t right and there were downsides to continuing to use it,” says Reid.

The answer for these disparate systems was to migrate everything to a single Office 365 environment. This system of tools and applications enables every employee to work on the same cloud infrastructure. Office 365 also houses the company’s email, and moving forward as new properties are acquired, they’ll be seamlessly integrated into the primary email domain.

In concert with Microsoft’s Office 365 platform, Anderson Technologies’ remote monitoring and management platform makes a difference when it comes to IT support and rapid issue remediation. “It’s the right solution for us,” Reid says.

  1. Missing a Strong, Multi-Layered Backup Solution

With the corporate headquarters located in Florida, natural disasters such as hurricanes are a concern to the company. While Tampa was largely spared from 2017’s Hurricane Irma, elsewhere in Florida, more than 58,000 insurance claims were filed for commercial property and business interruption.

“One of our biggest potential IT risks is data loss,” says Reid. “I wanted to make sure that our financial data is covered by a real-time backup solution.”

Anderson installed a Datto device that serves as a standalone server backup with a redundant cloud backup to Datto’s two geographically dispersed data centers. This way, if a disaster hit corporate headquarters, the local data infrastructure could be almost immediately virtualized and made accessible online via Datto’s proprietary cloud platform.

When Reid and his colleagues discussed whether a managed IT service provider was right for them, it became clear that the IT solution Anderson Technologies provided was exactly what they needed. “It’s nice to have somebody who’s monitoring the status, health, and warranty of everything out there to feel much safer against any kind of threat,” says Reid.

What seemingly inescapable tech problems plague your business? Are there issues that may be affecting your speed and efficiency? Are you ready to utilize managed IT services to find out? Let us know by requesting a free consultation today, or call 314.394.3001 to speak with a member of our team!

Build a Cyber Security Sandwich and Keep Your Business Safe

Quotables: Building a Cyber Security Sandwich with Common Sense (Home Business Magazine)

Check out Mark Anderson’s recent guest contribution on Home Business Magazine, an article that uses a sandwich analogy to explain the benefits of a multi-layered cyber security approach!

Read the full article on the Home Business Mag website.

https://homebusinessmag.com/management/how-to-guides-management/building-cyber-security-sandwich-common-sense-defending-small-business-deliciously

Are you in need of expert IT consulting?  Anderson Technologies is a St. Louis IT consulting firm that specializes in system administration for small businesses.  Let us help you today!  Give us a call at 314.394.3001 or email us at info@andersontech.com.

What are Quotables?  This is a category in our posts to highlight any professional publications that benefit from our expert IT consulting advice and quote us in articles for their readers.