• 6 Best Practices for Taking Control of Your Email Inbox

    11 Sep 2018
    admin
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    Tackling email is a big task in today’s busy offices. The average office worker receives 121 emails each day. Even if you utilize organizational tricks such as filtering and labeling emails, you still aren’t limiting the number of legitimate emails that you receive each day.

    To help you finally gain control over your email inbox, here are several best practices you can implement immediately:

    1. Encourage the use of chat tools.

    Free chat tools such as Facebook Messenger are being used more frequently in the workplace to carry on brief conversations. If you find that you’re getting into single-word email exchanges with people, divert the conversation to one of your chat tools to prevent buildup in your email inbox. To encourage the use of chat tools, list them above your email address on your contact page.

    2. Enforce the 3-email rule.

    According to the 3-email rule, if it’s going to take more than 3 emails to communicate your message, pick up the phone. Being selective about responding to emails will teach people that it’s better to call you to communicate.

    3. Schedule time for email.

    Instead of checking email incessantly throughout the day, set specific times for viewing your email inbox (first thing in the morning and before you leave the office for the evening, for example). Block out time at the end of the day to respond to emails. If not responding to emails immediately causes you some anxiety, create an auto-response that makes recipients aware of when they can expect a response from you. Pressing issues should be addressed via the phone.

    4. Encourage note taking.

    Ask your employees to take notes when you’re explaining an upcoming project. This will considerably reduce the number of follow-up questions that come to you in the form of email.

    5. Have an open-door policy.

    If employees perceive you as approachable, they’ll be more likely to pick up the phone or stop by your office to ask a question rather than send you an email.

    6. Delegate.

    If you receive an excessive number of emails throughout the day, give a teammate account privileges to help you manage your email inbox.

    By putting these productivity tactics into practice, you’ll be able to gain control of your email inbox and accomplish more during your workday.

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  • It’s Not a Photocopier, It’s a Workplace Assistant

    7 Aug 2018
    admin
    224
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    By: Greg Matsis, Account Manager, Brantford and Norfolk 

    Here at The AOS Group, we are now collectively working towards changing the way people think about photocopiers. First of all they are NOT photocopiers – anymore. They are, in fact, Workplace Assistants or WPAs. This new mindset towards office efficiency is necessary due to the fact that the Xerox technology simply does so much more than the conventional photocopier used to do. As the name suggests, these devices literally assist you in the workplace to achieve tasks quickly, helping you work smarter. It is actually best to think of a Xerox WPA as a smartphone for your office. Here are three reasons why:

    1. We weren’t joking when we were comparing WPAs to smartphones. Xerox just announced that they will be making ‘Gabi’ available to their line of AltaLink products. Gabi is basically the Siri (Apple) or Alexa (Amazon) for your office. Imagine working at your desk and commanding “Gabi make 10 colour copies, double-sided, and stapled” or “Gabi, release secure print.” Now it is a reality!
    2. Xerox’s Workplace Assistants are so beneficial to the office because of the vast array of apps available from the growing Xerox App Gallery. Whether you would like to print from, or scan to, your Dropbox, GoogleDrive or OneDrive, Xerox makes that seamlessly possible. Utilizing the Get Service Now app, one can make service calls from the device, allowing for diagnostic information to be sent out automatically, enabling the experienced Xerox technicians to remedy any issue in an efficient manner.
    3. In the past, differentiating specifications such as image quality or print speeds would determine a suitable photocopier for an office. Well those were for “photocopiers.” While those specs are still important, now we encourage our clientele to also consider things like processing power. Much like a smartphone, the iPhone 8 is going to work a lot faster than the iPhone 3 for transferring data, loading apps etc. Just like the Xerox 7000 is not going to be able to process 15 employees sending simultaneous print jobs as fast the Xerox AltaLink C8030 would.

    Xerox units have definitely evolved to voice-assisting, app-heavy, powerful WPAs seen across all small, medium and large office environments. So the next time you happen to overhear a co-worker passively refer to the Xerox as a “photocopier”, don’t be afraid to correct them with something along the lines of “Hey! That’s ‘Workplace Assistant’ to you!”

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  • Wondering If It’s Time to Upgrade Your Copier? Here Are the Signs!

    7 Jun 2018
    admin
    379
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    When it comes to copiers and print equipment, many small businesses in the Hamilton and Niagara area are using some pretty old technology. Often avoiding an upgrade because of the cost, or an “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” frame of mind. Your copier is the hub of your print environment; a multifunction device where printing copying, scanning and faxing is accomplished daily. If you’re using older technology, here are a few signs it may be time for an upgrade!

    Business Goals

    Are your copiers helping you achieve your goals, or are they holding you back? If your team is spending a lot of time waiting for the copier, it might be time for an upgrade. Today’s technology is more efficient, cheaper to operate and offers many options to improve productivity.

    Unnecessary Spending 

    A new machine can actually save you money! New technology uses much less energy and requires less maintenance. Another plus is quality. New machines offer such high quality output you can take jobs back in house, saving you time and money!

    Aging Machines 

    Older machines produce lower quality copies, use more energy and require more frequent repairs. Once a machine reaches the ten year mark, the total cost of ownership outweighs the cost of a new feature rich, efficient one.

    Repeated Repairs 

    If you know your copier repair guy be name, it’s time to upgrade! Although repairs can keep an aging machine functioning, the hassle and cost can be taking a financial toll and lower your team’s morale. It mght be time to take the money your spending and put it towards an upgrade!

    Security 

    If your copier is accessible through your network it is vulnerable to breach. Security is an issue for every business today and office copiers are particularly vulnerable if not protected. New machines offer the highest levels of security built into the operating system and can not only protect your data from unauthorized access, but can monitor and guard against unauthorized use of the machine.

    There’s an App for That

    With Xerox’s iSeries line of products users can access an online app studio offering free apps that can help improve workflows by leveraging the cloud for easy access and storage of scanned documents.

    A new copier can save you money and offer better data protection. By seeing what your current copier is actually costing your business, you can more realistically gauge the cost benefits of new technology. It will not only save money, but can increase productivity and help you to meet your business goals.

    To learn more, contact us at AOS Group and we’ll find the best solution for your business and your budget!

     

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  • Explore the Unexpected Benefits of MPS

    3 May 2018
    admin
    678
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    Printing has long been considered part of the cost of doing business, yet few business owners know the true cost of printing within their organization. A Managed Print Services (MPS) provider can help, with a comprehensive assessment of your current print infrastructure to identify areas of waste and solutions to streamline your print environment. Depending on the nature of the business and how paper intensive the industry, organizations can expect to realize savings on average of 30 percent or more, in addition to a number of lesser known benefits including:

    Increased Productivity

    In larger organizations with dedicated IT personnel printer troubleshooting, repair, and maintenance are typically relegated to IT staff. Small-to-medium sized businesses however may lack the resources needed to ensure the seamless operation of their print equipment, keep up with maintenance, and manage the ordering and inventory of consumables. This type of system can lead to unqualified personnel to bear the burden of these tasks, taking time away from their core responsibilities and reducing productivity. Managed Print Services restores balance to your business by assuming these responsibilities by reducing printer downtime, and increasing productivity through enhanced document production.

    Reduced Environmental Footprint

    In an effort to increase environmental sustainability, many businesses are implementing green initiatives into everyday work processes. MPS can help transform your print environment with a number of strategies designed to reduce your environmental impact including:

    • Recycling of used cartridges
    • Print rules such as duplex or black and white only printing
    • Increased employee awareness and education
    • Upgrading inefficient or aging print equipment to new energy efficient options
    • Implementation of print restrictions by department or user
    • And more!

    Consolidated Spending 

    In an uncontrolled print environment, individuals or departments are often left to purchase their own print equipment and consumables. This can lead to an office with machines that may be inadequately sized and inefficiently located. Due to the variety of equipment from multiple manufacturers, volume discounts may be lost, while the cost of maintenance and repairs skyrockets. An MPS provider can help businesses to consolidate their spending to take advantage of savings across the board, and budget predictably for future maintenance and upgrades.

    Contact us today to learn more!

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  • How to Beat Procrastination in the Office

    21 Feb 2018
    admin
    1008
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    We’ve all been there. That big deadline is rapidly approaching and you’ve got a list of stuff that needs to get done. But you just can’t focus, or have the energy. Maybe you start on it, only to find distractions lurking everywhere…

    If you sometimes procrastinate, you’re not alone! It’s a common affliction. There are several simple ways to break the cycle and get the job done on time. Here are a few ideas to help you get started!

    • Find Your Flow – Knowing your peak work times, and how you work best is a great way to beat procrastination. Working on a project when you’re most productive and your thoughts are clear is the best way to get it done. Go with the flow! Try to avoid meetings or distractions during your peak productive periods. Stay in the flow and you’ll get the job done.
    • Avoid Multitasking – It’s difficult to do two things at once and switching your brain on and off of a task can be mentally exhausting. The best way to approach a big job is to break it down into smaller tasks. Pick one task and work on it through completion, without distractions or interruptions. Focus on each task individually.
    • Practice Discipline and Develop Routines – Workloads can sometimes become overwhelming, especially when a major deadline is looming. To avoid procrastination, develop healthy routines and practice discipline. Manage your time and you’ll drive productivity. Also, don’t be afraid to delegate! It’s an important skill. Know when to delegate and make sure you follow-up.
    • Tasks Seem Repetitive and Boring – Sometimes small tasks can weigh you down, but they have to get done! Play a game by setting a time limit for each task, and them compete against yourself and try to beat it. Each time you do, reward yourself!
    • Focus on Your Top Three Priorities First, Every Day – Pick your top three priorities each day and put them at the top of your to-do list. By prioritizing your tasks, you’ll get them done first each day.

    You can beat procrastination. With these tips and some time management, you can eliminate it from your day. Remember to delegate and prioritize. Break big jobs into smaller tasks and focus. In the end, you’ll get more done in a day than you ever thought possible!

     

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  • Document Management Benefits That Will Grow Your Business!

    28 Dec 2017
    admin
    2131
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    Today, we’re all seeking ways to control costs, and better manage information. As a result, many companies are turning to digital document management and automation. With the increase in regulation and compliance issues, along with reports and audits, managing your paper information is more difficult than ever. As businesses manage more information with fewer employees, these tasks can impact your bottom line. Often lost documents, time spent on compliance and bottlenecks are the new normal – all of which can be inhibiting your business growth.

    Document management software and automation can manage large volumes of information effectively and increase productivity while cutting your costs.

    Here are a few benefits.

    1. Availability and Accessibility – When documents are digitized they are available 24/7. Documents can be searched and recovered from anywhere at any time, and as a result, are less likely to be misfiled.
    2. Manage Due Dates, Re-Certifications and Approvals – Thanks to date tracking capabilities, you can manage everything from approvals to re-certifications automatically with no spreadsheets or paper files.
    3. Eliminate Redundancy – With a digital management system workflows and documents integrate into existing software. That means no more redundant data entry.
    4. Reliable Routing and Tracking – Documents can be set-up to go through a pre-determined process. Notifications can be automatically sent when action is required. Edits and updates can be tracked with version controls.
    5. Better Organization – Tasks can remain organized and always in-view. Nothing gets lost in the shuffle. Because notifications are automatic you can eliminate paper reminders, post-it-notes and white boards.
    6. Make Audits and Compliance Stress Free – When you need to produce compliance audits, record keeping is crucial. When documents can be tracked and accessible 24/7 information is easier to compile and due dates are more manageable. Audits become stress free.
    7. Grow Your Business While You Cut Costs – Reducing human error, improving communication, and automation can increase productivity, freeing employee time to focus on critical tasks and cut your costs.

    The takeaway? Digital document management and automating processes means easier access and management of information. It can free your staff to focus their time on mission critical tasks like growing your business. With benefits like these, implementing a digital document management solution is a smart business decision! Want to learn more? Give us a call today!

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  • 5 Money Saving Secrets of a MPS

    11 Dec 2017
    Rob Hinschberger
    1395
    0

    Are you in control of the cost of your office printing or is it controlling you?

    Earlier this year, I wrote a post about how to ask the right questions before choosing a Managed IT service provider. To continue that discussion on Managed Print Service (MPS), there are a few key features that have stood out as desirable in my conversations with customers that I think are worth sharing today.

    Two quick notes, typically devices that print 30 pages per minute or less, such as your desktop printers, would be candidates for a MPS. AOS already manages many different systems, including Brother, Dell, HP, Lexmark, Samsung, and of course .

    Now, what are those features our customers really appreciated?

    (more…)

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  • Ask the Right Questions Before Choosing a Managed IT Services Provider

    30 Nov 2017
    admin
    1059
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    Deciding to partner with a Managed IT Services provider for your small to mid-sized business is a great decision. SMBs can benefit from IT services designed to ensure efficient, consistent operation, and invaluable functions, including security, around the clock system monitoring, data management and more. Finding the right Managed IT Services for your needs can take a bit of time and research, but armed with the right questions to ask, you’ll be able to find the best provider to suit your needs.

    Here are some questions to help you get started:

    1. What types of support do you offer? Choose a Managed IT provider that offers both onsite and remote support, 24/7/365. Remote support is critical in order to detect minor issues before they can disrupt your business, and a live technician should be available any time of the day or night. Onsite support is equally as important, to ensure your equipment remains operational, provide preventive maintenance, and address any concerns you may have in person.

    2. What is your track record? Opt for a provider with a proven record for client retention and longevity, with knowledgeable, experienced staff.

    3. Is there anything you would like to know about our organization? The right provider will want to know everything about your business to understand your unique requirements and goals.

    4. Do you have experience within our industry? Your Managed IT Services provider should understand the specifics of your particular industry, in order to provide insight for improvements beyond the scope of your hardware.

    5. Do you have a dedicated monitoring system in place? Around the clock, remote monitoring is the best way to detect and solve issues before they shut down your operation. Choose a provider that offers complete monitoring for all network devices, servers, firewalls, routers and more.

    Are you considering partnering with a Managed IT Services provider but aren’t sure where to start? Why not give us a call and we’d be pleased to answer any questions you may have.

    How secure are the printers in your office? Take our quick printer security assessment and find out if your office printers are putting your business at risk.  You could win one of three Google Assistants!

     

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  • Make the Most of Your Time in the Cloud

    20 Oct 2017
    admin
    901
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    Although the cloud has been readily available for public use for over 20 years, not everyone realizes the extent that it can benefit their organization.

    The term was coined in the late 90’s and is essentially a metaphor for the Internet, referencing the location of data, services, and applications not found on a local hard drive. By storing and accessing information in the cloud businesses can experience a number of benefits, but before you consider making the move it’s important to learn the basics in order to maximize your investment and your profits.

    Benefits of the Cloud

    Cost Savings

    In a more traditional environment individual organizations host their applications and data on an internal server, resulting in significant expenditures for the costs associated with installation, maintenance, staffing, replacement and infrastructure. Cloud computing reduces or eliminates many of these costs with external hosting often based on a pay-as-you-go model, where you only pay for what you use.

    Scalability

    With the cloud, long gone are the days of having to worry about having enough computing power and capacity. The cloud evolves as your business evolves, helping to minimize the list of speed bumps that your businesses faces through growth periods.

    Accessibility

    Information, services, or applications which are cloud based can be accessed on any Internet-enabled device such as a smartphone, laptop, or tablet, whether in or out of the workplace. This enhanced flexibility can help to increase productivity and employee satisfaction, while strengthening collaborative efforts through the secure sharing of documents and other files among team members.

    Security

    The two major threats to the integrity and safety of your sensitive data are theft and damage, both of which can be addressed with cloud computing. Hardware failure due to system malfunction or disaster such as fire or flooding is avoided as multiple backups and redundancies are integrated into cloud services. Threats from hackers or thieves are impeded by teams of industry professionals dedicated to the implementation of the most up to date security solutions for added peace of mind.

    Data storage is a key element in any business plan, and cloud computing provides many significant benefits which can help propel your business forward and stay ahead of the competition.

     

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  • How to Avoid Interruptions in Meetings

    10 Oct 2017
    admin
    1824
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    Every meeting has a common flaw: interruption. One of the common mistakes you may face is being so eager to be in the presence of the person you’re meeting with, you feel as though you can anticipate their responses and answer them before they ask.

    The following are some of the lessons I’ve learned (the hard way) about interrupting:

    1. W.A.I.T.
    2. Silence is not bad
    3. Write your thoughts

    1) W.A.I.T. (or as my brother-in-law has taught me) Why Am I Talking?

    To add your two cents to the conversation, you may have caught yourself adding a point that was not relevant just for the sake of being a part of the dialogue. Sometimes this addition doesn’t add any substance to the discussion and interrupts a significant train of thought. Instead of speaking out, W.A.I.T. and consider if what you have to say is really adding to the meeting or if it’s just you blurting out how sunny it is outside.

    2) Silence is not bad

    Although sometimes a five second pause may seem like five hours, silence is not always bad. After knowing how to read different personalities, it will be easier to spot when a customer is marinating on a thought. Again, interrupting about the weather is still not relevant.

    3) Write your thoughts

    The prospect/customer is excited about what you have to offer and goes on and on about their problems. Beautiful!

    Do you have all the answers in the world? Yes? Perfect (no you still shouldn’t interrupt).

    Write down any questions they have and bring them up after they’ve finished their point. Interrupting the potential customer may cause you to miss important points.

    Interrupting is a bad habit and may show whoever you’re speaking with that you’re not listening. This has been a key lesson for me in my two years at AOS. Try these suggestions out and let me know what you think.

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