Cloud computing can offer many benefits for your business, but it means trusting a provider with your data and applications. This makes choosing the right provider essential, so you know your data is safe and accessible. Before committing to a cloud provider, here are some things to look into.
When you’re talking about data, security should be a top concern. You should understand how the data is monitored and maintained to protect both your data and your privacy. It may be helpful to ask where the cloud servers are geographically located to further understand the local laws and risks your data may be subject to.
Your cloud provider should perform regular virus scanning and updates, as well as be committed to keeping security patches up to date. User audit trails will help you track who is accessing your data, and two-factor authentication can enhance your security.
One of the benefits of cloud computing is the ability to access your data anytime and anywhere. However this requires your cloud provider to have this type of access. You should know how to add and delete authorized users, and have an authentication policy that aligns with your security goals. If your cloud provider doesn’t allow instant access to all your data, you should understand the turnaround time and be sure it will work for your business.
Whether from a hardware failure or natural disaster, data loss can occur. Before entrusting a cloud provider with your data and applications, you should understand their back-up policies. Routine back-ups to offsite servers give you a better chance of recovering your data if disaster strikes. All back-ups should be done with encryption to provide enhanced security.
Contracts eventually come to an end, so you should also understand the data recovery policy for terminated contracts. How do you get your data back, do they provide assistance, and how much time do you have to complete the process? These are all helpful things to know before you sign the contract.
Cloud computing puts your data and applications onto third party servers to allow you greater access from a variety of locations and at any time – but it comes with risks. By properly vetting your cloud provider before entrusting them with your data, you can reduce your risk and find a provider that will allow you to experience the benefits of the cloud.
Contact us to learn more!
By: Greg Matsis
Often when businesses are small scale or are just starting out they hear “Xerox” and immediately respond with “we’re too small for that” or “we don’t really print a lot so you wouldn’t be of much help.” This couldn’t be further from the truth! A Xerox solution is no longer just a significant investment in a traditional floor standing copier. At AOS we take each client’s needs into account and build a customized solution, including a variety of product offerings. So in fact there is NO such thing as too small. Here are three reasons why!
We are here to cater to your needs and accommodate your budget. Too many times we see reputable business owners using an inexpensive printer that they bought at a local retail outlet. Unfortunately, what customers don’t realize is the large amount they’ll spend regularly on toner cartridges following this purchase. Not to mention the old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ applies in this case as these ‘retail’ printers usually do not stand the test of time in a paper-centric office setting. With an AOS solution we offer Xerox desktop printers equipped with all-inclusive service plans that cover you for setup, proactive toner replenishment, parts, and on-site service. Additionally you can expect a much more robust enterprise level device that can handle large workloads for many years to come. The printer is the central pulse of most office environments and a Xerox device will help you make the right investment in the forefront so your business can have peace of mind.
Don’t Get hacked!
Furthering the notion of our enterprise grade devices are the security factors that come into play. Most products found at retail outlets are meant for home settings. Most times they are not equipped with the security to deal with sensitive information on the networks connected to the printer. With ransomware and other virus threats being an unfortunate daily reality existing in the internet world customers want to do everything possible to avoid putting their company at risk. Xerox products offer Cisco TrustSec network security and McAfee Anti-Virus protection on top of an abundance of embedded security features so customers can rest assured their data is safe.
No Paper, No Problem!
If you are a business that rarely prints paper don’t give up on an AOS solution just yet! Our partner Xerox has been making significant strides in the digital transformation, investing in alternative digital solutions for customers who are paperless. Are you in need of a way to manage electronic invoicing? Xerox offers customized software solutions that will help your business track, manage and invoice your clients. Do you need help with back scanning or transitioning banker’s boxes to digital documents? AOS can provide high-speed scanning devices for ongoing day-to-day operations. Additionally, Xerox offers an efficient scanning service which involves handling large volumes of physical files and converting them digitally, quickly, and securely.
If you think your office may not require the large floor standing copier, do not underestimate your needs as “small” or “startup” by thinking that Xerox and AOS are “too big for me.” Our enterprise level desktop devices offer the same features and benefits for smaller scale operations. When you combine this with the digital software solutions and service offerings from Xerox, it confirms that AOS can bring substantial value to any business, no matter the size or scope!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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:
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!
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!
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!
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Eliminate Redundancy – With a digital management system workflows and documents integrate into existing software. That means no more redundant data entry.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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?
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!