4 Things You Should Absolutely Demand From Your IT Services Firm

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How much do you rely on your IT services provider? It’s shocking to think that a lot of small businesses outsource their IT (which is a good thing), only to get little to nothing out of that relationship.

What is that?

Well, some businesses just aren’t proactive. They only rely on their IT services company when something goes horribly wrong. If there’s a network failure or their website gets hacked, they’ll make the call to their IT people, but that’s the extent of the relationship.

On the other side of the same coin, there are a lot of IT companies that wait around for that phone call. They don’t work with their clients as closely as they should. Both of these reasons are irresponsible.

First and foremost, business owners should work closely with their IT professionals. They should have the staff and resources to not only address your IT emergencies but also to keep your business safe and secure to minimize those emergencies. Here are four things you should ask of your IT services provider.

“Keep my business safe!” Your IT company should make sure your network security, firewalls, malware protection, etc., are installed, operating and upto-date. They should be working with you to do everything that both parties can do to keep your business’s data secure and make sure it can be restored in the rare event that data loss does occur. Keeping your customer data secure should be a top priority. Don’t take unnecessary risks, because when you do, the consequences can be devastating.

“Help me keep costs down!” You may have outsourced your IT for many reasons including to save money. Hiring an internal IT person or staff can be a massive expense (plus, many SMEs simply don’t have the revenue to sustain IT personnel or a team of IT personnel to cover the full range of expertise that comes with outsourcing to a specialist company). However, your IT company or in-house team should be working to maintain your network and associated hardware and software. They are there to help you avoid costly disasters like data loss or network downtime. If you handle a lot of data or rely on technology, your IT company can be an invaluable asset. You literally pay them to save money.

“Help me stay proactive!” An experienced IT company can often spot an issue before it becomes an issue. They keep your network updated and maintained, and they can help you avoid unnecessary downtime. Working closely with your IT company means you aren’t skimping on security, and this alone puts you ahead of so many other businesses that do. Make sure you have an open line of communication between your business and your IT team, even if that means scheduling regular calls and meetings. You should regularly talk about security and know about the issues that may impact your business, whether it’s an equipment concern or a hacker threat. Planning and budgeting for the future is also imperative. On top of that, tell your customers you care about the security of your business and their data. They will appreciate it - seriously!

“Keep my network up-to-date!” This covers a lot of ground. Your outsourced IT should be keeping your security updated, from your firewall to your malware protection, but they should also be keeping your network tech updated too. Hackers look for weaknesses in network tech every day – weak spots that allow them to capture data from your network. Sometimes they exploit the firmware, and sometimes it’s the hardware. Regardless, you should always rest assured that your IT company is doing everything they can within the budget you set to keep your network as updated as possible.

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If your IT company isn’t doing any of these things, you need to get on the phone with them NOW! Don’t put your business at risk because you only make the call after the worst-case scenario has occurred. Waiting until something breaks is a dangerous and costly way to do business. It’s time to be proactive and get the most out of the relationship you have with your IT company.

Help Us Out And We’ll Give You £50.00 For Your Trouble

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When customers and business associates like you tell us that we’re doing a great job, it makes our day! It reaffirms our belief that adhering to our company’s core values bring about a big WIN – WIN for both of us. That’s why we actively look for new customers whose core values closely resemble ours. We believe that’s how healthy, lasting relationships are forged.

Vermont are very pleased to announce the launce of a new 30/100 Programme

For further details please visit: www.vermont.co.uk/referral-programme/


SHINY NEW GADGET OF THE MONTH:
Dyson Pure Hot + Cool Air Purifier

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The Dyson Pure Hot + Cool Air Purifier takes air purification to the next level. It’s a fan, heater and air purifier all in one. It includes a HEPA filter that helps reduce allergens and pollutants as it quietly cycles air through your home, office or the room of your choice.

One of the best features of the air purifier is the ability to monitor the air quality in real time, and the information appears on an easy-to-read display. Through this display, you can actually see your home’s air quality improve!

On top of this, the air purifier is an Internet of Things device. Connect it to your WiFi and control it directly from your smartphone, or enable voice control.

Priced at £549.00 from www.dyson.co.uk


6 Ways To Make Your Business Money While You Sleep

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1. MAKE YOURSELF INTO A PRODUCT.

Position yourself as the authority in your niche. Develop products like videos or books that share your secrets of success. The beauty of a book is that, once the hard work is over - it’s written, edited and published - you simply collect the proceeds.

2. DO FEWER THINGS.

It’s impossible to automate aspects of your business if you do everything personally. Train your staff to handle certain aspects of your business and simplify your output. Identify strengths and streamline your offerings.

3. CREATE CONTINUITY.

Invoicing for each service or product you supply is volatile. Your revenue and your client’s expenses vary wildly. By selling a service at a fixed fee, you create reliable income and provide clients with predictable expenses. Both parties are invested in maximum efficiency - maximising quality and minimising hassle.

4. BECOME THE MIDDLEMAN.

Find a way to broker business and let other people do the work for you. Becoming an Amazon affiliate is a great example. You link to their site, they sell, and you make money.

5. BECOME A TEACHER.

Find ways to teach other entrepreneurs how to acquire the skills necessary for opening their own business modelled on yours. Say you own a successful printing company. You could write a book or create a series of instructional videos on your path to success. This will also generate greater awareness for your business.

6. BECOME AN INVESTOR.

Money makes money, but it’s important that you’re careful about how you invest as an entrepreneur. Look at your clients and assess their needs. Find a company that addresses those needs and invest there. Not only will you be forging an even stronger bond between your company and others that focuses on enhancing client relationships, but you also cement your position in your customers’ minds as the business that caters to their desires.

If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die - Warren Buffett (net worth $82 billion!)


Don’t Make This £10,000-An-Hour Mistake

If your network fails or you experience a power outage, your business will come to a screeching halt. You are not making new sales or communicating with clients. You’re basically inaccessible until everything comes back online.

Over 50% of businesses take more than an hour to get back up after a crash or power cut. Those are the lucky ones that can get back up and running. Who knows how long the outage may last? Each hour down is an estimated loss of £10,000 for the ‘average’ business. While power cuts are a contributor to downtime and lost revenue, other causes include failing or aging technology, applications that aren’t kept updated and security breaches.

You don’t want to put yourself in a position where downtime becomes an expensive risk. What can you do? Get an up to date monitoring service! Monitoring services can keep tabs on your infrastructure and report their status 24/7. You’ll know what’s working and what’s not, and you’ll be able to respond to issues faster. That equals less downtime and less money lost. Regular health checks on your equipment, budgeting and planning for renewals and general best practice will save you a lot of money and stress in the future.

Small Business Trends, 08/10/2019


6 Things Successful People Do Right Before Going To Bed

Read - Many of the world’s most successful people are big readers. They take time every night to read, which sharpens creative and critical thinking skills.

Avoid Technology - They shut off electronic devices and let the brain relax. Blue light from our devices, including TVs and smartphones, makes it hard for our brain to prepare for sleep and can be very disruptive.

Walk - A few minutes of walking just before bed helps to reduce stress and anxiety. Walking is another great way to decompress after a long day.

Make Lists - We all have things we need to do tomorrow. Writing these tasks down gives our brains one less thing to think about, which equals better sleep.

Meditate - Ten minutes of meditation can do the mind and body good. Apps like Calm can help you focus and achieve inner peace before bed.

Reflect - Specifically, reflect on what went well. Going to bed with positive thoughts is a great way to elevate your mood and stay motivated.

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Vermont Systems Thwart a £100,000 Cyber Attack!

We were recently informed that attending a Vermont hosted Cyber Crime Prevention event had saved a local company £100,000 in a sophisticated cyber fraud attempt. The delegate said that the information they had learned at the event prevented the company from being a victim of the fraud. Had they not attended it would have been a very different story.

The next Cyber Crime Prevention event is taking place in Basingstoke on 4th December. It is free to attend but registration is imperative.

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Register: vermont.co.uk/events/cybersecurity-seminar-hampshire/


An Introduction - Microsoft Office 365

Oliver Mackley, Director

Microsoft’s Office suite was invented in 1981, and I remember using at Uni in 1996, so for years we have been used to working with it for word processing, email, spreadsheets and presentations. Outlook, Word, Excel, etc. are the de-facto products for businesses, students and home users (in my humble opinion). Like any good product, Microsoft continues to invest and re-invent the suite.

A few years (apparently 2011) back they introduced Office 365 but it wasn’t until 2017 that Office365 revenue overtook conventional Office software sales. Office365 is Microsoft’s line of subscription services hosted on their own computing environment, which is commonly known as Cloud computing.

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An office in the cloud – sounds marvellous, right? By moving to cloud computing in your office, you'll find it's more than marvellous, it's miraculous - as all your IT worries about reliability and productivity float away into the atmosphere. The magic of the cloud has changed forever the way that small and medium size businesses use technology to grow and be more efficient.

Office 365 is the cloud-based version of most of the applications you already know, and a lot that have additional capabilities you may not have today. Office 365 includes these primary components:

  • Exchange Online- the enterprise class email engine.
  • Onedrive - 1TB of storage space in the cloud to store, backup and easily share files.
  • OneNote - It gathers users' notes (handwritten or typed), drawings, screen clippings and audio commentaries.
  • SharePoint Online - the collaboration, document storage and sharing engine.
  • Teams is a unified communications platform that combines persistent workplace chat, video meetings, file storage (including collaboration on files), and application integration.
  • Delve - Use Delve to manage your Office 365 profile, and to discover and organise the information that's likely to be the most interesting to you right now - across Office 365.
  • Mobile Apps - All the Office applications you love, now accessible via apps on your phones and tablets.
  • Office Professional Plus - the same desktop software you use today, for a single monthly fee per user

Cloud migration made easy
No stress. No downtime. Complete within a week.
Vermont makes the move to the cloud easier to implement and painless to manage.

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With any change there is always the perceived risk of downtime. With the Vermont Systems approach, that risk disappears. Rather than a long migration process full of unexpected bumps and loss of productivity, we have a far superior way.

Your experience during the migration really counts. We know that you cannot afford downtime, with the many repercussions that this involves; losing stored emails, and other disasters that affect employee productivity and frustration. Vermont’s Cloud Migration Service (CMS) makes it easy, fast and safe to move to Office 365.

We can swiftly move you from initial Office 365 purchase, to planning, moving and setup without the stress and loss of staff productivity.

Wondering where to start? For a limited time, Vermont is offering our Office 365 Readiness Consultation and Assessment for FREE. This assessment evaluates your IT environment and provides a personalised plan for your smoothest migration to the cloud. We provide this service with absolutely no obligation or sales pressure.

"Teams is central to how we work. I have all my workplace applications and documents everywhere I go. This has been crucial in the role I perform allowing me to work securely, flexibly and efficiently. I can access everything I need and collaborate and work with my colleagues back in the office or at any other site quickly and easily." – Sam Wildrige, Technical Alignment Manager, Vermont Systems

Please call us on 023 8098 3405 or email oliverpmackley@vermont.co.uk to arrange a convenient time for someone from our specialist team to visit your premises. Offer ends 29th November 2019.


Preparing for Winter

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You may have seen recent reports from independent forecasters, that warn Britain is about to be plunged into the deep freeze - ahead of what could be one of the coldest winters for 60 years! We at Vermont are busy finetuning our existing protocols and assisting clients in preparation for this.

Here are some helpful tips – just in case!!!

  1. Make detailed plans, well in advance. You need to sit down with everyone involved and look at what needs to be done, by whom, and when. Don’t just stick to what you’ve done in the past but try to think afresh about how to approach every aspect of bad weather planning.

  2. Find out the legal situation. Read up on your employment policies on severe weather conditions so that you know what’s reasonable to expect of your staff and what’s not. The policies cover issues including entitlement to time off; entitlement to paid or unpaid leave; working from home; flexible working hours to avoid rush hour traffic and travel; and other provisions relating to your business and operational requirements. Don’t forget, proper consultation with staff is a requirement, and getting buy-in early on provides you with that framework to manage issues when the bad weather hits. Communicate and document the findings of course.
  3. Home workers are often more efficient than office-based workers – and certainly more efficient than people who turn up after a three hour journey and then spend an hour discussing how bad it was, and how soon they should leave to get home. With the right rules, security – and technology – in place you can make sure work gets done and make staff very grateful to you too.
  4. The right technology outside the office. You need to work this out in advance, or it won’t work. Do staff have laptops? Do they have decent, secure internet connection at home? Can they easily and securely access work servers remotely – and do they actually know how to do it?
  5. The right technology inside the office. How is your in-house network set up? Can it be accessed remotely? What if there’s a power failure? Do you have up to date records of every member of staff’s mobile and home numbers – and can you access them remotely if you can’t get in yourself?
  6. Communicate. Keep in touch with everyone throughout the course of the bad weather – make sure they feel involved (and encouraged to keep working, instead of digging out their driveway). Conference facilities and chat software can be extremely efficient for keeping a “live” conversation going. If you don’t use Office 365 and Teams already, please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss this and other recommendations.
  7. Contingency planning. What will you do if the server fails and no one can access anything? How good is your back up system? If the snow brings down power lines, is there any risk of you losing data permanently? If you don’t already, it might be worth considering cloud based solutions now, even just as a back up, to ensure staff can access enough information to keep a skeleton service running.
  8. Encourage staff to plan ahead. What will they do if they can’t get out of their road? How will they assess the travel situation and make a decision on whether to set off? How and when will they let you know if they’re not coming? It’s important to take into consideration the advice set out by the emergency services. If the police have issued a warning not to travel unless absolutely necessary, then this should be seriously considered and not be ignored. It’s crucial to assess what is reasonable risk for your employees and to advise them accordingly.
  9. Invest in reliable, up to date software and equipment. You may have invested in snow tyres for company cars, after too much slipping and sliding last year. It’s worth buying in grit supplies before they sell out, as they always seem to – you don’t want anyone getting to work and then falling over in the car park. We also encourage staff to put together “winter packs” for their cars, with shovels, blankets, in-car phone chargers, hot drinks, food and water. If they get stuck on the motorway, or in a bank of snow, at least they’ll be warm and fed.
  10. Bring in expertise. You can’t know, or do, everything yourself. Sometimes it’s worth turning to the experts and listening to what they have to say. Do that early in the process, rather than in a last minute panic when people are stuck trying to get to work, at home and unable to work and you’re losing business because of it.

The main message is to plan, plan, and plan some more – make sure everyone knows what’s expected of them, what they can do if they can’t get in – and do lay down some rules about what weather is “bad enough”, too, in case anyone starts pushing the boundaries too far.

Please don’t hesitate to contact Vermont if you would like to discuss how we can help.

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Client Testimonial 01

"At all stages Vermont has remained in close communication, tackling any problems cheerfully and efficiently"

Running an investment specialist IFA needs complex integration of numerous databases and systems...

Richard Palmer,
Senior Planner
Murdoch Asset Management

Client Testimonial 02

"We've set ourselves ambitious plans for business expansion through 2019 and are confident that Vermont will provide their support and guidance to help us achieve them"

This is a long-term relationship offering long-term benefits all round.

Sarah Kay,
Office Manager
Turbo Service International