Monthly Archives: Jul 2015

Business IT Hardware
Managed Services - Technology

What Kind of IT Hardware Do My Employees Need?

When it comes to finding the right equipment for your employees or new hires, where do you start? There are so many different options when it comes to IT hardware that it can seem overwhelming. We’ve outlined some helpful steps so that you can find the right fit for your employees.

First, you want to look at the form factors and find out which of the below 3 works best for your business.

Laptop or Microsoft Surface Machines

The mobile form factor can be used for several different types of employees. If they are an employee that will be at their desk all day but require a workstation when they go home, a larger laptop with a docking station at the desk might be a better option than a smaller laptop or surface.

The larger size will normally be cheaper and provide a larger screen when working at home. If they are a sales rep or always on the go then the surface might be a better option because if it’s light weight and battery life.

Desktops

Desktop computers are going to be your cheapest option so I always recommend to really asses the employees role and see if having a stationary machine will work for them. You can get the same or better specs as a laptop at half the cost. These workstations work well for customer service reps, general office employees and most administrative positions.

If you’re looking to keep your costs lower, these will give you the biggest bang for your buck.

Thin Clients

Thin Clients are not typically something you would see in a small business but they do have a role within some organizations.

So what is a thin client? A thin client is a client designed to be especially small so that the bulk of the data processing occurs on the server. Due to its size, there isn’t a hard drive disk on the client and very minimal specifications. There are benefits to having thin clients in your organization like reduced energy bills, simplified management for your IT department, enhanced security, and increased productivity.

However, these types of networks take quite a bit to setup and maintain. You will find that you will require a full IT staff to correctly maintain the hardware which will be added costs in salaries and benefits.

The server becomes the single point of failure and terminal servers are required to be replaced every 3 to 5 years.

From a user perspective, there is a learning curve with administering thin clients and terminal servers, and will require more training for the employees who will be using these.

Some business owners believe that thin clients are more cost effective than standard desktops, however, this isn’t the case anymore.

 

After deciding the best form factors for your employees, you want to take a look at what is inside the machine.

Do you require a CD/DVD drive?

In today’s time you can probably get by without a CD/DVD drive, but if you still have some legacy programs that require a CD it is still very inexpensive to have this feature.

How much memory will you need?

Memory or RAM is what allows your computer to do multiple things at once quickly, it holds programs in a temporary memory for quick access. If you plan to be doing a lot of things at once then the more the better. Rule of thumb is to get 8GB of RAM at the minimum.

How much hard drive space?

Today the typical size is 500GB, if you have a server and require people to store information there then this should be plenty. In most cases 500GB will be enough unless you are working with very large data. If that’s the case, look at a solution with more than 500GB of hard drive space.

How big of a CPU do your employees need?

In today’s market you really have to choose between I5 and I7 processors. The I7 of course is better but may not always be for you, i5 will be more in laptops, if you are using any software that is very process heavy the i5 is enough.

Do you require dual monitors?

For me this is a must and once you have 2 monitors it will be for you too. Some employees who work simultaneously in programs will most likely need dual monitors, while those employees in admin roles might only require one.

Altogether, choosing the right hardware for your employees is essential in order for your staff to be the more productive and efficient during their work day.

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Managed Services - Technology

15 Questions to ask before hiring an MSP

So you have decided it’s time to hire an IT Managed Service Provider, but you have no idea where to start? We’ve outlined 15 questions to ask to make sure you’re making the best decision for your company.

1.  What do you do?

This sounds simple, but many companies call themselves a Managed Service Provider so having a clear understanding of the exact services they can provide for you and more importantly if they meet your needs should be first and foremost.

 

2.  Where are you located?

Finding out where the company is based can give you ease of mind. They have an office in your city? That’s great and hopefully means they will respond quicker when those emergencies come up. Likewise, you’ll be able to build a relationship with this MSP and your IT consultant can learn about your business in order to better serve your technology needs.

 

3.  Who are some of your other clients?

References are everything. Working with an MSP who doesn’t work with companies your size or perhaps doesn’t have a client base at all should be a red flag. For us, our clients would be more than happy to hop on a call to give us a reference for potential clients and this is something that is common across many service based companies.

 

4.  What experience do you have and what is your background?

Perhaps you don’t have an in office IT employee and the MSP will manage all IT Helpdesk and IT projects, therefore knowing their technical background is extremely important. Think of it this way, it’s better to ask these questions prior to having your network go out at 2AM and not being able to get the issue solved due to the lack of technical ability from your MSP.

 

5.  What’s the cost?

This sounds simple, but many IT Managed Services Companies charge very differently. Do they charge based on every time you pick up the phone? Put in a helpdesk ticket? Drive to your location? More than likely the answer to that is yes, and these fees add up quickly. (Interested in not paying those fees? Check out our custom IT Services for more info)

 

6.  How do you implement?

Almost all MSPs will need to install software onto your company devices in order to manage them remotely. Find out how they do this. After hours when it won’t disrupt your working hours or in phases over the course of several days? The main thing is that it shouldn’t be a headache for you or your business.

 

7.  What is your IT project process?

MSPs don’t just manage your computers and handle desktop support, they also can recommend IT solutions and manage the entire process of these projects. Find out what this looks like, as it will vary from each provider.

 

8.  How long does it take before we are up and running under your service?

It’s always important to know when your service begins. Is there a waiting period or can you start making calls the moment you sign the dotted line? Sometimes there’s a lead time to get your company set up on their side of things.

 

9.  Setup fees?

Just like knowing the monthly costs or monthly surcharges, it’s important to know if there are set up fees. It’s also good to ask about these costs as some MSPs will waive this fee for you. If you happen to work with us, you’re in good hands as we don’t charge set up fees.

 

 10.  Is there a contract?

We live in a day and time where you can sign up for Netflix for one month and cancel with no added fees. Contracts are becoming this way in the MSP world. Make sure you aren’t signing a 3 year contract or a contract that doesn’t make sense for your business. Or even better, find an MSP that doesn’t require a contract that way you are in complete control of your IT services.

 

11.  Vendor management?

Ever had problems with software and had to sit on hold trying to resolve them? This is something that your MSP should handle for you. Although several IT companies don’t handle vendor management, this is a HUGE benefit for you, as it’s one less thing you have to worry about. A good MSP will agree to work with the vendors, a great MSP will tell you that they will work with any vendor to resolve any issues before you ask.

 

12.  Equipment/software markup?

It’s more common for MSPs to charge mark ups on the software and hardware that you purchase therefore it’s extremely important to find out what that mark up will be. $100? $200?

Our clients who have a custom IT solution pay no markup – that’s right, we pass along all of our savings directly to you.

 

13.  Willing to work around your budget?

The IT services that you pay for need to work for you and that includes within your budget.

Sure, you might lose some services or pay a little more when you need added services but finding an MSP who is willing to find a solution within your budget is something to look for.

 

14.  Trip/labor charges?

These types of charges will make your monthly fee sky rocket. Find out these fees ahead of time, or find an MSP that doesn’t charge for trips or labor. The fact is, if you are being charged $70 to roll a truck to your site and then $110/hr for a tech to fix an issue on site, you have just spent $180 for him to just show up. The way I look at clients from an MSP’s point of view, is if you are paying me a monthly fee to manage and maintain your systems, and something breaks, why do you have to pay me again to fix something that was covered under that monthly contract?

 

15.  List the services covered under a typical contract?

Of course you will ask this, and the MSP should provide you with a scope of work. If they do not, do not sign any paper work until that is provided. The scope of work is what the MSP is responsible for under the contract or agreement. Make sure the items that were quoted are in the SOW.

 

Without these questions you could find yourself quite unhappy with services provided by an MSP. Most of these are common sense, but just treat the MSP like you are interviewing a new candidate for a position. You are the one in control of your IT services and asking the right questions before signing the dotted line can save you a lot of time, effort and headaches.

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