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Category: Business Continuity, Customer Service, IT Support.

Great customer service should be provided consistently at all times.  The COVID-19 pandemic has no doubt highlighted the good, the bad, and the ugly IT & telephony support companies.  So, how has your provider fared?  Do you feel they have stepped up and provided solutions to support your business during these difficult times?

If not, how secure and ready do you feel for what’s next as furlough eases and staff return to work?

Below is a six-point checklist to score how proactive your current IT & telephony provider has been in supporting you before and during the pandemic; and to be transparent, we’ve asked our clients how they think we’ve fared.

  1. Prior to the pandemic, did your provider offer you help and advice regarding remote working options for your business?

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created major challenges for businesses, particularly around working remotely. I’m pleased that we’re in a strong position thanks to the recommendations made to us by The PC Support Group late last year.

Having originally hosted our emails and files on our office-based server they recommended moving our email and files to Office 365 and SharePoint, providing a more robust and secure infrastructure. Also, importantly, it meant our staff would have secure, remote access instantly anywhere, anytime – giving us the ability to stay in touch, access and share documents, and work together wherever.

Previously, remote working would have proved very challenging putting pressure on the office internet and network with a huge risk of losing access to all our emails and files; without which we would not have been able to continue operating.

For us, the transition to remote working for all staff has been seamless due to this pre-emptive work by PCSG, and thankfully there has been minimal disruption to business continuity.”

Norma Guest – Mploy

  1. What did your provider do to help you transition your business to home working and did they charge you?

“During the recent COVID-19 pandemic, it was really important for our business to transition all of our staff to home working quickly and efficiently to enable business continuity.  We contacted The PC Support Group and even though this wasn’t a normal support requirement they handled everything professionally and with urgency.  Our whole team were set up seamlessly, and without any extra charges; which during this difficult period, was exceptional and much appreciated.  Excellent service as always and highly recommended.”

Julie Doyle – PD Law

  1. Did your provider quickly and efficiently help you to access your systems remotely?

“I cannot thank you enough for the extraordinary work you’ve done to support me and my team during this unprecedented period. In particular, the speed and efficiency in which you enabled me and my team to access vital systems remotely was amazing.”

Paul Judge – WH Pavoas

  1. Has your provider offered you help and advice on remote working options?

“The recent COVID-19 outbreak has created challenges that meant we needed to change our operation significantly, with a much greater emphasis on remote working.  PCSG has been incredibly supportive in helping us make that transition. Not only has it ensured that we have remote access to all our relevant systems and data, they have also helped us implement, and use, remote working tools such as Microsoft Teams, that were not previously part of our working practice. I’m sure we will continue to benefit from these remote working technologies and are very grateful for the help and advice of The PC Support Group.”

Brian Jackson – Brian Jackson& Co. Solicitors

  1. Has your provider been proactive in providing regular, useful communication on ways to help?

“We know that there is a high demand at present and Phil went above and beyond to help support our team with communications – huge thank you Phil!”

Clare Calman – Starts With You

  1. Has your provider been empathetic and proactive in offering ways to help financially?

Being in the property business the coronavirus has had a big impact on us and The PC Support Group has worked with us to temporarily reduce costs with minimal fuss and no loss to the services we still need. We couldn’t ask for more.”

Stacie McGhee – Forth Homes

If you feel your IT & telephony provider has not been proactive with the support you needed, and are looking to move supplier, we’d love to hear from you on how we can help.  Contact our friendly team on 03300 886 116 or drop us an email on info@pcsupportgroup.com and we’ll get back in touch.

Phil Bird

Chief Executive, The PC Support Group

 

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Category: Business Continuity, Business, IT News, IT Support, Latest.

The move to remote working is one of the most significant workplace trends of the past decade. By the end of 2019 more than half of the working population worldwide worked remotely at least once a week.

Previously businesses had time to plan their journey to remote working, organise the necessary technology and agree ground rules with employees. Now the Coronavirus crisis is rapidly accelerating remote working as businesses scramble to reorganise their resources.

For some, remote working is new, bringing fresh challenges in already worrying times. So this week I wanted to offer some brief advice and guidance for colleagues wrestling with these issues to help you to remotely manage your staff quickly and effectively. The challenge has two main elements, first, the technology required for effective communication and second the successful support and management of your people.

  1. Key communication tools. The key to the successful management of remote workers is good communication and providing platforms for teams to interact in real-time, to prevent individuals feeling isolated and disconnected from their workplace colleagues and friends.

Resources like Microsoft Teams and other videoconferencing services such as Zoom (https://zoom.us/)  are priceless – and not just for work. They’re equally valuable as a tool to bring groups together to socialise, during lunchtimes, for example, to share problems and fears too, as we all support each other in these troubling times. The video component, as opposed to teleconferencing, is vital, providing friendly faces, visible body language and the visual clues that are important in effective communication. Clearly ensuring good connectivity and a reliable service is essential to keep everyone in touch.

  1. Supporting and managing remote employees should include setting clear expectations, agreeing regular communications methods (but varying times of meetings to accommodate everyone’s needs where possible) and ultimately trusting employees. Empowered people respond positively, work productively and take responsibility for their time.

Personally I find proactively picking up the phone and speaking directly to my remote workers on a regular basis gives me a good indication of how they are feeling and whether they need any additional help and support.

And, for those businesses wishing to keep track of remote workers’ activities, there is an array of employee management software such as Monday.com and Clear Review.

The PC Support Group can help you to successfully implement remote working, for example by recommending the technologies and systems best suited to your particular business needs, those of your clients and the working patterns of your employees. For an informal chat call us NOW on 03300 886116 or email info@pcsupportgroup.com

 

Phil Bird

Managing Director, The PC Support Group

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Category: Ransomware, Business Continuity, Data Backup, IT News, News.

Today, Tuesday 31st March 2020 is World Backup Day- an annual reminder to all business owners to backup your data, which is essential in a world where ransomware attacks are on the increase for businesses like yours and ours.  The only difference in opinion here is that at The PC Support Group we think that every day should be backup day.

So, on this officially dedicated backup day – let’s think about it for a moment.  Your company data is your most priceless asset – the information you hold about your customers, your products and services, your finances and your people.  And loss of just some of it for long enough will sink your business!  Did you know that according to the World Backup Day website:

  • 30% of people have never backed up their data
  • 113 phones are lost and stolen every minute
  • 29% of disasters are caused by accident
  • One in ten computers are infected with viruses every month.

Still not sure that backing up your data should be a priority, then read this blog to find out more reasons why backing up your data is a necessity and not a luxury.

Now you’re convinced, you need to consider what options there are for backing up your data, namely two – on-premise or in the cloud.  And here’s a useful article to find out the pros and cons of your data storage options bearing I mind that it’s about what is best for your business.

It’s also important to remember that, while cloud file sharing and storage solutions synch your data across multiple devices, this does not add up to a robust backup system. So, if you’re assuming that your cloud synching and sharing services, such as Dropbox or Google Drive, are acting as your backup or are taking responsibility for automatically backing up all your data, then, please, think again!  If you are one of several businesses making this assumption, you’ll find this blog very useful indeed.

And not to forget, as your business develops, so will your data backup requirements. So it’s essential to periodically review your backup arrangements to make sure they reflect the needs of your business today.   Even if you’re happy with your back up processes, it’s a great idea to schedule regular reviews for peace of mind.

To find out how The PC Support Group can help protect your business with our IT support contracts including backup, contact our friendly and experienced team on 03300 886 116 or on info@pcsupporgroup.com

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Category: Business Continuity, IT Support.

Downtime is one of those words that every business owner and manager just dreads to hear.

When some or all of your people can’t access core IT systems and data, it’s always bad news – for relationships with customers, for productivity, for morale and, ultimately, for the bottom line.

But in the manufacturing and engineering (M&E) world, the downtime discomfort is doubled and the numbers that result can be, well, eyewateringly large.

Are you sitting down?

Research shows that the average manufacturer experiences 800 hours of downtime per year – or more than 15 hours per week.  For the average automotive manufacturer, one MINUTE of downtime costs almost £18,000.

Of course, the precise damage and cost of unplanned downtime depends on many factors and varies from one business to the next. Hopefully, your downtime costs don’t come close to those of our automotive friends.   But even losing a few hundred pounds per hour could make the difference between profit and loss on a job.  

And downtime can have horrible knock-on impacts, with expensive machinery lying idle,  inventories becoming depleted, staff abandoning other important tasks to understand the implications of the downtime and then advise customers of delivery delays and not to mention supply chain management.   Your reputation for reliability and great service, hard-earned over many years, is suddenly under immediate threat.

Running an IT and telephony support business as I do, I’d love to be able to say that unplanned downtime is 100% avoidable! The reality is that it’s very difficult to prevent every conceivable cause of downtime. Occasionally even the best technology fails and human error is always a possibility.

Faced with a challenge like this, you have to get practical – very quickly! What do we do about this then? Well, here are some key things that manufacturing and engineering businesses can do to minimise unplanned downtime – and even planned downtime too:

  1. Understand the risks and potential costs to your business of downtime
  2. Create a strategy and action plan to proactively manage all aspects of your IT
  3. Put a disaster recovery plan in place
  4. Organise regular automated backups
  5. Regularly check your backups
  6. Monitor and update all your devices and systems.

The thing is, for most businesses with limited IT resources and expertise,  the most efficient and cost-effective way of ensuring that these tasks are completed and checked is to work with a trusted IT service partner with specific technical expertise and management skills.  One that understands your business essentials, such as speed of response, proactive support and the importance of security, and is familiar with the M&E sector too, in particular the vital role of reliable IT, in your ERP and MES environments for example – and where your vulnerabilities may lie.

Although there are costs involved, as there are engaging with any supplier, these are usually very reasonable, while the impact of not making this investment can be huge.

Just one more tip: Make sure your prospective partner offers flexible terms so that you can quickly and easily go elsewhere if you need to – beware those businesses that want to tie you down to long contracts with onerous terms!  To help you find the right IT service provider for your business, we’ve also created this helpful guide.

If you’re concerned about the impact that downtime could have on your business and what you can do to prevent it, email us on info@pcsupportgroup.com or call us on 03300 886116 for a confidential chat about how we can help.

www.pcsupportgroup.com

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Category: Business Continuity, Business, IT News.

For all businesses, regardless of size or sector, the well-being of our employees is paramount.

But as we all wrestle with the unique challenges created by coronavirus, the well-being of anyone affected will be best served if they have a job to return to and a bright future to look forward to. So, in these stressful times, all owners and managers will be focused on protecting the health of their businesses too, so that they are still a going concern when the crisis is over.

Late last year we shared with you the importance of business continuity planning, to ensure that you’re fully prepared in the event of a sudden crisis. A key element to consider was to enable staff to work effectively from remote locations other than the office –  a challenge that many businesses are currently facing of course. But the fact is that agile working delivers major business benefits and with today’s technology, it has never been easier to work away from the office. Here’s why:

  1. Agile working improves business performance as it results in more productive and motivated employees, who in turn provide better customer service to your clients. Agile working can cut costs and drive efficiencies too, for example by reducing expensive and time consuming business travel – lowering your carbon footprint in the process.
  2. There’s a host of great, simple to use tools, which enable employees to be able to work anywhere, anytime such as Office 365, SharePoint, OneNote, Microsoft Teams and VoIP telephony – and much much more. And, in the cloud, you can securely store and access everything you need to work productively 24/7.

The important thing is to select the right technologies and systems best suited to your particular business needs, those of your clients and the working patterns of your employees. We can help you make those assessments and make recommendations about the best way forward for you.

If you’d like to revisit your business continuity arrangements, our FREE, six step guide to business continuity is still available, just click on this link: Business continuity for SMEs – how to survive a major emergency and recover in style.

Meanwhile, if you’d like to chat about how The PC Support Group can help you to put the right technology in place to protect your business from the effects of unexpected events – and help drive efficiencies at the same time, call us NOW on 03300 886 116 or email info@pcsupportgroup.com

Phil Bird

Managing Director, The PC Support Group