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Technology

How Businesses Should Think About Technology

It’s a common saying that every business needs a good accountant, banker, and lawyer to be successful. More recently, IT partners have been added to that list by many business owners because of the growing role that they play in keeping businesses moving forward. As technology takes over an increasing portion of business processes through automation, IT partners have quickly become a cornerstone to company growth.

This puts higher demands on the types of people that you partner with. Not only do they need to be able to fix IT problems, but they also have to be smart business professionals who can think about complicated business processes and create smart solutions to overcome problems.

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This is an important point to think about when engaging with a potential IT partner. Both you and your IT partner need to be on the same page about how you think about and tackle IT problems. Mindset will inevitably predict the end results, and this is an area where you will need to know where your IT partner stands.

There are two ways to look at IT. The most prominent way is the reactionary “Don’t fix it if it isn’t broken” method. This has been the leading thought process for many years, but as technology takes over a larger portion of a business, it hurts more when these systems break.  The second thought process is the “Proactive over Reactive” method. This is an emerging strategy that many business owners are starting to find important.

Businesses can invest minimally in the technology that they rely on by stretching the life of their equipment, hiring under-qualified and inexpensive people to resolve IT problems, and only paying for support after a problem arises. On the surface, this will seem like the least expensive option. However, when important upgrades have been postponed and corners have been cut, the expenses will start adding up.

A proactive mindset takes a different strategy. To regularly maintain a network, it takes a consistent investment. By doing this, you spread out the cost of hardware and support and pay for it in a way that can fit your budget. Evening out the cost of IT isn’t the only benefit of being proactive. The savings occur in the time you recapture by increased staff efficiency, the satisfaction of your clients when products and services are not delayed, avoiding fines from regulatory bodies when data is lost, and so on. This payback may seem immeasurable, but when you are faced with fines like charge backs for late delivery of products, for example, making sure that your business can operate consistently is a very important investment to make.

The point is that it is hard to grow, let alone operate a business when you are constantly putting out fires. Forward thinking companies are looking to their IT partners for solutions that work rather than services that repair so that they can put the IT fires behind them. Allow your company to focus on what you do best by making sure that both you and your IT partner are seeing the future of technology and how it can work for you.

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Technology Training

Microsoft Excel 2016 Formatting Cells

A big part of learning how to work with numbers in Excel 2016 is learning how to format them so that Excel knows what your numbers are representing. There are many options in Excel such as general, number, currency, accounting, short date, long date, time, percentage, fraction, scientific and text. By telling Excel what your numbers are, Excel will have a format for those numbers that will make your life easier. More accurately, you are formatting the cell or range of cells that you are placing your numbers in. Any time you place a number in that cell it will appear with the format that you choose.
One example of using Excel in this way is the currency setting. When you turn on the currency setting for a cell, column or row you have enabled Excel to place two decimal places after the number you have entered, removing a few key strokes. It will also add in a comma for large dollar amounts and the currency symbol of your choice. This is ideal when you are working with money.
If you need to use Excel as a glorified calculator and you are working with percentages or fractions, Excel gives you options for that as well. Using the add, subtract, multiply and divide functions that we reviewed in the last Excel video, you can use percentages and fractions in mathematical equations.
If you are making a presentation in Excel and you would like to add in a note that isn’t effected by equations, you can use the text format. This will allow you to type anything you want into a cell without confusing Excel in the process.
There are many more options to choose from and when you become familiar with these options you will be able to use Excel much more effectively. In later videos we will review how to use the features to make more complex calculations.

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Technology

Computer Warranties and Life Span Management

When you purchase a new computer for your company are you considering the importance of the warranty and how protecting your computers with a warranty will effect your business? If you manage a large fleet of computers, you will start to realize how difficult it can become to source replacement parts, especially as they get two or three years old. Without a warranty you are stuck replacing your computer completely or searching on eBay for outdated replacement parts. For obvious reasons this is a poor use of your time and one that can be easily avoided.

Man fixing a computer

As a rule of thumb you should keep your computers for no more then five years. At the five year point, technology will have changed enough that keeping the outdated computers will have a negative impact on the productivity of your staff and your bottom line. For those five years you can make the most of the life of your hardware by keeping your fleet under warranty. From a company like Dell, you can choose to buy your computers with a three year, next business day repair warranty. This will mean that as your computers start to show their age, you will have the assurance that a technician from Dell will be onsite repairing any issue that may come up. This will inevitably save you a lot of time not to mention money spent on replacement hardware.

At the three year point, if you choose to keep your computers for five years, you can purchase an extended warranty that will cover your fleet for another two years. If you choose to keep your computers past the three year point then it is especially important to make sure that they are covered by a warranty. It becomes increasingly difficult to source parts for any computer that is close to five years old.

You may be wondering how you are going to manage and keep track of all of your warranties even if you do decide to purchase them. This is what your IT partner is for. If you are participating in any kind of monitoring program with your IT partner, they will have the tools that will allow them to see the status of your computer warranties. In your quarterly review with your IT partner you will be able to establish a reliable system of replacing old computers that are out of warranty to make sure that your fleet is covered. By purchasing warranties for all of your computers you will be sure to get the most out of them for the entirety of their life span.