Technology Training

Microsoft Excel 2016 Introduction to Worksheets

Microsoft Excel 2016 is an extremely useful tool that can make sense of almost any data you put into it once you learn how to use it. There are a few updates to the functionality and user interface in Excel 2016 that we will be reviewing so that you will be up to speed with all the latest features. In this video we will explore a few of the basic features such as how to open and use a workbook. First we will show you how to open multiple sheets inside of a workbook. Once you have the basics of the cells, columns and rows down, we will show you how to add, subtract, multiply and divide the numbers by their columns or rows.

Like any great peace of software, Excel 2016 has many shortcuts to make your life easier. Once you have learned how to add, subtract, multiply and divide your columns and rows, you will want to learn how to multiply your efforts by using the drag features. This will duplicate the chosen functions for each column or row so that you can see values for each row or column. If you are trying to add up numbers for a set of rows, all you will need to do is set the SUM function for one row. Once Excel understands the function you are trying to accomplish for that row, you will be able to drag and select all of the subsequent boxes to find the SUM values for the remaining rows without having to repeat the SUM process for each row.

Stay tuned for more great Microsoft Excel 2016 videos!


How To Fire Your IT Guy

Have you ever had to consider changing a service provider such as your IT support partner? This poses some particular problems that are unique when you are talking about someone who has complete access to all of your company data. Its rather obvious that if you are facing a hostile transition, the provider could literally log into your network and shut your company down temporarily or worse. This is highly unscrupulous and should not happen, however, in some rather unfortunate circumstances it has happened. On the other hand the transition can be civil and follow the train of thought that “the easier it is to leave, the easier it is to come back”. These situations can lead to headaches, law suits and awkward conversations that nobody wants to have.

We hope that you never have to experience this headache, that being said, it is better to set yourself up for success with a little foresight. After having taken over support for many companies, we have learned a few things that are valuable tips and best practices to keep in mind before things turn sour. Good fences make good neighbors and if your IT partner is smart, they will agree with this statement. You should never feel like you are at the mercy of your IT partner no matter how bad the circumstances get.

One of the most important and ever changing elements of any network is the passwords. Do you have an up to date list of every password on your network? Most business owners do not and in the case of a hostile transition, this can cause a big headache. At the very least, you should have ease of access to all of your passwords from your IT partner whenever you ask for them. Just for general peace of mind, you should be confident that there is a list of passwords. Most IT companies should have a “hit by a bus policy”. This means that, should something tragic ever happen to your IT partner, it will not effect your business because you will have all of your credentials, passwords and network documentation ready to go. In the unfortunate event that something happens to your IT partner, your new support company will be able to pick up where the other company left off. Not only is this best practice for emergency purposes but it is useful when it comes to changing IT support partners because it means that you have complete control of your data.

Another very important peace of the puzzle is knowing who owns the rights to your domain credentials. When you set up your domain, you have to put it under an account and if you don’t own that account, you don’t own your domain. Your domain lets the internet know who you are, almost like an address. It controls your email, website and network structure. Usually, there is no malicious intent involved when your IT partner sets up your domain under their account. Most of the time this is done out of convenience because it is easier to administer. This is great up until the point where you need to change providers and you realize that everything that identifies your business online, is not owned by you. This could be said about any account, not just your domain. In most cases your IT partner can be added to the account as an administrator, however, you should always own your online accounts.

SaaS (Software as a Service) is important to note here as well. In some cases you may not own the software that you use to run your business. Unless you have entered into a contract where you understand your ownership rights, you should always own your software license keys. In most cases you will be on a time crunch and for convenience you will purchase all of your software through your IT partner. If your IT partner is buying the software in their name and not yours, you could find that none of your software belongs to you.

This similar story can repeat itself with the service providers that you have entrusted your IT partner to help you manage. Service provider such as internet and phone provider can be managed by your IT partner but you should always have access and ownership over those accounts as well.

Changing service providers rarely turns out to be a pleasant experience. With a little planning and by setting up good expectations, you can pave the way to an easy transition should a problem ever arise. As a business owner you need complete access and control of your network and all of the moving parts. Having this understanding in place with each IT partner will save you from having unnecessary data loss, lawyer fees, downtime and hard conversations.


Make Good IT Investments

It might seem early to be thinking about the end of the financial year, but by starting to plan your end of year strategy now, you can ensure that you are left in the best possible position for when tax season comes around.

Equipment prints dollars. Isolated on white background
One of the most common strategies for small businesses looking to decrease their taxes is to decrease the amount of revenue they report for the year. Since small businesses are usually taxed based on the profit that they earn during the year, decreasing the overall profit results in a small tax payment.
Most small businesses decrease their revenue by increasing the amount that they spend on qualified business expenses – anything you spend money on that will facilitate you earning additional business income.

Many people choose to decrease their revenue by spending money on business expenses such as office supplies, new equipment relevant to their field, or by paying bills for the next year in advance.

While all of these choices are great options for decreasing taxable income, another area of spending worth considering for your business is your technology setup. Technology is constantly changing, and investing some of your available profits into upgrading your computers, strengthening your security measures, or purchasing new and improved software may be one of the best steps that you can take for your business.

If you want to get the most value for your money, your best bet is to begin planning these investments with your IT professional in the near future. This will allow them to assess your current computer set-up and to work with you to develop an improvement plan that will best fit your needs and budget.

Improving your existing technology set-up can help to ensure that your business has an up-to-date security strategy and keep your information safe from recent threats. You may also find that new equipment helps you to complete your work more efficiently, or that re-thinking other aspects of your current IT setup helps your business to run more smoothly overall.

Your IT professional will be able to ensure that any investments you make in your technology are ones that are worthwhile and that are tailored exactly to your business’ needs. You will also want to ensure that you communicate with your accountant before making an investment like this – while the principle of spending more to decrease taxes seems simple enough, your accountant is your best resource when it comes to ensuring that your financial choices work out in your business’ best interest.

By partnering with both your accountant and your IT professional, you should be able to come up with a strategy that allows you to invest in your technology – an investment that will definitely pay for itself over time, while also helping to cut down on the taxes that you’ll need to pay this financial year.


Get The Right IT Support

Have you ever thought of hiring an in-house IT technician? Maybe you have worked with a 3rd party individual to support your network for years but now you feel like you aren’t getting the customer support you need. Your company is growing fast and you feel like you have outgrown your IT partners ability to support your team. You sometimes go for days and even weeks at a time waiting for a return call or email just to get a simple problem resolved. This is a common growing pain that many of our clients have experienced in the past.
It may seem like having a dedicated in-house IT technician is the best way to go. Maybe you have another position such as marketing to fill and you hope that you can hire a marketing professional that also knows enough about technology to help you bridge that gap. While hiring additional dedicated staff would most likely do the trick, they are usually left twiddling their thumbs because there isn’t enough work to keep one person busy. On the other hand, you can hire a marketing professional who has IT smarts, but they most likely do not have enough time to do both jobs well. Going down this road, you will also find that you are limited to the knowledge base of one individual and that is reflected in the quality of the solutions available to you.
What you need is a technology partner that can scale with you. You need solutions for the future and near immediate time to resolution for your IT problems. You need a range of support from help desk support to network infrastructure planning and you need this solutions to fit within your budget. You need a team of individuals that can apply their knowledge and experience to your companies specific goals and needs and can provide you with the solution that will give you the most for your money.
This is the area where a managed service provider brings the most value. An MSP is comprised of a team of individuals from help desk support technicians to systems administrators and CIO level consultants. By partnering with an MSP, you will get the level of support that is appropriate to your need and you wont have to pay for what you don’t use. You will also find that when you need the next level of support, there are always plenty of solutions. MSP’s work with businesses across a range of industries and build solutions for nearly every problem. For us, it is easy to apply the right amount of IT support so that your technology is always working for you. If you are looking for a better way to support your network, give eTop Technology a call! We’re here to help!


How IT Managed Services Can Save Your Business

When considering our business, no matter what industry we are in, there are a few common areas of business that all go together.  Information Technology is the very foundation of any business. Every piece of technology is part of the lifeline of any business from the phones to the copier, to the scanner, all the way to each and every computer on the network. How IT Managed Services works is that the technology company that provides your Managed Services monitors your entire system and when one or more pieces of office technology has a problem then the company notifies you of the impending problem and lets you know that there is a solution.

Let’s say Tammy the bookkeeper has an impending malfunction; maybe the computer is not accessing the network as it is supposed to do but Tammy isn’t really aware that there is a problem yet. Before her computer crashes off of the network completely the Managed Services company will contact your business and let you know that there is a problem with Tammy’s computer when she tries to access the network. Tammy’s computer being the one that handles all the financial information can be detrimental to the company if it completely goes down and it can cost the business excess funds that could have been prevented with minor updates and repairs.

The IT Managed Services company will provide such services as to update, perform regular maintenance for all the equipment including providing new equipment as necessary. Paying a small monthly fee for constant monitoring and regular maintenance of equipment can save any business a fortune in the long run. Having an outside firm that specializes in Information Technology monitoring and servicing your lifeline equipment can have a huge positive impact on productivity and savings. Bottom line, IT Managed Services saves a huge amount of cash flow.


When Should I Upgrade My Computer

I am going to help answer both the Why and When should I upgrade my computer question in this article. I understand that nobody wants to lay out their hard earned profits just to replace a computer that is still running, but when you take a closer look at the numbers you may find that you are saving money by doing exactly that.

As time goes by your computer workstations slow down, it’s a fact of life with any computer just like death and taxes. Here are some of the reasons why this happens:

  • Heat Strain on the Processor and internal components.
  • Disk Fragmentation
  • Additional load of Operating System Patch stacking.
  • The Overhead of Protective Software (Antivirus, Anti-Malware, etc.)
  • Adware, not considered a virus or malware, but adding bloat to your system.
  • Startup Overload (programs that start, even though you don’t use them all the time.
  • Bloated Temporary Files directory.
  • Outdated Firmware.
  • Improper Uninstalled Programs.
  • A Full or Near Full Hard Drive.

I’ve done this so long I can hear the business brain gears turning with the question “but it’s still working”, true, but unlike some things in your office like a desk or file cabinet, a computer can both help or hurt efficiency in your office.

First off take somebody that is making $100,000 and spends just 5 minutes a day watching that little hourglass spin on their computer waiting for a program to load. Broken down that is .80¢ per minute gross pay (not including other employer benefits). That 5 minutes works out to 4 dollars per day, or 20 dollars a week which comes to $80.00 per month.

If you now take the capital expense tax benefit of a basic new workstation today which runs about $500.00, your new computer system will pay for itself in productivity alone in about 7 months.

Now consider that you are going to replace the old system for a new system eventually and all you have done is hasten the scale, as the benefits grow even more.

Because this model scales, an employee making $50,000 per year will save you almost 1000 dollars by rotating your computer workstations every 3 years and this is only one system, times this by each computer in your office. Now you can see where trying to stretch a dollar on keeping around old systems, can start burning up those dollars instead of saving them.

There are many types of technology and ways to help save money when running a business that we would love to show you. We specialize in making your tough computing decisions simple, call us for an in depth analysis of your computing needs to help increase your efficiency today.

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