If the IoT is something you see as a future rather than present concern, consider this: the IoT could have $4 trillion to $11 trillion a year in economic impact by 2025.
Tolar Systems Blog
Managed Security-as-a-Service Offering Protects Small and Mid-size Businesses from Cybersecurity Threats
As a business owner, what keeps you awake at night? Is it monsters under the bed? Things that go bump in the night? Here at Tolar Systems, we think there's something even more frightening putting your business at risk: Cybercrime. And what better time than Halloween to launch a new cybersecurity solution that protects your business from it?
Tolar Systems announced today that it has unveiled a new live call support center that will deliver 24/7/365 live call answering for customers who require critical support before the next business day.
The new call support center supplements Tolar's online portal, email and agent-based support systems, allowing Tolar Systems' customers to speak to a live representative during higher call volume times. It also allows Tolar to deliver live phone response outside of our regular business hours of 8am to 5pm Central time, Monday through Friday.
Ransomware risks are growing and more businesses are vulnerable to these increasingly costly attacks. So how can your business protect itself? By following best practices at the network and user level. Learn more about the four ways users can help to reduce ransomware risk. Third in a series.
Ransomware attacks are a growing threat facing businesses of all sizes and in every industry. These attacks aren’t just happening more often; they're becoming more expensive. Learn more about the high cost of ransomware attacks and what your business needs to do to be protected from Tolar Systems.
Managed IT services can present a lot of benefits for small businesses. Small businesses often can't afford to hire in-house IT technicians, making managed IT services an attractive alternative for IT support and management to keep their business running efficiently. In this post, we'll cover the benefits a managed service provider can present a small business, and how an MSP delivers significant returns on your IT support investments.
Ransomware. It's one of the fastest growing threats to your business, whether yours is a large organization or a small firm. Here at Tolar Systems we’ve recently seen an increase in the frequency and severity of these kinds of attacks. We’re working hard to help reduce our clients’ vulnerability, but we can’t do it alone. That is why we want to share information about ransomware risk and how to protect your business from this ever-growing threat.
Learn more from Tolar Systems.
Tolar Systems' Vice President Phillip Poarch was recently interviewed by IT managed service industry publication, Channel Partners, about our recent selection as the MSP 501 Newcomer Award winner. The focus of the conversation was business transformation. Phillip's advice applies not only to other organizations in the IT industry, but really to any organization, large or small, that wants to grow and transform its business.
Learn more from Tolar Systems.
Tolar Systems' Vice President Phillip Poarch was recently published in Channel Futures talking about coopetition, an often overlooked growth strategy. Learn more from Tolar Systems.
(Abilene, Texas) Tolar Systems of Abilene, Texas was announced as one of several 2018 MSP 501 Special Award winners by Channel Futures on Wednesday. The awards are part of the media outlet’s annual MSP 501 ranking list and survey and were announced on the Channel Futures website and in the fall print edition of Channel Partners Online, its sister site.
As a business owner, you are always looking at finding ways to manage your bottom line. The greater your profit, the faster your business can grow. One simple, yet cost effective budget item you should consider to enhance that profit is using a managed voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) system instead of a regular phone system.
VoIP leverages your Internet connection to provide phone service, and offers many other advantages. It also is a cost effective option that offers your business added flexibility and mobility. Learn more from Tolar Systems.
As your business grows, your IT needs inevitably increase along with your business. So what do you do? There are two viable choices companies in this situation may consider: hire an IT employee to help, or engage a managed service provider (MSP). Of course, both choices require extra budget. So how do you determine which one is most cost effective for your business?
Technology is transforming how companies large and small do business. Technology directly impacts business success, making IT budgeting an important part of your business planning.
Unfortunately, for most business owners and executives who don’t specialize in IT, understanding how to create an effective IT budget is a bit of a challenge. Learn best practices and tools you can use to create an IT budget that will help your business thrive from Tolar Systems.
Regardless of size, technology is transforming how companies do business and directly impacting their success. That makes IT budgeting an important part of your business planning.
Unfortunately, for most business owners and executives who don’t specialize in IT, understanding how to create an effective IT budget is a bit of a challenge. Here are some best practices and tools you can use to create an IT budget to help your business thrive.
Why Do I Need an IT Budget?
One of the biggest mistakes small and midsize businesses make when it comes to IT is failing to plan ahead for their technology needs. New equipment is purchased as it’s needed, often when the situation has become dire, rather than according to a schedule or plan. This is a reactive, ad-hoc approach to technology that can lead to excessive cost for a variety of reasons, including:
- The need to fill a gap immediately makes it difficult to research options adequately. You may end up spending more just to ensure the need is filled quickly.
- Without a solid plan in place, integration issues may prevent the business from maximizing results from their IT investments.
A planned IT budgeting process compares the needs of the business against current IT assets and expected replacement schedules, resulting in a plan that eliminates surprises and keeps costs low. It also allows your business to stay current with changing customer expectations and IT trends that are transforming your industry.
What to Consider when Creating an IT Budget
An IT budget looks at several aspects of your business:
- Your current IT infrastructure and assets – what kinds of infrastructure is your business currently using? What assets – software applications, hardware, servers, printers, phone systems, network infrastructure, desktop, mobile and other devices – does your business currently own? Begin the IT budgeting process by listing every IT asset currently in use in your business.
- Technology lifecycles – Technology doesn’t last forever. In fact, because the technology industry is changing so fast, your IT assets will likely need to be replaced on a fairly predictable schedule. Three to five years is the average lifespan for a desktop computer. Servers become extremely expensive to support and are subject to decreasing performance after about 5 years, while wireless devices may become outdated after as little as 18 months. Your list of IT assets should include the age of each asset and the expected replacement date based on the asset’s expected life span. This will give you an idea of what will need to be replaced – and when.
- Your business requirements – What do you need to be able to do with your technology? Are there customer requirements or other expectations that your current infrastructure isn’t meeting? If so, your IT budget will need to account for the costs of upgrading to meet these requirements.
- Your future vision – What is your vision for your business over the next 3 to 5 years? If you are expecting rapid growth or changing your business focus, it’s important to ensure that your IT infrastructure can support that vision.
- Current and projected revenue – Your IT budget is dependent at least in part on how much you have to spend. This, in turn, depends on your revenues. How much is your business bringing in today, and how much do you expect it to bring in tomorrow? If you’re anticipating rapid growth, you may have to spend more to ensure that your IT infrastructure can keep up with increased demands that will be placed upon it.
- Industry benchmarks – Different industries have different technology needs as well, so consider industry benchmarks when determining your IT budget. If you’re looking for a quick reference, try Tolar Systems’ handy IT budget calculator. It can help you determine an appropriate level of spending based on your industry and current revenues.
IT Budget Best Practices
At Tolar Systems, we provide VCIO (virtual CIO) services to help our Complete Care customers create an IT budget and plan that manages IT costs effectively, while ensuring their IT infrastructure supports current and future growth. Some of the best practices we follow when developing an IT budget include:
Align IT with business goals. It can be attractive to jump on board with the latest trends in technology – witness the yearly frenzy by Apple aficionados to get their hands on the latest iPhone. However, when it comes to your business, it’s important to ensure that the IT investments you make are truly in line with the needs of your business. It’s okay to take a wait and see approach when considering whether or not to invest in a new technology. It’s also important to ensure that your IT infrastructure is meeting your needs, and to make smart investments if it’s not.
Gather data. We outlined a couple of important steps in the “What to Consider” section above: listing your IT assets, and determining their expected lifespans. Other data you should gather when creating an IT budget include IT spending benchmarks for your industry, and technology trends that are impacting your industry and its customers. What are your competitors doing? Additionally, consider whether your IT infrastructure is costing you opportunities, or creating them.
Focus on outcomes. Small and midsize business executives often think in terms of specific equipment they need, rather than the outcomes they want to achieve with that equipment. We recommend focusing on outcomes, as this will allow you to consider a wider range of solutions that might meet your needs. For instance, rather than thinking about replacing a server, consider how else your organization might meet its data storage requirements. Thinking this way allows you to consider alternatives such as cloud infrastructure that might save you significantly in the long run.
Need Help With Your IT Budget?
There’s a lot to consider when it come to creating an IT budget. For many small and midsize business executives, it can make sense to work with a technology expert like Tolar Systems to create an IT budget and plan that will ensure your business meets its objectives as cost-effectively as possible. Contact us today to learn more about how we help organizations like yours create IT budgets that support your short-term and long-term goals.
At Tolar Systems, our core values are the guiding principles that determine how we do business. More importantly, they guide our relationships with our customers, community, employees and partners. But what do those values really mean to customers? What can you expect when working with Tolar Systems?
Value #2: Follow the Golden Rule
In our last values spotlight, we talked about our first core value: putting customers first. Our second core value is something similar, but applies to all of our relationships, not just those with our customers.
That value is:
“Follow the Golden Rule - We deliver the kind of service we want to receive. Period.”
We believe that following the Golden Rule isn’t just a constraint that prevents us from taking actions that could be harmful to our customers. It’s a belief system that is critical to our success as a business. That’s because treating customers right makes them happier, and therefore more likely to choose us and recommend us to others.
It’s also critical to our growth – not just because abiding by the Golden Rule keeps our customers happier and enhances our reputation, but because our team is happier when they know they’re making a difference for our clients. It gives us a sense of purpose internally, inspiring us to offer new services and solutions that meet our customers’ needs.
Four Ways We Follow the Golden Rule
Here’s what following the Golden Rule means to Tolar Systems and its clients.
Advise what’s appropriate. At Tolar Systems, the Golden Rule means we advise what’s appropriate for your business. When we’re developing strategies and solutions for our clients, we’re not thinking about it from a sales perspective. We’re not trying to beef up our commissions by selling the most expensive solution. Our goal is to build solutions that meet our clients’ needs cost effectively and efficiently.
Do what’s right. We make decisions based on the relationship and what’s right for the client. We align our clients’ IT strategies with their current needs and future vision, looking for solutions that will meet today’s need while providing flexibility to meet future needs over the long term.
Align with business vision. Just as we expect our partners to take the time to get to know our business, we do the same for our customers and clients. That’s why we only propose solutions after we’ve taken the time to get to know our clients’ current business needs as well as future business objectives. Then, we align our solutions to meet key customer requirements over the short and long term.
Focus on outcomes. When we advise solutions, we tie those solutions to the outcomes they offer, not the price tag. Sometimes that means we can propose a solution that might be less expensive than other alternatives. But it can go the other way too, because the cheapest option isn’t always best.
Putting The Golden Rule into Practice
In the ideal world, the best solution would also have the lowest price, but in practice, there’s usually a trade that has to be made. In our business, there’s often a trade-off between price and functionality. This is a challenge we face whenever we are developing a solution for clients.
For example, there’s a significant difference between consumer grade and professional grade hardware and equipment, or between a low-cost software application and one with more functionality. The lowest cost solution might meet an immediate need, but can it grow with your business? Does it adequately address your business requirements or are multiple workarounds and add-ons necessary to get the outcomes you need to grow your business and serve your customers?
Often, the answer to these questions is no. If your business has a vision to grow, that low cost solution might end up costing more over the long term when you need to upgrade sooner than planned.
These are the questions we must consider when proposing a solution for our clients. By applying the Golden Rule to these kinds of ethical challenges, we find it is easier to deliver solutions that are both cost-effective yet functional enough to enhance their business.
What do you think it means to follow the Golden Rule in business? How does the Golden Rule play out in your business? We’d love to hear from you: contact us.
Moving into a larger office space, adding a new location or renovating your current location to accommodate your business needsall indicate that your business is growing. Yet, moves and renovations are tricky propositions for businesses, especially when it comes to determining how to keep your technology up and running. The success of your business depends on making sure that all of your technology infrastructure is correctly moved and properly set up again in your new location.
Learn more about how to rise to the challenge of moving or renovating an office.
Owners and executives of small and medium size businesses want their business to grow and flourish. In today's business environment, that means leveraging technology to improve productivity—and encourage growth. However, it's not enough to load a few of the latest apps on your employees' devices. To get the most from your technology investments, businesses of all sizes must create and utilize a thoughtful IT strategy.
Learn more about IT strategy consulting from Tolar Systems.
There’s a “new kid on the block” when it comes to how organizations like Tolar Systems approach help desk support. It's called “chat-based support,” and it’s a ticketing option we expect to make available to all of our Complete Care managed service customers in the very near future.
Learn more about chat-based support from Tolar Systems.
Digital transformation is serious business. But thanks to trends like cloud computing and IT outsourcing, it’s easier to achieve than it has ever been before. Digital transformation can help your business evolve, better serve your customers, and provide them with outstanding service—keeping them coming back for more.
Learn more from Tolar Systems.
We recently surveyed our clients and were pleased to find that most Tolar Systems' customers are very satisfied with the technical support they receive from us. We also learned that some of our clients have questions about how best to communicate with our help desk to get fast and efficient support.
“How to get support more quickly” is actually one of the most common questions users have about working with a help desk for technical support – whether that’s in-house or outsourced technical support. That’s why we wanted to offer these tips for getting the best technical support from any help desk department.