Tip of the Week: Maintaining Software that Fits Your Business

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Businesses use different types of software to fulfill various tasks and functions throughout the workday, but there are certain practices you can implement today that can help you better manage your software solutions. Here are three ways your organization can take better care of its software infrastructure, regardless of industry or business size. 

Be Wary of Shadow IT 

If you don’t provide employees with the tools they need to do their jobs effectively, they will more often than not go out of their way to find tools themselves. This can lead to unregulated software on your infrastructure that is not monitored or maintained by your business, also known as “shadow IT.” The easiest way to prevent shadow IT from becoming a thing for your business is to make sure your staff have access to all of the solutions they need right from the get-go. This might mean providing them with an entire productivity suite or specialized software based on their role within your organization. 

Appropriately Manage Subscriptions 

In today’s age of “as a service” offerings, it’s easy to purchase a solution for one project but forget to cancel it when the project is done and over with. These additional subscriptions that are entirely unnecessary can add up if you aren’t paying attention. We recommend that you perform an audit on the regular to ensure that you aren’t paying for services that are not being used on a regular basis. 

Apply Software Patches and Security Updates 

Software developers frequently have to issue patches and security updates to their creations to offset the progress made by hackers or to cover up oversights during the initial development cycle. It’s your responsibility to make sure any patches or updates are applied in a timely manner; failing to do so could put your business at risk of security issues down the road.  

One way many businesses have managed to successfully keep tabs on their software infrastructure is to implement Software-as-a-Service offerings for the majority of their operations. SaaS helps businesses by providing them with an affordable and scalable infrastructure for their software needs, including an easy way to manage licenses and subscriptions. We also recommend you implement a software management platform that gives you the ability to see, at a glance, all of the applications in use on your infrastructure at any given moment. 

4 Corner IT can help your organization implement any SaaS offering or software management platform. To learn more about what we can do for your business, reach out to us at 954-474-2204. 

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Vendor Management Can Really Waste Your Time

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As a business owner, vendor management is very important and vendor relationships must be cultivated and maintained in some way on the off chance you need them for support. However, working with vendors can be stressful and downright frustrating at times. Let’s examine a specific situation that demonstrates these challenges and what you can do about them. 

Imagine that you have one vendor who you need to contact about a specific issue you have with an application you use on a daily basis. You want it to work for your company, but you have to adjust the settings to allow it to work well with other applications on your network. These other applications are not necessarily managed by the same vendor. Next thing you know, you are calling other vendors left and right to see what your options are, and you have tasks piling up on your desk that are not getting resolved because you are too busy on the phone with vendor after vendor. A simple task turns into a wild goose chase for the correct solution to your problem. 

In the end, you might not even find the right answer. You might waste all of this time on the phone with vendors and be no closer to solving your problem. You’ll have to repeat the process again and again until someone is able to help you, and this frustration might lead you to just give up on the solution entirely, despite your research telling you that it is the best tool for the job. 

When you have so many solutions on your infrastructure, including software and hardware components, vendor overload can happen. It can be difficult to keep everyone straight, especially when you have countless points of contact for the plethora of vendors your business works with. It would be easier and much more simple to have a single point of contact for all vendors on your list, but surely something like this is too good to be true… right? 

Not necessarily—it turns out that managed service providers can offer a vendor management solution that can make working with your vendors much easier in the long term. The biggest issue is managing points of contact and dealing with them, so vendor management services allow you to bypass both of these by reaching out to one point of contact—your managed service provider—thus streamlining the process. 

A managed service provider effectively creates this single point of contact for your technology needs, vendor management included. If you need help setting up a new solution, we’ve got your back. If you need some support with that new solution, we’ve got that covered, too. We act as the mediator between you and your vendors so you can have one phone number on your contact list for all of your technology needs instead of a hundred. If you do need to get in touch with your vendors, just let us know and we can take care of that for you. 

4 Corner IT wants to help your business with managed services. To learn more, reach out to us at (954) 474-2204. 

Applying Life Lessons to Improve Your IT

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Sometimes it can be challenging to manage your IT solutions, but much of the advice that applies to technology is just general advice for living a good life. Let’s take a deeper dive into these ideas and see if we can use specific life lessons in a business IT setting when it comes time to improve your IT.

Prepare for the Unexpected

Your IT infrastructure will present you with unexpected circumstances, so the best you can do is not let them catch you unawares. Your servers could fail someday, or a hacker could infiltrate your network and put your data at risk. You might even experience structural damage to your building, rendering it inoperable.

But believe it or not, you can prepare for these kinds of events. You need to understand that the unexpected can happen anytime, so you must implement preventative measures and plans to handle them when they do surface.

Don’t Skimp on Quality

There are certain parts of running a business that you can get away with spending a little less on, like the office K-Cups or generic brand snacks, but IT is certainly not one of these things. The lower the quality goods you purchase for your business, the more you are likely to spend in the long term finding the appropriate solution. You might even wind up paying more to replace hardware or purchasing new solutions entirely.

You should prepare to plan your expenses around the kind of business you want to run. This means implementing only what works best for you and not the accepted norm. Neither company is the same, so their IT shouldn’t be, either.

You Don’t Have to Know Everything

Just like life often is, implementing your IT solutions can be a long and confusing ordeal, one that is full of inaction and incorrect choices. While you might have a broad idea of what your IT infrastructure should look like, it can be hard to make the correct choices. This is fine and expected for someone who might not be an IT professional. Nobody knows everything, and you can’t expect yourself to.

There will always be parts of running a business where there is an apparent knowledge deficit, so make sure that you rely on experts in these fields whenever possible. You might choose to rely on an IT provider to improve your IT in your office, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Better to get it done right the first time!

To learn more about the services we offer and how we can help improve your IT, give 4 Corner IT a call at (954) 474-2204.

Make Strategic Decisions Better with a Virtual CIO

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Many businesses do not have the resources or budget to hire technicians to perform regular maintenance on their systems, let alone someone managing the technicians behind the scenes. The chief information officer, or CIO, is the one who would typically make these calls, but businesses that cannot hire an in-house CIO for whatever reason have the option of hiring a virtual CIO. Read on to learn about the benefits of a Virtual CIO for your business.

What is a Virtual CIO?

A virtual CIO is the same as a traditional CIO, just not on-site. A virtual CIO is an outsourced IT resource under contract with your organization to provide services involved with handling your company’s IT strategy.

The significant difference here is that a virtual CIO looks at your IT strategy as a whole and how that strategy aligns with your business goals. When done correctly, the virtual CIO encourages and informs your IT decisions, allowing you to move toward your organization’s specific goals.

The best way to illustrate the difference between technicians and the virtual CIO is that technicians are responsible for addressing day-to-day challenges and issues for your organization’s IT infrastructure. In contrast, the virtual CIO is responsible for ensuring that the business’ long-term technology goals are met. Think about the virtual CIO as the travel agent booking your vacation, planning things in the style of a roadmap each step of the way.

What are the Benefits of a Virtual CIO?

The first notable benefit of a virtual CIO is the price. Considering their status as a c-suite employee, the traditional CIO is going to require considerable compensation. Small businesses often cannot offer competitive salaries for such high-demand talent, so instead of investing in a position, you can invest in a service with more affordable monthly payments. Plus, you don’t have to invest in finding a CIO’s searching or hiring process, increasing the value you get from outsourcing.

Furthermore, there is a certain level of objectivity that comes from a virtual CIO. Sometimes people get caught up in the passion of running a business and start to make decisions that might not make sense. They let their feelings and predispositions dictate their actions. Someone from outside the organization is more likely to make more objective decisions, hence why many companies hire external auditors or consultants.

Without someone spearheading your IT efforts, they are doomed to fail. Let 4 Corner IT take this task on, and you can say goodbye to the stress associated with technology decisions. To learn more about the benefits of a virtual CIO, reach out to us at (954) 474-2204.

Let’s Look at Some of the Best Business Software Solutions

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All businesses utilize software to a certain extent, but not all companies have the same needs. That being said, there are certain types of software that all businesses can benefit from, regardless of industry or service offerings. We’ve put together a list of business software solutions that companies can utilize to improve operations.

Productivity Suites

Most businesses use a productivity suite, which is basically just a fancy way of talking about a suite of software that includes a word processor, spreadsheet program, presentation software, email and calendar management program, and other productivity applications. In fact, we would say that it is almost a prerequisite for a business to have a productivity suite just for the ability to open and edit files or documents. Some of the most common productivity suites out there include Microsoft 365 Apps for Business and Google Workspace, but there are other more focused productivity suites for specific purposes, like the Adobe Creative Cloud.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)

Similar to productivity suites, most businesses use traditional landlines to make and receive phone calls. While this was an accepted practice for some time, the more modern solution is to utilize a Voice over IP application on either a desktop or a mobile device to make and receive calls. Not only does this save you quite a bit in terms of up-front costs and operational costs, but it also makes adding new users to the infrastructure infinitely easier, as it does not involve installing new hardware (unless, of course, you want to use physical handsets).

Password Management

Passwords are a major pain point for businesses, so you need to treat them as such. While passwords can be made complex, this also makes them difficult to remember. This is where password management comes into play; these solutions offer a secure, protected vault for your passwords and can pull from this vault when the credentials are needed, removing the need to remember them entirely. It is a great way to augment your accounts’ security without compromising on password quality.

Antivirus and Other Security Solutions

It goes without saying that you need to be securing your business’ network and endpoints at all times. It doesn’t matter how small of a business you run. Hackers can and will find data on your network that presents some kind of value, whether it is to them personally or to someone on the black market. They might even be out to cause a little bit of chaos and infect your computers just for the sake of doing so. Who can say for sure? All we can say for sure is that you need to secure your network and its endpoints.

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Encryption is a powerful tool that helps you keep your data secure, especially while out of the office. A virtual private network can encrypt data sent to and from your device, improving privacy and security while on unsecured networks. It is especially helpful when working on a public Wi-Fi connection or while traveling.

Adding new software solutions to your business’ infrastructure might sound difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. 4Corner IT can help your business implement software solutions designed to improve operations and provide sustainability for your business. To learn more, reach out to us at (954) 474-2204.