6 things to consider when disposing of old tech

Keeping your business current with up-to-date technology will give you a competitive edge. This involves not only acquiring new computers, servers, and other devices but disposing of the old ones properly. You can’t just dump old computers, smartphones, and other tech devices in the trash.

There are many options for what to do with your old tech. Ultimately the decision is up to you, but we’ve put together some things to consider as you clear out the technology clutter in your office.

Here are 6 things you should keep in mind as you dispose of old or outdated technology.

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1. How to make money

You can actually sell your old technology, even if you think it is woefully out of date. It’s a great option because it can help to defray the cost of your new technology, or simply the cost of hauling away old junk. There are many options for how to sell it. Some retailers take back their own products. For example, Amazon and Apple both have paid recycling programs so they can sell refurbished products to people looking for a deal.

You can also sell old gear yourself online, with tools like eBay and Craigslist, but make sure you are aware of typical scams so you actually get paid for your goods. There are also companies who will take your goods and turn them around for you. This is a great idea but you might make considerably less than if you sold them yourself. However, for many business owners, this latter option is worth it because it can be much less of a hassle.

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2. Helping out a good cause

If you’re not concerned about making money, then perhaps donating your equipment is more your speed. Even if your computers are somewhat old, they can still be used by several different types of organizations.

Shelters for people who have experienced domestic violence often take old phones and laptops to replace items that their clients had to leave behind, or to help with more secure and private communication. Additionally, schools, after-school & youth programs and religious organizations can often use older machines to run basic programs that help their participants.

Some donations may be tax deductible, so being generous in this way could still help you out on the financial side of things.

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3. Be eco-friendly

If your tech garbage is too broken or old to donate or sell, make sure you dispose of it in an eco-friendly manner. Give it to a certified e-waste recycler. Luckily there are several organizations that take most old electronics for safe disposal.

Most local Goodwill’s not only take donated equipment, put partner with Dell to recycle equipment they can’t resell. Another option is the electronics retail store, Best Buy. They take nearly everything. Other available resources include other retailers and perhaps even your local recycling and trash pick up service.

If you’re wondering what is available in your area, go to earth911. This is a great resource for anything you need to recycle. Make sure you give your unusable electronics to an organization that knows how to dispose of it properly!

4. Be especially aware of how you recycle hazardous materials

Some people might think that throwing an old mp3 player or a few batteries in the garbage isn’t a big deal, but it can have long-lasting consequences. Electronics that sit in a landfill can poison the environment with things like lead, arsenic and other environmental toxins.

That’s why it’s best to let someone handle the devices who really know how to safely dispose of them with the least impact on the environment. Even something as simple as throwing away batteries in the trash can have a negative impact, especially rechargeable or lithium batteries.

Some cities have special programs to help you recycle batteries with regular trash pick up, while others have special drop-off days so you can bring toxic household materials like batteries and paint for proper disposal.

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5. Remember to cancel or transfer software subscriptions

When you give away your old computers, remember to transfer any software subscriptions. It’s more common these days to have a subscription for programs like Microsoft Office 365 or the Adobe Suite that require users to log in, than having machine specific licenses. Remember to deactivate any subscriptions on your old machines that you are giving away so you can reactivate them on your new devices and retain all the programs you need to use.

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6. Erase data

Whether you sell, donate, or dispose of your items make sure to erase any information stored on them. This will protect your data from those who would use it for nefarious purposes. Many companies who sell refurbished products say they will erase your data, but it is really best for you to do it yourself to have peace of mind.

This is especially relevant if you are selling the machines yourself or if you are dumping them with an organization for recycling. You certainly wouldn’t want your data to fall into the wrong hands!

Contact your managed IT services provider for help upgrading your machines and disposing of your old ones properly.

7 interesting tech facts you might not know

Whether you think of yourself as a technophobe or an IT expert, you will be surprised by these fascinating technology facts. From mobile apps to big data and even the Deep Web, the technological sphere is broader and stranger than most people suspect — and it has been for quite some time.

Read on to discover some of the most interesting tidbits from the tech world:

1. The QWERTY keyboard was explicitly designed to slow typing

Fans of the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard scoff at the inefficiencies of the QWERTY keyboard layout that most people use. Originally, however, QWERTY’s inefficiencies held a clear purpose: the keyboard design was intended to slow down users.

At one time, mechanical typewriters jammed if typists were too quick. QWERTY cut down on this problem. Today, we continue to use QWERTY because we’re accustomed to it, but many experts strongly favor alternate typing approaches.

2. It’s still possible to visit the world’s first webpage

The original webpage went live in 1991 and ran on a NeXT computer at CERN — the European Organization for Nuclear Research. This useful page was entirely dedicated to informing the public about the World Wide Web. Today, it primarily serves as a historical archive. Click here to check it out.

3. Email predated the World Wide Web

In today’s mobile age, it’s tough to imagine a world without the internet. Interestingly enough, however, the internet is a relative newcomer compared to email. Ray Tomlinson sent the very first email message to himself in 1971 — years before the internet came about. Tomlinson claims that his initial test emails were entirely forgettable.

4. A website tracks the internet’s age – and it’s not as anxious as you might think

At, you can determine how many days the internet has existed — and how old you were when it was initially launched.

5. The majority of internet content exists on the Deep Web

The average internet user can only hope to scratch the surface of available content. While a prominent Dutch researcher believes that 4.5 million websites are currently indexed by search engines, the internet extends far beyond this easily searchable content. Estimates regarding the size and scope of the Deep Web vary, but some researchers believe that it is at least 400 times larger than the surface internet.

6. 3D printing is nothing new

The technology for 3D printing has been around for decades, but it has only begun to attract attention in the past few years. The concept initially appeared during the 1980s, when it was referred to as Rapid Prototyping. Charles Hull successfully secured a patent for the stereolithography apparatus in 1986, and yet, the first commercially available 3D printer was not offered for sale until 2009.

Since then significant market divergence has allowed for the introduction of 3D printing processes in several sectors and at every level of the market.

7. The vast majority of the world’s currency is digital

It’s no secret that digital currency plays a huge role in the modern economy, but most people are unaware of the extent to which it dominates. A mere 8% of global currency consists of physical money. The rest is stored electronically.

The way we interact with money is just beginning to change, however. With the rise of bitcoin and blockchain, experts believe that our entire approach to commercial transactions will evolve sooner rather than later.

If you’re struggling to keep up with the rapidly changing world of technology, you can benefit from the assistance of a managed IT services provider. Reach out today to learn more.

5 ways to use technology to improve productivity

Productivity is a big buzzword in office culture, and for good reason. The more productive your staff is, the greater your overall efficiency and the lower your total expenses. Who doesn’t want to see their employees get the maximum work done in the least amount of time?

There are plenty of technological tools to help increase productivity. The following are a few we’ve seen work in business settings.

1. Cloud-based project management

If your project management software is housed based on a single machine (or even on your local network), there’s a good chance it isn’t accessible remotely. However, if you use cloud-based project management software, your employees can stay on task no matter where they are.

Many cloud-based options even include a smartphone app for optimum access. It doesn’t matter if you’re across town for a quick meeting or across the country at a conference. You’re still engaged.

Options like Basecamp, Asana and Zoho are great for agile teams and those with workers who prefer to work from home at least part of the time.

2. Instant communication

As we alluded to above, it’s not uncommon to find more folks working from home. In fact, some teams are spread across the globe, working together as part of multinational corporations.

And, of course, sometimes you just don’t want to get up and walk across the office to have a conversation. It will disrupt your flow.

With technology, you can easily communicate with anyone, anywhere. We recommend instant messaging apps for the easiest, most seamless communication. You can IM from your PC or your phone, and it’s so much like texting that it will feel immediately familiar to everyone.

3. Automate everything

With all the business automation tools available today, you never need to be in the position where a critical (but fairly minor) task is forgotten.

You can use automation for everything from pre-scheduled email marketing campaigns, to CRM-based reminders to follow-up with prospective customers, to in-depth analytical reports that get delivered straight to your inbox each week.

Automation is an immediate productivity booster. There’s no reason to pay someone to do something by hand that can easily be automated. Instead, free your employees to focus on the things that really require their attention.

4. Easy Outsourcing

Consider this scenario. You don’t have the right person for the job, but you also don’t want to hire a whole new employee.

There are technology tools that make it easier than ever to hire outsourced help. It even possible to hire specialists in situations where a high level of expertise is required.

Online services like Upwork or Fiverr allow you to easily view and hire freelancers for simple, straightforward jobs. When partnering with whole outsourced firms and high-level specialists, we recommend using the previously mentioned communication & project management tools.

5. Online Learning

Employee training is actually an important component of productivity. Not only does it improve the skills of your employees, which naturally makes them better at their jobs. It’s also a perk. Most employees appreciate an environment that fosters their own development.

Companies are increasingly turning to online learning as a way to offer more affordable value for their employees. One major benefit is the flexibility that comes with online learning. Whether we’re talking about online classes through a university or a specialized training course, online learning is extremely convenient.

If any of these productivity-enhancing options sound like they’d be a good fit for your business, we encourage you to reach out to your managed IT services provider. They should be able to help point you in the right direction. Plus, they can ensure you have all the network capabilities you need to support the tech tools you want.

Which CRM solution is right for your organization?

Customer relationship management (CRM) software empowers businesses of all sizes and sectors to make smarter, more accurate decisions.

According to some estimates, over 90 percent of companies make use of a CRM solution—and for good reason. On average, CRM solutions see a return on investment of $8.71 for every dollar that you invest.

Despite the obvious benefits of CRM software, however, it’s not so obvious how to choose the best solution for your organization. There are a lot of options available to you. Plus, your company’s situation may be influenced by a number of different factors:

  • Number of employees
  • Industry
  • Specific business requirements
  • Preferred pricing model
  • Upcoming projects
  • Existing resources and technologies

Whether you’re making your first CRM purchase or replacing an existing system, this article will go over the most important concerns that you should consider when choosing a CRM solution.

Defining CRM return on investment

There are essentially three different approaches to CRM solutions: basic, standalone, and integrated.

  • Basic CRM systems include standard functionality without any custom features or coding. This enables you to get up and running quickly and easily.
  • Standalone CRM solutions include more complex processes than basic CRM systems, including custom features for reporting, views and workflows.
  • Integrated CRM systems connect a standalone CRM system with external applications, websites, and systems. This helps you share data and make your workflow more efficient.

No matter which type of CRM you select, you need to understand the value of your CRM solution to evaluate whether it’s the right choice.

For example, focus on how a CRM will improve your customer relationships by giving you easy access to important metrics and key performance indicators, as well as helping you manage connections on social media.

On paper, defining the ROI of a given CRM is easy: simply weigh the costs of using it against the benefits that you gain by doing so.

In practice, however, calculating CRM ROI involves a good deal of subjective assessments and estimates about how much given features are worth to you. Note that most of the value you extract from your CRM will likely come from a few of the most frequently used functionalities.

CRM factors to consider

The cost of a CRM solution is perhaps the best factor to contemplate first since it can disqualify certain options right off the bat. Consider questions such as:

  • What is the pricing model? Subscription-based or a perpetual license? Most CRM applications, especially those that are cloud-based, use a per-month, per-user pricing model.
  • What are the different pricing tiers? Which features that you consider important? Make sure you’re looking at the price for the tier of service you’ll need.

CRM software comes with many different features and functionalities. Some of the capabilities that might interest you include:

  • Lead management and sales for finding, nurturing, and converting new customers
  • Marketing tools for email and SMS campaigns
  • Reports and dashboards for highlighting important metrics
  • E-commerce integration

Depending on your business, you may have other questions to ask when evaluating CRM software options, such as:

  • How easy is it for employees to learn and use the software?
  • What kind of support and maintenance plans are available?
  • How will the software integrate with your existing technical setup?

Final thoughts on your CRM solution

With so many advantages at stake, deciding on the right CRM solution isn’t a task to be taken lightly.

If you need help selecting the right CRM software for your business, contact your IT managed services provider for additional guidance.

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CEO, Canino Electric

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4 Microsoft Dynamics CRM tips to help you become a superuser

Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a customer relationship management (CRM) software package from Microsoft. Dynamics CRM is intended to help users improve the productivity and effectiveness of their sales and marketing campaigns and get better business insights, especially by integrating with other Microsoft products such as Office 365.

If you’re like most Dynamics CRM users, you’ll want to get the most mileage out of the application, uncovering any hidden tips and tricks that’ll help you along the way. In this article, we’ll go over 4 Microsoft Dynamics CRM tips that’ll help you become more efficient.

1. Know your keyboard shortcuts

Time is money when you’re working with CRM software, and every little bit can help you become more productive.

Let’s start our Microsoft Dynamics CRM tips with some of the most useful Dynamics CRM keyboard shortcuts.

  • Shift + Tab: Move backward to the previous field or option (just as Tab moves you forward to the next one).
  • Ctrl + [: Switch to the first tab on the command bar.
  • Ctrl + ]: Switch to the last tab on the command bar.
  • Ctrl + K: Automatically fill the current field with the correct value after typing a few letters.
  • Ctrl + Shift + S: Save and create a new document or workspace.
  • Alt + S: Save and close.

2. Add members to different marketing lists

Since the release of the 2015 version of Dynamics CRM, you can now add Leads, Contacts or Accounts from one marketing list to another marketing list. This saves you the time and effort of looking up and adding each member individually.

Here’s how you can do this.

  1. Under Marketing, select the Marketing Lists option.
  2. You will see a list or grid view of your active marketing lists. Click on the list whose members you wish to add to another list, and then click on the Record Associated View icon.
  3. Select the members of the list that you want to add to another list, and then click on the ellipses icon. Click on “Add to Another Marketing List.” From here, you can select the desired list or create a new list.

3. Use business rules

One of the benefits of CRM software such as Dynamics CRM is the ability to define your own business rules.

In Dynamics CRM, business rules are pieces of business logic that can be expressed by non-technical users, without having to write code in a programming language such as JavaScript. This empowers business users because they no longer have to wait for developers to do the work they need.

In fact, this is so powerful that our list of Microsoft Dynamics CRM tips wouldn’t be complete without it.

For example, users can define a business rule that hides a field or changes the value of it based on the size of a value in another field.

To use business rules in Dynamics CRM, select the Fields or Business Rules section beneath a given entity when you’re in the Solutions section. Keep in mind, however, business rules can’t replace all the functionality you can achieve with JavaScript.

4. Automatically generate documents

Sales and marketing campaigns are absolutely rife with piles of paperwork that must be created and reviewed. You can save yourself time and improve your customer relationships by automatically generating templates in Microsoft Word.

Here’s how to do it.

  1. From the Settings menu, select Processes. Create a new process of type “Workflow” on the Campaign entity, and set the scope to Organization.
  2. Set the workflow to run when record fields change and select the field as “Status Reason.” Click on Add Step > Check Condition, and then Add Step > Perform Action. The Action should be “SetWordTemplate.”
  3. Click on Properties to the right of Action, and choose the “Selected Template” that you want to generate. Finally, choose the Target to be your current campaign.
  4. Save and activate the workflow.

How to enhance Office 365 collaboration

Office 365 provides a variety of ways to let your employees collaborate effectively, whether you’re in a large enterprise or an SMB. However, in order to be effective, you need to develop and implement a collaboration strategy and the training that’s necessary to allow you to leverage the collaboration tools that are part of the Office 365 product.

Effective collaboration isn’t automatic

Recent research indicates that collaboration can have a very positive impact on productivity and business outcomes.

For example, a Stanford study found that participants working collaboratively stayed on task 64 percent longer than solitary workers did, and they reported a higher success rate. Another study found that companies that encouraged collaboration were five times as likely to be high performing.

This type of research is motivating many companies to jump onto the collaboration bandwagon by implementing software such as Office 365. However, when you complete an Office 365 installation, you’re asking your employees to change the way they work, not just the tools they use. As a result, many organizations migrate to Office 365 and then find that employees aren’t taking advantage of the collaboration tools. On the other hand, sometimes the tools are overused, usually in the area of social networking.

Either situation will cause your organization to waste your investment. In addition, you won’t get the benefit of increased productivity and better business outcomes that collaboration can produce.

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RELATED: 8 simple Microsoft Office 365 best practices for making your documents more accessible

Why Office 365 collaboration isn’t automatic

Two factors influence the success of establishing Office 365 collaboration. One is the fact that employees must change the way they work. The other factor is that Office 365 is a multi-faceted system that can be overwhelming.

Here’s a summary of the services, apps, and features that you can use, depending on your Office 365 subscription plan.

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1. Exchange Online

A hosted messaging application that includes access to email, calendars, contacts and tasks.

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2. Microsoft Bookings

An application that allows you to schedule and reschedule appointments both internally and with customers.

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3. Microsoft Flow

This cloud-based service allows you to build workflows to automate business processes.

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4. Microsoft Forms

You can use this to create quizzes, surveys, questionnaires and more; built-in analytics evaluate the results.

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G Suite vs Office 365 – What’s the best office suite for business?

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5. Microsoft MyAnalytics

This application was previously called Delve Analytics; it provides personal data about how you spend your time and help you to prioritize.

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6. Microsoft Planner

Teams can use this tool to visually organize teamwork by creating plans, assigning tasks, sharing files, sharing and editing documents associated with tasks, and chatting.


7. Microsoft PowerApps

This Platform as a Service (PaaS) lets you create mobile apps without worrying about the difference in mobile operating systems.

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8. Microsoft Stream

Allows employees to upload, view and share videos on a secure platform.

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9. Microsoft Sway

You can produce professional reports and presentations without the need for extensive formatting or training to achieve a visually appealing end product.

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10. Microsoft Teams

Teams is an application that provides a hub for teamwork, combining chat, shared content and various Office 365 tools into one workspace. SharePoint and OneNote are included.

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Microsoft matches Slack with a free version of its Teams chat app

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11. Office 365 Groups

This feature creates a shared workspace where group members don’t need access to Dynamics 365 to join.

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12. Office Delve

A cloud-based service that helps users discover information across several Microsoft products.

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13. OneDrive

A cloud storage capability allows users to store, sync and share files among themselves and with other internet devices.


14. Power BI

These business analytics tools connect to hundreds of data sources and simplify data preparation to produce and publish reports.


15. SharePoint Online

A cloud-based service that provides a hub for accessing internal or outside information.

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16. Skype for Business

A unified communications platform used for a wide variety of communication vehicles including instant messaging, online meetings, video conferencing and more.

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17. Yammer

This private social network allows for discussions internally and with outside users such as customers and vendors.

How to Promote Office 365 Collaboration

Based on the review of Office 365 capabilities above, it’s easy to see how effective collaboration can get lost in the rush of new technology that follows an Office 365 implementation. Therefore, take these steps to help solidify a collaborative workplace.


Define an Office 365 collaboration environment

Determine how collaboration needs to work in your organization and select tools accordingly.


Communicate the vision

Take a top-down approach to communicate the vision to everyone that will be affected by increased collaboration, identifying the tools that will be used.


Complete the implementation/migration

Choose the right Office 365 subscription to acquire the right options for your organization. In addition, pay particular attention to mobile requirements that may require customization.

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USEFUL TIPS: 4 steps to drive Microsoft Office 365 adoption in your organization


Conduct ongoing training

Without extensive training, collaboration will get out of control. In fact, some employees will often turn to third-party tools to get the job done, even if they’re not using the right tools. You need to train on the correct types of collaboration and enforce abandoning other tools.


Monitor activities and results

You’ll need to know if employees are using the new collaboration tools. Be prepared to identify and address issues such as email distribution of document drafts rather than shared editing. Measure your progress to inform future projects.


Establish a strong administrative function

The Microsoft 365 Admin Center is the place to manage users, devices, apps, and services. Large organizations will often prefer to use the Office 365 PowerShell. A strong administrator will help ensure that Office 365 is being used to its fullest potential.

Next Steps

Experts often cite Microsoft Office 365 as the most powerful collaboration suite on the market today. There are a variety of tools to support implementing collaboration in a way that specifically suits your organization.

Careful planning and a well-controlled migration will help your business grow.

Unlocking the power of OneNote

With Office 365 now in use in more than 120 million businesses around the world, interest in OneNote is higher than it’s ever been before. But this surprisingly versatile bit of software is still rarely used to full effect.

For the most part, this is because users are unaware of the wealth of built-in features that could be making their lives a whole lot easier, or streamlining the working processes of their whole office.

However, you don’t need to be an IT pro to make smarter, more efficient use of OneNote. Here are seven tips, tricks and shortcuts that will help you unlock the power of OneNote and put it to work effectively in your company.

Password protection

Robust cybersecurity is essential for any sensitive files or data. Sometimes, however, you may also want to password protect an internal document or notebook simply in order to give different users different levels of access.

OneNote has a feature specifically for this. What’s more, it’s extremely quick and easy to use, with password protection available in just a couple of clicks from the “Review” tab.

Simple, efficient email

OneNote allows any user to quickly and simply email their notes. By using the “Email Page” button, any user can send an email-friendly copy of the contents of a given page—including attachments and embedded files—to any number of addresses.

This is ideal for sharing minutes after a meeting, but this feature is also frequently used as a quick and simple way to transfer notes between devices even in the absence of a cloud.

Embed, embed, embed

One of the most useful things about OneNote is that it allows for the embedding of lots of different kinds of data. You can, for example, embed an Excel spreadsheet into a OneNote page. This makes the information from the spreadsheet instantly available, without the need to attach or refer to another file.

Videos, audio clips, and content from a variety of websites including YouTube and Slideshare can also be seamlessly embedded.

Transcribe from images

Pulling text from images may not be an everyday job, but when it’s necessary it can be a slow and labor-intensive process. OneNote contains a tool designed to streamline this process by copying text from an image with a single click.

The “Copy Text From Picture” option (shown when an image in OneNote is right-clicked) copies text directly to the clipboard, from which it can be pasted wherever the user requires.

Dock OneNote

Although it may seem trivial, the ability to dock OneNote to the side of a screen can be a massive productivity enhancer. It allows users to take notes from videos, websites or another program without constantly flicking back and forth between the two.

It’s super convenient to have those notes immediately at hand when, for example, making a video call or completing another task.

Employ page templates

Page templates are exactly what they sound like. They allow users to set up and save a document with a range of features such as text boxes and checklists. A clean version of this template can be opened any time it is required, making this a feature which can be applied to great effect across an office.

If you want to unify the way in which your employees take notes or approach another common task, OneNote page templates are a vital resource.

Check your history

Relatively few users are aware that OneNote preserves a version history for each and every notebook it handles. This means if a section is deleted in error or some vital notes are edited out of existence, the key information can be easily retrieved by referring to a past version of the notebook.

This is no replacement for a full backup solution, but it can be extremely useful on a day-to-day basis!

5 amazing things you can do with cloud ERP

Cloud ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) is changing the business game. According to Forbes, “Cloud ERP is the fastest growing sector of the global ERP market with services-based businesses driving the majority of new revenue growth.”

They cited the increased flexibility and speed of cloud ERP as chief factors in the fast-emerging system’s success.

What does this mean for growing SMBs? In addition to the myriad advantages cloud systems provide over their on-premises counterparts, making use of cloud ERP opens the door to some interesting capabilities you might not have considered. The following are just a few examples.

1. You can go mobile

If you’re accustomed to using on-premise ERP, you already know you have to stay connected into the local server to gain access to it. This isn’t the case with cloud ERP.

As a cloud-based system, you can pull up information from your cloud ERP anywhere you have an internet connection, on almost any device. This increased availability translates to an improved ability to collaborate with your team and freedom to engage in critical business while on the go.

2. You can streamline your operations

As a function of cloud ERP’s accessibility and mobility, you can streamline your business operations and productivity. You needn’t wait for an onsite connection to perform critical tasks. You can perform those tasks wherever and whenever you choose.

Let’s use accounting as an example.

Working in tandem and on the go, you and your team can ensure that accounts are always accurate and current. This also grants a real-time look at your accounts/finances—an invaluable benefit in situations where every moment counts.

3. You can scale more easily

With cloud ERP, you aren’t “locked in” as restrictively as you might be with on-premise ERP. This means you can scale-up—adding new features and functions as they become necessary—more easily. You can grow at your own pace and improve your business more strategically than before.

4. You can stay up-to-date automatically

When using on-premise ERP, the downtime and scheduling woes of software updates are often a major hassle. You might have to shut down your system entirely to perform said updates, and may even lose some of the customizations you had in place.

With cloud ERP, you can perform updates automatically without affecting your business or losing integrations and customization. The process is quicker, simpler, and more conducive to allowing your business to continue moving ahead at full steam.

5. You can maintain tighter security

With cloud ERP, you can manage security concerns more easily than with on-premise ERP. The cloud-based solution mitigates the need for team members to save sensitive files to their devices. They can access what they need through portals and dashboards.

And in the event a device goes missing, you’ve reduced the likelihood of important information falling into the wrong hands.

A dual advantage here is that with most of your information stored in the cloud, you’re already ahead of the curve if disaster strikes at your place of business and you need to implement your business continuity plan to stay in action.

Keep the cloud in mind when selecting your ERP

The amount you can do with cloud ERP will often outclass what’s capable with an on-premise ERP system. Be sure to work with a provider who understands the finer points of cloud ERP implementation to maximize your potential benefits.

3 different approaches to CRM systems

It’s essential that you have a CRM system (Customer Relationship Management) for managing customer data. Deciding which type will best fit the needs of your business will depend on various aspects of your company, including your budget and who’ll be using it.

There are three general types of CRM systems to choose from.

Implementing a basic CRM system

A basic CRM system is your general cloud-based implementation. The configuration would be limited to UI layout, with built-in configuration that would edit necessary fields. This type of CRM typically does not include any type of customized coding or involve any extensive processes.

This is a basic cloud solution that can provide standard functions, yet is still powerful enough to make a difference for your company.

Using this type of CRM system, you would likely focus on one single component of the modules such as sales, which would further limit the scope. Pre-built additions can be added to the basic CRM.

A basic CRM also involves transferring data of your accounts, contacts and leads into a CRM application. It won’t be necessary for the user to have all the data entered manually before using the application. With a basic CRM, a company can implement and use the CRM solution with a minimum amount of costs and in the shortest time. Some of the benefits include saving time in tracking and consolidating customer information.

Choosing a standalone CRM system

Standalone CRM is considered the superset of a basic CRM system.

This will involve the implementation of more complex processes including custom reporting, custom views, customized workflows and add-ons. Some of the benefits include the following:

  • Send automated emails or notifications
  • Gather and accurately maintain customer information
  • Analyze data and uncover various trends
  • Improve your customer service

It’s important to note that the data migration sometimes involves multiple sources which can require the need for data cleansing.

For a company that decides to use a standalone CRM, employee training will be required. CRM training for administrators will also be required if the business plans to self-maintain this kind of CRM application. This training will help those using the system gain greater efficiency and enable your company to better understand and meet the needs of your customers.

The benefits of an integrated CRM system

Integrated CRM includes the range of a standalone solution while integrating the CRM application with an external system. An external system could include an ERP application, different websites or some type of home-grown application.

This enables the systems to share data.

The integration of systems can be accomplished by either using some type of commercial off-the-shelf middleware application or by custom programming. By creating your own website to function seamlessly with the CRM system you’ll find there are several benefits for your business.

  • Maximize the company’s overall operational efficiency
  • Increase and improve the automation process
  • Spend less time on administrative duties
  • Increase employees’ time spent marketing and servicing customers
  • Eliminate the duplication of data entry
  • Provide synchronization for all your data
  • Provide better leads for your sales team

Companies using an integrated CRM solution will need to provide training for their employees. And, like a standalone CRM system, administrator training for an integrated CRM will also be needed if the company plans to self-maintain the CRM application.

We recommend finding an experienced technology company to assist with both implementation and maintenance of your CRM system, no matter which type you choose. Many managed IT services providers can help with your CRM, in addition to other critical areas like cloud solutions, enterprise resource planning, security services and basic IT support.