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Choosing the Right IT Supplier for a Financial Services Company

Choosing an IT supplier is a critical decision for any business in today’s digital age, but for those in the financial services industry, this decision is of particular significance. An IT provider’s capacity to support the specific needs of a financial services firm can determine a broad range of its success metrics including its efficiency, scalability, and ability to meet regulatory compliance requirements. In addition, VMWare reported a 238% increase in cyberattacks targeting financial institutions, a burgeoning issue that all providers of IT services to finance companies need to be able to manage and mitigate.

If you are involved in the management of a financial services company in the UK, here are some areas to consider when initiating the procurement of IT services.

How do IT support services for finance companies differ from IT services for other types of businesses?

The financial services industry has unique IT requirements that differentiate it from other sectors. Firstly, financial service companies often use specialised software packages for activities like risk management, portfolio management, trading platforms, and financial modelling. Therefore, IT support in this sector requires specific knowledge and experience with such systems.

Secondly, financial service companies handle highly sensitive information, such as personal and financial data, which necessitates stringent security measures. Lastly, the financial sector is heavily regulated, meaning companies must adhere to a variety of compliance requirements. These factors call for an IT supplier with expertise in data security, regulatory compliance, and financial software applications.

What type of IT solution is best suited to finance companies?

Companies offering financial services are best served by comprehensive IT solutions that encompass system management, cybersecurity, data protection, software integration, and support for regulatory compliance. These solutions should be scalable, adaptable, and secure, helping to meet the evolving and challenging needs of the sector.

Many finance companies find a cloud-based IT solution to be particularly advantageous due to its inherent scalability and flexibility. Cloud solutions can often better facilitate remote work environments, allow for seamless software updates, and provide robust data backup and recovery services.

At help4IT, our team has extensive experience helping financial service companies remain compliant and secure. Want to find out more? Contact our London based team to discuss your requirements.  

The importance of FCA compliance

In the UK, financial services are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This means that IT suppliers for these firms must be adept at managing the FCA’s compliance requirements. Non-compliance can lead to significant fines and damage to a company’s reputation.

IT suppliers should be familiar with regulations regarding data protection, record keeping, and reporting, as well as ensuring systems are secure and resilient to outages or attacks. The right IT supplier should provide proactive compliance support, such as regular audits, risk assessments, and updates that meet new or changing regulations.

The importance of robust cyber security

Financial services firms are high-value targets for cybercriminals due to the sensitive data they handle. A single security breach can lead to severe financial loss and reputational damage. As such, financial companies need an IT supplier that prioritises cybersecurity.

This should involve multi-layered security measures, including firewalls, intrusion detection systems, encrypted communications, and regular vulnerability risk assessments. Furthermore, the supplier should offer regular cybersecurity training for employees, as human error is a common vulnerability in any security system.

At help4IT, we provide a range of sophisticated cybersecurity services, designed to protect all aspects of our clients’ systems and infrastructure. To find out how we can help improve the security of your business, contact us for further information.  

Managing sensitive customer data

Handling sensitive customer data is a crucial responsibility for financial services firms. IT suppliers must therefore offer robust data management and protection services. These services should ensure data integrity, availability, and confidentiality, in compliance with data protection laws such as the GDPR.

Data protection measures should include secure data storage, backups, and recovery procedures, as well as tools to detect and respond to any unauthorised data access or breaches. The supplier should also help firms map out their data flows, ensuring they understand where and how data is stored, processed, and transferred.

If you are currently experiencing any issues in relation to data management and processing, help4IT has the knowledge and skills to assist you. Contact us for further information.

How managed IT support solutions can facilitate growth for financial services companies

Managed IT support can play a vital role in facilitating growth for financial services companies. With managed IT, firms can access the latest technologies and industry best practices without the need to maintain a large in-house IT department. This allows them to focus on their core business operations and strategic growth initiatives.

Furthermore, managed IT support can provide scalability, allowing companies to easily expand or reduce their IT infrastructure as needed. It also offers predictable IT costs, reducing the risk of unexpected expenses.

Talk to us about your IT requirements

Choosing the right IT supplier is a strategic decision that can significantly impact the success of a financial services company. If you are currently in the process of reviewing your IT, cybersecurity, data management, and regulatory compliance requirements, the help4IT team would welcome the opportunity to discuss how we can help you make improvements in all these areas. Take a look at our financial services IT support page for further details.

Remote work is the new normal and here’s how you can make it safe and fun

In the past 3 years, remote work has become the new normal for us. Many employees have transitioned from the office to working from home, enabling them to be more time effective and to have a better work-life balance. IT services are still critical for home workers, as they provide many processes that help you and your team to increase productivity and stay safe at the same time.

In this article, we cover 18 ways you can make remote work safe, productive, and fun.

  1. Take a picture of your computer setup before unplugging to take things to remote work including the computer cable set up in the back unless it’s a laptop.
  2. Install the updates.
  3. Update all antivirus and anti-malware tools as well.
  4. Uninstall unnecessary software from your personal computer.
  5. Use a VPN (virtual private network) always.
  6. Turn off automatic connections on your Wi-Fi.
  7. Separate your network.
  8. Lock your computer.
  9. Create a different user account for family and friends.
  10. Use a password manager.
  11. Ask the IT person in your organization about securing the DNS settings on your personal computer.
  12. Update your softphone software if you have one.
  13. Ensure secure browser configuration.
  14. Use Mozilla, Firefox, or Google Chrome as your browser.
  15. Think twice. Cybercriminals are using more and more sophisticated methods all the time and can sound trustworthy. Check email address and the sender because your CEO or other senior manager may not be the sender after all.
  16. Don’t be click happy. Not all links and attachments are safe.
  17. When in doubt, see something, say something ASAP.
  18. Check with your IT person to make sure that your data is being backed up.

If you plan to switch to remote work, make sure you take care of all the safety measures and have a chat with the IT team to ensure you can work stress-free and optimise your productivity. Remote work brings you many benefits, but it also brings initial challenges in terms of safety.

Need assistance with IT support for your remote working colleagues? Speak to the help4IT team today.

Qualities to Look for in a Microsoft 365 IT Support Company

Choosing the right IT support company is an essential business decision. A quality service provider can keep your systems running smoothly and address any issues promptly, minimising disruption to your operations. For businesses utilising Microsoft 365, partnering with a company that specialises in Microsoft 365 IT support can be highly beneficial.

What is Managed IT Support for Microsoft 365?

Managed IT support for Microsoft 365 refers to a suite of services offered by IT companies that specialise in maintaining, securing, and optimising Microsoft 365 environments. This often includes 24/7 system monitoring, security updates, user access management, data backup and recovery, and ongoing consultancy to help businesses get the most from their Microsoft 365 investment.

At help4IT, our Microsoft 365 specialists offer all of this and more. They work proactively, regularly updating our clients’ systems, identifying potential issues before they become problematic, and being on hand to resolve any unexpected problems that arise. Our team also has extensive experience in helping clients to migrate from legacy systems to the latest version of Microsoft 365, with minimal downtime and disruption to your operations.

What are the Benefits of Working with a Certified Microsoft Partner?

Working with a Certified Microsoft Partner comes with numerous advantages. Companies with this accreditation have demonstrated expertise in Microsoft technologies, meeting stringent criteria set by Microsoft itself.

A certified partner will have a deep understanding of Microsoft 365, ensuring your systems are configured optimally and securely. They will have access to the latest Microsoft training resources and technical support, meaning they can resolve issues more efficiently.

Being a certified partner also indicates the company’s commitment to staying updated with Microsoft’s latest updates and innovations. This ensures that your business can take advantage of new features as they become available, keeping you ahead of the competition.

At help4IT, we are proud to be a Certified Microsoft Partner and have been providing expert Microsoft support and advice to businesses of all sizes for over 20 years.

What Questions Should I Ask a Potential Provider of Microsoft 365 Support Services?

Choosing the right provider to implement and maintain Microsoft 365 requires due diligence. Be sure to ask the following questions to any prospective IT partner.

  • What experience do you have with Microsoft 365? Look for a company with a strong track record of managing Microsoft 365 environments.
  • What certifications do your technicians hold? Technicians should hold current certifications, demonstrating their expertise in the latest Microsoft technologies.
  • How quickly can you respond to issues? Fast response times are crucial to minimising disruption to your business.
  • What security measures do you implement? The provider should prioritise security, implementing robust measures to protect your data.
  • Can you provide customer references? A reputable provider should be able to share testimonials or references from satisfied customers.

How Will Hiring a Certified Microsoft Partner Help My Business?

Hiring a Certified Microsoft Partner can bring significant benefits to your business. They can help ensure your Microsoft 365 systems are optimised, secure, and reliable, minimising downtime and improving productivity.

A good Microsoft partner will also offer strategic guidance, helping you leverage Microsoft 365 to achieve your business goals. They can help you identify which Microsoft 365 features could benefit your operations and assist in implementing them.

By freeing you from the need to manage your Microsoft 365 environment yourself, a certified partner allows you to focus on your core business, confident that your IT is in expert hands.

What are the Key Qualities that all Managed IT Support Plans Should Offer?

When evaluating managed IT support plans, look for the following key qualities:

  • A proactive approach – The best IT support providers work to identify and address potential issues before they cause problems.
  • Round-the-clock support – IT issues can arise at any time. Look for a provider that offers 24/7 support to ensure minimal disruption to your business.
  • Expertise in your industry – Different industries have different IT requirements. A provider with experience in your industry will understand these unique needs.
  • Regular reporting – Regular reports allow you to monitor the performance of your IT systems and the effectiveness of your support provider.
  • Scalability – As your business grows, your IT needs will change. Look for a provider that can scale their services to match your evolving requirements.
  • Data protection and recovery – In today’s digital world, data security is paramount. Your provider should have robust data protection measures in place and offer comprehensive backup and recovery services.
  • Training and consultancy – A quality provider won’t just manage your IT systems; they’ll also help you and your staff get the most from them. Look for providers that offer training and consultancy to help you leverage your Microsoft 365 investment.

Choosing the right Microsoft 365 IT support company is a crucial decision that can significantly impact your business’s efficiency, security, and growth. By carefully evaluating potential providers and looking for these key qualities, you can ensure that you select a partner that will help you get the most from your Microsoft 365 environment.

Looking for assistance in migrating to Microsoft 365, or require assistance in getting the most out of the system? Contact the help4IT team today for assistance.

The Key Benefits of Migrating to the Cloud

One thing every organisation wants is optimised processes, cost-effectiveness, and security. The reason for the popularity of cloud migration is that it helps you optimise in all these areas with savings in resources, real estate, and maintenance costs. To top that it enables you to optimise your workloads so they are more efficient.

Here are some more benefits of moving your IT systems to the cloud.

Flexibility and scalability

Cloud solutions are flexible and scalable which means that you pay only for the cloud resources you use – you don’t pay for maintenance of resources you don’t use actively. When the demand grows, you can easily alter your resources on demand, instantly, which enables you to always operate effectively. When you want to keep getting value from your existing IT investments, you can implement a hybrid cloud model where you migrate part of the workloads to Cloud and keep the remaining workloads on your on-site environment. Cloud platforms enable you to have your workloads close to you and your customer at all times, ensuring fast access no matter where you or your clients are located.

Enhanced security

Many public clouds come with built-in security features and specialised cloud security tools that ensure your resources are safe.

Compliance

Some cloud platforms have specialised offerings to meet compliance requirements. This is ideal for regulated industries like finance, healthcare, and government.

Backup, recovery, and continuity

To improve business continuity, many cloud platforms provide you with built-in one-click backup and recovery capabilities, and to add value, some also enable you to store your backups in different geographical locations.

Simplified management and monitoring capabilities

You can manage and monitor your on-premises data centers and cloud resources from a single screen making the management and monitoring more simple and effective.

You don’t have to give up on Linux when you migrate

Like many other business owners, you may be wondering if you must give up on less commonly used systems such as Linux. The answer is no. Microsoft Azure could be described as providing you with an upgraded Linux experience. Red Hat, SUSE, and Ubuntu work well with Azure. You can also create your own Linux virtual machines, deploy and run containers on Kubernetes.

How does cloud migration help you?

Imagine being able to alter your resources easily and optimise your operations without wasting time and money. This is what cloud solution does for you. Pharos Marine was struggling with costly IT solutions that were also outdated with applications that were resource-intense. The help4IT team stepped in to assist them with cloud migration and provided a holistic solution that met their requirements.

When you want to improve your IT operations, cloud migration is a good starting place. You can optimise your costs and have a flexible and scalable solution that is safe and ensures you’re compliant. At help4IT, we assist business owners like you in optimising IT operations with fully managed IT support services. To see how you can optimise your IT, book a complimentary assessment with us today.

5 Key Tips for Migrating to Microsoft 365

The era of digital transformation has necessitated a shift towards cloud-based platforms, with Microsoft 365 becoming the go-to choice for many organisations. This software suite offers businesses a range of collaborative, communication, and productivity tools such as Word, Excel, Teams, and more. However, migrating to Microsoft 365 can seem daunting. To simplify the process, here are some tips to make the transition smoother and more effective.

1. Plan Your Migration Strategy

Any significant IT project should begin with a clear, detailed plan. This includes setting objectives, identifying potential challenges, and devising a timeline. Determine which features you want to use, who will need access to them, and what data needs to be migrated. For larger businesses, this may involve migrating in stages to avoid disrupting business operations.

The planning phase should also include assessing your existing infrastructure. Will you need to upgrade any systems to ensure compatibility with Microsoft 365? Are there any potential data security risks to address?

2. Use the Right Migration Tools

Microsoft provides various tools designed to assist in the migration process. For instance, the SharePoint Migration Tool can help move your files from SharePoint Server to SharePoint in Microsoft 365. Similarly, the Exchange Server Deployment Assistant can guide you through moving your email to Exchange Online. Selecting the right tools for your specific needs can save considerable time and effort, reducing potential disruption to your business.

3. Train Your Staff

While Microsoft 365 is generally user-friendly, some users might struggle with the transition. It’s crucial to offer adequate training to ensure your team can use the new platform effectively. Microsoft offers a variety of training resources, including guides, tutorials, and videos.

Additionally, consider nominating ‘champions’ within your team who can provide peer support during the transition. These individuals can assist others with troubleshooting and answer any questions, helping to foster confidence and competence among users.

4. Ensure Data Security

Data security is a significant concern when migrating to a new platform. Microsoft 365 has robust security measures built-in, but it’s essential to review these settings to ensure they meet your organisation’s needs. This includes setting up multi-factor authentication, configuring data loss prevention policies, and regularly reviewing user access permissions.

You should also establish a comprehensive backup strategy. Although Microsoft 365 has built-in data redundancy, this doesn’t replace the need for backups, especially for critical business data.

5. Seek Professional Help If Needed

If the migration process seems overwhelming, consider seeking assistance from an IT consultancy specialising in Microsoft 365 migrations. At help4IT we regularly assist our clients with the management of their migration, as well as post-migration support and training. Our service ensures that our client’s migration is seamless and minimises any impact on their business operations.

Conclusion

Migrating to Microsoft 365 presents a host of opportunities for organisations to boost productivity, collaboration, and efficiency. However, a successful transition requires careful planning, appropriate tool usage, effective training, a focus on security, and the willingness to seek help when necessary. Following these tips can help ensure a smooth migration, enabling your business to fully leverage the benefits of Microsoft 365.

Unlocking Business Potential with Managed IT Services

In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, businesses of all sizes rely heavily on technology to drive growth, improve efficiency, and stay competitive. However, managing complex IT systems and ensuring their optimal performance can be a daunting task for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This is where managed IT services come into play, offering a proactive and cost-effective solution to address the ever-evolving technology needs of businesses. In this article, we will explore the benefits and key considerations of leveraging managed IT services to unlock the full potential of your SME.

The ROI of managed IT services

As a business owner, you may wonder why you should look at outsourcing your IT services instead of having an in-house IT manager take care of your IT. So, what is the ROI of outsourcing your IT requirements to a managed service provider?

  1. Comprehensive IT Support:

One of the primary advantages of a managed IT service is access to comprehensive IT support. Instead of relying on a reactive break-fix approach, where issues are addressed after they occur, managed service providers proactively monitor and manage your IT infrastructure. This includes round-the-clock system monitoring, timely software updates, and troubleshooting potential problems before they disrupt your operations. By having a dedicated team of experts who specialise in managing IT systems, you can minimise downtime, improve system reliability, and ensure your business operates smoothly.

  1. Cost Efficiency:

For many SMEs, investing in an in-house IT department with the required expertise and resources can be financially burdensome. Managed IT services offer a cost-efficient alternative, as they allow businesses to access a full suite of IT capabilities without the high overhead costs. With a fixed monthly fee or pay-as-you-go model, you can tailor the services to your specific needs and budget, enabling better cost predictability. Additionally, by outsourcing your IT needs, you can redirect your internal resources toward core business activities, fostering growth and innovation. You save up to 60% in hiring, training, and employee retention costs when you use managed IT services.

  1. Enhanced Security:

Cybersecurity threats pose a significant risk to businesses today. SMEs are not immune to these threats, and the consequences of a data breach or network compromise can be devastating. Managed IT service providers prioritise security by implementing robust measures such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and regular security audits. They also ensure that your systems and data are protected by employing best practices for data backup, disaster recovery, and employee awareness training. By partnering with experts who stay up-to-date with the latest security trends, you can fortify your defenses against cyber threats and safeguard your sensitive information.

  1. Scalability and Flexibility:

As your business grows, so do your IT requirements. Managed IT services offer scalability and flexibility to adapt to your changing needs. Whether you need to add new users, expand your infrastructure, or integrate new technologies, a managed IT service provider can quickly and efficiently scale your systems to accommodate growth. This eliminates the need for significant upfront investments in hardware or software that may become obsolete over time. By leveraging the expertise and resources of your managed IT service provider, you can embrace innovation and stay ahead in the dynamic business landscape.

Conclusion

In the digital age, leveraging technology effectively is crucial for SMEs to thrive. A managed IT solution provides a strategic and proactive approach to IT management, empowering businesses to focus on their core competencies while ensuring their technology infrastructure remains secure and optimised. From comprehensive IT support and cost efficiency to enhanced security and scalability, partnering with a reliable managed IT service provider can unlock the full potential of your SME, enabling you to drive growth, improve productivity, and stay ahead of the competition in today’s ever-evolving digital world.

Different Areas of IT Support Explained

IT support is essential for the smooth running of any business or organisation that relies on technology to deliver its services or products. At help4IT, we provide a range of IT support packages to help organisations keep their hardware, software, and network infrastructure running efficiently with minimal downtime for staff and operations.  

Here we explain the different areas of IT support and how partnering with us can help you to manage these areas far more effectively.

How do you assist with hardware support?

Hardware support is an essential component of any IT support package. IT companies provide hardware support services to help organisations keep their hardware running smoothly. At help4IT, we provide hardware support in several ways, including:

  • On-site Support – where we arrange for one of our engineers to attend on-site to help fix hardware-related issues. This type of support is particularly useful for organisations that have many hardware devices that require maintenance and repair.
  • Remote support – where we provide support to our clients using remote access tools. This type of support is particularly useful for organisations that require ad-hoc assistance with smaller numbers of devices.
  • Preventive maintenance – much of the work we do at help4IT is around helping clients to prevent hardware-related issues. This type of support involves regular inspections, cleaning, and testing of hardware devices to ensure they are running smoothly.

How do you assist with software support?

Software support is another critical aspect of any IT support package. At help4IT, we provide software support services to help our clients keep their software up-to-date and running as expected. We regularly assist our clients with:

  • Software installation – if a client is introducing new software into the business, we can help ensure that it is rolled out correctly across all device types.
  • Software updates – we often assist our clients with licensing renewals, updates, and training for new staff members. This type of support is important because software updates can fix security vulnerabilities, improve software performance, and enable staff to work more efficiently.
  • Software troubleshooting – if our clients are having trouble with any aspect of their software, our team provides support in identifying the root cause of the problem and providing a solution to fix it.

How do you assist with network infrastructure management?

Network infrastructure management is critical to operational efficiency, particularly for larger-sized businesses. At help4IT, we assist our clients with:

  • Network design – this involves identifying the hardware and software required to build the network and designing the network topology.
  • Network installation – this involves installing the hardware and software required to build the network and configuring the network settings.
  • Network monitoring – this involves using network monitoring tools to identify network-related issues and provide a solution to fix them.

How do you assist with cloud computing?

Cloud computing has become a popular way for organisations to store and access data and applications. At help4It, we help our clients with cloud computing through cloud support services such as:

  • Cloud migration – this involves identifying the data and applications that need to be migrated and selecting the appropriate cloud provider.
  • Cloud management – this involves monitoring the cloud infrastructure to ensure it is running smoothly and providing a solution to fix any issues.
  • Cloud security – this involves implementing appropriate security measures such as firewalls and data encryption.

How do you assist with mobile device management?

Mobile devices have become an essential part of business operations, and IT companies can help organisations manage their mobile devices by providing mobile device management (MDM) services. At help4IT, we often assist our clients with MDM services such as:

  • Device configuration – this involves selecting and configuring a range of mobile devices to meet the demands of the client’s business.
  • Security management – mobile devices present a significant security risk so it’s important to ensure all devices are secure by implementing appropriate security measures such as passcodes, encryption, and remote wipe capabilities.
  • Application management – this involves installing and updating applications and ensuring they are secure and compliant with company policies.

How do you assist with cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity has become a top concern for businesses as cyber threats continue to evolve and become more sophisticated. At help4IT, we assist our clients with:

  • Risk assessments – helping to identify and assess our clients’ cybersecurity risks. This involves analysing their infrastructure, policies, and procedures to identify potential vulnerabilities.
  • Security implementation – including firewalls, antivirus software, and intrusion detection systems.
  • Incident response – helping our clients respond to cyber incidents. This involves identifying the cause of the incident, containing the damage, and restoring normal operations.

Do you require assistance with your IT support?

At help4IT, we provide a range of solutions for keeping our clients’ hardware, software, network infrastructure, cloud computing, mobile devices, and cybersecurity running smoothly and efficiently. Contact us today to find out more.

Advantages of Pay-As-You-Go vs Fully Managed IT Support

A common question posed to the team here at help4IT is which type of support is best suited to our prospective client’s business: Pay-As-You-Go IT Support or Fully Managed IT Support?

To help answer this frequently asked question, we have set out some of the key advantages and disadvantages of each of these types of arrangements.

Advantages of Pay-As-You-Go IT Support

PAYG IT is an arrangement with a third-party supplier where you pay for IT services at an agreed hourly rate and just pay for whatever you use. Clients often choose this type of arrangement as it offers:

  • A cost-effective solution for businesses that are not heavy technology users – making PAYG ideal for start-ups and smaller companies.
  • Only paying for what you need in relation to your business’s IT issues – the IT service provider will usually quote you an hourly fee for their assistance with fixing any issues that crop up. Sometimes this fee may be tiered, so you will pay a higher fee for a senior consultant’s time and a lower fee for a consultant who deals with more run-of-the-mill problems that commonly affect businesses. Often clients are invited to buy blocks of hours, sometimes referred to as a “time bank”, that can help to reduce the hourly cost but may expire if not used up within a given timeframe.
  • No ongoing monthly contract – multiple rolling service contracts for assistance with different areas of business support can cause your overheads to quickly stack up. A Pay-As-You-Go IT service avoids the higher set fee that is associated with managed IT support contracts, keeping your financial commitment to a minimum whilst enabling you to resolve IT issues quickly, whenever they occur.
  • Access to high-quality expertise at a set rate – there will always be issues that occur in any business where internal resources are unable to resolve the problem. PAYG services enable you to access expertise at an agreed set rate and resolve the issues quickly.

Disadvantages of Pay-As-You-Go IT Support

PAYG IT may not be the right model for resolving your business’s IT issues. The downside to hiring IT professionals under this sort of arrangement includes the following:

  • Resolutions to your company’s IT problems are reactive rather than proactive – under a PAYG arrangement, your service provider may only run very basic monthly checks on your systems or possibly none at all. If increasing numbers of staff are accessing your systems and encountering IT issues, a fully managed solution may be more advisable for continually assessing your infrastructure and providing a solution that minimises downtime and increases productivity.
  • If IT problems become more prolific, you may end up spending more money under a PAYG arrangement – as mentioned previously, PAYG tends to suit start-ups and smaller businesses. As businesses grow, and their technology requirements expand, moving over to a fully managed solution may make sense if your business is continually firefighting by only ever reacting to IT problems as they occur (rather than anticipating and planning for their occurrence).
  • The PAYG model is not best suited for organisations looking for strategic direction and systems monitoring – businesses that are reliant on technology and have ambitious growth plans should consider how they can either facilitate that growth in-house or by outsourcing the requirements to a third-party supplier. Furthermore, if your business deals with highly sensitive data or needs to adhere to stringent industry compliance regulations, a fully managed IT solution is by far the more advisable route to take.

Advantages of Fully Managed IT Support

A fully managed IT support solution is one that aims to identify and solve potential IT problems before they can impact the day-to-day running of your systems and your business. The benefits of a fully managed contract include the following:

  • A significant reduction in support calls – a proactive, managed IT support plan can help you significantly reduce the number of support calls that your team need to make to help them resolve their technology-related issues.
  • Achieve real-time continuous monitoring of your servers and critical network components – offering you greater protection against cyberattacks whilst providing a strong basis to anticipate technology-related issues that affect business performance.
  • Better management of your hardware and software – including administration of licensing and software updates, tracking and monitoring devices, anticipating your future technology requirements and scaling up to meet them seamlessly.
  • Stronger disaster recovery posture – ensuring that your business can continue to function in the event of a natural disaster, server failure, or cyberattack.

Disadvantages of Fully Managed IT Support

A fully managed IT support contract may not be suitable for all types of businesses. For example:

  • Freelancers, start-ups, and businesses with less than 10 employees may not require all the features associated with a fully managed IT support plan – so the overhead of a regular rolling contract may be an unnecessary burden. However, any business with ambitious growth plans should discuss with their IT provider how best to set up their systems from outset, to avoid potential headaches further down the line.
  • Fully outsourcing all your IT requirements to an external contractor could potentially limit aspects of your growth by reduced in-house knowledge retention – clients that are rapidly expanding may therefore want to consider bringing some IT functions in-house, whilst also retaining the services of a third-party supplier to ensure seamless delivery.

Still unsure which IT support model is right for you?

Are you currently considering a change to the way IT issues are handled within your business? The help4IT team have been providing an exceptional standard of IT support to customers both large and small on Pay-As-You-Go and Fully Managed arrangements since 2005. Read more about our success stories here or get in touch with our team to discuss your requirements.

5 Microsoft 365 Features to Help Your Business

Microsoft 365 is a subscription-based evolution of Microsoft Office, designed to help you run your business more efficiently and safely. It is more than just apps such as Word, Excel and Powerpoint; it brings together best-in-class productivity apps with powerful cloud services, device management, and advanced security in one, connected experience.

The subscription model of Microsoft 365 makes it an ideal, cost-effective solution for SMEs that want to deploy a mobile, collaborative work environment that is productive and secure with features that offer a competitive advantage. With its combination of the operating system (Windows 10), the productivity suite (Office 365) and the authentication system (Enterprise Mobility and Security), Microsoft 365 is a turnkey suite that SMEs can deploy quickly and inexpensively, offering smaller businesses the edge to succeed in a competitive marketplace.

With this in mind, we thought we’d take the time to highlight five of the most innovative Microsoft 365 features that will likely be an asset to the running of your business.

1. Real-time co-authoring

With Office and OneDrive or SharePoint, multiple people can work together on a Word document, Excel spreadsheet, or PowerPoint presentation. People working on these documents at the same time is a collaboration method referred to as co-authoring.

2. Easy editing and converting to PDF

Converting finished documents, spreadsheets or presentations to PDF is easy in Microsoft 365 with the Save as PDF integrated feature.

3. Improved version control

Microsoft 365 offers much-improved version control with co-authoring. Easily see which changes were made when and by whom. You can also revert back to any previous version of the file, whenever you need to.

4. Work anywhere from any device

Devices Microsoft 365

Work on cloud files using any up-to-date web browser using any device type in any location. You can even access and work on Word, Excel and other productivity apps directly from your smartphone, while you’re on the move.

5. Intelligent email

Clutter Microsoft 365

With the Clutter feature, Microsoft will use your mailbox rules to automatically organise your email so high-priority messages are visible first. Other incoming mail is moved to your Clutter inbox for you to view separately when it suits you.

Moving to Microsoft 365

Are you an SME looking for assistance with your migration to Microsoft 365? Get in touch with the help4IT team for details on how we can assist you with a smooth transition.

How to Provide the Best IT Support for Your Remote Workers

The number of employees working remotely within the UK has grown significantly in recent years, largely due to the impact of Covid-19 and the subsequent national lockdowns. According to a study by the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research and Data, remote working was relatively rare in 1981 when only 1.5% of those in employment worked mainly from home. By 2019 it had tripled to 4.7%, however, it rose suddenly and dramatically in lockdown with just over 43% of employees working almost always working remotely.

With 36% of working adults reporting that they have worked at home at least once over a 7 day period in January 2022, there has emerged a significant requirement for employers to ensure that their staff can fulfil their roles to the best of their ability outside of the office or other traditional work environments. With the remote working trend likely to continue long after the impact of Covid-19 has diminished, employers must be able to provide a high standard of IT support services for staff working from home and other spaces outside of official company premises.

Key areas that employers need to consider when accommodating the requirements of remote workers include the following.

Ensure remote workers can get technical issues fixed by a remote IT support team

If large sections of your team are not office based, it’s unlikely that you will be able to provide onsite IT support for every issue that they encounter. You need to ensure that you have a good system in place for responding to their issues quickly and fixing the problem remotely, wherever possible. If your business serves customers from around the world, then you may need to consider providing a multi-lingual remote IT support department.

Ensure that your remote team can access IT support 24/7

If a high percentage of your staff do not work regular 9 to 5 office hours, it’s important that they are able to access help and fix IT issues whenever they occur. If you are unable to establish an in-house 24/7 IT team, consider outsourcing support to a dedicated managed IT support company. This will ensure that staff working from home late at night or operating in different time zones are not prevented from meeting important deadlines or delivering solutions to customers.

Ensure that you can deal with local emergencies experienced by remote workers  

Whilst most issues can be resolved remotely, occasionally an onsite visit is the only option for resolving urgent issues faced by staff working remotely. You, therefore, need to ensure that you can facilitate a response to any emergencies occurring no matter where in the country, or the world, they happen. One way to do this would be to work alongside multiple local IT support providers based on the locations of your remote staff. This might work for smaller businesses, however, for larger and more complex operations you should consider hiring a local managed services provider (MSP), one that can leverage network connections to ensure onsite support is provided quickly no matter where in the world your staff are based.

Ensure that strong security standards and procedures are implemented

Never assume that staff working remotely are not a threat to your central systems. Without carefully considered security procedures and solutions in place, staff may attempt to access company files from unprotected or public networks potentially compromising sensitive data and information. Important steps to ensure that staff can work safely whilst remote include the following:

  • Mandating Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
  • Mandating strong passwords and user access protocols
  • Limiting access to sensitive files and directories
  • Providing training and support on common security risks such as phishing attacks
  • Setting up a VPN network
  • Setting up systems to ensure that security software on devices used to access company information is kept up to date
  • Implementing a cloud-based mobile device management (MDM) service such as Microsoft Intune.

Ensure you have considered the bigger picture for remote working staff

It’s not enough just to provide a solution for fixing IT issues for your remote staff. You need to ensure that your business can continue to operate well in the face of bigger systemic issues such as server failures. Backup server maintenance, temporary systems, and devices for both your office-based and remote staff all need to be considered to assure uninterrupted productivity and business continuity.

The help4IT advantage: providing specialist support for remote working staff

With our extensive global partner network, the help4IT team provide emergency support for our clients that have operations in multiple countries and remote staff working in varied locations. We have also assisted countless businesses to migrate to a platform that offers best in class security provision for both office-based and remote working team members.

To find out more about how we can help you, please get in touch.

Cyber security tips for charities

According to a 2021 report by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, more than a quarter of charities (26%) reported having cyber security breaches or attacks in the 12 months preceding the date of their analysis. Larger charities are more likely to be affected by cybercrime, with 50% of high-income charities (£500k or more) and 68% of very high-income organisations (over £5m) reporting that they have experienced breaches within a 12-month period.

These worrying statistics are accompanied by reports of triple-digit increases in cyberattacks. With no slowdown in sight for security breaches, it is more important than ever for organisations to ensure that their systems are protected as well as can be. For smaller charities and non-profit enterprises, this may present certain challenges from a finance and training perspective. However, there are simple steps that charities of all sizes can take to safeguard their data & protect confidential information relating to donors, trustees, and other stakeholders.

Below we have outlined some of the most important areas that charities need to consider when assessing their IT systems and security.

Ensure that you are securely backing up your data

Whatever the size of your organisation, you are likely to be storing vital documents that would impede your progress if lost. Information such as donor and volunteer details, governing and compliance documents, invoices and payment details must all be stored very carefully. Therefore, all charities must take steps to back up regularly and ensure that important files are not just stored on local machines. Storing all your critical files in the cloud is highly advisable, however, you do need to take care when migrating to a cloud system.

Take steps to protect your charity from malware

The WannaCry outbreak in 2017 is an example of malicious software, or ‘malware’ for short, that affected charities as well as businesses and other types of organisations. To protect your charity against malware attacks like this it is important to use antivirus on all computers, laptops or any other devices that connect to your server. You should prevent trustees, volunteers, and staff from downloading any suspicious apps using one of your organisation’s devices (or prevent them from accessing important data from devices that belong to them but have not been security checked).

It’s also very important to keep all your IT equipment and software up to date (patching) and to ensure there are controls in place in terms of how USB drives and memory cards are used. It’s a good idea to encourage staff to transfer data via cloud storage or email rather than use memory sticks which can be unwittingly infected.

Make sure any smartphones or tablets are safe for use by staff and volunteers

Many charitable organisations have staff and volunteers working “in the field”, where it’s essential for them to be able to access the central server using a mobile device. As such, it’s very important to ensure that these devices are configured properly and connect to your server in the most secure way possible. Essential steps to take to on this front include ensuring adequate password protection is in place; making sure that you can track, lock, and wipe any lost or stolen devices; making sure each device is regularly checked and updated; ensuring apps on each device are updated to the latest versions and ensuring staff and volunteers do not connect to your server using unknown Wi-Fi hotspots.

Look at ways of using passwords to protect your data

All the devices used by people within your charity will contain sensitive data such as the personal information of donors, supporters, trustees, volunteers, and staff members. It is essential that this information is available to you and other senior people in the management team but not to unauthorised users. Steps you can take on this front include using two-factor authentication for access to important accounts; banning the use of predictable or easy passwords; using password manager systems that enable tiered access to different file systems dependent on the seniority of the end-user, and ensuring that default passwords can never be used to access any parts of your server.

Take steps to avoid phishing attacks

Phishing is where cybercriminals send mass communications to many different targets (typically via email) where they ask for sensitive information such as bank details or access to an online account. Often these communications will include a link to a website that imitates a well-known brand or institution. Phishing attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated, with their communications and websites looking near-identical to the brands they are imitating.

There are several things you can do to try to mitigate the impact of a phishing attack. This includes configuring your accounts and devices so that only very senior people within your organisation have access to the most sensitive data; offering basic training to staff and volunteers so that they are equipped with the skills to understand what a potential phishing communication looks like; regularly scan your IT systems for evidence of any irregularities, and put in place spam detection software to help syphon suspicious inbound mail.

Get assistance assessing the IT infrastructure of your charity

Are you concerned about the IT setup or security of your charity’s systems and servers? The team at help4IT have many years of experience providing IT support for charities, non-profits, and NGOs. Read how we assisted Age UK and Meals on Wheels, or simply call us for an informal chat with one of our friendly IT consultants.


The key features of an excellent IT support help desk

An IT help desk is a department, either within an organisation or provided by an external contractor, that is responsible for answering the technical questions of the end-users of an IT system. Most major IT companies have help desks to respond to questions from their customers. Questions may be handled by the help desk in various ways including email, telephone, website, or online chat.

Here are some of the key features of an excellent IT support help desk.

Qualified, friendly support staff

The key to any effective help desk is the people who provide the service. End-users of a help desk need to know that their enquiry is going to be dealt with professionally and quickly, therefore empathetic staff with strong interpersonal skills are essential to the delivery of the service. They must also possess the technical skills required to deal with the most common IT issues.

An effective ticketing system

Providing an exceptional standard of IT support to end users can’t be achieved without an efficient technology setup. Ticketing systems enable end-users to keep a record of the issues they raise, monitor the progress of the issues, and allow multiple stakeholders, with different levels of expertise, to collaborate on any complex problems. An effective ticketing system is, therefore, an essential component to a good quality IT support desk.  

An efficient issue tracking system

An essential element of providing above-average IT support is the efficient recording of issues and bugs that end users are experiencing with the hardware and software they are using. IT support companies, therefore, need to ensure that the helpdesk agent, engineers, and managers can keep track of the issues through to their complete resolution. A good tracking system will keep the end-user up to date on the status of the problem.

Monitoring and analytics

An efficient IT support helpdesk should include analytics on the service provider side, enabling IT managers to gain insight into common issues and fixes for end users of IT systems. This valuable data can be used to help make the handling of future support tickets more efficient and satisfactory for the end-user.

A customer feedback feature

IT support companies need to learn from their mistakes and successes, so customer feedback is essential to this process. A good IT help desk should allow end-users to provide the support team with details of how they feel their issue has been dealt with, once the ticket has been closed.

Interested in a review of IT support for your business?

At help4IT, we have been providing exceptional help desk support to our clients since our inception in 2005. It is the foundation stone of our support packages. If you’d like a review of your IT systems, please contact us today.

What benefits are there for using VoIP telephony within your business?

Today, almost every business need can be better serviced via the cloud. Telephony and communication provide a prime example of the way that cloud technology not only makes services more cost efficient but also more effective and versatile too. VoIP telephony has a lot of benefits for any business looking to get more from an investment in communications networks.

What is VoIP telephony?

It’s very similar to traditional telephone systems in terms of the experience that the user has. However, the key difference is that VoIP telephony uses the internet, as opposed to a telephone network in order to send and receive calls. The sound of people speaking to each other is converted to digital voice communication and then transferred via a digital network.

Why does VoIP telephony work for businesses today?

It’s much more cost effective

The costs involved in VoIP telephony offer the same benefits as any other cloud service – they are less thanks to the lack of set up costs and a reduction in ongoing expenses resulting from the efficiencies and economies of scale of the cloud. So, there are no hardware or software costs payable by the business and no complex contracts to enter into. Instead, businesses using VoIP telephony are effectively able to pay for services as they are required. And, despite this much more appealing cost structure, there is no dip in the quality of service – in fact, many businesses see an improvement.

Supporting agile working infrastructures

VoIP telephony enables businesses to be genuinely agile, supporting a mobile or remote workforce on a global basis. With VoIP telephony, business communications can be accessed from anywhere in the world, and from any device. So, whether your staff want to access voicemail and fax, or you are looking to monitor activities and set answering rules, all of this can be done from any location as long as there is an internet connection.

Making maintenance easier

If you have an issue with a traditional telephone line then you have to call the relevant company and wait for the technicians to get to the problem. If you’re using VoIP telephony then issues are much easier to resolve and cloud telephone companies tend to be able to deal with most of them remotely. Plus, as there is no hardware on site, the maintenance and repair obligations on the business are minimal.

Responsiveness to change

Cloud technology is incredibly supportive of business change – and this applies to VoIP telephony too. Cloud telephony is truly scalable, which makes it the ideal communication tool for smaller businesses looking to grow, or for larger enterprises seeking to have some flexibility in terms of the services that are paid for, depending on demand. Scaling VoIP telephony up or down is incredibly fast and simple to do – you won’t need to call in an engineer or pay for extensive hardware additions to scale up and if you need to cut back your services in response to a drop in demand, all that is required is a phone call.

VoIP telephony has a lot to offer businesses today, from simplifying communications to cutting costs. We can help you to create the perfect technology infrastructure for your business. Contact help4IT today to find out more.

How to Guarantee a Seamless IT Transition During Your Office Move

Relocating an office is a big transition. It can involve a lot of upheaval and needs to be managed with precision. The transition of business IT is one of the most important elements in any office move. It not carefully managed, this could lead to IT problems that disrupt business continuity and cause chaos and frustration for your enterprise and for your customers and clients. So, how do you ensure that the IT element of your move is seamless?

Start planning – months in advance

Your IT relocation plan should begin months before the move is scheduled. You’ll need to ensure that you have time to review all the potential outcomes, cover every piece of equipment and system and ensure that the relevant people are well informed when it comes to what needs to happen, and when. Start with a complete review and inventory of all your IT, including essential systems and software and devices and equipment, such as printers or servers. What is required for successful transition for every part of the plan in terms of actions and timescales involved? Make sure you get input from any relevant parties so that no essential steps are missed.

Invest time in creating floor plans

Often, it’s difficult to see where problems may arise without a visual aid to relocation. This is why it’s so important to draw up floor plans as part of the preparation for the office move. Use the inventory you’ve created to design detailed floor plans for each of the spaces in your new office so that you can see exactly what needs to go where and what is required to get everything up and running. This may involve a process of updating, replacing, changing or adding to existing equipment and systems. It’s also a great time to review whether your current IT meets your business needs in terms of both cost and deliverables. If you could reduce spend or improve performance by making changes then integrating these during an office move can mean less disruption.

Test out your new IT

When the first stage of the office move is complete it will be important to test everything before considering the process finished. So, when you’re planning the transition don’t forget to include a test phase that you can implement as soon as the physical move has been completed. This will enable you to identify any problems that need to be dealt with quickly and to prevent issues with business continuity.

Get some good advice

If you don’t have the experience or expertise to be able to identify the potential issues that could arise with IT during an office move then it’s always a good idea to get some expert advice. This will give you insights that you may not otherwise have had the benefit of, and help to make the transition a smoother one.

At help4IT we have a wealth of experience when it comes to ensuring smooth IT transition during an office move – our team is happy to help.

How can you ensure flexibility and security at the same time?

Flexible working is not just something that employees today have a legal right to request. It has also become an integral part of the work culture of many businesses. Being able to offer flexible and mobile working to employees makes an enterprise a more attractive employer and also creates opportunities for cost saving and efficiency. But how do you ensure that this flexibility doesn’t come at the cost of IT and network security?

Device security is crucial

You may have employees hot desking in the office with company laptops or they may be using their own devices from other locations. Whatever method you choose, device security is going to be essential. Good password hygiene will make it much more difficult for data and information to be accessed by those who should not have it, even if a device is lost or stolen. Long, obscure passwords with a mix of numbers and letters, as well as the use of two-step authentication, will help to boost the strength of device security.

Educating employees will give them tools

It’s a fact that staff often simply aren’t aware of the range of security risks that modern IT presents – and so it’s often up to employers to provide training to educate employees in order to keep company networks safe. The basics of device security will be important, such as not auto-saving passwords, but you may also want to educate employees on other risks, such as the dangers of using public Wi-Fi and avoiding public computers to log on remotely to business networks.

Encrypted emails are essential

Email is the key communication tool of choice for employees when flexible working – and it’s often the first place that cybercriminals will look for information and data that could be used to engineer a security breach. Encrypting emails disguise email content and an encryption key is required for anyone who wants to see it. So, sensitive information is protected and only those who are supposed to see the content of the emails sent between the business and its remote workers will be able to do so.

Data backups support business recovery

Cloud technology is a useful tool when it comes to security, enabling regular automated backups from which data can be recovered centrally through an off-site server. In the event of a security breach at your business, backups will be crucial to ensuring business continuity and the access to critical data that is required to get systems back up and running – and secure – once again. Implementing regular data backups is an important part of security and one that employees may need to be involved in enabling.

Invest in network monitoring to trigger early warning

Network monitoring has a number of benefits, from identifying current inefficiencies to informing IT strategy and planning. It’s also a crucial security tool that will act as an early warning if there is a security issue unfolding that is affecting your network.

Flexible and mobile working could be transformative for your business – as long as there is managed cybersecurity in place to ensure this is handled safely. Get in touch with help4IT today on 0207 653 9780 to find out more.

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