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  • What is ERP? Jan 19, 2018

    Enterprise Resource Planning, or its acronym ERP refers to software or systems which are used by organisations and businesses to manage their daily operations, such as production and manufacturing, accounting, procurement, customer relationship management, document management and order processing.

    ERP systems can be extremely broad but generally, they bring together a wide range of business processes enabling the flow of information and data between them. By collating information shared between different departments or processes, a good ERP system will eliminate the duplication of data and provide data integrity and security.

    In the modern world, ERP software is critical for managing thousands of businesses of all shapes and sizes throughout many different industries.

    The Introduction of GDPR in 2018

    The handling of data has been a hot topic in recent years; it is currently under the spotlight with the imminent arrival of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) being introduced in the UK in May 2018. Businesses need to ensure they are compliant with the new GDPR. Implementing an ERP system to store your company information can help mitigate against the risks of data being shared between multiple business processes and teams, improving data security and ensuring compliance.

    Improve Efficiency with ERP Software

    There are various key benefits to implementing ERP within an organisation or business, the end product of these is improved efficiency.


    Central Database to Avoid Duplication

    The central principle of ERP software is the shared collection and storage of data, which can be distributed seamlessly throughout an
    organisation. This data is stored within one central database giving each department the opportunity to access the data they require efficiently and quickly. By implementing this central database an ERP system is designed to reduce the amount of information and data which is duplicated, keeping records up-to-date.

    Automated Workflows

    Departments or teams are able to work more closely together, workflows can be automated between multiple departments, and information can flow much more easily and smoothly. This ensures tasks are completed more efficiently.

    Enhanced Visibility of Information

    ERP software ensures that each process is visible to all departments and senior management throughout the business. Giving the entire organisation the ability to be ‘on the same page’ when it comes to up-to-date information on the projects or services they are delivering.

    Central Reporting System

    ERP systems take advantage of a central reporting system, this can involve real-time reports which are available to each department within an organisation. Reporting is based around the data stored within the central database, each department can use up-to-date information and share with the senior management team or with other departments.

    Adaptable to Specific Business Requirements

    One of the key strengths of any ERP software is tying all processes together into one seamless system. Every business or organisation is different and has its own individual way of working. ERP can take these backend systems and link them together enabling the flow of information between them.

    A quality ERP system and a sound implementation methodology should enable a close fit for a wide variety of businesses in myriad of industries. The solution should be able to adapt to specific business requirements, as they stand now and to how they may change in the future. Ideally, the ERP system should allow for a certain amount of adaptability by the client themselves.

    Lower Operational Costs

    Improving the flow of information between departments helps improve the efficiency of business processes. The ability to obtain accurate data at any stage means individuals and departments waste less time, in turn improving operations, saving the business money.

    Reliability in the Data

    As data is stored in only one place the reliability of the information available is increased. Records are updated by multiple departments meaning information in the database is ‘live’, there is reduced risk of data being outdated or duplicated.

    Summary:
    ERP systems help to drive the efficiency and productivity of an
    organisation, they take multiple back end systems and integrate them together to create one central store of information, used for reporting and the management of business processes. Each department and employee has relevant up-to-date information, meaning they can perform their tasks more efficiently ultimately saving the business time and money.
  • How to Toughen up Your Document Compliance Jan 17, 2018

    Document storage is something that all businesses, big or small, have to incorporate. Part and parcel of this concept is compliance. The all-important aspect of just about any system, conformity to laid out regulations is vital and failure to comply may mean your company is ultimately operating illegally.


    With compliance being such a huge subject, how can you be sure that everything is above board? Retention periods and storage arrangements are the two biggest factors. Getting them right is essential.


    Storage of Paper Documents


    If you rely on physical copies of your files and records, you may have them stored within your premises. The nature of the information contained within documents will determine exactly how they should be kept.


    Files that don’t contain confidential information may not need much thought. Of course, it wouldn’t harm to keep them in the same way as sensitive data so there’s a uniform method across all documents.


    Confidential information should be kept in a way that doesn’t compromise. Access should be strictly limited and storage units and furniture kept under lock and key.


    If your business makes use of outsourced archive services, the same rules still apply. This may be a bit more out of your control that doesn’t excuse any flaws. You have the responsibility to make sure that any premises are up to task. Whether you have to check them out for yourself, audit processes or research accreditations of a company, it is always better to be absolutely assured.


    Secure Devices


    If your data is stored electronically, securing devices is imperative. The easiest way of doing this is by implementing a unique and safe password. This goes for computers, laptops, tablets, phones and any other devices that store data.


    If using a computer or laptop, you can change your lock settings. If you leave the machine for a set amount of time, it can be set to automatically lock and require a password to access again. Also make sure that when the device is in sleep mode, the password is required to get back to the desktop.


    Encryption


    For an extra level of protection, encryption software is available. This will mean that if somebody does happen to gain access, they still won’t be able to get hold of files behind the software. There are plenty of options available for both desktop and mobile. Look for ones with the best reviews and highest levels of trust.


    You’re going to have to think about cloud storage options too, especially when they’re connected to confidential information. The most popular ones are Google Drive and Dropbox. If you use any of these, shore them up with software. They are very secure already but an extra level of protection will help keep your mind at ease.


    Network Security


    A secure internet connection is always recommended when uploading or retrieving anything sensitive. In most cases, private broadband is nothing to worry about. Although the cloud is an extremely convenient storage space, Wi-Fi connections may offer an opportunity for people up to no good.


    Public connections are often unsecured. There’s also the chance for anybody to set up a Wi-Fi network posing as a trusted source, renaming the SSID to try and pose as a safe network. Anything that is sent over this network can be scraped. Not great to say the least. If you aren’t’ sure of a network, never transmit any data over it.


    Outsourcing


    More and more businesses are ensuring compliance with the use of outsourcing. As previously mentioned, it’s still your responsibility to ensure that everything is in perfect order.Checking for compliance accreditations, for both physical and electronic records, is a good place to start. Look for quality management, information security, secure destruction and PCI compliance. Also, check that premises are secure. Some companies may use additional controls such as fingerprint entry.


    Document management systems supplied should be completely protected. Passwords and access for authorised personnel only are a must. As this software has been specially developed, it will probably incorporate safeguarding features. Ask a prospective provider, though, to make sure.


    Absolute Certainty


    Getting your documents in a compliant order is a must. Whether you do this alone or enlist the help of an outside company getting it right is crucial.


    Remember that different documents may need to be treated differently to others. If you are unsure, consult the relevant authorities for confirmation.
  • GDPR - An Evolution In Data Protection Dec 19, 2017

    What is GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)?

    The General Data Protection Regulation which will be coming into play in 2018 is a reform to the current law regulating data protection which was first adopted in 1995, over 20 years ago! The world has changed with regards to the amount of accessible data and information, especially with modern technologies and the “internet of things”.

    In 1995 less than 1% of the world had access to the internet compared with 40% being able to access the “net” today. The law which was introduced in 1995 is still the data protection law governing the modern world, in 2012 there was a proposal made to the European parliament for this reform.

    When?

    On the 25th of May 2018 the European parliament’s General Data Protection Regulation comes into force, strengthening data protection for EU citizens. This will change how businesses approach information security, data privacy and information governance.

    Compliance Can Be Complex

    For businesses to become GDPR compliant it can be a very complicated process, it is much easier if broken down into various steps.

    Generating awareness within the business or organisation is key, helping all employees to understand its effects on the business as a whole. It is important to help the board of directors and senior managers understand the resources required and the legislation to transform how the business handles personal data. It is recommended that businesses appoint a “chief data officer” to to promote and drive the compliance internally.

    Angela Wing from Microsoft recommends that business owners start reviewing their data management and data privacy practices by using a “5 pillars for effective data protection” as the basis of an effective data protection strategy.

    1. Discovery - Perform data audits and to fully understand the responsibilities of the business with regards to personal data being stored about their employees.
    2. Control - It is important for firms to understand where their data is stored, who can access it, why they have the data and for how long they have access to it for.
    3. Protection - Ensuring that there are sufficient security measures in place to help prevent data breaches and protect the data from vulnerability.
    4. Reporting - Ensuring they have all the necessary documentation they need under the new GDPR ruling.
    5. Reviewing - Making sure they analyse the systems they currently have in place to ensure compliance and reduce risk
    By performing an in depth audit business owners can determine what their risks and exposures are, they will also gain a thorough understanding of what is required to become compliant.

    Steps To Take To Reach Compliance

    The UK Information Commissioner (ICO) has produced a handy document which outlines the 12 steps it believes businesses should take to achieve compliance. You can read this document here.

    A summary of these 12 steps would be:

    1. Ensure your entire workforce is aware of the new regulations coming into effect.
    2. Perform an audit of the personal data you hold as a business and identify any risk areas.
    3. Put a comprehensive strategy in place should there be anything to change.
    4. Review your company’s procedures of how it collects and handles personal data.
    5. Put a plan in place for any requests being made to view that data.
    6. Discuss your strategy with a solicitor to ensure it is legally correct.
    7. Review how consent is obtained for handling personal data.
    8. Consider how you process the personal data of children if applicable.
    9. Review your data breach protocols to ensure they are as good as they can be.
    10. Review the ICO’s code of practice relating to “Privacy Impact Assessments”.
    11. Assign the role of “data officer” to a responsible member of staff within your organisation.
    12. Make sure that if you process data outside of the EU that you are compliant with the different regulatory bodies.
    Rights To Access Data

    Under the new regulations employees have more rights when it comes to being able to access the information you, as a business, hold about them. Currently the law states that a Subject Access Request is filed which lets public bodies and businesses charge £10 for people and other organisations wishing to request data. Under the new GDPR this is going to be scrapped. Data requests will now be free. In some instances GDPR also lets the personal data be erased from the record.

    What About Brexit?

    As the wheels turn and UK’s exit from the EU gets underway you may be thinking that as a new EU regulation it’s not going to be relevant to UK businesses. However, as this regulation is set to pass prior to the official exit of the UK from the European Union it will still become law here in the UK.

    Conclusion: Improved Data Protection

    The bottom line to the implementation of GDPR in May 2018 is that it will be delivering a much needed review of the outdated data protection laws currently in place. Personal data will become much more accessible by individuals and should also become more secure within the various businesses and organisations holding that data.

    Further reading: www.cleardatagroup.co.uk
  • How Mobile Phones Give Small Businesses the Resources to Excel Nov 29, 2017

    Mobile phones; they’re everywhere. It seems that you can’t turn a corner without seeing a Bluetooth headset or a text message being sent. Of course, this is by no means a bad thing. We’re more connected to the world around us than ever.

    Businesses have been increasingly jumping on this trend to the point that you’d be hard-pressed to find a company with no mobile use. Small businesses, in particular, utilise handsets in a bid to compete with rivals. Can mobile phones really give small companies the platform needed to mix it with the big players?

    Out of the Box

    There’s plenty of obvious advantages to using mobiles for business. Email on the go, constant incoming and outgoing contact and around the clock internet access are great benefits, but everybody has them.

    It’s really what you do with your business mobile phone that matters. Utilising it to excel is easier than you might think. You just need to find the right processes and carry them out effectively. A lot of this will depend on your specific company or sector but there are a few things all small businesses can try.

    Keep on Top of Finances

    Money makes the world go round and small businesses, in particular, should keep an eye on spending. In most cases, there isn’t much room for overspending. Mobiles can offer a range of solutions for this potential problem.

    Firstly, most banks and building societies have a mobile app so it’s easy enough to check your account on the go. As well as this, there are a whole bunch of apps ready to be downloaded.

    Accounting tools, bookkeeping help and expenses logging make up the bulk of these and all offer something to your financial records. Using such apps, your business should be able to actively budget and put money towards advancing the company to the next level.

    Automate Processes

    Many managers claim that they’d be able to push their business forward of there was more time in the day. You can change the clock as much as you like but it’s not really going to add more hours to the day.

    Sometimes menial but necessary tasks take up large chunks of the working day. That leaves less time to focus on core business activities. Automation programs can help take some of the downtime away.

    Emails, social media posts and much more can be automated offering time savings that can be put to better use.

    Monitor and Grow

    If your business has a web presence, you’ll be able to tap into a pool of resources for your phone. Google has app versions of their Analytics and AdWords systems offering a clean interface and ability to assess and alter your operations as you see fit, without the need for a computer.

    Ecommerce stores running in Magento and Shopify can install respective dashboard and metrics apps, too. You won’t have to wait around to see what is working and what isn’t, allowing you to take immediate action however you see fit, wherever you are.

    Long train or car journeys with nothing to do? Produce your business’s next blog entry on your mobile. Not only will it pass a bit of time, it’s also one less job to do and more time for growing the company. Double delight.

    Whether you want to draft it up using a word editor or a specific blogging platform, you’re sure to find it in your devices’ digital marketplace. It will probably take longer than writing using a computer and keyboard but it is highly practical if you’ve nothing better to do.

    Security and Access to Files

    The whole point of mobiles is that they are mobile. In terms of business, if you’re going to be away from the office, you’ll still probably need access to documents and records. Unless you’re carrying an archive box or large bag around with you, this is nearly impossible. Or is it?

    Reach into your pocket and retrieve your files from your phone. If you have electronic versions of your work files (word docs, spreadsheets, PDFs etc), they’ll always be with you. Cloud storage offers a safe place to securely keep documents and open up whenever you’re ready.

    For quick reference or complete overhauls, your handset can accommodate for your needs without having to dash back to the office.

    A Bright Future

    At the very least, your device can offer the grounds to actively keep on top of just about everything. Once you’ve got to grips with using your phone to skyrocket your small business into previously unknown territory, you’ll be able to adjust as you see fit.

    It’s not just confined to one specific model. Every manufacturer out there knows that companies are beginning to leveragebusiness mobile phonesmore and more each day and advancements in technology will ensure that you can continue to use your phone to enhance your organisation even further.
  • Streamline Your Business Processes With E-Invoicing. Nov 24, 2017

    If you run a successful business, you’ll know be well aware of the amount of both paper and electronic invoices that mount up each month. The time taken to match, validate and get approval, as well as the potential stumbling block of missing or illegible data can cause headaches and ultimately cost you valuable time and money.

    That’s where e-invoicing solutions can help both you and your organisation. It has the ability to streamline processes and provide impressively high levels of both automation and accuracy, delivering a fully compliant answer.

    What is an E-Invoice?

    An e-invoice is an invoice that is electronic throughout its entire lifespan. It is created and processed electronically and comprises of the data that you’d find written in or on a standard paper invoice making it essentially exactly the same document with no changes and a constant integrity to important details.


    The key difference however is that e-invoicing solutions allow files to be transferred via a secure cloud based system directly into your financial system without the need of human intervention, giving the time back to you and your employees that you’d previously have spent filing, searching for and sending documents.


    How Does It Work?

    Incoming invoices are sent to a specially designated inbox ready for automated data capture. State of the art machinery using optical character recognition (OCR) analyses, sorts and validates incoming data and can automatically correct information, where allowable and suitable, and return incorrect or incomplete invoices to the supplier.


    These systems can take invoice data from all sources, electronic, paper or email and provide one simple data connection. An e-invoicing service enables all invoices no matter what the format, as well as the data extracted from them, to pass through the same connection in a uniform manner.


    What Are the Benefits?

    Switching to e-invoicing from emailed PDF billing has number of major benefits.

    • PDF emails can be blocked and filtered by spam boxes leaving you wondering why clients haven’t paid.
    • E-invoicing can supply you with confirmation of delivery so you can be sure that documents have landed.
    • E-invoices can help gain a higher level of accuracy and automation as they are designed specifically work to these standards.
    • Some companies do not accept emailed PDF invoices meaning different means of chasing payment is needed.

    How Can You Use E-Invoicing?

    You will probably need to enlist the help of a dedicated e-invoicing company to take advantage. Many have strong connections with relevant connectors and have the capacity to handle both the smallest and largest of companies.

    From SMEs to large corporations, automation through e-invoicing is the fastest growing trend for invoice processing and is commonplace in many European countries thanks to the ever-improving infrastructure and evolving technologies that ensure both security and accuracy.

    By increasing the number of e-invoices and reducing manual processes, your business can free back office resources and reduce costs. In this business world where every second and every penny is crucial, getting the job done properly and accurately first time round is vital and e-invoicing can help this happen.
  • 4 Alternatives to Moving Business Premises Jun 22, 2016

    If your business operations are beginning to feel a little cramped, it’s probably time to re-evaluate your premises. They may have been ideal once upon a time but a surge in demand for your product and the natural growth of your company can leave you struggling if you don’t have sufficient room to fulfil expectations.

    Many minds will instantly turn to looking for a new building. Relocating however can be a drain on your valuable time, money and resources and there could be alternatives available have you haven’t even thought about.

    1. Mezzanine Floors

    A mezzanine floor can offer up to double the amount of space you have. By building a new level on an existing floor, previously unused overhead space can be tapped into and put to work for your business, without additional charges for rent, tax and moving vans.

    Manufacture and installation of a mezzanine is a very quick process compared to the time it can take to move to new premises. They can be put up at a rate of 60m<sup>2</sup> per day meaning operations are free to continue in next to time. With delays very likely with relocation, you could be waiting months to get set up in your new premises.

    There’s also the added benefit of being able to stay in the same building you’re already in. There is no loss of business as a result of moving and downtime is significantly reduced.

    2. Temporary Buildings and Warehouses

    Temporary and prefabricated buildings aren’t as temporary as you may think. In fact, in many cases, these flexible and adaptable structures can be used as a main place of business and most are capable of being used for over thirty years.

    They are specially built to cater for specific demands and many businesses have taken advantage of linking industrial buildings to existing warehouses to create that extra bit of space that they need to prosper.

    To get even more from temporary buildings, features that you need to go about your everyday business can be incorporated including shutters, windows, vents and air conditioning meaning whatever purpose you need them to fulfil, you can be sure you’ll get exactly what you require.

    3. Remote Working

    If the nature of your business allows for it, taking advantage of remote working can ensure that the limited space in your building is not a hindrance to daily activities. Of course, you’ll probably have to provide employees with the technology they need to achieve their goals.

    In the long run, supplying work phones, broadband and other communications and equipment may not work out as cost-effective as other methods but if it is imperative that your main building is not changed, it may be the best option.

    4. Rethink Current Arrangements

    The easiest way you might be able to carry on without moving premises is to simply have a rethink about your operations. Can you get rid of anything that is taking up space? Do you really need all of that bulky office furniture or can it be replaced with a slimmer version?

    If you can make enough room simply by re-evaluating what you keep and what you get rid of, you may not even have to spend a single penny to create more workspace.

    Think about Alternatives

    If relocation is necessary in order to help your business develop and grow then you may want to go for it, especially if you can’t find an alternative that will aid your cause.

    However, don’t write off your current premises without looking into mezzanines, prefabricated buildings or remote working. They could end up saving you time and money, both now and in the long run.
  • MailChimp Launches Inbox Preview for Email Marketing Campaign Testing Apr 29, 2016

    Continuing to build on an already world renowned email marketing platform, MailChimp has introduced its latest feature, Inbox Preview. The Litmus-powered tool provides screenshots of your campaign before you send it out.

    The introduction of Inbox Preview will let you instantly view how your emails will display in over 40 different browser and device scenarios, allowing you to tinker with and perfect your campaign for the inboxes you’re trying to reach.

    What Does It Do?

    HTML is rendered differently by each email client and email reader meaning that there isn’t usually one uniform appearance for an individual email across all mail user agents. You may have a near faultless email campaign for recipients using one email client, whereas another reader may be seeing something completely different.

    Inbox Preview enables you to see which MUAs appear most often on your mailing list and you can then tailor your schemes and layouts accordingly and test them to see exactly how they’ll look when they reach a recipient’s mailbox.

    The new feature is compatible with a wide range of email readers and devices including:

    Desktop Clients

    • Apple Mail 7 and 8
    • Outlook 2000 – 2015
    • Notes 7 – 9
    • Thunderbird
    Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer Web Clients
    • Office 365
    • Gmail
    • Outlook
    • Yahoo!
    • Google Apps
    • AOL
    Mobile Devices
    • iPad and iPad Mini
    • iPhone 5s and up
    • Android and Android Gmail
    How Much Does Inbox Preview Cost?

    MailChimp have gone with a token based system for their new tool with Pro accounts receiving 1000 tokens and Monthly Plans a considerably less 25. Free and Pay As You Go users will have the opportunity to try out Inbox Preview with 10 complimentary tokens.

    Any unused tokens are erased at the end of each billing cycle and the balance reset but users can buy more tokens at a rate of $3 for 25.

    Running Your Inbox Preview

    Once you’ve got hold of your tokens, running Inbox Preview is a pretty straightforward process. Simply open the Campaign Builder as normal and carry out the following steps.

    1. Go to the Design section, click on the Preview and Test menu and select Enter preview mode.
    2. Click Inbox and then Get Started and select the MUAs that you want to test from the Choose clients section and once chosen, click on Add Clients. Each client costs one token here – for example, a preview of Gmail, Outlook 2012 and Apple Mail 8 will cost three tokens.
    3. Once complete, Inbox Previews of clients will be available in the sidebar, available to click to display how your email will look.
    4. If you find something that you want to change, it’s just a case of exiting, amending and updating your Inbox Preview to ensure it’s how you want it and then continuing as normal.
    Inbox Preview Updates

    Each Inbox Preview update costs an additional token and you can compare preview history to see how the update has changed things.

    1. Go back to the Design stage of Campaign Builder, click Preview and Test and then Enter preview mode.
    2. Select Inbox and tick the box next to the client or clients you have updated and click Update.
    3. Click on the updated client to see your new Inbox Preview and View History to view older versions of your email.
    Moving Forward with MailChimp and Inbox Preview

    MailChimp's Inbox Preview may be one of the most convenient tools of recent times. With the ability to view, change and edit your email marketing campaigns, you can change your templates and designs to suit the email clients that you need to accommodate most for and allow for greater customer engagement and allow you to appeal to those who you are trying to reach.</
    Chris The Dropshipper likes this.
  • How VoIP can save your business money Jan 6, 2016

    The fiercely contested business world can be a brutal place. Money can be lost every day simply through failed negotiations, customers taking their business elsewhere and many other seemingly unfair factors.

    It is all too easy to think about money that is lost and not the funds that are actually at hand. With uncertain and competitive sectors, companies need to consider how their funds can stretch further to maintain financial stability.

    One example of putting your finances to work is the installation of VoIP. Voice over IP can have an instant impact and save your business money almost immediately in a number of ways.

    No Need For Phone Lines

    ISDN and PBX systems can sometimes be on the pricey side. VoIP negates the need for any future installation of phone lines as the equipment used directly attaches to a broadband network. This can also have a direct impact on your company’s ability for growth. Your system can carry on without requiring extra lines to be implemented.

    Mobile device friendly

    Being out of the office and missing an important call can be detrimental to your business’ dealing. VoIP systems can be installed on mobile phones meaning that you will never miss a call again. Whether you’re at lunch, at home or even on holiday, you are reachable and available to take any calls that may come your way.

    No big bills fpr calling overseas

    International exchanges can be very expenses. Charges for calling abroad can be astronomical, especially if the duration of the call is rather long. Long distance calls made through a VoIP system are usually considerably cheaper than traditional landline and mobile phone telephone conversations.

    No outsources maintenance

    Older telephone handsets are liable to breakages that your company cannot deal with internally. A VoIP system is easily managed and will not require too much repair over time as it is a newer technology with modern features. You don’t lose out on business as you wait for repairs people to arrive so the work day can continue with no loss of money.

    Infinite Extensions

    Regular phone systems are limited in the amount of devices that they can accommodate. There is no such problem with VoIP. Given the right network with the correct support capabilities, an infinite number of extensions are available. This is ideal for business growth as no new dear telephony system needs extending, installing or upgrading.

    Works with broadband under one bill

    VoIP systems work in tandem with your current broadband supply. They carry no added charge once the correct usage terms have been put into place and they are operational.


    The telephone has long been a key component in the business world. With all the revolutionary features that have been introduced over the years, each has brought its own benefit. VoIP still implements the traditional elements of landline telephony systems. Caller ID and voicemail abilities are not lost, but do have extra features to complement them. Video conferences and calls can be undertaken through a voice over IP networks.
  • Slow Broadband Can Have a Direct Impact on Your Business Dec 9, 2015

    The internet has undoubtedly revolutionised the whole landscape of the business world since its inception. Big, medium and small companies can all benefit from the bottomless pit that is the World Wide Web in many different ways.

    From company websites and directories, to reviews and marketplaces, there isn’t much that the internet cannot offer in terms of business. Broadband in virtually a necessity for every organisation around the globe because of this and it will only become even more prominent in the future.

    SMEs have much smaller overheads to work with than large chains. This can sometimes be reflected in their choice of broadband supplier and speed. Saving money is fine and well, but the internet is an indispensable component of modern day operations and many workers may be affected by slow and lagging broadband.

    Insufficient broadband takes valuable time away

    High up on the list of inadequate internet speed gripes is the time it steals from key business activities. It may seem that webpages take just a few seconds to properly load but this all adds up. Imagine if you had broadband capable of delivering speeds of up to ten times faster than your current arrangements. Now take this figure and consider how many times you load a new page every single day. Most computer workers will visit in excess of 100 pages daily. With a quicker connection, savings of up to 10 minutes a day could be made. Now this doesn’t sound mightily significant but it’s almost an hour a week. This extra time can be reinvested into core business tasks that help your company strive.

    Outgoing costs vs. incoming funds

    I won’t sit here and pretend that a better broadband package is going to slash your bills – it probably won’t reduce them greatly. It could be less expensive than you think though. As quicker internet speeds become standard, you can use this to your advantage. Every broadband supplier is eager to take your money and they all try to outdo each other with their prices. You could even find yourself paying a similar amount to the inferior service you have been receiving.

    That time I mentioned earlier that can be spent dealing with business matters – it’s going to generate more money for your company. Don’t rule out switching broadband because you believe that you’ll be priced out of any move. You could attain a quote for a new package before committing to any contracts.

    Providing a platform for business growth

    A business cannot grow or expand without the necessary tools to do so. As your company gets bigger, you need to be sure that you can accommodate this across the board. Slow broadband is going to stump any hopes of prosperity you may have as you are limited to where you can go. Maybe you deal internationally and need to hold business calls and video conferencing. You’re not going to look great when a client or partner cannot see or hear you because of a weak connection. A quicker internet speed can provide a crisp and clean service to you, your staff and your associates.

    Broadband needs to be appropriate for company usage

    On a similar note to growth, your internet arrangements should be relevant and apt for your needs. If you use broadband for VoIP or video calls, a subpar speed is going to throw a spanner in the works. These functions are almost impossible to carry out without a satisfactory internet speed.

    There may be a fair few members of staff attempting to use the internet simultaneously. With fast connections and the right bandwidth, nobody will be left scratching their heads as to why they cannot carry on with their work.

    The government still has plans to be able to provide superfast internet to most of the UK by 2017. This makes now the perfect time to invest in quicker broadband to unlock the true power of your business.
  • Protect Your Business Documents, Get Them Scanned! Nov 24, 2015

    Security is at the heart of all business matters. As a company, strict measures are implemented to safeguard sensitive and confidential documents to a suitable level. Who could forget about The Data Protection Act? Legal obligations are in place to ensure that private information remains private and is not abused. Even if the law didn't specify a duty to take care with such records, chances are you’d probably feel as though you owe it to your staff and clients not to disclose their personal matters.

    Perhaps the biggest issue with paperwork is that it exists in physical form. As it begins to mount up, the space it consumes can become a problem – the more that is present, the harder it is to securely manage. Depending on where it is stored, it may be accessible to just about anybody who stumbles across a filing cabinet or archive box. Document scanning services can help to erase such obstacles.

    By taking your documents and producing digital copies, the protection of the information you hold can be increased greatly. Entrusting this to an outsourced organisation may seem like a risky tactic to deploy but the top groups have strict protocol when carrying out such services.

    Transferring existing documents

    The security of your documents is paramount and a leading scanning company will recognise this. Transportation of your current paper documents may be arranged using a specially selected courier service to maintain the privacy of your paperwork. The courier will deliver your documents to facilities that should be protected against water, damage and theft.

    The scanning process

    Once your document have arrived, the only people who have access to them, and the facilities they are housed in, will have been through rigorous checks and training to preserve the confidentiality of your records. As the facilities can only be entered by those with relevant authorisation, nobody with malicious intentions will be snooping around, waiting to find information to use against anybody else. Your files are securely scanned and can be output in your desired format, including a secure FTP option.

    The outcome

    The result of these secure measures is document scanning services with no compromise to the integrity of sensitive information you hold. You also have a new storage medium that is not as obvious as a bulky filing cabinet with an out-sticking drawer. Documents are organised efficiently and securely and can even be password protected. Many scanning bureaus can offer to confidentially store and destroy your files if you wish.

    Security isn’t just privacy

    Privacy levels is not the only element encompassed by security. Keeping documents safe is a necessity, particularly those that may be called upon for reasons such as inspections. Having a backup version of data of this nature may be a good idea, just in case they are misplaced or misfiled at any point. Information can easily be found and called upon as the scanning process include data capture that can index key documents by certain information that has been pre-agreed.

    There is a growing demand for services of this nature because of the increased security levels that can be achieved. Of course, whether you use, or even need them, depends entirely on your circumstances. They are certainly a worthwhile consideration if you are concerned about the accessibility of sensitive information you have stored.
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  • How can adopting a paperless office environment benefit your business? Oct 12, 2015

    It is an all too common nuisance. Trawling through reams and reams of paper, much of which has nothing to do with you, just to find one invoice from two years ago. It may be that you needed to check the smallest of detail following a query, or perhaps you’ve forgotten major elements of something you worked so tirelessly on. A few heavy breaths later and you could be asking yourself why this process can’t be made easier. By switching to a paperless office, you may find the solution.

    Just as the name suggests, a paperless office is a working environment in which paper is absent or greatly reduced because data is captured and stored electronically as opposed to the more traditional lever arch files and filing cabinets. Information is stored securely either on a local network or a cloud based system and is only attainable to those who have been granted permission. More often than not, the information contained within files is private and confidential. The paperless office can uphold such data and keep it concealed from people who should not be accessing it.

    The biggest constraints that most companies are faced with are the limits imposed on both time and financial resources. Electronically storing documents either on or off site, and the advanced computer technology to which we have become accustomed means that required data is much simpler to locate through search parameters and fields. By entering a few key words, information is retrievable and at hand almost instantaneously without having to search through endless piles of paper and storage boxes. The transfer and accessibility of data can be handled with a great deal of ease. Files can easily be sent and received with minimal fuss and bother exactly to where they need to go. Several users are also able to access the same documents simultaneously without the need to wait until another person has finished with them. The time saved can then be spent more productively than before. A YouGov survey carried out found that 30% of business directors would use this time to enhance and develop business.

    It is estimated that on average, a single worker will go through 10000 sheets of paper each year. If a box of printer paper contains roughly 2500 sheets, it can equate to each member of staff blowing their way through four whole boxes each every 12 months which will constantly need replacing – an unnecessary drain on finances. Don’t forget that not all of this paper is retained either. According to research carried out by the University of Colorado, a 12 inch wall spanning New York to California can be made with the paper that is discarded in just a year.

    Some sectors of industry may be required by legal guidelines to keep records for a minimum fixed period of time. Once this time has elapsed, electronically erasing data is very a very simple operation. Sensitive paper documents on the other hand, need to be shredded which costs both time and money.

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    Space is a problem for small businesses.
    Many small or medium businesses may lack sufficient space to file documents adequately. A switch to a system that negates the need for possession of original and sometimes old data can see such an issue, if not fully then certainly mostly, eradicated. Some businesses will still opt for storing their documents in an off site document storage facility to help save space in their office.

    Campaigners for the environment and green minded bosses will see the paperless office as the ideal setup. One 15 year old tree is required to manufacture just half a box of paper and the process of converting trees to paper results in a continuous cycle of pollution being released.
  • Cleardata Success – BS 10008:2014 Certification Sep 25, 2015

    UK-based document management company Cleardata has recently been celebrating after being accredited with the new BS 10008:2014 British Standard. They are one of the first professional document scanning companies to gain this award, designed to control quality and certify competence in understanding the principles of evidential weight, in addition to the legal admissibility of electronic information.

    This certification of compliance of digital information is highly valued in the UK court system; BS 10008:2014 details standards for processing and transfer of electronically based information within data and document management systems. In implementing the standard, Cleardata is following recommended procedures and best practice. The company has invested in various BSI certifications to assure customers of a reliable and secure service that is also independently audited, providing peace of mind for clients from a wide spectrum of businesses and public sector organisations. The company initiative provides confidence that data is captured and processed in accordance with the latest recommendations.

    Many businesses aim to increase efficiency and to drive down costs. Cleardata can assist in working to achieving these aims, reducing paperwork and transforming data flow. In addition to document scanning, solutions include outsourcing, digital mailrooms, automatic processing of invoices and cloud document management. These individual factors are effective individually and even more so in combination, helping to save time and money.

    In what has become a competitive part of the professional services sector, these certifications from the British Standards institute serve to differentiate Cleardata as a leading company, adding value to business agreements and helping in the acquisition of new business contracts. Recently, the company has successfully negotiated a number of agreements within the public sector for postal goods and services, in addition to document scanning and management. BS 10008:2014 certification is considered to have been a key part of this achievement.

    Operating throughout the UK, Cleardata is headquartered in purpose-built business premises equipped with enhanced security and fire prevention systems. The company Managing Director, David Bryce, recently commented, “This is a great achievement and differentiator for Cleardata, allowing us to demonstrate that we are one of the few companies in the UK who are independently audited to this standard”. Mr Bryce went on to mention that he saw the certification as providing customers with an assurance that they had chosen the right provider. In addition, continued company investment in BSI standards would endorse the services that Cleardata provided to businesses and organisations, as well as enabling continued company growth.

    Toni Jones, the UK Head of Client Propositions for the BSI commented: “The amount of electronic data that organizations are managing is increasing exponentially, therefore it’s vital that it can be verified and authenticated when required. Cleardata have now demonstrated that they are carrying out best practice when transferring electronic information between systems and migrating paper records to digital files.”

    Cleardata can be contacted at www.cleardatagroup.co.uk or on 0800 046 8081.
  • 4 Key Benefits of Unified Business Communications Sep 17, 2015

    Business communication tools have undergone huge technological advances over the past decade. The average business now utilizes a multitude of devices and applications that enable faster, more accurate communication across departments, organizations, and borders. At a minimum, you are probably using a landline, a cell phone, email and a fax.


    However, as advantageous as these technologies are, all these different modes of communication can become problematic. In order to thrive in today’s world businesses need to be able to communicate seamlessly on any device across all mediums. Unified Communications incorporates all the various devices and the benefits to business are numerous.


    Increases in Operational Efficiency


    One of the primary benefits of unified business communications is the ability to establish greater operational efficiency. Companies that implement unified communication systems can expect, in the short term, to see savings in telephony and equipment costs – up to 75% savings in many cases – and in the long term increased productivity, which will of course have the greater impact.


    A unified system allows for smoother collaboration across your workforce. It provides employees quick access to accurate and secure information. This helps to speed up, for example, the time it might take to complete a project. In the past an employee might waste valuable time waiting for a fax. Not only could the wait time be eliminated through UC, but the fax machine would also become redundant.


    Connects Teams and Information


    Unified Communications help to connect employees, partners, and customers. Each group can access the information they need via a range of devices. This speeds up the process of doing business. Take conferencing for example. Depending on the size of your company, organizing a conference can prove to be challenging.


    A unified system however, enables organizations to hold audio or video conferences regardless of whether the participants are in the office or in another country. Such seamless communication encourages team interactions and keeps employees connected to the corporate network.


    More Secure Communication


    Security of information is paramount in business communication and was briefly mentioned earlier. It is worth noting as a key benefit to unified business communications however, because employee access to new technologies has potentially increased the security risks. Despite unified communication technology allowing for greater access to information across the workforce it is considered very secure.


    Data can be easily encrypted so that the information being sent over your organisations IT network cannot be intercepted and viewed by prying eyes. This means that your company will have greater control over the sharing of sensitive information and greater peace of mind.


    Allows Greater Mobility


    A 2011 Unified Communications Tracking Poll from CDW found that one of UC’s top benefits was its mobile support. This means that employees can access work files, email and other important information via smartphones or laptops while on the go. It also means that organization can employ greater flexibility by taking on more remote staff.


    An employee using UC can begin a phone call at their desk and seamlessly continue that call on their mobile. Or they can send a message from their office computer and receive a reply while on the train on their way to a meeting. In other words there is no need to sit around in the office waiting for a response. With unified communication you can be mobile while still communicating effectively.


    From cost savings to productivity and efficiency, the benefits of unified business communications are numerous. A trusted solutions partner will be able to advise you on the best options for your business. As your business begins to integrate communications into its processes you will essentially be automating, securing, and speeding up the most mundane communication tasks. In addition to that you will be helping to minimise human error and latency.
  • How mezzanine flooring can save your business money Aug 11, 2015

    With such uncertainty surrounding currency and the value it may hold from day to day in modern society, more and more businesses are investigating methods in which they can cut back on costs without compromising the integrity and quality of services and work they provide, offer, and above all else, pride themselves on. It isn’t just as simple as a company needing a bigger space to operate and relocating to a new industrial building any more. One way in which a business with the need for more space with minimum value can realise their needs is the installation of a mezzanine floor.

    A mezzanine floor is almost a floor of a building which sits between two existing floors or levels of the premises as though it is one huge shelf like construction. The floor is manufactured from steel and consists of many main beams, roof supports and columns ensuring that that the structure is sturdy and able to maintain a great deal of weight.

    The benefits of mezzanine flooring are simple; they provide more space and reduce potential cost. There is the potential of doubling the area of work space with the installation of a mezzanine floor without the necessity of having to secure alternative or additional premises. The floor can also save money when it comes to business rates. Because the area of a work unit is not technically increased, no additional rates will have to be paid.

    Another way in which mezzanine flooring can save your business money is quite simply the physical price of the unit. They represent fantastic value for money, particularly when taking into account the possible alternatives. Whilst moving to or leasing another property can wildly fluctuate in price, a mezzanine floor will cost in the range of £75 to £120 per square metre. When likened to the fees that an entire new premises may incur, mezzanine flooring is clearly a much cheaper option.

    Relocating may take several weeks and months to carry out and the risk of potential loss of business is ever-present during this period as there is quite often not the time to accommodate both the needs of the business and the client efficiently. Mezzanine flooring is usually ready to be assembled 3 to 4 weeks after plans and drawings of the apparatus have been finalised and given the go ahead to be produced. The rate of assembly is approximately 100m² per day; a significant reduction in the time that it would take to move to another site.

    Storage and production mezzanine flooring is the most common practice of the sort. Once an existing space is too small, it can be expanded with the use of a mezzanine floor saving money on moving or additional storage costs and increasing the area at hand with minimal time, disruption and expenditure.

    Mezzanine flooring may aid retail space by increasing display areas and potentially encouraging people to see an enhanced range of products on offer, beneficial to both the shop owner and the customer.

    Existing units with the need of more office space can also benefit from the installation of a mezzanine floor as it may enable the creation of space for new offices at a much cheaper rate and less hassle than other options available such as relocating and ‘block and beam’ solutions.

    Although mezzanine flooring is designed with a certain location and area in mind, fairly straightforward and uncomplicated designs may be dismantled and reassembled in the same way should the need arise. Taking the floor to a new building may be feasible if the new site can safely accommodate the mezzanine floor in the exact same way.
  • Considering SEO? Here’s 6 things you need to understand first… Jul 31, 2015

    You’ve finally taken the plunge and created a website for your business. You’ve heard SEO will improve your online presence and get you ranking for the services you offer but seeing the list of things you need to know is causing a bit of a headache. SEO isn’t easy and just when you think you’ve gotten the hang of things, Google throws a spanner in the works and changes their algorithm. SEO is a continually changing industry and it can be complicated for beginners so we’ve put together a guide of six important things you need to understand about SEO.

    1. Patience is key.

    Like with most things, you don’t get massive results overnight. SEO is a continuous process that requires a lot of time and effort. It can be frustrating for businesses who instantly want their website on the first page of google but hard work pays off and eventually you will see the results you deserve.

    2. Traffic is more measurable than rankings.

    Great rankings take time to achieve and as Google continually develops their algorithm, rankings will often jump about. Traffic is a better measure of SEO work and one that businesses should be more preoccupied with. Instead of solely focussing on rankings look at the increase in your website traffic, the amount of conversions you are getting and the quality of the leads coming in. This will better identify the return from your investment and show you the progress of your SEO work.

    3. The important of research.

    Whether that’s researching new keywords to target on your website or looking at the work done by your competitors, it is very important to continually look at new ways you can advance your website.

    4. Set goals.

    Unless you know what you want to accomplish from your SEO you won’t see any benefits. Consider whether you want to increase the amount of website traffic you are getting or improve the quality of your leads. Knowing this will make SEO more worthwhile for you but it will also give your SEO agency something to work with.

    5. SEO is very much content orientated.

    Content plays a huge part in SEO today but writing great content that everyone will love isn’t easy. Not only does it take time to create a quality piece of content but it involves expense. Work closely with your SEO team to teach them about your industry so they can write worthwhile content in the right tone of voice. Share updates and news about business activity and consult with your team about audience insights. Producing quality content that people want to share isn’t going to take an hour, if that was the case everyone would go viral. Content is very important to SEO though and it is crucial you invest the right resources in making yours the best it can possible be.

    6. SEO constantly changes.

    SEO isn’t a quick fix solution because the industry changes on a daily basis so your team need to monitor changes and adapt your strategies accordingly. When Google alters their algorithm or makes an update, you will witness fluctuations in your rankings and organic traffic levels. This is normal and expected, you simply have to accept and understand this is how SEO works.