10 Questions Small Businesses Should Ask When Hiring An IT Service Provider

Based on the premise that small- and medium-sized businesses oftentimes lack specific criteria to go by when seeking to hire an IT services provider for their everyday Information Technology needs, the following list is a handy “cheat sheet” that addresses 10 main questions businesses should ask a potential IT service providers when seeking and comparing IT services:1) What specific hardware and software products, packages, and offerings does your IT company provide or resell that would make our business more effective and productive?
For example, if you’re a small business, certain phone systems will work better, and are licensed to work better for, small businesses of approximately 100 employees or less. Some even have constraints down to 50 employees or less or have constraints about how many locations they can service at once. Once the potential IT service provider tells you of the specific products they resell or offer, do your own online research and find out what the world wide web has to say about the differences between major communications companies and the appropriateness of their products for certain business sizes. Some communications product providers have initially aimed their products towards large-scale businesses and may only now be breaking into the realm of providing products that meet the needs of small and medium business. Each product, whether it’s a VoIP phone system or data backup hardware, has clearly stated constraints for number of users and business size before more upgrades or additional licensing are required. You’ll be in the know ahead of time, before hiring an IT service provider, if you “do your homework” on the products they intend to resell to you.
2) Of the services, hardware, and software you’ll be providing, will any of them actually lower our Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) in the short-term or the long-term? If so, how?
For example, installation of a new VoIP phone system may certainly produce a high initial cost, but when you consider that once installed, the new internet-protocol phone system will save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in long-distance calling fees and between-site calling fees, that initial cost may be well worth the long-term savings. Moreover, new mobile phone apps and other unified communications methods and media are currently changing the way small and medium business do business by allowing your office phones to be duplicated on your mobile phone as if you’re never out of the office, or by streamlining your overall client communications to come to one place, saving you time and money, especially if your business requires you to be out of the office, in the field, or traveling often.
3) What is your fee structure and how is it advantageous to my small- or medium-sized business?
Fee structures come in many shapes and sizes, and those that are right for large enterprises are most often not right for small- and medium-sized businesses. While buying into an “incident-based” fee structure may be tempting in that you only pay for each occurrence of an IT problem, the unfortunate backlash of that fee structure is that, in their own attempts to make more money, some IT service providers may not create a solution that is a long-term fix for your problem. In fact, the IT provider may purposely only do enough to solve or “work around” the problem in the moment of the incident instead of creating an IT environment that prevents future incidents. In other words, on an “incident-based” fee structure, an IT company is actually monetarily encouraged to fix problems in pieces and not as a whole so that there’s another future incident waiting just around the corner that the IT company can be additionally paid for at a later date. This point begs for an answer to the next question:
4) Is your approach to IT solutions a reactive or preventative approach? Is it your approach to deal with our IT issues separately as they arise or to deal with our IT issues holistically?
A move within the IT industry from “a la carte” problem fixing to holistic solutions begs the question of whether an IT service provider is simply a reactionary entity that comes to fix problems as they arise or if they’re looking at the “big picture” of your business’s IT needs. Instead, many IT service providers and savvy businesses today are realizing that cost savings increase when the IT needs of a business are examined and troubleshot as a whole, preventatively. As a simple example, instead of performing data recovery after the crashing of one employee’s computer, a holistic IT company would have saved time and money by creating a monitored data backup plan with the hardware and software to perform backups well before someone’s computer crashes. As another example, instead of upgrading a business’s network whenever the size of the company increases due to a few new hires, a holistic approach would examine the projected growth of the company and request to implement network changes that can handle the growing workload before multiple potential hires are officially working and before company growth becomes a network-overload issue. A holistic approach does require though that an IT service provider conducts periodic assessments of things like how well your servers are functioning, how overloaded your network is or isn’t, and whether security and data backup practices are continually effective.
5) How will you solve IT issues that need immediate fixes before downtime negatively affects my business? Will you be responding remotely? If so, what happens when a remote fix is found to not be possible? Do you have someone in our local area that can respond on-site if necessary?
An IT service provider’s reaction time is crucial to your business experiencing as little downtime as possible. While remote fixes to your computers and your networks are often a cost-efficient solution for both your business and for the IT service provider, if there’s a server issue, you may oftentimes be in need of an IT professional that can be on-site to fix the problem hands-on. For businesses like stock brokers that use their computers to conduct real-time monetary transactions on a daily basis, excessive downtime can lead to a large loss of profit on behalf of clients that can then become upset and question your business’s validity. Avoid this problem by having a plan with your IT service provider ahead of time that notes exactly how much reaction time will be allotted for. If your IT company cannot be on-site within, say, an hour, you may want to consider another provider that can be there even quicker. This would mean contracting for services with a local IT provider, or at least contracting with a distant IT provider that has service professionals in strategic cities that are either close to or within your city.
6) How will productivity and cost-savings be shown? Is your IT company able to quantify the gains created by changes you’ve implemented within my business?
A periodic report sent either electronically or on paper, should be something your potential IT service provider can produce without a lot of effort. That’s because if they’ve chosen the proper products to boost the productivity of your business, and they’ve taken an initial baseline of the business’s productivity, quantifiable gains and losses should be easy to illustrate in a “productivity report.” This means a report that will answer questions like: how much faster is the server working after our recent upgrade? How much money are we saving per month now that we’ve upgraded to a VoIP phone system? How much faster is the website loading now that we’ve addressed latency issues? How many more calls can our business receive and handle simultaneously now that we’ve added more phone lines? How much more protected from outside and inside security threats are we now that we’ve implemented network security products and building surveillance cameras?
7) How are data backups implemented by your IT company? Do you provide emergency monitoring of our servers and networks? What happens in the case of a security breach?
A reputable IT service provider will be wise to perform periodic assessments of data backup systems and actually verify that those backups are working by attempting to retrieve random sets of data in a real-life application, such as pulling up accounts payable documents from three months ago and seeing if they can be opened without incident on an accounts payable employee’s computer. If the files are backed up but won’t convert to data that’s readable (i.e., if it reads as coded nonsense), then that’s a sign that data backup may be being performed but may not be accessible or usable when retrieval actually needs to occur. In addition, your networks, servers, and even your business’s buildings aren’t only under threat during business hours, so many IT providers provide 24/7 monitoring that shows up on an “on-call” IT phone that gets handed off between knowledgeable IT employees who can be “on call” throughout the night and respond quickly even if a server fails at 3am.
8) How does your IT company ensure the internal and external security of our networks, our websites, our VoIP phone system, our online admin areas, our passwords, and our building?
Though all of these security services may not apply to your small- or medium-sized business, those that do beg these important security questions. Proficient IT service providers can easily answer all of these questions by sharing with you what products and methods they implement in order to uphold the security of your business. They may recommend high-resolution security cameras, policies that ensure only administrators have access to crucial areas of your network, methods of storing passwords that aren’t on a sticky note in someone’s desk, and of course, firewalls and security software that ensure your website is hacker-proof. If the IT service provider you’re interviewing doesn’t have a quick, tried-and-true solution to your specific security needs, you’re better off finding a provider that does.
9) What certifications, qualifications, and most importantly, what experience does your IT staff have that will benefit my company?
While a common standard of having Microsoft and phone-system-brand certifications is common amongst the staff of many IT service providers, the real question is if any of the IT service provider’s employees have gone above and beyond to obtain not-so-common certifications and qualifications that make that IT service provider more of an expert in certain areas than the next. More importantly though is whether their experience matches and goes beyond their certifications. An IT professional going through a training course to obtain a certification is great, but oftentimes applying that knowledge in the field is a whole different ball game. Many IT service providers have decades of combined experience amongst their employees and have also kept current on applicable certifications, which is the type of pairing of education and experience to look for. If your server goes down, you’ll want an IT professional responding that fixes serves all the time, not one who’s checking his textbook for the next troubleshooting step.
10) Probably the most important question to ask, beyond obvious considerations of available products, potential costs, procedures, and so forth, is to ask: Is your IT company a good fit for my company, and if so, how?
IT service providers are usually accustomed to servicing certain business sizes or types. Oftentimes many small-city providers are dealing mostly with small and medium businesses while others within larger cities are mainly accustomed to working for large enterprises. You’ll want to match your business with an IT service provider that has a host of solutions tailored just for your business size. In addition, your business type is also a factor in that there’s a big difference between the IT needs of a stock broker whose commodities and sales are all online as compared to a retail store that holds a lot of valuable merchandise on a sales floor with glass front windows as compared to a large, barley marked warehouse that’s piled high with boxes of expensive equipment. The stock broker will need heightened online and network security while the glass-front retail shop may need heightened security cameras placed outside the building while the warehouse may need heightened security inside the warehouse and a strong server for mass inventory data. Ask potential IT service providers if they’ve ever serviced the type of business or a similar type of business as yours and if they answer “no,” you’re going to better off with an IT service provider that’s accustomed to working with your business size and type.
Therefore, following up on the premise that small- and medium-sized businesses oftentimes lack specific criteria to go by when seeking to hire an IT service provider, this list of ten basic questions will certainly have your business moving along the right path towards choosing an IT service provider only once for your business instead of going through several providers before finding the right one. This 10-question list is your small- and medium-sized business guide to honing in on the most qualified IT service provider because of its ideal fit with your business.

5 Empowering Tracks From Female Icons To Make You Feel Inspired

Sometimes we all need a little lift. Whether you’ve had a recent knock to your confidence, have been going through stress in your personal or professional life, or have always struggled with your self-esteem, music is an essential tool for lifting your spirits and making you feel better about yourself.

According to a study by Heriot-Watt University, the type of music you listen to not only influences your mood, but also your personality, with indie and rock/heavy metal fans reporting the lowest levels of self-esteem, while fans of jazz, blues, opera, classical, pop, rap and soul all reported high levels of self-confidence.

So if you’re having a ‘down day’, why not boost your spirits by listening to some powerful, uplifting tracks? Here are five perfect confidence boosters.

Britney Spears – Toxic

Britney’s own struggles with her mental health and conservatorship have made her an inspiration for many people across the world.

This classic song is timelessly sensual, and the heavy beats throughout make it impossible not to dance to. A welcome blast of nostalgia, this tune has filled dance floors across the globe with fans old and new.

The video features Britney as a female spy playing the sexy flight attendant, seducing her passenger before she makes her escape on a motorbike and breaks into a high-security facility guarded by a laser security system.

This track and video is a guaranteed way to feel invincible, and deserves a place on your playlist no matter your mood.

Kelis – Milkshake

A cheesy classic that is guaranteed to make you feel all warm and gooey inside, Kelis pumps up the heat in this 00’s RnB track. Underpinned by intricate drum beats and electric elements, Kelis’ self-confidence is infectious, and it’s hard not to find yourself smiling at the lyrics.

This track is a great way to get into a flirtatious mindset, making it a great choice before going on a date or heading out for the evening.

And if you’re staying in? It’s a great mood lift. But beware! You may find yourself craving a sweet treat.

Eve (ft. Gwen Stefani) – Let Me Blow Your Mind

This RnB classic will capture your attention with its assertive rhythm and powerful vocals from 00’s icons Eve and Gwen Stefani. Featuring a laid-back – yet self-assured – beat, and catchy guitar riff, this is a great track for driving, and its empowering feel is sure to help you feel motivated.

Got a job interview lined up, or thinking of asking for a raise? This anthemic number is a quick way to feel positive and more assertive.

The video features Eve and Gwen Stefani crashing an exclusive event on quad bikes, causing a stir among the privileged attendants, and shoving the performer off stage to perform their own music, before finally being arrested and taken to the station in a police van.

This ‘baddie’ track helps you to tap into the hidden ‘bold’ side of your personality, and lifts your mood while keeping you feeling calm and cool.

Fergie – MILF$

If you have kids, it can be difficult to feel sexy. When you’re running around cleaning the house, changing nappies, or up to your elbows in dishwater, you can easily forget your sensual side – leaving you feeling frumpy and lacking in confidence and motivation.

Thankfully, Fergie’s comeback track is a quick remedy to your low mood and lethargy.

Featuring attractive mothers dressed in curve-hugging latex and silky lingerie going about their daily life in a dreamy, colourful suburbia, this track is a quick way to transform your self-esteem and transport you to a world where you are not just a mother, but a goddess too.

Why not shake off the day and tap into your feminine energy with Fergie, your sexiest PJs, and a bottle of your favourite wine?

Marina And The Diamonds – How To Be A Heartbreaker

Low confidence after a breakup? You’re not alone. Having your heart broken can leave you feeling depressed, undesirable, and unmotivated. So flip the tables on your ex and become a heartbreaker with Marina’s catchy club classic.

This empowering dance track will make you want to move your body and get in touch with your bad girl side, with its heavy beat and pounding rhythms.

Plus, if your libido has suffered as a result of your low mood, take a sneaky peek at the video – it will get your blood pumping with its steamy shower shots and smoking hot male models.

The Pandemic Effects on Hospitality Industries and How They Overcome It

The COVID-19 pandemic affects many aspects and many sectors of life. As a result, economic sectors are fully affected, and the hospitality industry is no exception. The hospitality industry is known to be the source of job opportunities and supports many livelihoods of millions of workers and their families. Because Indonesia is primarily reliant on the service sector, the tourist industry plays an important part in the country’s growth. The increase of the COVID-19 cases has brought about a huge increase in the number of workers getting expelled or having their work ended. How did the hospitality industry survive in this era? The pandemic has provided several opportunities for numerous hospitality industries to use specific mechanisms in order to overcome pandemic difficulties.

Tourism and hospitality industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including hotels, restaurants, resorts, travel agencies, travel and transportation, and real estate, show a significant losing number of tourists. According to the president of the Indonesia Tour Guide Association (HPI, 2020), 45,000 visitors have cancelled their plans to visit main tourist spots in the country between January and May. Furthermore, According to UNWTO (2020), 100-120 million direct and indirect activities were in jeopardy, and foreign tourist numbers decreased 56% year on year from January–May 2020. These noteworthy diminishing numbers primarily influenced the Indonesian financial state. For example, hotel profits have dropped by up to 40%, having an effect on hotel operations and risking business continuity. The drop in international visitors has an effect on the salary of restaurants whose clients are more prevailing than foreign visitors (Block, 2017). Following the dropping, many hospitality industries are taking awareness of tourists’ health risks and protocols taking an advance.

The recovery of hospitality industries is indistinguishable from the progressively sophisticated information innovation utilized to pull in potential visitors to choose to travel. The regaining of tourist attractions after a pandemic is required to utilize other promoting techniques to advertise their items inventively. First, social media marketing reaches many internet users who are looking for tourist information hospitality industry. This strategy is helpful in advertising and attracts many tourists to find more information related to a tourist attraction in the designated region. Second, Tourism industry players and visitors, as well as government action, are required to arbitrate between the two groups. Government policies must be in the form of the finest judgments to characterize the middle ground between commercial actors and visitors (Anggarini, 2021). This means that provided policy in the hospitality sector during-post pandemics maintains the best solution for both tourists and hospitality owners. Last, all tourism-related activities must adapt to current conditions, in which humans must live alongside Covid-19 (Anggarini, 2021). By all means, many factors, including health issues, hygiene, and safety for tourists, are priorities.

In conclusion, even though the pandemic is really affecting the hospitality industry as a whole, it gives many advancements of movement done by the hospitality industry to survive. Many resources are being used as the development of technology to provide data destinations insight. In addition, the sophistication of information technology can also facilitate the government in supervising the implementation of safe travel in accordance with government recommendations. All these initiations are good examples of overcoming pandemic situations while running hospitality industries.

Expert Advice For Tree Service

If you’re a resident of Clearwater, Florida and you need tree service, you’ve come to the right place. In this post, we’ll provide valueable advice on what to look for when hiring a tree service company in Clearwater and some tips on how to care for your trees throughout the year. Let’s get started!

What to look for when hiring a tree service in Clearwater, Florida?

When hiring a tree service in Clearwater, Florida, you should keep a few things in mind. The first is to make sure that the tree service company is licensed and insured. This will protect you in case something goes south during the job. Another thing to look at is whether or not the company has experience in the type of tree work you need done. Finally, be sure to get a written estimate from the company before hiring them.

The benefits of professional tree care in Clearwater, Florida

When you have trees on your property, it’s important to take care of them to stay healthy and look their best. That’s where professional tree care services come in. Tree care experts have the knowledge and experience needed to maintain your trees properly. There are many benefits to using a professional tree service in Clearwater, Florida. One advantage is that they can help you keep your trees healthy. They can also help you avoid problems such as insect infestations and diseases. Another benefit is that they can improve the appearance of your property by trimming and pruning your trees. This can add value to your home or business if you ever decide to sell.

How to prepare your property for tree service in Orlando, Florida?

When you hire a tree service company in Clearwater, Florida, there are certain things you need to do to prepare your property for the work that will be done. The first thing is to make sure all vehicles and other valuables are moved out of the way of the work area. This includes any lawn furniture or toys that might be in the way. Another important thing to do is make sure there is a clear path for the tree service company to access your property.

What to expect from the team of arborists at your home in Clearwater, Florida?

The team of arborists we send to your home in Clearwater, Florida, will be equipped with the proper tools and knowledge to take on any Tree Service Clearwater task you may need. They will work quickly and efficiently to get the job done right the first time. We guarantee that you will be satisfied with our work!