5 Reasons Businesses Switch IT Providers

5 Reasons Businesses Switch IT Providers

The way we work is rapidly changing. Many companies are moving employee workspaces out of the office and into their homes – permanently. With these changes, there are bound to be businesses leaning more on their IT provider than ever before. And what they find, they might not like.

From slow response time, to poor documentation, in the current work climate, you may find yourself unhappy with the current level of service you’re receiving from your IT provider. And you’re not alone – these are the top reasons businesses switch to IT companies, contrasted with the way we do things here at Ontech Systems.

1) Lack of Consultative approach

The “other guys”: Our technicians regularly meet with prospective clients who are investing a lot of money into IT without any reports whatsoever from their current IT provider. Rather than keeping a pulse on their IT infrastructure, they are in the dark about what is happening with their data, they aren’t aware of weaknesses in their network, and they have no clue when the latest backup was done.

Ontech: The IT industry is becoming less of actual IT support, and more about planning. At Ontech, our people is our product. We look for IT consultants who are good with both clients and IT. We do a 60 and 90 day review – as your methodology changes, we can adapt with it. We also conduct regular 3, 4, and 5 year budget plans with clients to help them with expenses and offer flexibility.

2) Poor Response Time

The “other guys”: Aside from lack of communication, poor response time is a common problem we hear about from prospective clients. If a problem arises, it is often the client who has to bring it to light rather than the other way around.

Ontech: Ontech stands behind our 1-hour response time – no more waiting weeks to hear back from your IT support provider. Unlike many IT companies, we return phone calls or emails within an hour during normal business hours. We have excellent communication and we don’t lock our clients into long-term contracts. If you’re not happy with our services, simply let us know.

3) Poor Documentation

The “other guys”: Poor documentation is another common frustration prospective clients share with us before they make the switch to Ontech. Either their IT provider is holding logins/data hostage or they don’t have them documented which creates even more problems down the road.

Ontech: Ontech clients use a cloud based system called “My Glue” to access their login details where all credentials are stored in one place that is accessible to client, Ontech, and in-house IT staff.

4) Holding Your Network Hostage

The “other guys”: It’s common for ransomware to hold your data hostage – but your IT company? Unfortunately, this situation can occur the moment you inform your current IT provider that you are switching providers.

In an effort to retain your business, they tell you that if you switch, your data will be wiped out permanently. Or, they simply don’t provide you with the logins you need to make the switch. Ethics aside, this type of action demonstrates a clear lack of concern for your businesses welfare, emphasizing the importance of doing your research before you enter a business relationship with a new provider.

Ontech: The way we see it is this; it is your network. We are your partner and we will never hold your information hostage or keep any data from you. This is an approach that is especially useful for companies with internal IT staff.

5) No Active Certifications

The “other guys”: Many IT companies do not make it mandatory for their technicians to stay on top of the latest certifications. This is in turn doing you a disservice given the rate at which technology changes and vendors update their hardware and software systems.

Ontech: Ontech requires our technicians to obtain one major certification per year to ensure that the advice and direction we provide is up to date with the latest technology available. We know the products and we can help you define a plan.

A True Partner

From our consultative approach, to our exceptional expertise and communication, if you’re frustrated with your current IT provider, Ontech Systems is ready to be your IT partner. We go above and beyond for our customers by helping them streamline their vendors, manage their subscriptions and design an IT infrastructure that can grow with their business.

Contact our support team at 262-522-8560 and let us know how we can help. We’ll work with you to make the transition as seamless and stress free as possible.

Business Communication Trends in 2020

Business Communication Trends in 2020

Without a doubt, 2020 has proven to be an unprecedented time, calling for a new way of doing business. A recent study by Wrike revealed that nearly half (49%) of their respondents had never worked from home prior to the pandemic.

How has your organization been affected? You can use the following survey questions to poll staff and get a feel for the success of your transition to a remote workforce.

  1. How seamless was your transition to remote working?
  2. Are there additional tools or technology that would allow you to have a better remote working experience?
  3. Are there ways the organization can help support you more while working remotely?
  4. Are you experiencing any challenges while operating/working remotely that you do not face in the office?
  5. On a scale from 1-5, please rate your feeling of connectedness to other team members and employees.
  6. On a scale from 1-5, please rate your overall experience working remotely.

While it may require some level of adjustment, working remotely doesn’t have to be daunting. With the right tools, it can even help you become more productive.

Through advances in communication, many of these work at home trends will likely have staying power and continue to be utilized for years to come.

At Ontech Systems, in the greater Milwaukee area, we’re seeing an influx of interest in businesses adopting the cloud, interests in mobile security, and requests to streamline remote communication.

The following tools can help your organization achieve these goals – and then some!

1) Instant Messaging Through Microsoft Teams

Teams originated as Skype until Microsoft acquired the tool and ultimately created Microsoft Teams in 2017.

Deploying Teams doesn’t have to be difficult and it’s easier than you might think. While the cloud based phone system functionality of Teams is still in its infancy, this tool is an incredibly easy-to-use instant messaging app and it’s great for internal calls as well. Accessing chat within Teams is as simple as logging into your Office 365 account.

On the flipside, you may need a technician to help you set up some of the advanced features such as screen sharing, webinar access, and presenting mode. Ontech Systems is available to help you build out Teams to its fullest extent. Just contact us online or reach us at 262-522-8650.

2) Collaborating with Microsoft SharePoint

Many people confuse Microsoft Teams and SharePoint because they are frequently used together. Here’s a quick overview to help you keep them straight:

  • Teams – Primarily used as an instant messaging tool.
  • SharePoint – Used as a collaboration tool that integrates Teams group chat, announcements and OneNote features.

*Also worth noting is the difference between OneDrive vs SharePoint.

For a real-world example, let’s say your sales team wants to create a training portal.

You would begin by creating a SharePoint site that corresponds with a Teams SharePoint channel. The data in this case resides in SharePoint, not Teams. Communication through this portal could take place on Teams group chat.

You could additionally connect a OneNote notebook with the sales team’s SharePoint channel to share sales meeting agendas and build out the training library to for the rest of the sales team to view. What this amounts to is an “intranet” that can be developed for internal use and added onto as resources and team members grow.

3) Remote Access through LogMeIn

Need to access your work computer from a different location? No problem, LogMeIn to the rescue. This widely used remote access tool allows you to gain encrypted, secure access to your computer from anywhere, at any time. In fact, this is what Ontech uses exclusively to support our clients.

Note: Ontech’s managed service clients already have access to LogMeIn since this tool is included with all managed service subscriptions.

4) Advanced Phone Features through Allworx

Allworx is a cloud based phone system that is great for businesses who need advanced control over calling features. An app called Allworx Reach essentially turns your cell phone into an office phone, complete with extensions where you can see when other people are on the line, and others don’t see your personal cell phone number. This is a perfect solution for healthcare organizations or attorney offices since it will appear to callers as if you are calling from the office.

Allworx Reach is available as an Android or iPhone app and it allows your organization to save money by paying for a user license rather than an expensive phone system.

Whether you need to quickly instant message a co-worker, gain access to your work computer, collaborate with your team or maintain a professional phone support experience for customers, chances are good that you have questions, and we have answers.

Give Ontech’s support team a call with all your remote work questions at 262-522-8560 or send us a request online.

An Inside Look at IT Budgeting

An Inside Look at IT Budgeting

IT budgeting help

In the world of business, a sudden unexpected expense can send even the most well financed business into a tailspin. While an IT budget is essential, what’s more important is that it is comprehensive enough to cover every possible scenario, robust enough to ensure everyone has what they need, and flexible enough to account for the unexpected.

Most businesses begin IT budget planning between July and September. By this time of year, there is typically enough data available to identify deficiencies in the current IT budget. Decision makers can then make timely changes and adjustments going forward.

Benefits of an IT Budget

A smart IT spending plan is helpful in several ways:

  • Lifecycle and end of support – It is important to take note of software and hardware end of life dates. An annual budget review is the perfect time to identify and plan ahead for any necessary upgrades or changes.
  • Make decisions based on the numbers – There is nothing like seeing the budget in black and white. The budgeting process lets you make sound decisions based on realistic financial projections.
  • Keep vendors honest – From time to time, vendor fees can gradually (or not so gradually) creep up, especially when no one is watching. By conducting an annual IT budgetary review, you can identify price increases and if necessary, switch to a different vendor or solution.
  • Make long term decisions based on forecasted budgets – An annual IT budget allows you to compare the merits of managed services vs. hourly services, so you can make a sound decision based on careful forecasts.

A Note on IT Budgeting for Government Grants

While an IT budget is necessary for every for-profit business, a smart spending plan could be even more critical for non-profit agencies and government agencies. These organizations cannot rely on customers to fund their IT budget – they often need government grants to make ends meet.

Typically, there is a governing body that requires non-profits to meet certain IT requirements, including the security of client data and the safeguarding of personal information.

If the organization in question has not taken sufficient steps to guard against cyber-attacks and the growing threat of ransomware, they could be denied of government grants.  With critical funding on the line, non-profits and governmental agencies cannot afford to take chances with their annual IT budgeting process.

Ontech’s Approach to IT Budgeting

Whether your business operates for profit or not, when you partner with Ontech to build your annual IT budget, you get access to a granular level of budget-specific detail you might otherwise overlook.

Our approach is very much consultative vs. break/fix. While some businesses take the approach of waiting for things to break and fixing them, a process euphemistically known as break/fix, Ontech takes a difference approach.

Prevention as a Practice

We believe in prevention as a practice. This approach involves regular IT maintenance and monitoring to ensure that minor issues are fixed before they become big problems.

When planning your IT budget, we encourage a 3 to 5 year hardware replacement plan so you can avoid unpleasant surprises and security risks down the road.

Our Approach with Inside IT Techs

When it comes to IT budgeting, Ontech takes a collaborative, team-based approach with inside techs. IT budgeting is most helpful once you have been an Ontech customer for over 1 year, but it might be worthwhile to work with Ontech to come up with ways to get the most out of your budget or fund certain projects you’ve been wanting to begin for some time now.

Four Key Budgetary Categories

At Ontech, we break down the annual IT budgeting process into four main areas. By breaking this complex process into four key areas, we make it easier for you to see the big picture without losing sight of the little things than can make a big impact overall.

These are the four categories we break down in an IT budget:

  • Hardware and licensing
  • Cloud services
  • Managed services
  • Hourly maintenance/project

The IT Budget Spreadsheet

Ontech's IT Budgeting spreadsheet
Ontech’s IT Budgeting Spreadsheet

We begin by defining all spending for the upcoming year through our IT budget spreadsheet, time-tested and perfected over the last 15+ years.

Free IT Budget Meeting For Ontech Customers

We know developing an annual IT budget can be difficult, but we can make it easier.  Ontech offers free IT budget meeting for customers. Just give us a call at 262-522-8560 to schedule a time to get started.

*If you are NOT an Ontech customer, we encourage you to schedule a free Network Discovery where we can help you get a better handle on your current IT infrastructure and close any potential security loopholes. Feel free to call our support team at 262-522-8560 with any IT budgeting questions!

Ontech maintains detailed records for all customers, so there is no need to dig through your old IT documents – we’ve got you covered. One less thing for you to worry about. We keep record of:

  • All software and hardware your company has in place.
  • Anticipated software and hardware lifecycles along with upgrade strategies.
  • All renewal periods and project fees.

We Price Shop for You

With many different options and support levels, IT prices can be confusing. When you work with Ontech, our dedicated account team will assist you with renewals and answer any questions you may have about what you‘ve purchased, how it is supported, and how much that support will cost.

We also compare prices across platforms and providers, so you can get the lowest price and keep your IT budget in check. Our process even pits vendors against one another, so you get the best pricing possible.

We Help You Make the Best Hardware Decisions

From choosing the right servers to selecting firewalls to keep your network safe, we’ll share the inside scoop on what you need – and what you don’t.

We also have know-how on which hardware will work seamlessly with your existing software and which planned upgrades could cause problems down the line.

And since we have a comprehensive list of all software in your organization, we can cross-reference to help you avoid incompatible hardware choices. Easy, right?

It is Time to Make a Switch?

Did you know end-of-life is near for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008? We can help you develop an upgrade plan that makes sense for your business.

It’s never too late to start thinking about IT budgeting for the coming year. If you’re ready to make a change, Ontech is here to help.

Get Started with a Network Security Assessment

If you’re in the midst of IT budgeting, a good way to “test the waters” with Ontech Systems is by scheduling a Network Security assessment.

Ontech’s IT Security Assessment scans your network and gives you an in-depth look at network areas that are typically the most vulnerable. We then provide you with 6 comprehensive reports that deliver all the information you need to know – right at your fingertips.

Sign up for a network security assessment by September 30th and save $250! Learn more or contact us today at 262-522-8560 x2 or insidesales@ontech.com

5 Easy Ways to Speed Up Your Windows PC

5 Easy Ways to Speed Up Your Windows PC

Whether you’re running a resource intensive software program for work, managing your email, or just surfing the web, you want your computer to be as fast as possible. In the age of streaming and instant gratification, even a small slowdown can be a big problem, leading to slower performance over time.

If you purchased your Windows PC some time ago, you’ve probably witnessed this slowdown firsthand. Your brand new computer, once blazing fast, now just drags, weighed down by various factors impacting performance.

Sure, you could buy a new computer, but before you do that, try these proven ways to enhance the performance of the PC you already have.

Tip #1 – Add More RAM

One of the most effective ways to boost performance on a Windows PC is to add more memory. Adding RAM will make every program on your computer run faster and more efficiently – and this upgrade is easier than you might think.

Adding RAM to your desktop computer or laptop doesn’t require much more than a screwdriver to install the part, but if you need help, ask your IT provider to install the memory for you.

Tip #2 – Remove Unnecessary Programs

Some computers come pre-installed with bloatware, unnecessary programs and trial packages you may or may not want to keep. In addition to those bloatware programs, you may have installed additional packages along the way, including software you no longer use.

Removing those programs can speed up performance in your Windows PC so you can focus resources where you need them most. You can access your list of installed programs through the Control Panel on your Windows PC and from there, select which you would like to remove from the machine.

Tip #3 – Free Up Hard Drive Space

Most modern PC’s offer plenty of hard drive space, but they can quickly fill up over time, especially if you’re not saving data to the cloud. When free space begins to diminish, the performance of your PC can suffer dramatically.

If your Windows PC is running more slowly than it used to, check the amount of space you have available. If space is running low, backing up large files or moving to the cloud could make a big difference.

If you have the capacity, copying rarely used but important files to multiple places builds in redundancy which can help you avoid data loss.

Tip #4 – Reboot

This is perhaps the easiest way to boost the speed of your Windows PC. Simply rebooting can restore lost speed by freeing up memory, clearing away temporary files and giving the computer a fresh start.  Microsoft releases updates on the second Tuesday of every month, the majority of these patches are security related and rebooting allows for these updates to be installed.

Even if you leave your desktop or laptop on 24/7, you should always reboot occasionally. Rebooting once a week or a couple of times a month is good for your computer, and you should notice an increase in speed when the reboot process is complete.

Tip #5 – Close Some Windows

Multitasking may seem like a good idea, but it often causes more problems than it solves. The human mind can only focus on so many things at once, and exceeding that limit could make you less productive instead of more.

Keeping too many windows open can also slow down your PC, so try closing some inactive windows to boost performance and free up resources whenever your PC starts to drag.

A Worry-Free Approach

There are a variety of causes of computer slowdowns and working through them one by one is generally the best way to resolve the issue.

For a worry-free approach to desktop management, you could keep all PC’s on your network running at peak performance with Ontech’s Total Desktop Care.

Through this done-for-you managed service, you can leave all PC maintenance issues to us. Ontech will be notified if your hard drive is full, if you’re reaching maximum capacity, or if your PC needs a reboot. With Total Desktop Care, we evaluate the performance of your Windows PCs, so you can worry less and get more done.

Hidden Causes of Computer Slowdowns

Some causes of computer delays are obvious, but others are more sinister. Hidden dangers like viruses and spyware can slow your Windows PC down to a crawl – and put your personal information and sensitive data at risk.

These hidden dangers also pose a significant risk to your business network. A single connected computer harboring a virus could spread the infection company-wide in a matter of minutes, compromising the security of company and customer data.

Stop Security Risks in Their Tracks

Security is a hot topic these days, and for good reason. Today, there are a variety of tools available to business users to help secure desktops and laptops across your entire network.

Security awareness training is one of the best ways to turn your biggest security threat (computer users) into your first line of defense.

Ontech offers comprehensive training for business users, such as running simulated phishing scam tests to gauge cyber security awareness throughout the company.

The accounts receivable department could, for instance, be tested with both legitimate and scam emails masquerading as invoices. This simple exercise can uncover vulnerabilities while enhancing the security of your network.

For a limited time, Ontech is waiving the set-up fee for your first security awareness training campaign! Contact us today to learn how at 262-522-8560 x2 or insidesales@ontech.com  

Alternatively, if you simply have a troublesome desktop or laptop device on your network that’s running slower than you’d like, just contact Ontech at info@ontech.com

We can help you determine if a hardware upgrade is needed, if the device is infected by a virus, or if another type of intervention is needed.

3 Big Microsoft Changes Coming in 2019

3 Big Microsoft Changes Coming in 2019

3 big Microsoft changes

Microsoft has been a leader in the world of technology since its inception. The company has changed the way people work, lowered costs for small businesses and enterprise companies alike, and made computers more user friendly.

This year, Microsoft is making three changes its own that could alter the tech landscape once again.

Microsoft Releases Office 2019

The Microsoft Office suite of productivity products has been a mainstay of the company for decades now, but big changes are underway for 2019 and beyond. This year, Microsoft will officially launch Office 2019 – and businesses need to be ready.

If you currently use Office 365, you’ll find the newest Microsoft offering quite familiar. Like Office 365, the new Office 2019 product includes staples like Excel, Word, Visio, Project, Outlook, PowerPoint and Publisher. And like the current version of Office, the upcoming Office 2019 is designed to harness the power of the cloud, making file storage easier and allowing employees to work from anywhere.

The most distinguishing feature of Office 2019 is how it will be released. Unlike Office 365, which has experienced a series of changes since its initial release, Office 2019 has been designed as a one-time product. In 2019, businesses will need to decide if the move to Office 2019 is the best strategic decision for their company.

Microsoft Teams Replaces Skype for Business

If you’ve placed a video call to a colleague across the country, or a family member on the other side of the globe, you understand the power of Skype. Now, Microsoft is changing things again by replacing Skype for Business with Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft Teams is the long-awaited replacement product for Skype for Business, and the new release includes a number of corporate-friendly features. On October 1, 2018, Microsoft officially announced that new customers with fewer than 500 seats would no longer receive Skype for Business as part of the Office 365 product line.

In 2019, the replacement of Skype for Business with the new Microsoft Teams will finally be complete. Unlike Skype, Microsoft Teams has been designed from the ground up with business users in mind, incorporating a host of powerful features to make collaboration and file sharing easier. By harnessing the power of cloud computing, Microsoft Teams has designed a single platform that businesses should find very useful.

The new Microsoft Teams product includes an easy to use chat app, as well as all the capabilities of Office 365 and Slack. Businesses looking for a reason to upgrade should find this combination quite compelling.

Contact Ontech at 262-522-8560 for more information on available onsite user training for your company.

Microsoft to Rebuild Edge with Chrome Engine

While Microsoft has long been a leader in operating systems and server software, the company has not seen the same success with its browser products.

Some older versions of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser were plagued by security issues and glitch performance, and the company saw a steady decline in market share as newcomers like Mozilla’s Firefox and Google’s Chrome came on the scene.

The old Internet Explorer eventually gave way to a new browser dubbed Edge, but the new product suffered from many of the same issues. Now, Microsoft is rebuilding it using the same open-source software that powers Google Chrome and they’re even bringing it to Mac devices.

The rise of open-source software has been a major story over the past couple of years, and the retooling of the Edge browser is just the latest example.  While Microsoft Edge isn’t going away, if you already use the browser, you’ll notice that websites display more consistently after this under-the-hood change.

For Chrome users, all of these changes also mean that the browser engine that powers Chrome will get better on Windows which is part of Microsoft’s continued effort to make the web a better place for everyone.

As fast paced as technology is, we understand updates like these can feel cumbersome and at times confusing.

Whether you have questions about Microsoft’s products or any other IT related issue, contact our support team online or call us at 262-522-8560. Ontech Systems is dedicated to the success of your business, and we are always here to help.

Reduce Training and Downtime Costs through Documentation

Reduce Training and Downtime Costs through Documentation

Redyce costs through documentation

Whether hiring a single employee or staffing up for the busiest time of year, onboarding new team members can be challenging.

And when it comes to IT, bringing on new hires or outside consultants requires the right training materials and documentation. Without proper documentation, even a highly experienced technician would struggle to navigate the inner workings of your network.

In the event of a disaster, lack of documentation could increase the length of downtime your business experiences – a single mistake could escalate into major issues when employees don’t have accurate documentation to rely on.

The Benefits of Documentation

To put it simply, the right documentation gives you options when something unexpected happens.

  • A Reliable Fallback Plan: Imagine, for instance, your senior IT person is sick, or out of town. With proper documentation, you could call in a junior staffer or outside IT consultant to perform their duties and keep your network infrastructure running smoothly.
  • Training New IT Staff: Documentation can also be your best friend when it comes to training new members of the IT team. In a perfect world, your senior staff would have plenty of time to train new coworkers and still do their own jobs, but that’s not always possible. Having documentation on hand makes training easier and fills in the gaps for new hires.
  • Ready for Disaster: Most of all, documentation is critical when disaster strikes. Whether that disaster is natural or man-made, thorough and complete documentation makes it possible to quickly resume operations without excessive downtime.

When Was the Last Time Your Documentation Was Verified?

Chances are, you have some documentation on hand – few companies could run without user manuals, employee handbooks and the like. But when was the last time you verified and updated your documentation?

If your business processes have changed or your software has been upgraded, the documentation you are maintaining could be dangerously out of date.

But before you verify and begin to update your records, take a look at what documentation entails. The term documentation is broad, but in the information technology field, it encompasses a variety of business-critical data, such as:

  • Login information for your firewalls, switches, servers and other business-critical infrastructure.
  • Software licensing, including expiration dates.
  • Agreements for extended support on out-of-warranty hardware and end-of-life software.
  • Phone numbers for vendors, consultants and others whose help may be needed in the event of a disaster.
  • A phone tree for your management team, IT staff and other critical workers.

How Often Should You Update Documentation?

If you haven’t updated your documentation recently, you could be putting your business at risk.

It is recommended that you update your documentation each time you upgrade operating systems or switch to a new type of software. This updating process may seem like a low priority, but it could actually be a lifeline for you one day.

Ontech Can Fill in the Gaps

If your existing IT company has never mentioned documentation or your internal IT staff needs assistance, Ontech Systems can support your business as an outside IT consultant or as an extension of your internal IT department.

We make it a priority to keep our customers’ documentation up to date and we recommend that all businesses update and verify their documentation at minimum every six months.

Safeguarding Your Documentation

Since documentation can contain sensitive network information, it’s important that key staff members within the company have access to it – and also that others don’t.

Access should be limited only to those who truly need it.

If you are an existing Ontech Systems customer, we encourage you to ask your primary technician to verify the last time your documentation has been updated.

If you can’t verify the last time your IT documentation has been updated…or if you’re not sure whether IT documentation exists within your organization, contact us at 262-522-8560.

Take the first step today and request a Network Discovery.

We’ll help you prepare for the unexpected by making sure your documentation is up to date, and accessible to only those who need it.