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The costs of owning a website are complex, and a lot of people are surprised by the number of hidden costs. Let’s break it down:

1) Hosting: this can be either a monthly or annual fee. 

2) Regular maintenance, security and updates: A service provided by your IT partner to help stop your site failing, glitching or getting hacked, 

3) Routine backend maintenance of your site.

4) Keeping your website updated and fresh: This includes adding fresh content and articles, for example updating photos and keeping product details updated. 

5) Small change requests: Whilst many web development companies might build you a site, they may not be equipped or even well suited to handling small change requests. Finding someone who handles IT tickets all the time every day means that you can just email your request and it will be done.  

6) Knowing who is visiting your website. This is crucial to the success of your website. You must analyse who is visiting and how you can improve your organic reach. You can get reports for as little as $5 a month, or more detailed custom report which help to understand who is visiting your website. 

7) Marketing your website: In other words actually getting visitors to your website 

  • Marketing can be as simple as having standard SEO added during the website build and then updated as things change. 
  • Having your website on your business card and email signature.
  • More advanced options include: Advanced SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
  • Ad campaigns.
  • Remarketing goggle ads set up.  

This list helps to give you a more realistic distinction around “website costs” . While the costs are not huge, some customers are surprised because they assume that after they have built the site there are no more costs. 

Website Hosting

Once your website is developed you may find that there are so many web hosting options, that it feels slightly overwhelming. 

Before you go with the one with the cute adverts, or the cheapest ones, here are a few crucial things to consider:

  • Having a strong and reliable web host is important for an effective website.
  • The right web hosting should be considered the foundation of your website. 
  • The wrong web hosting can cause loss of sales and security nightmares. 

What you need to know about Web Hosting ?

  • A web host provider is a company that will host those files for you on their servers.
  • Going with a reliable web host ensures your website is web-accessible 24/7. 
  • Web hosting providers guarantee server maintenance by making sure that all the software and equipment is always updated and tested for functionality. 
  • The right web hosting keeps your website up and running with limited issues.

IT Centre will ensure that the hosting provided for you is high functioning and gives you good value. With the myriad of options that are available, this saves you valuable time and money.   

In Summary:

Knowing some of the costs of owning a website at the outset helps with budgeting for success with your website. 

The advantages of having a good quality web host are many. It really does help with the success of your website in the long run, as well as stand you in good stead with your website security.

IT Centre can help you with this important decision by providing information on how best to progress with your budget and strategy. Contact us here.

Nothing is more true than the fact that IT moves quickly these days! 

Part of keeping up with IT, and the rapid changes is making sure that your business has the right equipment to do the task. 

In this article we will be providing a few ideas for how to make a plan/budget for new or replacement equipment, as well as offering you some information on leasing.  

Firstly budgeting for IT hardware

Most businesses will have a budget for IT hardware and other goods and services that they need to operate. 

Our advice is that if you have more than a handful of computers, you will benefit from forecasting and budgeting for IT expenditure. 

Once your business is established, there is a very good chance that you will need to replace your IT equipment every few years. Such a good chance, in fact, that you can plan on it! 

Drawing up an IT replacement schedule helps you plan well in advance, and helps ensure you have the funds when you need them.

This can be done in conjunction with our team here at IT Centre. If you don’t have a list already, we can assist you to do an audit of the IT equipment that you have, the date it was installed, and therefore when it is likely to need replacing based on its expected life. 

This asset management plan needs to be revised every year for budgeting purposes.

We strongly suggest that you do this years in advance of when you actually require upgrades. It’s not hard to do. 

This list can help you have a clear and actionable plan on existing equipment, when warranties expire, and the requirements for a staggered plan for new hardware. 

A look at leasing

Whilst many of our clients purchase outright as the overall cost is lower, leasing can be a good option for when you are starting out, if your business is expanding rapidly, or if cash flow is wrapped up in other parts of the business. 

Leasing turns capital expenditure which has to be depreciated, into a monthly payment that is immediately expensed. It can also be an advantage in keeping assets off your balance sheet – speak with your accountant or advisor about this.

Obviously the disadvantage of leasing is that you are using someone else’s money and so they will need to charge you for that, as well as for their efforts! You could arrange your own finance and purchase, instead of leasing, in which case it pays to do your research on interest rates. 

Upgrading your technology for modernisation and expansion and to get more reliable up-to-date technology is very important, as using outdated technology can cost money and time. Sometimes it is a case of weighing up your options here. 

Using leasing options, your business may be able to move forward more quickly then it otherwise may have been able to, financed in a way that suits your budget or cash flow. 

Whilst leasing is more costly than buying in the long run, one of the advantages is that you can establish predictable payment structures aligned to your needs, taking the stress out of an upfront payment. 

This all means that you can get the technology you need with the budget you have today by utilizing IT leasing arrangements.

“When I became self-employed 20 years ago, I got my first laptop and setup via Flexirent, as it meant I didn’t need to spend the cash and then have the asset/depreciation. Instead, I kept the cash, and the entire cost was a relatively small monthly expense. So, sometimes, especially for new start-ups, it means you can save your cash for something you do need, or as a reserve. For more mature companies, taking a lease for gear, means that the cash can stay with you, which can help with liquidity.” Comment from ITA member.

Leasing options: 

These are just a few of the leasing options that some of our clients use. This is by no means conclusive, and we are not aligned with any of these companies. All of our advice is simply that, advice. Please make sure you do your own thorough research on this subject.  Never before has the saying ‘read the small print’ been more applicable. We strongly advise that you speak with your financial advisor and or accountant about this. 

Feefunders
From Fee Funders website: Your business receives 100% of the customer invoice paid upfront, whilst your customers enjoy the flexibility of monthly installments. Fee Funders manages the monthly customer’s payments by direct debit over three, six, nine or twelve months . Your business achieves upfront cash flow at no cost. Your clients pay a basic interest rate to achieve a spread of their outgoings. It’s like outsourcing a spread payment option for free!A simple, hassle free approach to funding for your business and your clients.Your business has the money in the bank within three working days of the customers first direct debit, giving enhanced cash flow with no debtor management distractions. Staff can remain focused on core business activities.
Flexicommercial
Flexicommercial offers your business flexible equipment finance solutions. The credit criteria for finance varies depending on whether you are an existing or new business and the required amount of finance.Choose the equipment you need.Choose the type of lease that best suits your needs.Select the payment term to best suit your budget.Apply over the phone or through your supplier in store.Sign and return the paperwork for approval

Of course these are just suggestions and all leasing arrangements should be thoroughly considered before being entered into. 

Hint – Leasing companies will usually be quite happy to include IT engineer setup costs in the value of the lease. For larger or more complicated systems, this can be quite a substantial part of the project costs. This means you can also expense those costs as well.

In summary 

We can help you to do an audit of your current equipment, and make a plan for future expenditure.

Something that makes this type of IT cash-flow of forecasting easier, is if you are on an  MSP (managed service provider)plan. Being on a Managed Service agreement removes many of the fluctuations of IT budgeting as generally you pay a fixed monthly fee for IT support. 

Please feel free to reach out to your IT Centre to discuss this further. 

How a Managed Service provider can help your business

In IT we love to use fancy jargon, and Managed Service provider or MSP is no exception.

In this article we will break down what an MSP is, how it can help your business, and use some real-life examples of businesses, like you, who have made the switch to an MSP.

Firstly, what is a Managed Service Provider???

In a nutshell an MSP is your ‘outsourced IT Dept’ that provides proactive IT support. An MSP provides preventative measures, detecting most issues long before they become a problem.

The mission of an MSP is to protect your business from costly downtime and ensure that business continues seamlessly.

What is the break-fix model of IT support?

In contrast the ‘break-fix’ model of IT support is when you call an IT company when something breaks, and they come and fix it, on an adhoc pay by hour model. There is no ongoing support or preventative security measures taken. This is a bit like the ambulance at the bottom of the hill.  

Top advantages of an MSP for your business:

We become an IT partner to your business: As an MSP we are interested in understanding your entire business. We see ourselves as a business partner who wants to help your business to succeed and grow. This is quite different from the ‘break-fix’ model. We anticipate a long-term working relationship with your business.  

Proactive IT Support: As an MSP, our mission is to keep your business technology safe and available, and to anticipate your needs and requirements. This means minimum costly down time, and maximum business continuity.

Knowledge of your needs: As we have a long-term relationship with your business, we become closely acquainted with your IT systems, and your personnel. Because of this we understand how the parts make up the whole, rather than just offering a quick short-term solution, which may be costly in the future.

Cost savings: By outsourcing your IT management to us, you get a well-informed IT department on your team, without the cost and responsibility of training, recruiting, and retaining staff.

Case-Study

“An IT Alliance member had a company who was reaching out to them on a ‘break-fix’ basis. During Covid the IT Alliance member reached out to them to discuss becoming their MSP. They sat down and discussed what this actually meant, the services that the MSP offers, and the priority that is given to MSP clients. The client has been using them as an MSP for over two years now, and happily sings their praises, saying that having an MSP has revolutionized their business. No more waiting for IT support, no more downtime and so much more alignment”

So, what does an MSP actually do?

Remote Monitoring: An MSP proactively monitors, patches, and updates your software on an ongoing basis with 24/7 monitoring. This is all done in the background on an ongoing basis and requires no input from you.

Security: As an MSP we constantly review your systems to identify and address vulnerabilities. We can keep up with system updates, software patching, antivirus and more. It would be difficult for any business to keep up to date with all the daily security alerts. With an MSP this is all taken care of and is one less thing to worry about, so you can focus on your business.

Optimising hardware: An MSP provides information on optimal hardware that synchronises across your business. This includes laptops, desktops, and mobile devices, plus your network and servers.  We can work with you to understand your growth requirements and work on the best timeline for your budget.

Strategic advice: As IT is our passion, we hear about a myriad of tools that may be of benefit for business goals. We share this advice with you, rather than you having to research or find out how you can optimise technology for your needs.

Regular reviews: As an MSP client, you are a priority which means that we schedule in regular proactive reviews. No more waiting on the phone to talk to someone to get IT support.

Business Continuity and disaster-recovery strategy: Nowadays it is crucial that you have a solid data-backup plan. We can help you with this process and ensure that everything can be efficiently restored should the need arise.

So what do I do now?

So now you have an overview of what an MSP is, and how they can help your business. The next step is talking to the team at IT Centre about your specific needs. Please feel free to reach out here for further advice. 

More then just that flashing box, lighting up like a disco in the corner of the room, routers play a particularly important role in keeping your business safe, and your data secure, as well as creating efficient, and safe remote working conditions.

Here we look at the role of the router, and what you can do to ensure you have the right one for your business.

Think of your router like an important Traffic Officer only allowing approved content in and out of your business.

The difference between an entry level router and a higher quality router, provided by IT Centre is a lot. Sometimes it pays to think outside the box, and not just take the router provided for free in the box.

Top reasons why you need a good quality Router:

  • Determines the speed with which your internet will work.
  • Speed determines the productively of remote workers.
  • A good quality router means that multiple people can work remotely at once.
  • Ensures you can connect to the office remotely.
  • Controls what sites are allowed to be accessed during work hours.
  • Allowing access to other content to protect data loss from staff.
  • Adding additional security features from software such as intrusion protection.
  • Prevention from attacks like denial-of-service attack, designed to cripple your router, or make it just give up and let hackers in.
  • Keeps your business safe from Cyber-attacks
  • Ensures that accidental clicks from staff on content does not cause a security issue.

Security and Routers:

 When it comes to security, it is a good idea to take preventative measures. This is where the best secure routers come in. A router with built-in security controls and services that monitor your network around the clock is going to save you a lot of potential headaches. With your router protecting your area of coverage, your devices and your network safe.

SECURITY TIP

“You must always change the factory default password for the router and ensure that the firewall and other security features are in fact enabled”.

Ever been confused by the codes that come up when you go to log in to your network?

WPA2 and AES are the best settings to secure your Wi-Fi from hackers. Remember that if a hacker is able to breach your network, they could steal important information, like bank details, or even your identity.

We strongly suggest against using an open network. An open network means you won’t have a password, so anyone can have access to your Wi-Fi and all of your devices.

Make sure to apply WPA2 to your router for improved protection of your online information.

In Conclusion:

Routers can be complex and can create harmony or havoc depending on the route you choose to follow. Buying a router with the highest security is crucial to protect your network.

Remote working conditions are the new normal, which means that many of us may need to upgrade our home routers too.

By speaking to The IT Centre, you could find quick connectivity and security gains with an upgraded router.

To save time and money and to make sure that you have done all that you can to make your business feel free to reach out to us here.

Watch our recent webinar here and find out how Northland Kindergarten Association used teams to manage their remote working conditions during a tricky time, and how it may also be able to help your business.  

Click here to watch the webinar

If you have any problems downloading this webinar please reach out to us.

A cheat sheet to help you make the most of your subscription

Written by: Peter Marshall, Voicecom Technologies

If you have Microsoft 365 for business, we want to make sure you’re making the most of it. You’re already paying for the subscription so why not take advantage of a whole suite of integrated applications that can streamline your workflows?

While remote work has been a key driver for Otago businesses to adapt the way they work and assess the systems they use, along the way they’ve realised that these apps not only offer remote capabilities but also the opportunity to integrate apps and business processes to allow them to better serve customers, streamline work, and improve employee productivity.

Four apps you’re paying for but missing out on

Microsoft SharePoint – SharePoint can seem overly complicated because it can offer so much. But it doesn’t need to be so scary. You can start small and use more functionality as needed or as you grow. Basically, it’s a platform that offers content management and collaboration. It helps with reducing duplicate files, gives you remote access (needed more than ever!) and allows you to work on the same document at the same time. Find out more about SharePoint here.

Microsoft Power Automate – Microsoft Power Automate allows you to automate workflows across applications. You can use it to connect email and instant message alerts, synchronise files between applications, copy files from one service to another, collect data from one app and store it in another, and much more. Templates are available to get you started. Efficiency is key for sustained success across businesses and Power Automate assists this by simplifying workflows with the automation of repetitive tasks.

Microsoft Forms – Forms allows you to create shareable surveys, quizzes, and polls in just minutes. You can then invite others to respond to it using almost any web browser or mobile device, see real-time results as they’re submitted, use built-in analytics to evaluate responses, and export results to Excel for analysis.

Microsoft Planner – A simple, visual, task management app that helps remove chaos from the team collaboration environment. You can create multiple task lists associated with different projects or set up daily to-do checklists.

Other apps to take advantage of.

Microsoft Teams – a chat-based workspace that integrates people, content, and tools into a single platform. Find out more about Teams here: https://ita.co.nz/microsoft-teams-more-just-video-conferencing

Microsoft OneDrive – OneDrive is essentially an online folder system for file storage. Similar to SharePoint however SharePoint offers much more in the way of collaboration. You might use OneDrive to save your personal drafts and then move them to SharePoint when you’re ready for collaboration.

Microsoft Lists – Helps you track information, organise your work and easily share with others. Lists are simple, smart, and flexible, so you can stay on top of what matters most to your team. Track issues, assets, routines, contacts, inventory and more.

Microsoft Stream – Your central destination for your business video content. It’s like an internal, secure YouTube for your business. This is the perfect place to keep things like training videos or marketing content for staff to easily access.

Microsoft Sway – Sway is a cloud only story-telling application similar to PowerPoint but provides more narrative options than a slide show.

Microsoft Whiteboard – A digital version of the traditional whiteboard that allows collaboration and brainstorming with your team in an interactive and engaging manner.

Microsoft MyAnalytics – Uses your data to provide insights into two of the key factors in your personal productivity: how you spend your time and who you spend it with. MyAnalytics takes a look at your everyday work patterns, finds areas that could benefit from your attention, and provides you with the tools to achieve more thoughtful use of your time.

Microsoft Power Apps – If your business needs a specific app to do a specific job, this is what PowerApps can do. Using simplified development techniques and with the help of your IT expert, you can create sophisticated applications using features, procedures, and processes found in Microsoft 365.

If you want to find out more about how any of these Microsoft 365 applications can benefit your business, contact us today on +64 3 443 5499. If you’d like to visit or email us, you can find our details here.

How a proactive approach can save you money and mitigate risk
Written by: Phil Strang – Technology Partners

Do you find yourself so caught up in other areas of your business that you tend to only manage your IT when things go wrong or it becomes an absolute must?

This is called reactive IT Management. With it, brings a mountain of stress, disruption and blown budgets.

A proactive approach to IT management doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. In fact, it can save you money and keep you focused on doing what you do best.

This is where a Managed Service Provider steps in. They’re not just the guy you call in for computer repair, they’re essentially an extension of your team. An MSP is there to support you and ensure the IT side of your business is efficient, cost-effective and low-risk. Let’s look at some of the benefits of proactive IT management and why businesses in Otago might want to move away from a more reactive response.

Preventing blown budgets

Large, unexpected IT bills can often be avoided with a good plan in place. A Managed Service Provider can help prevent the unnecessary cost of fixing things by implementing a plan with regular, scheduled maintenance. Additionally, they can give you the tools to effectively manage your IT life cycle, forecasting hardware and software upgrades. With a fully prepared life cycle, IT budgets can be planned in detail for years to come. Everything from printers to operating systems can be prepared on a tightly controlled schedule. Adopting an IT life cycle is a great way to eliminate unwanted surprises and make the most out of your IT budget.

Productivity / Minimal disruption

There’s nothing worse than when you get halfway through the day and you realise you’ve spent most of it troubleshooting or dealing with an IT issue. Can you imagine how frightening the numbers would be if you calculated the total number of hours lost due to IT-related disruption? A Managed Service Provider’s core purpose is to lessen this disruption and would likely pay for themselves rapidly. An MSP often does routine maintenance outside of hours so when you log in the next morning, you’re good to go! They’re your Clark Kent, unobtrusively making things happen in the background and quickly embracing their capes should anything big arise.

Knowing your business

Something stops working at the worst of times and you find yourself giving an IT technician your full operational history to help you both connect the dots of where things went wrong. Sound familiar? The great thing about an MSP is that they get to know your business, and more importantly, have a detailed documentation process. The team will get to know your business and you’ll often be dealing with the same technicians who know you and your systems. Having an intimate knowledge of your site’s configuration and a detailed service history means they’ll spend less time troubleshooting and more time working on the job. Familiarity when working regularly on a system means clients are not paying for a technician to relearn the basics for each job or call out. As an added bonus, when you partner with an MSP, the charge is often much less than the hourly rate of one-off call outs.

A practical and trusted approach to technology

In the technology space, there are changes and updates left, right and centre, often leaving you overwhelmed. This leads to you either falling behind with your IT services or purchasing things your business may not need. A Managed Service Provider is across all things IT, so you don’t have to be. You have the option to meet on a regular basis to discuss and review appropriate changes or updates that should be considered to your IT infrastructure. They know what’s happening in the industry and can guide you according to your specific needs. They’re not about telling you that all your computers need to be updated with the highest spec and most expensive models. In fact, an MSP will get to know how you operate with an audit and provide you with a plan on where you can best spend and save money. They’re about plans with priorities and delivering a solution according to budget.

If you’d like to find out more about how a Managed Service Provider can help you move from reactive to proactive IT management, contact us today on +64 3 443 5499. If you’d like to visit or email us, you can find our details here.

Local Technology Nationwide

Big-business quality IT for SME’s
By Delia Gill

The IT Alliance are a group of nationwide partners that banded together to offer businesses high-quality, flexible support with a local touch. They are small enough to feel part of your team but backed by a bigger organisation and network of support. It doesn’t matter if you’re located in Otago or on the road across the country, they have the infrastructure set up to ensure you’re covered with all things IT.

Your Local Partner

How great is it that technology allows us to remote in and help clients at the drop of a hat? Although remote support is an excellent tool, sometimes an on-site visit is what you need. After all, it might be a little too much to expect Frank from accounts to troubleshoot why his keyboard isn’t connecting to his docking station, which isn’t connecting to his laptop, which is only connecting to one of his two screens, which seem be missing some cords?…you get the idea!

All of the partners in the IT Alliance pride themselves in providing, fast, high-quality local support. They’re focused on building long-lasting client relationships and working with you to ensure IT is strengthening your business, not obstructing it.

Nationwide Support

As a group of 12 independent IT companies across New Zealand, the IT Alliance work together as a group to deliver products, projects, training and support throughout New Zealand. Regular meetings during the month are held where specialist knowledge is shared among members and then passed onto clients from a local source.

Having partners that can reach the entire country means there are no limitations to servicing your business. Whether you’re travelling and need help, or have staff based around New Zealand, they can provide you with flexibility by supporting you no matter where you are.

Flexible and Responsive

The issue with partnering with a single, large IT company is that you can often get lost in the noise. Partnering with a member from the IT Alliance means you’re getting the benefits of small and local but also the access and knowledge of big and broad. Smaller and local offers agility, with the capability of changing and adopting new technologies at a faster pace, bypassing lengthy procedure. Additionally, you’re not paying a premium to support a single large organisation that has substantial overheads to cover.

Collaborative Knowledge

A collaborative approach is critical with the fast-paced nature of the IT space. The IT Alliance team are backed with a wealth of knowledge and varying specialties. This means they each bring something unique to the table and can share the most important information with each other rather than wading through the sea of updates and changes the industry consistently presents. The core purpose of the partners coming together frequently is to brainstorm, explore all points of view, share experiences, stretch perspectives and challenge the way things are down. All with the objective to ensure the best possible IT solutions are offered to their customers.

If you’d like to find out more about how the IT Alliance works or can help your business, contact us today on +64 3 443 5499. If you’d like to visit or email us, you can find our details here.