Agony uncle Phil answers your IT questions

What criteria should I consider when deciding what cloud service/software to purchase?

It’s easy to list criteria like reliability and features, but in honesty there is not much to differentiate the cloud services of today. In our opinion, small business users don’t pay enough attention to the implementation and ongoing management of the cloud service they choose.

We often come across clients who are only using 50% or less of the cloud service’s features, either because it wasn’t setup properly in the first place or because they just weren’t aware the features existed. Cloud service providers have to work to tight margins to be competitive and so after-sales services, such as support, are kept to a minimum level.

Independent specialists like ourselves at help4IT can recommend the service most suited to your requirements, ensure it is properly implemented and then provide ongoing training and support to help you get the maximum advantage from the service.

What software and apps do you suggest using that will help run my business out of office hours?

A lot depends on what systems your business uses during office hours, and what services you are looking to provide out of hours. We’re experts in mobile / flexible working solutions that let you take your office with you and be just as productive whether in your office, at home or on the road.

Most people have come to expect email on their mobile, but did you know you can work on your office PC with all of its applications from your mobile or tablet as well? It’s similar with phone systems, people are used to forwarding calls to their mobile when out of the office, but it’s usually obvious to most callers and can give the impression that you’re a smaller organisation than you actually are.

Our help4IT phone solutions allow a much more flexible approach, such as handsets which work as another office extension anywhere in the world, automated self-service menu systems with intelligent call routing, or even answering services with human operators for an out of hours emergency number for premium customers.

How long should I spend on my website and what trends are currently happening?

Learn your limits and don’t waste time becoming a web design expert – there are thousands of web developers online who can provide you with a professional looking website framework based on a Content Management System like Joomla, and it won’t cost as much as a bespoke job.

Keep up with what other businesses in your sector are doing with their websites, but don’t forget any good business will be doing the same – you could try using Google’s advanced search options to look at websites from other countries too. You might come across a different approach from which you can take inspiration to make your site stand out.

Do you have an IT dilemma? Feel free to email your questions to  daniel.ivery@smarta.com and you may see your questions answered by help4IT's IT Agony Aunt Phil next month! 

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