What actually happened when we gave our engineers mobile devices…

Rushlift Ltd is one of the country’s leading suppliers of innovative materials handling solutions. They service clients throughout the UK from seven strategically located depots with 150 mobile engineers.

Whilst the idea of giving their service engineers access to client records and service information through a mobile device was desirable, there was significant nervousness within the business about how this would work out in practice and whether the promised benefits would actually materialise.

 

The issues that Rushlift faced in supporting and managing their engineers on the road using paper based systems will be familiar to any service orientated business:

  • Everything was paper based, handwritten and often faxed, this meant that paperwork was susceptible to being misplaced, was delayed and once received in the office needed to be typed up by administration staff.
  • Administrators were sometimes unable to read the engineers’ handwriting, this meant jobs had to be put to one side until an administrator could talk to the engineer and clarify the paperwork.
  • The administration team spent an inordinate amount of time looking after engineers’ paperwork.
  • Invoicing was often delayed or late.

So, three years ago Rushlift took the decision to put mobile devices linked to their Field Service Software into the hands of all their mobile engineers.  The plan was to be able to give engineers relevant and timely information to allow them to be more effective when on a customer’s site and to collect data directly from engineers without the need to manually key in information.

“I wish this had been possible ten years ago” 

The aim of the project was to make engineers more efficient and to provide a better service to customers.  The results of the project far exceeded expectations.

Administration. By utilizing the functionality in the Key mobile software, the administration team have found that paperwork and time taken to liaise with field-based staff has been dramatically reduced, this has enabled Rushlift to effectively and pro-actively react to changing business requirements without the need to employ more staff or add any additional administration costs.

Invoicing. Invoicing is much faster and totally accurate.  The customer signs an electronic copy of the job sheet which is automatically returned to the office and emailed to the customer.  As the job sheet and invoice match, invoices are easily approved and money received faster.

“The benefits more than outweigh the costs”

More Sales. When engineers are on site they can see any outstanding quotes for the customer and discuss any requirements directly with them, allowing an order to be raised immediately.  Equally, if a new item is required, quotes can be raised and approved while on site, allowing items to be ordered straight away.

Enhanced Service & faster time to fix.  When an engineer is servicing a piece of equipment, he now has full access to the service history, whether he or other engineers have completed the work.  This means he can quickly spot anomalies maybe due to user error or manufacturing fault and raise these with the customer or manufacturer.

The engineer also has the ability to log comments about equipment for reference by other engineers on future visits.

“Data Accuracy has been a massive benefit”

Service Records. Retaining the service history paperwork for equipment is a large paper based job for most customers.  But emailing service records automatically to the correct person on client site means that the admin headache for customers is reduced as well.

Winning New Contracts. There have been a number of recent situations where demonstrating that SLAs are being achieved showing the mechanism to accurately measure and report SLA achievement has won new contracts.

Furthermore, as Rushlift now know the Service Levels that are achievable very precisely, they can confidently take on new contracts with tight SLAs that they would previously have been unsure they could meet.

Where next?  “It would be great to enable our sales staff to demonstrate how the system works in the sales process – this is a major differentiator for us…”

Mark Parton – Rushlift Ltd

Read More

A quick guide to hosted desktops for recruiters

The recruitment sector has always been a competitive, with strict deadlines and targets. And, despite a tightening of the jobs market and the as yet unknown consequences of Brexit, the industry is continuing to grow.

However, as we look ahead, the impact that Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and Robotics will have on the world of recruitment is still unclear. So it’s perhaps no wonder that technology is one of the biggest challenges facing recruiters today. That said, there is simply no point sticking our heads in the sand and ignoring the so-called “disruptive tidal wave of technology”. Indeed, those recruitment firms that succeed in our new technology-enabled age will be the ones that act now to ensure their businesses keep up with the pace of change.

At Key Computers, we specialise in providing Software as a Service (Saas) to recruitment consultants. We understand how recruitment agencies work, and what they need to share and maintain candidate records securely, while being able to access files from any location.

In this short guide, we’ll take a look at one of the technologies helping recruiters to succeed – hosted desktops – and highlight the benefits this can deliver to your firm.

What is a SaaS?

SaaS refers to any cloud-based service hosted off-site and delivered over the internet. Today, modern recruitment firms are using SaaS to help with a broad range of tasks including storing data, accounting, invoicing, and client and candidate communications.

What is a hosted desktop?

A hosted desktop looks and works just like a standard PC desktop. So, employees turn on their computers, laptops, iPads, etc., and access all the files and programs they need.

But rather than being stored on the machine’s hard drive, the settings, data, and operating system are delivered via the internet. So your recruiters and support staff can access their files from any device, even if they aren’t in the office.

How does a hosted desktop does it work?

All the files and programs you need to run your recruitment business are stored at a secure data centre. Your devices access these by using the internet to connect to those servers. So, you can rest assured that your valuable business information and sensitive client data isn’t just floating around in cyberspace!

What do you need to use a hosted desktop?

Above all, you’ll need an adequate broadband connection. Without this, your hosted desktop won’t be able to connect to the internet and access the files and systems you need. Most businesses today have the speeds required to run a hosted desktop, but your SaaS provider will be able to advise you on this if you have any doubts.

What software can you run on a hosted desktop?

Pretty much anything your recruitment firm needs.

How will a hosted desktop help your recruitment business?

Hosted desktops deliver increased flexibility, scalability, productivity, efficiency, and resilience. So it’s no wonder that savvy recruiters are using them to solve their growing business challenges.

  • Store all your data in one place

Access files wherever you are. And, by bringing together processes and data, the hosted desktop delivers enhanced management information leading to more informed decision making, and even creating opportunities for new revenue streams.

  • Become more responsive

With the cloud, you will be able to take a brief from your client and send it straight over to the office. You can even search your database while in client offices. This supports more flexible working practices and leads to increased productivity.

  • Reduce administrative overheads

Streamline operations and automate key processes, freeing up consultants to focus on revenue generation and customer service (we all know consultants get frustrated with the amount of paperwork and admin they are required to do!).

  • Share information securely with key clients

Making it easy for clients to keep track of their shortlisted candidates.

  • Automate back-up processes and ensure your data is secure

The problem of lost emails, missing documents and accidentally deleted files become a thing of the past.

  • Reduce costs

With no expensive hardware to buy users can be added and removed in hours with the pay per user pricing structure

  • Access the very best software

A hosted desktop solution provides your law firm with access to enterprise-level informational tools that may otherwise be out of reach for some recruitment companies.

  • Scale up and down with your business

It’s easy to upgrade or add new software, allowing the system to grow and expand at the same pace as your business. Indeed, setting up new accounts and ordering more storage or applications can be done in a matter of minutes.

  • Improve security

All the latest software is in place, and disaster recovery is enabled.

  • Reduce maintenance

The maintenance of your IT system is done remotely by your provider. And all the latest software fixes and security updates are made automatically.

  • Make downtime a thing of the past

You experience little to no downtime.

Things to consider before moving to a hosted desktop

Before you make the switch, here are just some of the things recruitment firms must take into account before turning to the cloud.

How quickly can you access your data?

The right hosted desktop solution will keep your data robust, safe, and secure with automated backup services and best-in-class recovery processes. Find out how quickly can your information can be handed over on demand, what backup procedures are in place, and what would happen should a more severe outage occur.

Is the hosted desktop mobile friendly?

You should be able to access your data from any networked device; ensuring everyone in your firm can retrieve all the real-time information they need.

What level of downtime can you expect?

For example, at Key Computing we provide 99.9% uptime for all cloud services.

 Check the credentials of any hosted desktop supplier

Not all hosted desktop providers are created equal, and with all your data (including your clients’ personal information) held on a third-party server, it’s worth doing your homework.

  • Take references from other companies using the proposed provider
  • Check service level agreements to ensure the proposed service can offer at least full Safe Harbour compliance if data is stored outside the EEA
  • Check that the provider can offer audited information security that at a minimum is compliant with ISO/IEC 27001:2013
  • Check that the provider can offer a level of guaranteed uptime and continuity protection that is acceptable to your business
  • Ensure, where staff will be working on the move, that they have properly secured communication channels to protect security

Does it comply with the Data Protection Act?

Any contract you enter into must require your chosen provider to comply with the Data Protection Act. This should cover meeting established security levels, processes for dealing with information, service level agreements, and expected levels of backup and retrieval procedures.

Data security can also be improved further by using a private cloud, or private area of a hybrid cloud, for client/candidate confidential material and using software to encrypt documents automatically.

Will your data be held in the UK?

Following Brexit, the location of data centres has become increasingly important, with many UK businesses looking to switch to centres located in the UK. All Key data centres are situated in the UK.

Is your hosted desktop managed?

With a managed approach, experts are looking after your system all the time, making sure it’s running smoothly and quickly. Managed desktop services also boast best-in-class backup and recovery processes. So your data is always recoverable should something go wrong.

The right hosted desktop for your recruitment business

Understanding the IT challenges faced by the recruitment sector, our team delivers sophisticated cloud solutions for professional services companies that keep you profitable and compliant.

At Key Computing, our cloud server services consistently achieve the highest level of data security and reliability, maximising safety and eliminating downtime. In fact, all our cloud server data centres are:

  • Situated in the UK
  • ISO27001 approved
  • Security managed 24/7
  • Fitted with fire detection systems.
  • Kept at the optimum temperatures to ensure they do not overheat
  • Supported by backup power supplies
  • Fitted with the highest security firewalls
  • Carrier neutral, ensuring connectivity access across all major networks.

 

To find out how a hosted desktop solution can help to deliver efficiency throughout your business processes –  while protecting your client, candidate and business data  – speak to a member of our team on 01942 261 671 today.

Read More

Is a lack of IT service management holding you back?

According to a new report, IT Service Management (ITSM) has entered a new era. An era in which increased investment in cloud-based service management and automation will:

• Drive expansion
• Speed innovation
• Bolster operational efficiency
• Increase employee productivity
• Accelerate digital transformation to drive growth.

What is ITSM?

Put simply, ITSM describes a strategic approach towards designing, delivering, managing, and improving the way information technology (IT) is used within a business – ultimately – enhancing the service offered to customers. ITSM consists of policies, organised and structured processes, and supporting procedures; all of which help an organisation to achieve its business goals.

While ITSM has long supported service-led organisations as they strive to meet the needs of their users (employees and customers), it has changed dramatically over the last decade. No longer just an IT solution, today it has the potential to act as a “digital catalyst” for the entire business.

“IT Service Management becomes an enabler for digital transformation.”

Bruce Rogers, Chief Insights Officer at Forbes Media

Evolve or die?

Despite digital advances, too many businesses still spend their IT budgets and human resources keeping the lights on, rather than looking at new ways to drive growth.

37% of senior-level executives report that the majority of their IT budgets go to ongoing maintenance and management.

Delivering Value to Today’s Digital Enterprise: The State of IT Service Management, 2017

At the same time, businesses struggle to keep up with the technology and skills needed in our new IT landscape. With the pace of change far exceeding the ability of organisations to invest in new technology enabled processes.

However, with the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) set to benefit those companies preparing for change, this approach could see the failure of service-led businesses that don’t  adapt to our new reality.

The good news is that cloud-based service management software offers a cost-effective way to respond to this challenge.

The benefits of cloud-based service management software:

Developments in the cloud provide access to previously unaffordable software and tools such as SaaS Service Manager Software. And, with no upfront capital investment, you simply pay an affordable monthly cost for what you need, on a per user basis. Just as important, it’s easy to get started, and you’ll benefit from always using the latest software, without hefty upgrade costs. Other advantages include:

  • End to end integration throughout all your processes
  • Full visibility of all aspects of your business
  • Save time and money
  • Streamline and improve workflow management
  • Improve your service to customers, with access to a secure web portal to view their management information
  • Easy Service Desk management and engineer scheduling
  • Easy ordering, job booking, contract management and scheduling
  • Increases engineer capacity with improved maintenance and engineer scheduling and routing
  • Easily manage customers, prospects, job quotations and contract costing
  • Securely capture and store information
  • Improve stock management processes
  • Quickly diagnose any issues
  • Benefit from preventative maintenance
  • Reduce the burden of manual paperwork and admin
  • Deploy email invoicing which integrates with accounting software
  • Better support your mobile workforce
  • Add functionality and roll-out to new users as your business grows.

The IIoT promises to deliver enormous benefits, but as with any evolution, it will also cause disruption. So, it’s vital that service-led companies act now to ensure their ITSM is keeping up with the pace of change.

 

To find out more about how we can help your service-led business adapt and thrive in a new digital era, speak to a member of our team on 01942 261 671 or email info@keycomputers.co.uk to find out more.

 

Read More

Field service management software market predicted to grow

According to experts, the field service management software market is expected to grow by 11.30% by 2020. Helping service-led businesses to optimise their workflow, fulfil customer expectations, and boost profits.

What is field service management software (FSM)?

FSM software allows businesses to schedule, allocate, and dispatch technicians for field work. As such, it is used by organisations with a mobile workforce to increase productivity and efficiency. So, you can:

  • Streamline and improve workflow management
  • Quickly connect customers to the support staff
  • Get the right technicians to the right job at the right time
  • Securely capture and store information
  • Improve stock management processes
  • Quickly diagnose any issues
  • Schedule appointments quickly and easily
  • Reduce the burden of manual paperwork
  • Better support your mobile workforce
  • Save money.

If that wasn’t enough, by accessing improved visibility of your financial and operational performance, in real-time, businesses can rapidly recognise and respond to revenue-generating opportunities.

FSM as Software as a Service (SaaS)

“With the rise of cloud computing in the global FSM market, a large number of enterprises are opting to host their software solutions off-site.” [1]

FSM can be hosted through a web browser as a SaaS. This can result in additional cost savings. With SaaS, your service provider charges you a subscription (usually monthly or yearly) to use the application. And, with access to everything you need online – and no need to install and maintain the software you need to run your business – SaaS is a compelling option for SMEs.

With increased demand for SaaS-based FSM solutions stated as a key driver in the expected growth of this market, savvy businesses should look to invest now or risk being left behind.

The rise of FSM will make British businesses better

“Enterprises of all sizes are deploying SaaS-based solutions as it is economical, can be accessed from anywhere and provides all functionalities at the lowest total cost of ownership (TCO).” [2]

Traditional ways of working are inefficient and slow. Not to mention costly. They repress our capacity to grow leading to reduced profit margins and dormant productivity. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

FSM can increase the efficiency of the field service workforce – and ultimately your business. And it does this without any corresponding increase in workforce levels.

For example, technicians still find paperwork and administrative tasks to be the least favourite part of their day. But FSM technology, delivered over the internet, reduces the need for employees to complete inefficient and time consuming tasks. Of course it’s not enough just to move paper tasks online. To reduce the burden and boost productivity automation also needs to be introduced wherever possible.

In addition, your systems need to talk to each other if you want to increase the efficiency of your service businesses. Removing workplace duplication by leveraging connectivity-enabled data.

What does the future of field management software look like?

Of course, without a crystal ball none of us know just what’s around the corner. But, with many of the larger players now evaluating the use of augmented reality (AR) technology for use in field service and customer support environments, AR-like solutions are switching from science fiction to science fact.

This doesn’t mean that your engineers are likely to be out of a job anytime soon – but it does mean that they might be able to tap into live support from a virtual presence via their mobile devices. Customers might even be able to work with augmented technical support to identify issues remotely before an appropriate field technician is even dispatched!

To find out more about how we can help your business to increase productivity and efficiency with FMS, speak to a member of our team on 01942 261 671 or email info@keycomputers.co.uk to find out more.

[1] Big Market Research

[2] Big Market Research

Read More

What is a hosted desktop?

A hosted desktop works just like a standard computer desktop. You simply open your computer and access all the files and applications you need to do your job. But, unlike a traditional Microsoft Windows desktop, the necessary settings, data, and operating system are delivered over the internet, rather than stored on the computer’s hard drive.

So, does this mean your valuable business data is just floating around in cyberspace?

Absolutely not! In fact, with a hosted desktop, everything is stored on servers at a secure data centre and delivered via the internet.

What’s the difference between the cloud and the internet?

In short, the internet is a global network of computers. You could think of it as a modern-day postal service, delivering information at sub-second speeds! On the other hand, the cloud is a network of servers. Some of these servers provide a service (e.g. Facebook and Adobe Creative Cloud), while others store information before passing it to the internet for delivery (i.e. to your hosted desktop).

Picture1

Why should you use a hosted desktop?

“I think the Cloud Server Hosted Desktop solution is marvellous. Your cloud solution enables me to work from anywhere with ease and everything is so much more efficient.”

Owner, Kristina Harrison Solicitors

Reduced costs

  • No cost of buying, running, and maintaining your own server
  • Get better equipment for your business, at a fraction of the price, with storage capacity, processing power, memory, and network bandwidth all part of a shared kit
  • Just pay for what you need on a per user basis. And scale up, or down on demand.

No hassle

  • No aggravation of buying, running, and maintaining your own server
  • Keep using your business applications such as Microsoft Office, Outlook and Sage
  • It’s on demand. You can set up accounts for new users and order more storage space as and when required. In a matter of minutes
  • You don’t need to log in and log out of many different devices.

Better backup

  • Back up your data automatically
  • Backups are tested regularly to make sure they work.

 Better security

  • Everything is stored in high security and carefully controlled UK data centres
  • All the latest software fixes and security updates are updated and constantly protecting your system
  • With robust cloud encryption now available, storing data in the cloud can be safer than storing it onsite.

Increased productivity

  • Experience little to no downtime. At Key, our hosted desktop solutions boast 99% uptime
  • Employees have access to everything they need wherever they need it, on any device. Even if they aren’t in the office.

“We were able to cut our annual IT budget by 60% and save a further £15,000 by no longer needing to replace our old server.”

Owner, Warr & Co

What should you look for in a hosted desktop provider?

A managed service

With a managed approach, IT specialists are watching your system all the time, making sure it’s running smoothly and quickly. Managed desktop services also boast best-in-class backup and recovery processes. So you can be sure that your data is recoverable should something go wrong.

A UK data centre

Following Brexit, the location of data centres has become increasingly important, with many UK businesses looking to switch to centres located in the UK. All Key data centres are situated in the UK. In addition they are:

  • Security managed 24/7
  • ISO27001 certified
  • Fitted with backup power supplies
  • Fitted with fire detection systems
  • Fitted with the highest security firewalls.
  • Kept at the optimum temperatures to ensure they do not overheat
  • Carrier neutral, ensuring connectivity access across all major networks.

The ability to try before you buy

Request a demo or free trial to see how our excellent hosted desktop solutions work in practice.

Security and reliability

At Key Computers, our Cloud Server services consistently achieve the highest level of data security and reliability.

 “The service we have received from Key through the transition stages and set-up has been second to none. The support has been exceptional, and throughout the process they have paid excellent attention to detail, and really taken the time to understand and meet the needs of a small to medium sized business.”

Director, Pension Lite

With high-quality support and customer service, and proven experience in understanding business needs, we provide everything you need to help your business thrive. To find out how a hosted desktop can benefit your business, speak to a member of our team on 01942 261 671 or request a demo today!

Read More

What is SaaS and how can it help your service led business?

SaaS stands for Software as a Service, and it refers to any cloud-based service where applications (e.g. Google Apps, Facebook, Salesforce, etc.) are hosted off-site and delivered over the internet. SaaS applications are sometimes referred to as web-based software, on-demand software, or hosted software.

Today, modern businesses use SaaS to help with a broad range of tasks including accounting, invoicing, controlling stock, internal and customer communications, scheduling engineers, tracking jobs, and managing contracts. Becoming an integral part of most small to medium businesses, if you want to make larger scale improvements via SaaS, it is worth considering an integrated service manager solution rather than trying to cobble different applications together.

How much does SaaS cost?

With SaaS, the service provider charges you a subscription (usually monthly or yearly) to use the application. The price you pay often depends on the size of your business and the number of users. With everything you need accessed with an internet connection and web browser – and no need to install and maintain the software you need to run your business – SaaS is a compelling option for SMEs.

What are the benefits of SaaS?

  • Lower costs

SaaS is implemented at a fraction of the price of an on premise solution, with no large-scale investment in licenses or infrastructure required. Once up and running, SaaS helps to create a more stable cashflow, with services provided on a pay-as-you-go pricing model; so you never get any nasty surprises.

Likewise, SaaS offers reduced cost of ownership as you no longer have to fork out to upgrade your IT infrastructure. What’s more, any new software releases are likely to be cheaper than those purchased via the traditional model which forces you to buy and install upgrade packages.

  • East to get up and running

With SaaS, you don’t have to worry about designing and developing the right solution. Instead, you can tap into a tried and tested system that is ready to use and often customisable to your business.

  • Automatic upgrades

SaaS providers automatically and continuously improve their solution at no extra cost to you; helping you to remain current, agile, and competitive. 

  • Free valuable resource

With upgrades made automatically, you are free from the burden of installing and maintaining complex hardware and software. And there is no need to maintain or support legacy versions. Even better, with the vendor looking after the software on your behalf, you can reduce the size of your technical staff or prioritise them elsewhere.

SaaS also comes with inbuilt customer service support, reducing internal IT helpdesk calls; so the burden of firefighting is eased – freeing your IT department to get on with tasks that drive business improvement.

  • Scalable

SaaS offers flexible subscription pricing models. So you only ever pay for what you use. As your business grows (or shrinks), your SaaS solution can be quickly and easily scaled up or down.

  • Better access to information

As you don’t host the software yourself, SaaS reduces the risk to your business with automated backup services and best-in-class recovery processes. Making sure your data is robust, safe, and secure.

SaaS also provides improved access to data from any networked device; ensuring all your staff have real-time access to the information and tools they need; anytime, anywhere. And, with cross-device compatibility, SaaS applications can be used on a range of different devices including tablets, PCs, and smartphones.

  • Improved business processes

With SaaS, all users and applications share a centrally maintained common infrastructure. This encourages the simplification and standardisation of business processes, saving you time and money.

SaaS also aids cooperation; helping people in different teams and locations to work collaboratively with one another. What’s more, with SaaS you don’t have to worry about creating time-consuming reports. Instead the system can be set up to generate these for you automatically.

  • Easy customisation

Today SaaS systems can often be customised and white-labelled to suit the needs of your business and brand; all while retaining a familiar web-based interface.

Is SaaS safe?

Security concerns have often thwarted cloud adoption, with many businesses preferring to keep their business-critical software and hardware onsite. However, with robust cloud encryption now available, this approach is actually riskier than storing it with a SaaS service provider in a remote location.

Any reputable SaaS vendor will make security a key priority. It’s in their business interests to do so! As such, they will have a reliable, secure infrastructure in place that far outstrips what companies would build for themselves. Indeed, significant investment would be needed to make an onsite solution match the security and reliability of most SaaS applications.

Is your service business ready for SaaS?

While SaaS has the potential to deliver enormous benefits to most businesses, it makes sense to undertake due diligence before rolling out any new application(s).

So, before you start:

  • Set out what you are trying to achieve and how integrating a new SaaS application will help you to do that
  • Determine the complexity of your business. While SaaS is ideal for small to medium businesses, it might not be suitable for the more complex requirements of large enterprise organisations
  • Find out if a free trial is available so you can test your preferred solution for yourself
  • Establish whether any existing systems that you need to keep are compatible with the new application
  • Identify what (if any) customisations have to be made
  • Ascertain any security concerns that need to be addressed
  • Ensure you have a suitable internet connection (a standard connectivity speed is adequate for using most SaaS applications)
  • Anticipate and prepare training as required.

While it might sound daunting, it all comes down to understanding what your organisation needs. With the right preparation, moving to a SaaS solution is a painless process, and your provider should be able to help you to roll out across your business with ease.

SaaS and service-led businesses

Where employees need to be able to connect from anywhere – not just the office – web-based solutions are not just desirable, they are business critical. As such, service-led industries, in particular, can use SaaS to improve mobile workforce productivity.

For example, at Key Computers, our SaaS Service Manager, makes managing sales, preventative maintenance, and hire and repair contracts easy. With end-to-end integration throughout all your processes, this popular service management system supports engineers, eliminates duplication, and provides service-led businesses with improved visibility.

If you want to increase performance and customer satisfaction by switching to a SaaS Service Management Solution, for a free trial with no upfront costs, speak to a member of our team on 01942 261 671 or email info@keycomputers.co.uk to find out more.

Read More

Could cloud computing help close the gender gap in your firm?

Cloud computing is a hot topic. Especially when it comes to its ability to enable new and flexible ways of working. Of course, mobile technology and hosted desktop solutions are helping to create a tech-enabled mobile workforce; reducing the need for employees to sit at their desks 9-5. But could the power of the cloud do more than facilitate mobile working? Could it also help to close the gender pay and career advancement gap?

We all know that – despite almost half a century having passed since the Equal Pay Act – on average, women earn less than their male counterparts. And, while the government has introduced mandatory gender pay gap reporting to help deal with this, getting rid of the glass ceiling and addressing the more subtle barriers to career advancement is perhaps an even bigger challenge.

Is flexible working the secret to tackling the gender gap?

People want flexible employment. And it seems employers are listening; with flexible working predicted to be the main way of working for 70% of organisations by 2020.[1] And that could be good news for women, with a government report stating that flexible working is the key to tackling the gender pay gap.

A lack of flexible working opportunities – including variable start and finish times, working from home, or the option to work fewer days is the main driver of the enduring pay difference between men and women[2].

And it makes sense. As long as women remain the primary caregivers for their children, a rigid attachment to traditional office hours is always going to be tricky (particularly for mothers returning from maternity leave). A few hours of latitude really could make all the difference. But it’s not just about flexibility; it’s also about mobility. Let’s face it, flexible working is unlikely to deliver significant benefits if employees still have to clock into the office every day.

How can you implement flexible and mobile working practices in your firm?

Put the right tech in place

Technology is crucial. And it needs to be flexible enough to deal with a change in working style. In fact, insufficient technology is one of the biggest barriers to modern ways of working. But putting the right technology in place doesn’t just mean supplying employees with smartphones. Instead, you must leverage both fixed and mobile technology, and invest in cloud computing and a hosted desktop solution so your employees can access their data, software, and files wherever they are.

Get everyone on board

In addition to the right tech, it’s important that everyone is on board, from the top down. Otherwise, a lack of communication can lead to resentments and misunderstandings. Particularly from the bums on seat brigade.

What’s more, to reap the benefits of flexible and mobile working, processes must be designed that help your staff to work smarter rather than longer. While productivity and efficiency are two main advantages of this approach, your employees don’t need to give up more of their free time to realise them.

“By enabling a culture whereby working anywhere is the rule – rather than the exception – employers immediately put trust at the heart of their company ethos – a key to providing a happier and more fulfilling relationship with its staff.”

Sir Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health at Manchester Business School

Of course, helping women to reach their full potential is the right thing to do, and flexible and mobile working is set to play a significant role in closing the gender gap. But it also has the potential to deliver benefits to all your employees regardless of their gender. And that makes good economic sense.

 If you’re thinking about switching to a hosted desktop service to help your business take advantage of  flexible and mobile working, speak to a member of our team on 01942 261 671 to find out more.

 

[1] Lancaster University’s Work Foundation Report 2016

[2] The Women and Equalities Select Committee

Read More

Could bad service see you forking out for a compensation claim?

We all know that poor service is bad for business, but it could have a more immediate impact on your bottom line; and your reputation.

Waiting for an engineer who doesn’t turn up can be more than a frustration for some customers. And, while it might sound like an overreaction, if they have been substantially inconvenienced or lost out financially as a result, might even lead to a compensation claim being made against your business. Here’s how it works…

In written contracts, there’s a “Time is of the Essence” clause. In a nutshell, this means you must do what you’ve said you’re going to do at a particular date and time, and a failure to perform by the time specified will be a breach of contract. Although not all engineer visits come with a written agreement, the law will look at arrangements made over the phone in the same way.

What’s more, it’s not just broken appointments you have to worry about. In 2010, British Gas paid £2,000 in an out of court settlement to a self-employed customer who had to waste valuable working time resolving a series of problems – including inaccurate bills and debt collectors turning up asking for money. And he’s encouraged other people let down by service-led companies to do the same.

So, what can you do to avoid claims for compensation being made against your business?

The better your service, the lower the risk

The most important thing you can do is to improve the service you deliver to your customers. While most companies pride themselves on the strength of their customer relationships, in today’s fast moving age, consumer expectations never stop evolving. Just think about it, ten years ago, excellent customer service would be an engineer turning up on the day they were expected. Today, consumers demand a 1-2hr slot. So, smart companies must continually look at ways they can improve or risk falling behind.

Here are just a few ways technology can help to build better customer experiences:

  • Provide increased control and visibility of all aspects of your business
  • Achieve maximum operational effectiveness with improved stock forecasting and purchasing
  • Benefit from integrated CRM with customer dashboards
  • Streamline your work order processes with better management and engineer scheduling
  • Benefit from advanced routing and scheduling with route optimisation
  • Offer automated order updates to customers
  • Improve service levels between departments
  • Offer out-of-hours support
  • Automate compliance processes
  • Provide email invoicing which integrates with accounting software to improve accuracy
  • Improve customer feedback processes.

With the ability to enhance customer satisfaction from the first point of contact to the resolution of issues, and ongoing maintenance, at Key Computers, our SaaS Service Manager, makes managing sales, preventative maintenance, and hire and repair contracts easy.

If you want to increase customer satisfaction and stop compensation claims being made against your business, speak to a member of our team on 01942 261 671 or email info@keycomputers.co.uk to find out more about switching to a SaaS Service Management Solution for a free trial with no upfront costs.

 

Read More

A quick guide to hosted desktops for solicitors

The legal sector has undergone radical changes over the last few years. And, against this backdrop of change, firms have never been under more pressure to reduce costs and free up cashflow. But one thing remains constant, and that’s the sheer volume of information and legal documents that need to be managed. With business continuity and regulatory compliance essential requirements of the Law Society’s Lexcel accreditation, resilient and secure working processes that guarantee access to these documents are a must. I

In this short guide, we’ll highlight the benefits a hosted desktop solution can deliver to your legal firm; helping you to better manage your business data and capitalise on the power of the cloud.

What is a hosted desktop?

From your employees’ point of view, a hosted (or virtual) desktop works just like a standard Microsoft Windows desktop. So, staff can turn on their computers, laptops, iPads, etc., and access all the files and programs they need to do their jobs. But rather than being stored on a particular computer’s hard drive, the settings, data, and operating system are delivered over the internet. This means users can access their files and your firm’s practice management software from any device, even if they aren’t in the office.

How does it work?

With a hosted desktop, all the files and programs you need to run your law firm are stored on servers at a secure data centre. Your desktop access these by using the internet to connect to those servers. So, while a hosted desktop uses the cloud, this doesn’t mean that your valuable business data is just floating around in cyberspace!

What does your firm need to deploy a hosted desktop solution?

First and foremost, you’ll need a decent broadband connection. If you don’t have a broadband speed of at least 4MB per second, then you’ll need to get this sorted before making the switch. You can check your firm’s speed at www.speedtest.net

What software can you run on a hosted desktop?

Basically, anything your firm needs. This includes Microsoft Office, practice management software, case management software, financial software, and document management applications.

How will a hosted desktop help your law firm?

As well as lowering the cost of provision, hosted desktops deliver increased flexibility, scalability, productivity, efficiency, and resilience. So it’s no wonder that legal firms are using them to solve their growing business challenges.

  • Improved access to business critical information

By bringing together processes and data, the hosted desktop delivers enhanced management information. This can lead to more informed decision making, and even create opportunities for new revenue streams.

  • Increased productivity

Your lawyers and other employees get access to everything they need, wherever they need it, on any device. This supports more flexible working practices and leads to increased productivity.

  • Reduced costs

With no expensive hardware to buy, switching to a hosted desktop reduces your IT investment costs. Instead, your firm pays for the software it uses on a month-to-month basis, without any long-term commitment.

  • Scale up and down with your business

It’s easy to upgrade or add new software, so you can scale up (or down) as needed. Setting up accounts for new staff and ordering more storage space or applications can also be done in a matter of minutes.

  • Reduced maintenance

With the hosted desktop, the maintenance of your IT system is done remotely by your provider. This helps to reduce reliance on IT support staff. Likewise, all the latest software fixes and security updates are made automatically.

  • Mitigate downtime

You experience little to no downtime. For example, at Key Computing we provide 99.9% uptime for all cloud services.

  • Access to the very best software

A hosted desktop solution provides your law firm with access to enterprise-level informational tools that may otherwise have been out of your reach.

Things to consider

With a hosted desktop, data – including your clients’ personal information – is held on a third-party server. This is important when it comes to meeting standards of professional conduct and regulatory compliance. So, before you dive in, here are just some of the things law firms must consider before switching to the cloud.

Is it SRA compliant?

Not all hosted desktop providers are created equal, so you must check that any partner you use will help you to meet Outcome 7.10 of the SRA Code of Conduct. In practice, this could mean drafting an agreement requiring your provider to deliver usable data to the SRA on demand.

According to guidance from the SRA, best practice for due diligence includes:

  • Taking references from other companies using the proposed provider
  • Checking service level agreements carefully to ensure that the proposed service can offer at least full Safe Harbour compliance if data is stored outside the EEA
  • Checking that the provider can offer audited information security that at a minimum is compliant with ISO27001 2005
  • Checking that the provider can offer a level of guaranteed uptime and continuity protection that is acceptable to the firm
  • Ensuring, where staff will be working on the move, that they have properly secured communication channels to protect security
  • Ensuring that your contract with the provider includes the requirements of Outcome 7.10 of the SRA Code of Conduct.

Does it comply with the Data Protection Act?

All solicitors must comply with the Data Protection Act 1998. While it is not a breach to pass client and other information to a cloud provider, a written contract must be created to require your chosen provider to comply with the Act. This should cover meeting established security levels, processes for dealing with information, service level agreements, and expected levels of backup and retrieval procedures.

The SRA also recommends that data security can be further improved by:

  • Using a private cloud, or private area of a hybrid cloud, for client confidential material
  • Using software to automatically encrypt documents at the law firm’s end
  • Using security keys that are not known to the provider
  • Using only providers that are based in EEA countries or countries offering equivalent or greater data protection laws, and that can guarantee that data will not be held in jurisdictions that do not offer such protections.

How quickly can you access your data?

With automated backup services and best-in-class recovery processes, the right hosted desktop solution will keep your data robust, safe, and secure. They also provide improved access to data from any networked device; ensuring everyone in your firm can retrieve all the real-time information they need. However, with varying cloud partners offering different levels of service, be sure you check the following before you sign any agreement:

  • Does your firm maintain full ownership of the information?
  • How quickly can this information be handed over on demand?
  • What backup processes are in place?
  • What level of downtime can you expect?
  • What processes are in place should a more severe outage occur?

Is your hosted desktop managed?

With a managed approach, IT specialists are watching your system all the time, making sure it’s running smoothly and quickly. Managed desktop services also boast best-in-class backup and recovery processes. So you can be sure that your data is recoverable should something go wrong.

You can access more information from the SRA on this topic here.

A partner your legal firm can trust

Understanding the IT challenges faced by the legal sector, our commercially astute team delivers sophisticated cloud solutions for professional services companies that keep you profitable and compliant.

At Key Computing, our cloud server services consistently achieve the highest level of data security and reliability, maximising safety and eliminating downtime. In fact, all our cloud server data centres are:

  • Situated in the UK
  • Compliant with SRA guidelines
  • ISO27001 approved
  • Security managed 24/7
  • Fitted with fire detection systems.
  • Kept at the optimum temperatures to ensure they do not overheat.
  • Supported by backup power supplies
  • Fitted with the highest security firewalls.
  • Carrier neutral, ensuring connectivity access across all major networks.

To find out how a hosted desktop solution can help to deliver efficiency throughout your business processes –  while protecting your client and business data  – speak to a member of our team on 01942 261 671 today.

Read More

Is it safe to keep your data in the cloud?

Cyber-attacks and data breaches are the two biggest perceived threats to business continuity. That’s according to the latest annual report from the Business Continuity Institute. So, against this backdrop of fear, it’s perhaps no wonder that security concerns are thwarting cloud adoption, with less than 10% of the world's data estimated to be stored in the cloud.

70% of organisations are concerned about the security and privacy of data and systems in the cloud.[1]

But are such concerns justified?

Not really. In fact, contrary to what most people think, moving to the cloud (storing data and applications remotely, rather than using your premises) doesn’t put your business-critical information at any more risk. In actual fact, with robust cloud encryption now available, storing data in the cloud can be safer than storing it onsite. And you don’t have to take our word for it; it says much more that online retailer Amazon is happy to run its entire business on a cloud platform!

Cloud storage also boasts best-in-class backup and recovery processes. Your files sit on a dedicated machine in a UK data centre, but they are also duplicated and backed up on multiple hard disks. So if a disk fails – and they sometimes do – it’s not a problem. The backup will immediately cut across to its sibling, so there is no loss of service and no downtime. Moreover, your data is also mirrored in real time over at another data centre – at a separate location – in case of unexpected events such as floods and fires. Every night your data is backed up again, and you can decide how many of these daily backups to keep.

Does your current server have the same security measures as this?

The truth is, any reputable cloud vendor will make security a key priority. It’s in their business interests to do so. As such, they will have a reliable, secure infrastructure in place that far outstrips what companies would build for themselves. Indeed, significant investment would be needed to make an onsite solution match the security and reliability of the cloud.

So, when it comes to storing valuable data, proximity doesn’t mean greater levels of security. Instead, true protection from data theft comes from the following:

  • A bulletproof plan for careful migration of all data
  • An awareness of the emerging virus threats
  • Virus and firewall protection using the latest and best kit (ideally managed by people who read security blogs and updates while on holiday!)
  • Control over what applications are put on your system
  • Strong password processes
  • Structured systems, making it very hard for a digital intruder to access or move around in your system
  • Encryption where you need it.

Even better, as well as being safe, storing data and applications remotely can also cut IT costs and speed up your operations. It really is a win-win.

At Key Computers, our Cloud Server services consistently achieve the highest level of data security and reliability, maximising security and eliminating downtime. To find out more, speak to a member of our team on 01942 261 671 or email info@keycomputers.co.uk  today.

[1] https://www.netwrix.com/2016cloud_security_report.html

Read More

Are you prepared for GDPR?

We’ve all read the horror stories about companies losing data. In fact, security breaches of this nature are becoming an increasingly familiar news story. Our data is now a high-value commodity to those unscrupulous, shadowy criminals who seek to prosper from stealing our information.
So, what is being done to combat this and protect us? How do we instil confidence that, in an age where our identity is stored digitally, we can stay safe?

Part of the answer is GDPR, or the General Data Protection Regulation to be precise.

GDPR is a new set of regulations set out by the EU that demands we take greater care of our clients’ data. It lays out a structure of accountability around the storage and accessibility of any data that may personally identify an individual. The regulations, while set out by the EU, will apply to any company that wishes to do business with EU citizens, and thus affects the majority of us globally.

One of the more significant changes are the financial penalties associated with non-compliance, which can be as high as 4% of revenue! When combined with the fact that data protection authorities in each respective country will have greater powers to both audit and impose fines, this is a change that demands attention.

GDPR requires you to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and security of your processing systems. Put simply; you should have security controls in place that can prevent and detect potential breaches of data.

GDPR is a long-term solution, so it isn’t a one-off task to get your house in order. Instead, you need to demonstrate that you continually monitor sensitive data to identify any vulnerabilities. For many of us, this is a departure from the current perception that this sits with the ‘IT person’. GDPR is a cultural change in attitude towards the importance we place on security, which requires awareness and buy-in from the whole business, including, and most importantly, from those in senior positions.

GDPR has crept into the collective consciousness over the last 12 months, with the noise around this change getting ever louder as we approach the adoption date of May 2018. Despite this, many are still unsure how, or if, they should address the issue at all. And, no doubt there will be panicked conversations in boardrooms up and down the country come this time next year.

So, in real terms, what can and what should you do?

When the data protection authority look at your processes, they are reviewing whether you have appropriate measures in place to comply. Questions they will ask are:

  • Is the data you keep secured appropriately?
  • Have you done all you can to keep your systems secure?
  • Can you access and provide customer data if requested?
  • Do you obtain consent to store data?
  • Do you have access control measures in place to ensure only those necessary can get to the data?
  • Would you be able to identify and report a data security breach in a timely manner?

As a business, you need to understand both the questions and more importantly, the answers to all these points.

As always, the most important element of compliance will be your staff. Effective and regular training will always give you the best protection. The GDPR regulations recommend that all businesses, regardless of size, appoint a Data Protection Officer to provide guidance and monitoring. Your systems also need to reflect the requirements of GDPR, working with a responsible supplier who understands the regulations and your obligations is essential to remove the stress and confusion. With many organisations working with or considering ‘the cloud’, an outsourced, secure infrastructure will look increasingly attractive, so it’s vital you work with suppliers who follow industry standards such as ISO27001.

GDPR may feel to some, like more ‘banana straightening’ by the EU, but it’s here to stay and will benefit us all by forcing companies to take data security more seriously. The key is, use the next 12 months to prepare, don’t be an ostrich!

Read More