News July 2011.

July 2011 News – My Home, My Office (Part 1)

Typically businesses come in different sizes. Micro, Small, Medium, Large and Enterprise.

Often businesses start off as either Micro or Small size, and don’t need the presence of a formal office building to be successful. Or if your services are primarily delivered onsite or mobile such as at your client’s place (e.g. for trades like electricians, plumbers or even professional services like bookkeeping) or if you are a sole trader or small family partnership, there are benefits and disadvantages to running your business from home rather than a large office. This month we take a look at 5 technology considerations for home-based and small office businesses.

The computer:
Often it is best to ignore comparing brands and the Apple versus Windows debate and focus on the different ways that technology can bring productivity improvements to your business. For example let’s look at ‘workstation versus laptop’. If your computer really doesn’t need to move from your home office, you’ll get more computing power for your money with a workstation. Consider investing those savings in a dual-monitor setup which has been shown by Microsoft to have a 9 to 50% productivity increase. If your work involves a lot of data entry, web browsing and editing, writing or graphic design.
Should you purchase a laptop, then you can still have dual monitors as most laptops have a VGA output that another monitor can be plugged into. But remember, there’s nothing stopping you using a laptop by itself if you want to sit outside in the sun occasionally!
The computers we recommend are Dell and HP for both Laptops and Desktops, or perhaps a locally built computer with local support but is sometimes expensive.

The printer:
With so many brands, options and sizes choosing a printer for your office can be a challenge. Topics to consider are do you print many colour or black and white pages, text or pictures and are your customers handling the paper you print. Some offices also have space limitations, so a printer with a smaller ‘footprint’ would be better. Although the sending of documents by fax isn’t as common anymore it is still useful to be able to scan a document that has been signed and send using fax software or by email. The scanners in multi-function printers are of good quality and for most people a seperate scanner simply isn’t worth the effort or space. For most marketing campaigns, it is cheaper to print large volumes using a printing service at a store. But having a printer that can handle small/quick marketing print jobs with high quality colours can be more time efficient. Replacement ink costs also should be given consideration, but it can be difficult and time consuming to investigate this often moving target.
We recommend HP Printers, and the office printer we use is the CM1415fnw Multi-Function LaserJet

The Internet:
In today’s connected world, the Internet has become the most important part of a lot of businesses, as it is the gateway that multiplies the number of people that will experience your business. For a small or home office, this is equally important as it is for a bricks and morter business. Out of all of your technology components, this one will drive you the craziest if it’s slow or if it drops out. Use a reputable internet provider and invest in the fastest internet speed you can afford with a monthly data limit that matches your needs. Also invest in high quality modems and if possible, have a spare one on hand that is preconfigured.
Internode is the service provider we recommend, and they rate the highest in Australia for Customer Satisfaction

Email:
Without a corporate email system, you still have a few choices for email services. Don’t think that you have to resort to using @hotmail.com or @gmail.com for your business email communication, when you can have @yourbusinessname.com without the expense of your own email server.

File sharing:
Do you need to share files with anyone outside of your home office? Instead of just emailing attachments, consider other file sharing methods if you collaborate with others on large documents or if you regularly need to send large picture files. Your options vary from USB storage with security mechanisms (e.g. encryption & passwords) to secure internet file sharing services or even direct file transfer between computers.

Next month, we’ll look at backups, security and other considerations for your home office. If you are have any questions and would like some advice regarding the technology to use in your business, at Computer Troubleshooters Croydon we are happy to book a time to talk to you.