Increase Your Support Levels With Cloud Services

Without a doubt, from a Service Provider’s perspective, managing clients from the Cloud is a god send.

Cloud based management of services not only allows for faster response times, but also for a higher quality of support to the end user. However, from the Service Provider’s angle, it allows for highly efficient operations and for one support Representative to manage and complete a much higher work load per shift compared to site work.

Take the average day of a road based IT Tech. There’s all sorts of issues to contend with, traffic, weather, road works, lazy workers taking the long way from job to job, and other unforseen issues on site such as slow computers, failing hardware and clients who are less than prepared for their IT site call. All of these issues and more are faced every day by thousands of road based IT workers, meaning blown out budgets and quotes on jobs, and lengthy delays for the customers, and increased costs for the IT Services company.

Compare this to an environment where all of the clients’ systems are Hosted, either SaaS or IaaS, the IT Contractor can access the files from anywhere, be it on an iPad with a system as simple as Teamviewer, or a SaaS system like Reckon’s Quickbooks Hosted or Xero; it allows for multiple jobs to be undertaken at once and for an instant response time.

There are many systems available too. Whether we look at Zen Desk, Asana or a full Cloud based Services suite such as Connect2Field; the choices are many, the quality is great and the costs are in some cases even Free!

Cloud Support minimises down time, increases response time and increases profits for not just the End User, but the IT Contractor or Service worker aswell.

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3 Reasons To Use Cloud Accounting

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At this time of year, all eyes are on end of year. It’s Tax Time. But how organised are you and your systems for year end?

Do you have the latest software patches loaded, is your system tax compliant, and is all of your data entry up to scratch?

How much is it going to cost you to have a Bookkeeper come and sit with you for a week to enter in all of your data, for the Consultant to bring your system up to scratch and for your Accountant to sort through it all?

Wouldn’t it be great if there was an easier way? A World where your systems talked to each other, where transactions took care of themselves and your Bookkeeper and Accountant became Advisors rather than Compliance Monitors?

Take a look at our 3 Reason To Use Cloud Accounting to find out how.

1. ACCESS

The primary reason for using a Cloud Accounting system would be access. No longer confined to the Desktop computer in your office, you are now free to manage your business from the car, home or away on holidays!

Best of all, you can share your access with most systems, providing your Advisors instant access to your business information allowing for up to the minute advice.

Larger business can also benefit from having remote workers or offices connecting with ease, without the burden of ageing infrastructure to get in the way.

2. PEACE OF MIND

When was the last time you backed up your system, or had to restore it, only to find out that your backups don’t work, or the system database didn’t backup?

The feeling is gut wrenching, particularly at this time of year.

With a Cloud Accounting system, your software, assets and business data are always backed up, and always accessible, 24 hours a day.

You should also look for a system that allows you to backup your own data and store it locally, just for extra piece of mind.

3. COST

Systems with 24/7, multilocation access were once just a figment of  small business owner’s imagination, often left to the larger ERP competitors.

Not anymore.

Systems with online Inventory, Payroll, Time Keeping and Financials, such as Reckon’s Quickbooks Hosted platform, can be had for as little as $25 per month.

We are able to advise on a wide range of Cloud Accounting and Hosted business packages to suit your needs.

We would love to also hear any feedback from businesses out there already operating in the Cloud.

Let us know your thoughts, feedback or questions in the Comments field below.

Saas, VaaS, Paas Or IaaS – What’s Right For You?

When it comes to Cloud Computing, there are several different platforms available for use. Some of the terminology is old and some is new. Together, it is all The Cloud.

But what does it all mean and which is right for you? Let’s take a closer look.

SaaS

Starting with the most obvious use of The Cloud, is SaaS, or Software as a Service. The SaaS movement has been around for some time and in many ways is the forefather or the very definition of Cloud Computing.

Another term for SaaS might be Public Cloud. SaaS is for the single or perhaps small business user where they don’t want to lease infrastructure or have hosted space, they just want access to their individual apps from anywhere they may be. Access and cost are usually the largest drivers behind SaaS takeup.

Think of Internet Banking and Gmail as two of the most common forms of SaaS today.

VaaS

So you’re using a few SaaS services and think it would be great if you could combine them, or take your desktop with you everywhere you go, like on your iPad or Android. This is where you may look at a VaaS, or Virtualization as a Service provider.

This market is still quite young in the Cloud market, perhaps due to licencing issues or other restrictions. But think of it as unlimited VM Ware, or as a rented Desktop with fixed applications.

Hence, you may sign up to a VaaS service, for a Ubuntu desktop with Open Source Apps (Open Office, Firefox and Thunderbird) for a very small fee, or for a little more, a Microsoft platform where you are served your stable Win 7 desktop complete with its Microsoft repetoir of Internet Explorer and Microsoft Office. Or a combination of Microsoft desktop with Open Source apps to save on licencing a little.

In any case, the term “rented desktop” pretty much settles the VaaS criteria. A stable virtual desktop you can take anywhere, along with all your files, settings and bookmarks.

IaaS

Next up we find IaaS, or Infrastructure as a Service. Here we may find an organisation who wants some control over their software and data, but do not want to maintain any hardware.

Here a medium sized enterprise may want control over choosing their IaaS provider, but don’t want control over maintaining expensive hardware, building a climate controlled room and employing a MCSE/CCNA to look after it. Usually with most IaaS providers, you can still choose the size and amount of CPU’s, amount of disk space, RAM and other items to suit your needs and the IaaS provider will discuss maintaining your hardware and software for you.

Best of all with a IaaS platform, it’s highly scalable, so you should only ever be paying for exactly what you need.

PaaS

Finally we may find an organisation who has custom ERP and CRM requirements, maybe an SAP or Great Plains platform requiring constant development and unlimited scalability options but don’t necessarily want the hardware and network overheads that come with a system of such size.

Here, the organisation will seek Platform as a Service such as Amazon, Microsoft or Google AppEngine, where the hardware and platform are provided for, but the platform is very open source and includes a ton of tools for writing one’s own Cloud venture or internal ERP system.

Microsoft Azure is perhaps the latest PaaS on the block.

 

 

 

2012: The Year Of The Cloud

2012. This is the year of The Cloud. This is the year that business is realising it needs The Cloud. But why?

Efficiencies is the answer.

If surviving the GFC taught us one thing, it’s how to be lean. If business, and especially small business is to survive and even thrive post-GFC, it must learn to operate on a strict diet.

To be lean and mean. This means not just micro-managing your Managers and Staff to greater productivity, but looking at your business systems and how they can serve you, not the other way around.

By choosing wisely with Public cloud services, business can selectively tailor a Cloud based system to their needs (and Budget) without the expensive implementation and overheads previously seen with proprietary systems.

For example, a small business (in a remote Country location) we are currently co-consulting with, was looking to decentralise their accounting work. They wanted access to big city Advisors but without the hefty fees of travelling or paying the Advisors to travel. Another hurdle was sending the accounting data in for adjustments, only to wait months for the data to return for adjusting. Then there were issues with quality Bookkeepers in their remote location, etc..

The solution was, as they were already using Reckon’s QuickBooks, was to move them on to a Public cloud solution, QuickBooks Hosted, by Reckon Online.

The business’ software costs were reduced, and the Advisors and Bookkeepers now had real time access to the data.

Momentum is another key factor.

Through our Consulting partners, Axis IT Consulting, we are seeing a massive push to Cloud based services recently.

Once a movement gains significant momentum in business, that movement becomes the key discussion topic amongst business owners and through Referrals and Word Of Mouth. The movement gains significant momentum that a switch in the way things are done occurs.

We are now seeing that switch taking place on a daily basis.

Whether the enquiries are for setting up free services like Dropbox, Google Drive or Mail Chimp, assisting with Social Media integration or Consulting for an Online Accounting System that integrates with Field Service Software, such as Connect2Field and QuickBooks Hosted, the enquiries are there.

Business wants and needs change, and it needs efficiency. Sitting down with a Cloud Consultant and discussing how your business can gain from The Cloud is the smartest thing you can do this year.

Use the feedback form below, we’d love to have a chat about your Cloud!

 

 

More Of The Cloud For Free: Google Drive

 

One of the great drivers for cloud use, is economy. There is no better product economically than when it’s free. And we just love free Cloud!

And we love Google.

So what do you get when you combine a free 5GB Cloud based storage service with PC Sync and Google? Google Drive of course!

Google have had several attempts in the past at making an impact on the Cloud Storage market and have attempted various aspects in this space before, however now they may have just got it right.

The installation and setup are very easy, and anyone who has used Dropbox will be able to set it up quickly and easily.

Like all other Google applications, Google Drive is linked to your Gmail or Google account and login, meaning you can easily take all your information , be it documents, music, work files or other information with you where ever you go, just by signing into Google on any PC.

Optionally, you can install the free PC Sync component and start sharing local drives with users, very akin to Dropbox. You then have complete access to your Google Drive from your PC, or really any PC you wish to physically synchronise your information to.

The files are also very easily accessed and integrated into, especially, your Android mobile phone, as are all Google Suite apps. Just download the app from the Play Store, install, and instantly you can access all of your files anywhere. Also you will find all of your Google Groups saved files in your Google Drive, and sharing files is as easy as a right click, then email from your Gmail contacts! There is no mistaking this is a Google product, it is very well integrated for a startup product.

The Google Drive service starts with an impressive 5GB for free, and you can bet your bottom dollar that will be incrementally increased over time as we have seen with Gmail over the years.

 

 

Cloud Accounting Saves Dollars and Makes Sense

One of the biggest winners from the current frenzied move to the Cloud, is the world of Accounting Software, and in particular Small Business users.

No longer bound by the typical ageing model of the sales staff getting out on the road, only to come back to the office with an armful of orders for the Data Entry clerk to spend days data entering into an antiquated old version of Quickbooks or MYOB. No Sir, welcome to the age of Cloud Accounting.

There are many prominent systems available to the savvy Small Business operator, from simple browser based systems such as Reckon’s Cashbook Online or Xero, through to your fully fledged Hosted solutions, such as Reckon’s QuickBooks Hosted.

A business should do its own due diligence in deciding what is right for its purpose and budget, however thorough investigation will reveal that all online systems are not alike. View our guide to some factors to consider in this decision making process here and further information comparing cloud products here.

Special consideration should be made to looking at where the data is hosted, and if you can access or actually even own your own data.

From only $15 per month for Cashbook Online to around $25 per month for QuickBooks Hosted to $49 or $64 a month for Xero, Small Businesses really should be looking at these systems and making the move for The Cloud.

For example, from all products tested, Reckon’s QuickBooks Hosted was our favourite for Pricing, Features and Security. Aimed at SMB’s rather than micro businesses like the previous two products mentioned, QuickBooks Hosted is the great all-rounder.

Deploy a team of Sales Reps around the Country, toting nothing more than an iPad or Android tablet, to access their customer accounts, perform inventory and order lookups, view the status of back orders and deliveries and enter orders directly with their customers on site.

Prior to the availability of these systems in The Cloud, most SMB’s simply wouldn’t have been able to compete with their larger Netsuite or SAP doting competitors, with their expensive VPN’s and custom written PDA software.

We can only expect to see further growth in this area, with Reckon looking to bring Point of Sale to The Cloud in the near future as well as open up the SDK to allow for third party products such as Fishbowl Inventory and Ostendo to co-exist on the Hosted platform.

Also let’s not forget Reckon’s recent investment in Cloud Field Services startup Connect2Field as a sign of the sheer commitment typical software vendors are making to the Cloud Accounting field.

Seek out a Cloud Accounting Specialist today to see how you could not only save your business dollars, but make sense of your business goals at the same time.

Great Free Cloud Apps – Dropbox

Promising a focus on productivity and useful apps for business, we are pleased to Blog today about one of our favourites, Dropbox.

If you ever find yourself constantly copying files onto USB, or reaching for your phone’s connection cable to copy files back and forth, only to realise you forgot something, or the drive doesn’t work when you get home, then you need Dropbox.

Dropbox is a very simple and secure file sharing and synching tool. You can install Dropbox on your PC, in fact, on all of your PC’s and phones and tablets. This places a folder under your Profile or your My Documents, called My Dropbox.

BASIC USE

All you have to do to start using this simple tool, is to copy your files into your Dropbox folder, you can even create any folders you like under your My Dropbox, as shown above.

All these files and folders then synch automatically up to the Dropbox server, nothing  more to do. You can access your files then via your browser at http://www.dropbox.com, or by installing Dropbox on your home or work PC, your Android phones and tablets.

It’s that simple!

Although, it doesn’t stop there.

FILE SHARING

One of Dropbox’s major strengths is the ease at which you can become a file sharing master. You see, Dropbox allows you to share a file or folder to anyone, simply by sending them an email, which it does for you!

Simply right click any file folder in your Dropbox, go down to Dropbox, then Share The File or Folder. Click on that, enter in the email of the recipient, and voila! They will then receive an email, if they don’t have Dropbox, it will install for them (and give you an extra 250MB for sharing), synch your files up with your recipient, and you have it. Now anything either one of you place in said shared folder, will be automatically synched back and forth!

As mentioned above, every time you send an invitation to somebody not already using Dropbox, you BOTH gain 250MB in data!

A useful tip for file sharing for business, is in the case of an Accounting Practice, where it’s difficult to obtain client files quickly. Traditionally these are sent in by CD or USB stick, and can take a while to receive. Not anymore, simply setup a secure Dropbox folder for your clients, then anytime you need their files, simply ask them to place a backup file into the Dropbox.

The uses for Business are seriously endless.

WEB SHARING

If you ever find the services of “free” file sharing hosts a bit daunting or insecure, then Dropbox has you covered there as well.

Under your My Dropbox folders you will find a Public folder.

Anything placed under the Public folder can instantly be shared to anyone in the World, even posted on websites, by right clicking the file and selecting Copy Public Link. It’s that simple.

Post up your Public Link on to your email, forum, blog or website for anyone with the link to open or download the file.

DROPBOX FOR ANDROID

So of course, the reason for this review being on my Android Blog (N-droid.net), is that Dropbox For Android is the perfect companion for your Droid.

Whether it be a phone or tablet, once you start Dropboxing you just can’t stop! Useful for toting around your Uni Assignments, Work Presentations, Music Library or favourite images.

Access all your files on all of your devices!

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Best of all, Dropbox is free! You can pay for more storage, but why not invite all of your friends, and grow your storage limit for free!

Dropbox is available on the Google Play Store here or you can scan the QR below

Happy Dropboxing!

What Is The Cloud And Why Small Business Needs It

Put simply, “The Cloud” or “Cloud Computing” is the crux of the internet. Using resources enabled via the internet, which are actually running in a remote data centre, 24/7, monitored round the clock by a team of professionals on hardware your business could most likely never afford.

For this reason, The Cloud is the great enabler for Small Business around the World. The Cloud provides access to systems and services at a fraction of the cost of purchasing software in the traditional sense. This is an economy of scale of course, and you will be sharing resources with thousands of other users at any one time. The cloud is also often referred to as “SaaS”, or Software as a Service.

It is the enablement of access to or use of a platform or software services, as a service. In most models, the access to the service is “rented” or paid for on a subscription service rather than purchased outright in the older model of purchasing and owning software.

This provides access to powerful systems and software, connectivity and communications, that previously, a business would have had to invest large sums of money to run their own VPN, or Virtual Private Network.

There are two types of Cloud, Public and Private, as detailed in a previous article. Essentially a Public Cloud is the most common and chances are you are already using this service. Think Gmail, Hotmail, Facebook, Internet Banking even travel bookings. These are all forms of Public Cloud. Private Cloud on the other hand is where a business may have specific requirements from their Cloud provider, hence rent space to load up or provide access to, specific software for their business. Hybrid Cloud is when a business uses parts of both Public and Private Cloud.

Here are some reasons Small Business should be seriously considering The Cloud.

1. Economy

By making use of Cloud Services, a business can save substantially on Capex (Capital Expenditure), and invest in developing sales programs or staff training. Essentially why would a small business make such a large investment in hardware that will simply age, cost a fortune to maintain, and eventually only have to be replaced in some years anyway?

2. Speed

Cloud Systems are often run in Class 1 Data Centres on the very latest hardware and software centres, with professional installation and maintenance; plus access to fibre based communications platforms and direct access to the internet backbone. What this means for the Small Business user, is fast and instant access on any device they are carrying.

3. Accessibility

Whether the business owner wants to provide staff with laptops, netbooks or iPads, in many cases, Cloud Systems will be available as an “app” on all of these devices and due to this, the business and its staff are now empowered to travel and not be bound by the office walls.

4. Reliability

What happens in a Small Business when the Server goes down? Everyone downs pens and stares at each other. This is not only counter productive but also costly to the Business Owner or Manager, who will usually now have to call the IT Services company, wait for a Technician to arrive, then foot the bill once they leave. Usually the only explanation is, “there was a hardware failure”, or ” your server has a virus and will be down for two days”. How would you cope in that situation? Cloud Providers run many failsafe hardware layers and most provide a SLA (Service Level Agreement) of 99% uptime or better. This means more access more of the time when you and your staff are out on the road.

Small Businesses across the Globe are accessing The Cloud at an alarming rate. Vendors are increasing capacity all the time and investment brokers are clammering to provide enough funding to build The Cloud.

With providers such as Microsoft, Google, IBM, Cisco, Reckon and more behind this movement, SMB’s can relax and focus on their core business, and leave the IT headaches to someone else to worry about.

Reckon Place QuickBooks Enterprise In The Cloud

QUICKBOOKS HOSTED BY RECKON ONLINE

REVIEW – WEALTH CREATOR MAGAZINE


The Login Process

2011 marks the year that Reckon’s Online offering, QuickBooks, Hosted by Reckon Online “grows up”.

No longer bound by antiquated Browser security shackles, nor held ransom to Windows, Reckon now have you covered on almost any device you choose to travel with.

Simplifying the login process to a single icon click, identical to the Desktop edition of QuickBooks, Reckon have closed the gap that once existed in both the range of devices able to run QuickBooks Hosted, and also in the end user experience.

Once setup on either my iPad, Android mobile phone or Macbook, I found logging in via the Premium Service, to be as seamless as the desktop edition. This is a huge step forward for Reckon.

Speed

Another vast improvement that impressed me no end with the 2011 released Premium service, was the speed.

Dare I say it is now faster for me to have Reckon host my datafiles, than it is for me to host my own files on my own server!

Reporting speed was the same whether I was running a quick client look up on my Android mobile phone, or running a detailed Profit and Loss report from my iPad. The experience is very seamless.

Functionality

The first thing clients say to me when I set them up on QuickBooks Hosted, is “oh it’s exactly the same as my old version.”  A masterstroke by Reckon, is the fact that functionally, QuickBooks Hosted is exactly the same as the Desktop version! And in some cases, better.

This is due to the fact that Reckon have chosen to base the Hosted product on the Rolls Royce of QuickBooks, the Enterprise version. Hence every feature that is available in QuickBooks 2011, is also available online.

My favourite new feature is the Company Snapshot. Containing up to 27 finance widgets, the user is able to customise a “control panel” of their business, just for them!

With a single mouse click on my iPad, I can see at any time my Top Customers,  how much money I have in the bank and who owes me the most money. On one screen, on my iPad, from anywhere in the World!

Product Comparison

It’s no secret that the race is on amongst software makers to conquer the cloud. And the Accounting Software world is no different.

What I found really sets the QuickBooks Hosted product apart from the rest is its’ familiar look and feel. For added security, users also have access at any time to downloading a copy of their data (which can be opened on the desktop QuickBooks Enterprise), or export reports into Microsoft Excel and save it on their PC. This is a feature that competitive products are sadly missing.

I was also able to re-upload a more recent copy of my local data file, straight up to the Hosted service, from my Desktop.

Not to mention I am able to pay all of my staff, manage all of my inventory, lodge my BAS via Reckon Gov Connect ; and provide my Accountant a login to my data which saves me real money.

I truly believe Reckon have an outstanding product on their hands this year and thoroughly recommend the Premium service to all mobile business people, Bookkeepers and Accountants.

Quickbooks Hosted is accessed by the Citrix Receiver, available from Google Play