Compucare Blog

it support for charities

You Can Help Your IT Support Provider Protect Your Organisation

As part of the National Cyber Security Program, a qualitative research with UK registered charities was carried out in February and May 2017. The research was commissioned by the UK Government (DCMS) – it aimed to explore the charities’ experiences, awareness and attitudes around cyber security. 

Some participants assumed cyber security was more of an issue for businesses than for charitable organisations. However, the research has highlighted that CHARITIES ARE AS SUSCEPTIBLE TO INDISCRIMINATE CYBER-ATTACKS AS BUSINESSES. It has also shown that “there is a need for basic awareness raising among staff and trustees, and upskilling of those responsible for cyber security – so they know the basic technical controls they can put in place.” Cyber Security Among Charities, Ipsos Mori.

Most charities recognized the potential danger of losing funds or personal data of donors and/or service users. These were typically seen as existential threats heightening the importance of being cyber secure. By contrast, however, the loss of non-personal (day to day) data was less of a concern. Some charities did not realize the potential negative impact on organizational continuity if non-personal data files were lost.

You might be aware of major ransom-ware attacks affecting establishments across the globe, recently. In the UK, 61 NHS organisations were significantly disrupted by global attacks carried out in May 2017. Ukraine was one of the first to report issues, and it’s been reported that some of the attacks had nothing to do with money – they were actually designed to cause maximum damage. Essentially, whatever their motivation, cyber-attacks create chaos in affected organisations. The research by Ipsos Mori came across examples of charities that had to spend a considerable amount of time getting their data restored after they had incurred cyber security breaches where non-personal data files were lost. For a small charity, an attack of this kind (or any other) can be especially difficult to overcome. Having said that, the good news is that most of them can be prevented!

Prevention is always better than cure. Continue reading this article to find out how to avoid  having to report frequent cyber security breaches to Your IT Support Provider.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PROTECT YOUR ORGANISATION

The most recent mega-virus, justifiably called ‘WannaCry’, infects only machines running Windows operating systems. If your charity uses Windows, and you do not update it regularly or you’re not careful when opening and reading emails, you could be at risk. We strongly recommend that you migrate away from unsupported operating systems and software as well. On that note, Outlook 2007 will reach its end of life on the 10th of October 2017. The product will no longer be supported by Microsoft. Failing to upgrade before it expires will make you more vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Click here to read more about Outlook’s 2007 End of Life, or get in touch for more information.

Ransom-ware attacks disrupt IT systems by freezing users’ computers and demanding untraceable ransoms to be paid for files’ restoration. In order to protect your organisation (outside of having sufficient IT Support for charities):

  • Run regular updates, migrate in due time;
  • Use firewalls and antivirus software;
  • Be careful when opening and reading emails: train your staff to do the same.

Moreover, regularly back-up your data, so you can easily restore your files should you be affected. Bear in mind that succumbing to hackers’ demands doesn’t guarantee files’ restoration.

Cyber-security may be a virtual issue, but when ignored it is extremely likely to threaten affected charities’ physical existence.

If you believe your current security measures aren’t sufficient to protect your organisation feel free to get in touch. We have been helping our clients (70% of which are charities) to prevent and deal with cyber security issues for over 21 years!

Do what you can to stay safe in cyber-space, or get in touch if you need OUR help.

E-mail sales@compucaresystems.co.uk or call 0800 008 6181 now.

Alternatively, please subscribe via e-mail RIGHT HERE to receive more valuable content in the future.

Cyber Threat HackerReportedly, UK SMEs were targeted by hackers over 200.000 times each, in 2016.

Cyber-crime is a real threat, which often goes unrecognized by small business owners. Hackers know it is so, hence often pick SMEs expecting them to be an easier target. You might think your business is too small to be at risk. However, if you have sufficient quality data e.g. clients’ contact info, payment details, etc. you’re not too small. 

You might be aware of recent major ransom-ware attacks affecting companies across the globe. British advertising agency WPP was reported to be among the affected UK companies. 61 NHS organisations were significantly disrupted by global ransom-ware attacks carried out in May 2017. Firms in Ukraine were one of the first to report ransom-ware issues, and BBC UK continues to report on cyber-attacks experienced by Ukraine. It is said that those attacks were not about money – instead they were Russia’s attempts to destabilise the country. Whatever their motivation, however, global and local cyber-attacks create chaos in affected organisations – both large and small. What’s really frustrating is that most of them can be prevented.

The most recent mega-virus, justifiably called ‘WannaCry’, infects only machines running Windows operating systems. If your organisation uses Windows, and you do not update it regularly or you’re not careful when opening and reading emails, you could be at risk. We strongly recommend that you migrate away from unsupported operating systems and software as well. On that note, Outlook 2007 will reach its end of life on the 10th of October 2017. The product will no longer be supported by Microsoft. Failing to upgrade before it expires will make you more vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Click here to read more about Outlook’s 2007 End of Life, or get in touch for more information.

Ransom-ware attacks disrupt IT systems by freezing users’ computers and demanding untraceable ransoms to be paid for files’ restoration.

In order to protect your organisation (outside of having sufficient IT Support):

  • Run regular updates, migrate in due time;
  • Use firewalls and antivirus software;
  • Be careful when opening and reading emails.

Moreover, regularly back-up your data, so you can easily restore your files should you be affected. Bear in mind that succumbing to hackers’ demands doesn’t guarantee files’ restoration.

This topic deserves our attention. Cyber-security may be a virtual issue, but when ignored it is extremely likely to threaten affected SMEs physical existence.

If you believe your current security measures aren’t sufficient to protect your organisation please get in touch. We have been helping our clients to prevent and deal with cyber security issues for over 21 years!

Do what you can to stay safe in cyber-space, or get in touch if you need IT Support.

E-mail sales@compucaresystems.co.uk or call 0800 008 6181 now.

Alternatively, please subscribe via e-mail RIGHT HERE to receive more valuable content in the future.

Eligible UK charities and nonprofit organisations can claim $5000 in credits annually for Microsoft Azure Services.microsoft

Microsoft’s Azure offers a suite of cloud services, computing, storage, and more. Azure supports a broad selection of operating systems, and provides industry-leading security. It integrates seamlessly with your existing IT infrastructure and grows with your non-profit organisation. Don’t miss out! Empower your organisation to become more impactful and to accomplish more in less time.

Azure services include:

  • Operations management suite enabling organisations to manage and protect their cloud and on-premises infrastructure;
  • Storage relational and non-relational: data storage including blob, table and queue storage, plus files; 
  • Disaster recovery to protect major IT systems while ensuring apps work when you need them most;
  • Predictive maintenance & monitoring with IoT helping you to predict failures before they even happen and monitor devices, assets, and sensors in the cloud; 
  • Hybrid integration to seamlessly integrate applications, data, and processes across both on-premises and cloud infrastructure.

These are not all the services your establishment can receive through the donation. To view the full list of available products and services please visit Microsoft’s Website.

Bear in mind that this is not a cash-grant, but a credit to be used towards Azure products and services. It is a recurring credit, and you can reapply each year as long as your nonprofit organisation remains eligible i.e. meets the following three criteria:

  • Nonprofit Organizational Eligibility
  • Nonprofit Mission Eligibility
  • Anti-Discrimination Policy

You must meet all three criteria to qualify. Click Here to review them in more detail before you apply. The initial eligibility status remains effective for a two-year period after which your organisation needs to be reassessed to maintain its status. Please bear in mind that members and beneficiaries are not eligible for Microsoft licenses or subscriptions (with a few exceptions). The recipients of the above mentioned licenses and subscriptions are employees of eligible nonprofit organisations.

Too many charities are still unaware that Microsoft offers donated and discounted products through different programs, in the UK. These include: Office 365, Azure, and TT Exchange. Microsoft donations can be extremely helpful in making sure your charity remains or becomes more effective without spending too much money. Discuss this with your IT Support Provider if you’re not taking advantage of these offers yet.

If you need help choosing or installing the right Microsoft solution, we are here to help you get started. Get in touch and one of our reliable, experienced and friendly IT engineers will be happy to help you.

Alternatively, click on IT Support for Charities to  find out more about what we have to offer, or Subscribe via E-mail to receive more relevant content in the future.

According to a recent study by Sage, 45% of business owners work 40-60 hours a week while 16% work more than 60 hours per week. 

To some extent, having a small business is like having a baby. You give birth to it (sometimes, adopt). You protect it and watch it grow. You feel good when it’s doing good and distraught when it’s not. It’s easy to understand why many business owners struggle to maintain a proper work-life balance.

Work Life Balance

The love for what you do and the passion you have for your company may be one of the reasons why you decided to have one in the first place. Having said that, a recent report, by the Telegraph’s research team and Omnicom Media Group agency, included a survey which gives surprising insights into the motivations of the SME founder community. It reveals that the top reason given for launching a company was to have more control over one’s work-life balance. Many SME owners fail to accomplish the latter, hence put themselves on the path to losing that first love they once had for their businesses – not to mention many other health-related threats connected to overwork.

Technology has made it easy to work remotely which, in theory, could improve our work-life balance. On the other hand, however, the same technology made it easier than ever to work from anywhere, at any time, sometimes all the time. Why do business owners find it so difficult to disconnect?

There’s more than one answer to the question above, but we believe it’s a choice. If you’re out of balance and are fed-up enough to change it, you need to be deliberate about it.  Does overwork affect your relationships with family and friends, make you tired and stressed out most of the time? What are you going to do?

Thomas Jefferson said “I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.” Agreed, hard work is good, but there’s a reason why it’s called HARD work. It’s not easy. Sometimes, it is necessary to put in the extra hours, but then those hours need to be compensated by an adequate rest. We know this may be easier said than done, but the choice is yours. If you’d like more information on how to have a better work life balance please read this insightful report on Work life balance by Sage.

In summary, “Balance is not better time management, but better boundary management. Balance means making choices and enjoying those choices.” Betsy Jacobson

We hope you found this article helpful. Please Subscribe via E-mail to receive more valuable content in the future.

Compucare is an IT Support Provider passionate about vital Business and Charity related matters.

Tips for small & medium sized enterprises.

SMEs & Investments

INVESTMENTS

  1. Invest in Cash – it is often said that the most successful investors focus on cash first. You do need money to make money, so make sure you have sufficient cash reserves.

What will it take for your business to stay afloat should an unexpected, cash draining event took place?  Allocate sufficient emergency budget for unplanned expenses – they do come up although uninvited.

  1. Invest in your business (don’t rush to diversify) – consider re-investing some profits back into your organisation to increase the profitability of your enterprise:

Invest in Expertise – employ experts and delegate some of your responsibilities, invest in staff training – help your team become more productive.

Invest in Technology – find ways to avoid duplicating processes as the company continues to grow.

Invest in Cyber Security – cyber-crime is a real threat, which often goes unrecognized by small business owners. Hackers expect it to be so, hence often pick SMEs expecting them to be an easier (defenseless) target. You might think your business is too small to be at risk. However, if you have sufficient quality data e.g. clients’ contact info, payment details, etc. you’re not too small. Reportedly, UK SMEs were targeted over 200.000 times each, in 2016. This topic deserves more attention, hence we’re planning to revisit in the near future.

  1. Invest in yourselfinvest in your knowledge & work smarter not harder – invest in your skills and become more efficient hence able to do more in less time.

 Develop a solid business strategy – better use the resources (including time) you already have access to.

 Trust your staff to do stuff – once you’ve employed the right people and invested in training, trust your team to do what needs to be done. Allow them to embrace the challenge, so you don’t burn out.

 Take a vacation or rest more– see yourself as an asset, not a slave to your business. Take care of you. If you’re overworked, tired and stressed out, your business will fail and if it succeeds you might not be there to reap the benefits of its success.

  1. Invest in what you know. Don’t rush to invest in real estate just because another business owner is extremely successful in doing so. If you do, however, find out what it takes to become successful and then invest.

 Match your investment strategy to who you are and to what you know. Do your research, become educated or employ an expert. Investments don’t come without risks, however they shouldn’t be a gamble. In the investment world, knowledge should precede action.

  1. Take your time & don’t be led by emotions whether you’re making a decision to invest or ‘uninvest’. Investments are not get rich quick schemes – they’re long-term projects, so invest wisely & be patient.

If you find this article helpful, and you have not yet read Part 1 or Part 2 please go ahead and do so now.

Alternatively, please subscribe via e-mail RIGHT HERE or get in touch if your firm needs quality IT Support.

Compucare is an IT Support Provider passionate about vital Business and Charity related matters.

keybordThere’s no denying that trading conditions remain tough, and keeping a tight rein on your spending is often necessary to remain in operation. Consequently, like many managers do, you might be keeping a constant eye on your charity’s finances.

When you’re trying to reduce your expenditure, it might seem counter-intuitive to seek outside help with your computing systems. However, by choosing the right IT Support for Charities, you might in fact be able to lower your overall costs.

After all, if you don’t have a proper grip on this side of your organisation, you can end up wasting a lot of time, energy and money addressing unnecessary and often pricey problems. Over the long-term, this could harm your finances.

Here at Compucare Systems we know that non-profit organisations don’t have money to burn, hence we go out of our way to offer cost effective services. We’re experts in the field and so tasks that may take an in-house team a long time to complete could take us moments. Moreover, over 70% of our clients are charities!

Streamlining this side of your operations could therefore strengthen your financial outlook. We can provide you with free round-the-clock proactive network monitoring, free online data backup, immediate help-desk response, unlimited or pay as you go support packages, your own dedicated technical account manager and much more.

Click on this link IT Support for Charities if you’re eager to  find out more about what we offer, or simply get in touch with our friendly and professional team.

Alternatively, please Subscribe via E-mail to receive more valuable content in the future.

Compucare is an IT Support Provider passionate about vital Charity related matters.

Tips for small & medium sized enterprises.

Business & Money

Image Post Business Money

“It’s not how much money you make, but how much you keep, how hard it works for you, and how many generations you keep it for.” Robert Kiyosaki

 Money problems are reported to be the biggest challenge for SMEs.

Oftentimes, however, small and medium sized businesses suffer not because they’re unable to make money. Money management is where the problem lies.

This post is not so much about how to get revenue. On this note, we’ll quote Jim Rohn who said: “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” For the purpose of this article, let’s assume that we’ve got that covered. Great, so what’s next?

Do your numbers look good on the balance sheet? They do? Nice! What about those easily accessible cash reserves though? Are they sufficient? If not, consider direct and indirect effects of not having enough cash:

  • Inability to pay your staff
  •  Inability to maintain standard business operations
  •   Bad business decisions made under pressure e.g. accepting bad clients (non-payers, etc.)

Those are just a few… What can a business owner do to not be found in a cash-low spot?

Get paid in full and on time

Cash today is much better than cash tomorrow. Would you agree?

  • Offer incentives & encourage clients to pay sooner rather than later.
  • Don’t ignore late payments – call or send friendly, but direct e-mail reminders.
  • Manage your clients’ credit schemes – some wait too long allowing clients to get into too much debt which puts pressure on the business.
  • Collect deposits or get paid upfront before ordering stock or doing the work, especially if it’s a new client. You should not be left without if they change their mind.

Manage your own Credit and debt

We’ve seen too many business owners ignoring debt collectors banging on their doors.

Ignoring the bailiffs won’t send them away

One must find a way to pay…

Don’t spend an assumed future income either. What if the money you’ve already spent (in your head) isn’t paid on time, or at all? Don’t spend the money you don’t have just YET. Wait until you physically have it, and then spend if it’s helpful…, which takes us to…

Careless & extravagant spending

“If you buy things you do not need, soon you will have to sell things you need.” Warren Buffet

Question whether you really need to drive this amazing, but expensive company car. Yes, it looks good and may impress prospects. However, don’t buy unnecessary stuff until you can truly afford it, at least. Live below your means – not to the limits. Protect the profit you make – keep it in cash reserves, reinvest in your business or in yourself first (more about investing later). Have a vision for your money because that car company trying to lure you in certainly does!

Finally… Know the state of your finances

Take responsibility for your financial future.

Do you have a bookkeeper? Fantastic! Yet, don’t rely on your accountant only. Keep an eye on things. Your money or lack thereof is your responsibility.

These are simple, but powerful tips which help organisations remain financially free. This article is not exhaustive, and there’s so much left to be said about Business & Money, hence there will be part 3 in which we’ll continue discussing just that.

In the meantime, we hope this post is helpful. Please leave a comment and let us know if it is.

Alternatively, click here to read part 1 “Business & People” or Subscribe via E-mail to receive more valuable content in the future.

cementery jpegDid you know that your 2007 platform will stop functioning by the 31st of October 2017? If you’re still using Office 2007 or Outlook 2007, you need to know that it will no longer be supported.

When this change becomes effective Outlook 2007 and earlier versions will be unable to connect to Office 365 mailboxes, hence you will be unable to send or receive e-mails without logging into the web portal. Also, there will be no security updates & Microsoft will not address any software related issues. To maintain connectivity you will need to either upgrade to a newer version of Outlook, or once again, you’ll be forced to use Outlook on the web which is much less user-friendly.

If you think you have Outlook 2007 /Office 2007 and need help to upgrade contact us. We’ll be happy to provide a cost list and a free IT consultation. Registered charities get a discounted/minimal price for software upgrades whereas businesses simply need to choose the most economical option.

Although there’s still some time until the end of October it’s really important to decide on the plan of action to avoid future interruption.  Why must Outlook 2007 be discontinued? Microsoft gives a number of reasons, and mentions that newer versions of Outlook could also be affected. To find out more, or if you’re interested in technical details please click here.

In conclusion, where there is a problem there’s always a solution. Hence, if you think you might be affected and don’t have appropriate technical support in place get in touch with Compucare. While you take care of business as usual we will take care of IT bits for you!

To receive more valuable content for SMEs & Charities please subscribe via e-mail RIGHT HERE.

If you’re an SME or a charity decision maker in need of help with the upgrade, please get in touch.

E-mail sales@compucaresystems.co.uk

Tips for small & medium sized enterprises.

Business & People

Anyone can start a company, but what does it take to build one that stands the test of time? Whether you’re new to business or not, you might have pondered on how to make it work.

Compucare Systems Ltd. have been providing business IT support for over 21 years. We hope you find what we’ve learned during this time helpful. This two-part, non-exhaustive article focuses on two major issues i.e. Business Meeting Photo Pixabaypeople and money. 

It is said that businesses which focus on people more than they focus on anything else are the ones that thrive, so who are the people that make or break your business???

Business Partnerships

 You can’t do a good business with a bad person. Find the right people to work with and you can’t go wrong.” – Richard Branson

It’s impossible to work together unless you agree. Choose the right people with the right skillsets or assets, and then let them do what they do best. Communicate, but don’t interfere. Set common goals, but respect each other’s individual ways of getting there. Remember the bottom line i.e. what’s best for the client and the business. This applies to direct business partners and to all other partnerships a company needs to succeed.

 The Team

 “Great things in business are never done by one person. They are done by a team of people.” Steve Jobs

 Employ the right people (experts with good attitudes). Listen and talk to your team. Employees are more likely to do well when they feel understood and valued. Dissatisfied team members frustrate their clients and colleagues. Content individuals are more productive and much easier to deal with. Communication is key. Let the team know what’s expected of them. Setting expectations clearly decreases the need for micromanagement. Don’t lower your standards, but be fair. Don’t be afraid to let go of relationships that don’t work and won’t work, but do what you can to help your staff succeed.

 Customers

 “We are not in the coffee business serving people, we are in the people business serving coffee.” Howard Schultz (Starbucks’ CEO) 

 Nope, we don’t sell coffee. We are an IT Service Provider. In principle, however, we completely agree with Howard! Listen to your clients (don’t assume) – they are the best feedback source you can ever hope for. Small business owners often have the privilege of dealing with clients directly. Why not take advantage of it? Keep listening, and you will learn how to serve them better – there’s always a better way.

Do your clients like you? In today’s competitive market, this really could make or break a business. It pays to be nice to people and it’s best to employ people who are nice to people. Having said that, the most successful companies make an effort to take clients’ fondness to the next level.

“If people like you they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you they’ll do business with you.” Zig Ziglar

 Be honest, don’t exaggerate your offerings

  • Deliver on your promises in a timely manner
  • Make amendments if for whatever reason you can’t

Business is about building relationships – gaining and keeping trust. We can’t please everyone, but we can try (do our part). It doesn’t matter what we sell and to whom. We sell to people and with people, so let’s focus on people first…

If you find this article helpful please look out for part 2 subtitled: “Business & Money”. To receive more valuable content for SMEs & Charities please subscribe via e-mail RIGHT HERE.

Image from www.pixabay.comAt this time, Windows 10 Pro Upgrade is free, however by the 29th of July it will no longer be!

Reportedly, Windows 10 is the last platform that will be introduced by Microsoft, hence all other third party software will be based on that.

The benefits of Windows 10 Pro¹:

  1. New Start Menu – The new Start Menu is smarter than the one in Windows 8 and 8.1. It recognizes if you are using a desktop computer or a tablet and presents you with a Start Menu that is adapted for the environment which you are using. It is even smart enough to work with convertible tablet that docks with a keyboard, intelligently shifting between tablet mode and desktop mode on-the-fly.
  2. Cortana – Cortana is Microsoft’s new virtual assistant. If you need to know something, just ask. She will be able to initiate calls, schedule reminders, set alarms, check calendars, and do many other things, all with the power of voice. She can even be asked to search for items on your computer.
  3. Notifications – Notifications have been enhanced, compared to Windows 8. There is now an Action Centre you can pull out from the side to see past notifications that you might not have caught when they first appeared.
  4. Unified Control Panel – The new panel that presents all of your settings is now the same whether you are using a desktop computer or tablet. There is no separate view for each mode. This should make things easier to find, no matter what device you are using.
  5. Intelligent Home Folder – Now when you launch a new Explorer Window you will be greeted by a row of familiar folders you tend to use often, plus a line-up of recently created and opened files, making it easier to find the things you use often. That file that you just saved, but now you can not find, just open a new Explorer Window and it should appear.
  6. Boot to Desktop – Windows 10 now boots straight to a desktop mode. No more Start Page.
  7. Virtual Desktops – This feature has appeared in other operating systems for a long time, and it is now a welcome feature in Windows 10. If you have always wanted the features of multiple monitors without the cost, this is one way to achieve it. You will be able to quickly switch between virtual desktops and move applications from one desktop to another.
  8. Metro Desktop Apps – Metro apps can now be ran in resizable windows that can be moved around the desktop, just like any other window. No more having to snap a Metro app beside a the desktop just to use it.
  9. Universal Apps – Apps from the new Windows Store will run on anything from a Windows Phone to Windows Server Edition. Settings, notifications, credentials, and even saved games, among many other things, will all synchronize between apps on different devices.
  10. Edge Browser – The new browser, codenamed “Spartan,” is set to replace Internet Explorer. The Edge browser will have deep integration with Cortana. She will show you the weather from the URL bar and maps, menu information, and contact details when you search for restaurants.

Do Get in Touch if you want to go ahead with this upgrade. This might be the only FREEBEE you ever get from Microsoft!

¹ The benefits of Windows 10 Pro may vary slightly depending on your hardware platform, etc.