VoIP phone systems connected throught the cloud

Why Your Business Should Switch to VoIP

VoIP is acronym for Voice Over Internet Protocol. It’s also called IP telephone but commonly known as telephone services that operate through the computer. In addition to traditional voice services, VoIP solutions aimed at businesses have evolved into unified communications.

Businesses use VoIP because VoIP providers offer lower rates compared with traditional phone companies.

How VoIP Works

VoIP phone services turns your voice into digital signals that travel through the internet. When calling a regular phone number, the signal is converted to a regular telephone.

VoIP allows you to make calls directly from a VoIP phone, a traditional phone with a special adapter and on the computer.

Why Get VoIP?

VoIP allows for both data and voice communications to run on a single network. This reduces infrastructure costs immensely. Many business choose VoIP options because you avoid paying for a broadband connection and a telephone line.

1) Lower Costs

Generally, VoIP costs less than similar services from a traditional phone service. Phone services, as a result of monopolies or government, have higher service costs.

There are many additional costs when using a traditional landline. Placing calls over a regular phone line means two callers will use it up.

Since there are a limited number of lines that can be installed, landline calls are more expensive.  However, using the internet as a call system avoids this issue,  making long distance and domestic calls cheaper in the long run.

Read our e-book on how VoIP can drive revenue for more details.

2) Mobility

VoIP is a very good option for those who wish to run their business remotely or whose business requires them to be on the move often.

On a traditional phone line, you’re tied to a physical location. Furthermore, migrating phone systems to another office or a home requires contacting phone companies to transfer services and phone numbers to those locations.

3) Improved Communications

With VoIP, you can choose how your phone rings and where. For example, you might decide that the first few rings will be forwarded to your office.

If it rings past more than that, you can choose to send the call to a personal mobile device or computer,  should no one in the office be available. In other words, urgent calls don’t have to be missed.

Moreover, documents that need forwarding do not have to wait either. Businesses can e-fax documents rather than waiting an indefinite amount of time to get it through traditional fax.

4) Functionality

In the age of connectivity and mobilization, business happens everywhere. That mean that travel is a necessity. If you are not available at the office, you might be missing on valuable opportunities for your business.

With a VoIP service, incoming calls are rerouted to your phone wherever you have it plugged to the network. This can be done on a cellphone as long as it’s connected to the internet. So you can always answer business calls whether on a business trip or in an emergency.

When switching to VoIP, long distance calls and international calls are also free.

5) Versatility

Adopting VoIP phone systems allows for multitasking and increased productivity.

If you miss any calls you can read a transcript of the voicemail that are sent to your email directly.

This is just one example of the many useful features available on VoIP phone systems.

6) Flexibility

What were to happen if the office became inaccessible? In the case of a natural disaster, pandemic or electrical outage, a traditional phone service leaves your operation vulnerable.

VoIP phone services are a shift away from traditional telephoning and with that shift comes innovation. You can choose where you receive a call and how, giving you more control over your client interaction.

If your internet is down, you don’t have to worry about your ability to make calls. VoIP offers flexible features like call forwarding, which gives you the opportunity to answer on your mobile device.

If there’s an outage your business doesn’t have to stop. These types of features are invaluable for any business and deserves looking into.

VoIP can be integrated into your business continuity plan. This ensures your business continues to function regardless of the circumstances.

What Equipment is Needed?

High speed, broadband, internet connection is needed for VoIP. It can be through high speed services like DSL or a local network, or a cable modem.

Some VoIP services work exclusively with computers, while others allow for traditional phones connected to a special adapter. On a computer, you’ll need a microphone and some software.

A headset works fine for this purpose. The VoIP phones connect directly to the internet. A phone with a VoIP adapter works like any other phone.

 

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Top Practices for Businesses Working Remotely

Working remotely, as we have seen in recent times, has become increasingly necessary to maintain a productive and profitable business. It is also an invaluable asset for any business continuity plan. If an unforeseen natural disaster or power outage takes place, organizations need to be prepared to continue operations.

A good example was in spring 2020 when the Securities and Exchange Commission became the first federal agency to encourage remote work for employees.

Although remote work is ideal for some, it can be an adjustment for others. And if you run a business or work for a businesses with sensitive data, how do you ensure your information is safe outside of the office?

Working remotely does not provide the same level of security that an office would. Furthermore, the environment in which you find yourself working might have present challenges to data security.

Here are some rules and policies we suggest when working remotely. Even when working on a cloud  environment, you must practice caution and communicate regularly to maximize the remote experience.

Communications

Periodic Check-ins

Working remotely requires daily and frequent calls with one another. A manager especially must take actions to establish calls with remote workers. Whether they are in the form of on-on-one calls or team call, if they are collaborating on a project.

There is no such thing as over-communication

Periodically notify your superiors of any information you might consider important. If there’s a doubt about the relevance of some information, share that also. In the case of remote work, nothing is too insignificant.

Clarify to your team all expectations moving forward

Communicate priorities and establish metrics for success. Remote work is more efficient when expectations and policies are clear and understood.

It’s also important to let employees know the best way to reach you and at what time. Nothing must be left to the imagination to successfully deploy a remote operation.

If you are off to lunch, notify for how long. When you return, notify your team. It’s crucial that all employees understand what the goals and directives are to avoid repeating efforts.

Track your progress

Keep track of your progress by documenting it and sharing it with relevant personnel. A work long with specific time slots for each task is particularly helpful in this case. It could be done in an excel sheet or a notebook. The medium is less important than the method. So long as it helps keep things organized.

Security

Stay away from public networks, encrypt your web connection, or use a personal hotpot

A public Wi-fi connection like the ones found in coffee houses and some restaurants create a risk for remote workers. In a public network, a threat actor or hacker can easily make their way into your device without a firewall in place. Moreover, anyone on a public network could easily monitor your traffic as well.

For these reasons it’s crucial that you keep your devices protected and secure.

Personal Hot-Spots

Using a hot spot eliminates the problem of a hacker jumping on the network you’re using. Although your web traffic remains unencrypted, your data stays safe. This will count against your cell phone data but it is worth the extra costs.

Most cell phone carriers there’s a minor fee for using hot spots but the alternative could cost you much more. And with the advent of 4G and 5G networks, hot spots are just as fast as home network connections.

VPN’s

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, allows you to create a secure connection to another network over the Internet. VPNs can be used to access region-restricted websites, shield your browsing activity from prying eyes on public Wi-Fi, and more.

VPN’s are another solution if you find yourself working in a public network. A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, enables you to create a secure connection with another network through the internet. These networks are often used to shield browsing activity from anyone snooping around on a public Wi-Fi network.

A VPN connects your device to a server that then connects it directly to the internet. But you must make sure the VPN you utilize is secure because hackers have been known to target unpatched VPN to access the user’s information. They usually do this via phishing scams that users interact with through a fake email.

This leads to the next point:

Encrypt your email and devices

If you have the proper safeguards in place, like email encryption and multifactor authentication then your data will remain secure no matter where you work from.

There are many software companies that provide encryption for email. Retruster, is one such example but there are others. This gives you added protection and peace of mind when working remotely.

Malicious actors often leverage current, events, personal information , or natural disasters to manipulate targets through phishing emails. An example of this was in spring 2020, when there were instances of hackers using the COVID-19 outbreak to send malicious emails to users.

Multi-Factor Authentication for Secure Devices

Multifactor authentication is a security system that requires multiple methods of authentication from independent credentials to verify user identity. In other words, it is a system that requires verification from a cellphone and a computer, for example, to then access data on your devices.

Having these measures in place creates a secure environment that facilitates remote work. None of these measures work in isolation. If communication is not up to par with data security or vice-versa, your operation will be compromised.

In Conclusion

What is most important is ensuring all members of your team are meeting your requirements, communicating effectively with one another and avoiding unnecessary risks like joining insecure networks or leaving devices unattended or unencrypted.

 

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Workplace remote work.

Workplace: What You Should Know

Software-as-a-service companies are more and more common these days. With many industries seeing the benefits of SaaS, there is growing interest in these types of services. However, finding the right service is the key. Of all hosted services, Workplace_ is among the best.

Workplace promotes remote team collaboration and improves employee productivity for your company. A cleaner, user-friendly interface allows you and your co-workers to find, access and share files, websites and apps easier than ever before.

What’s more, Workplace’s key upgrades assure its users better security and regulatory compliance, as well as make the platform a tool for remote workers and organizations who care about keeping their data safe.

So, what are the main changes that will transform your Workplace_? 

Makeover of the Workplace Web App in Windows and Mac

On Windows, you are able to resize the app as big as you wish, even entering full-screen mode in your computer. You could also minimize it as small as you want so it doesn’t take the entire screen if you’re working with multiple applications or browser windows.

On Mac, Workplace works perfectly with the OS version, Mojave. Upgrades were installed, fixing an issue that previously affected users: the inability to see some virtual graphics products. Developers working on improving this app went above and beyond not only fixing what users weren’t able to see or the app wasn’t able to display, but also enabling Workplace to function on multiple monitors.

Pin Any File or Folder to Your Launch Page

Workplace has a feature that allows users to “star” websites, applications, folders and files that you can open directly from the Launch page with just a simple click.

Workplace’s Feature: Websites

You are able to see all the websites you visit and work with on a daily basis in a section dedicated specially for that! You can “star” (or pin) a website to your Launch page and see the Websites section there, or you can visit the sidebar menu on the left to see all of your featured and frequently visited sites.

Also, you can save websites with or without including login credentials and set up your username and password without depending on a company manager to do so. And let’s not forget about the feature that allows you to share bookmarks and websites with your colleagues, increasing collaboration and team productivity levels.

Find All Your Hosted Apps in One Place

Talking about simplifying workflows and increasing productivity, Workplace gives Citrix (“hosted”) applications their very own section. Click on “Hosted Apps” on the app sidebar and you will find all your hosted applications, or “star” the apps you use the most appear in your Launch page for quick and easy access.

See If You Have Compliance Issues

All apps in the Workplace desktop platform have a feature that perfectly aligns with the company’s mission of keeping our customers’ data safe and improving security compliance. “Compliance Status”, the latest feature on Workplace, is implemented on both Windows and Mac machines. It checks your devices to see how your compliance level compares to the industry’s best practices.

What’s more, if you have compliance issues, recommendations will be made to fix the problem and get you to 100% compliance.

Run your Firm from the Cloud

Workplace provides a comprehensive solution that combines cybersecurity and compliance needs. The all-in-one, cloud based platform delivers and intuitive experience that reduces risk of data leakage.

You can protect your firm’s most important data by ensuring that all applications run only from this unified cloud environment. There is also improved continuity and disaster recovery features so your operation stays fully functional through any event.

Multi-Factor Authentication Keeps Your Firm Secure

Workplace also reduces the risk associated with logins and passwords. Employees access customized applications with one-click access. It also comes with multi-factor authentication that conforms to NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) guidelines.

Furthermore,  Multi-Factor Authentication enforces authentication methods required by regulation.  These methods are supported by both iOS and Android as well so employees can use them, regardless of device.

 

For more information on the cloud, cybersecurity and more, visit our website.

 

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Why the Cloud is the Future of Business Continuity

Business Continuity And The Cloud

The world is unpredictable. At any given moment, something can happen that disrupts ordinary life. It could be a natural disaster, a power outage, or a virus pandemic like the current coronavirus.

The disruptions that affect our livelihoods are the most severe. In earlier years, businesses forced to shut down would have to just take the profit loss and move on.

However, cloud computing, along with mobile devices, allow businesses and their employees to work from any location that has internet access. Although some employers might hesitate to move towards remote work, many modern companies are adopting it as a means to offer employees flexible working hours and to maximize productivity.

Major companies like Apple, Microsoft, Salesforce and Twitter have encouraged remote work during crisis periods. Businesses have to adapt to changes and shifts in the real world, accounting for factors that are outside of their control to thrive.

The flexibility of the cloud helps do just that, while adding value and benefits like shared access to information and stronger security.

Flexibility on the Cloud

Cloud technology enables remote work from any location, providing access through virtual machines with access to the same information they’d have access to working in the office. Various tools on the cloud ensures businesses continue their work as if they were in full operation.

Accessing data and documents when needed can be useful not only during power outages and natural disasters. If your business has multiple offices and additional locations, the cloud can help you adapt as you grow. On the cloud, employees can access all relevant information via a centralized sever.

Managed IT services providers now offer cloud services along with IT support that creates a collaborative, secure environment.

Scale Your Business on the Cloud

Let’s say you’re a smaller business with limited physical space. Accommodating employees can be difficult and time-consuming as it is. Now imagine you’re a growing business, adjusting to a larger work is even harder.

A cloud infrastructure eliminates the difficulties of managing a growing number of employees because remote workers aren’t limited by office space. They can access information through the cloud on the device they choose in a comfortable location.

Access to data is configured through the cloud as long as new employees provide accurate login details. So whether you need to scale up or down, the cloud is an invaluable tool that works to your business needs.

Cyber Security on The Cloud

There’s a common misconception about the cloud being unsafe or less secure than the standard model of in house IT. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Not only is cloud computing safe, additional security tools like multi-factor authentication and file encryption could mean your data is safer on the cloud.

These security tools should not be overlooked. Implementing additional security via the cloud helps prevent data loss or theft if a mobile device, portable laptop or tablets are lost or stolen themselves. Cybersecurity on the cloud ensures unauthorized users are barred from getting hold of valuable information.

Multi-factor authentication is set up so that if someone wishes to access the cloud, they must provide valid account details on multiple devices such as their phone. For example, I as an employee, can’t get on the cloud unless I verify the login attempt on my mobile device. If I do not respond within a definite amount of time, the login attempt is nullified and ignored.

The Future of Business relies on the cloud

Remote work is changing the workplace entirely. Companies already embracing remote work as a way of attracting new employees. In a study conducted by Buffer.com, 99 percent of those interviewed admitted they would like to work off-site at least once in their career.

But more importantly, remote work is a safety net for businesses should something unforeseen occur. We’ve seen how an events like viruses, hurricanes and power outages can devastate businesses. What if  the office is inaccessible or travel is limited? Businesses shouldn’t have to suffer as a result.

Continuity Means Security

Having a plan in place in case of such events is extremely important. Moreover, having the tools necessary to carry out that plan is just as important. A business continuity plan can ensure a business survives the spontaneous hazards of the real world. The cloud is vital in achieving this.

If working in the office becomes a risk for whatever reason, can that business continue normal operations?

If not, how long can that business go without endangering itself or taking a financial hit?

How much money is a business willing to lose until normal operations can continue?

How long will clients be able to cope without that business delivering products or services?

How long will employees hold out before getting frustrated and leaving?

These are all questions that should factor into any business related decision before, during and after a crisis of any kind.

Make sure to visit our website for more on cybersecurity, cloud, and tech related news!

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CPA’s: Top Five Tips To Beat Workload Compression

The Problem of Workload Compression

If you’re an accounting firm, workload compression is probably a big issue. In fact, a study by the tech company Right Networks along with the CPA firm Management Association, surveyed 162 CPA’s after tax season and found that workload compression was the biggest concern for 40 percent of CPA firms as they prepared for tax season.

The reality is, workload compression will always exist to some degree. Therefore, the best thing to do is to figure out ways to manage it effectively.

1) Identify How Workload Compression Affects Your Firm

Every firm is different. So, it stands to reason that workload compression impacts firms differently.

What are the causes of workload compression in your firm?

Is it confusion about new tax laws?

Difficulty with certain returns?

Clients avoiding extensions and demanding their return?

2) Execute a Plan

Once you’ve figured out the “why’s” and the “how’s” you have to focus on the “what.” In other words, now that you know the specifics of your workload problems, what are you going to do about them?

That plan differs considerably if you’re a larger firm as opposed to a smaller firm and vice versa. For example, dropping a few clients mitigate the workload compression but if you’re a smaller practice you probably depend on tax season to generate revenue.

• Hire Temporary accountants or paid interns

Staffing is an important factor in dealing with compression. Hiring temporary or seasonal employees can be a good option for your firm. There are many accountants that choose to work within specific time frames because it fits their lifestyle. Experiencing practitioners don’t always work all year round. Look within this pool to boost your workforce.

Likewise, interns are also viable options during busy periods. Practical work experience gives recent graduates or current students the necessary training to work as CPA’s. Moreover, internships can turn into full time positions if they perform well, benefiting them and your firm.

3) Use Technology To Your Advantage

Many firms in the study mentioned above report that the biggest changes they made before tax season were software improvements. Specifically, firms used e-filing and digital signing technology to go paperless.

Additionally, 72 percent of firms asked about the benefits of hosting tax applications on the cloud said they favored anywhere, anytime access. 67 percent consider the cloud secure and 34 percent noted improved collaboration with personnel and 20 percent saw improved collaboration with clients.

Cloud accounting and workflow software like QuickBooks, which is designed for accountants, reduce staff time, make communication with clients and staff more effective and can optimize staff performance. Learn more about hosting QuickBooks here.

Managed IT support services offering cloud integration allows for the that collaboration and workflow efficiency

4) Schedule Smarter

Don’t work on returns until all the necessary information has been provided by the client. Also, working on complicated tax matters before tax season starts can give you a leg up on other firms and position you to work more efficiently.

This tactic requires communication with your clients before the year ends and instead of waiting for their information to come in.

If you’re a firm with a fair amount of non-tax season work, that’s okay. Schedule days in which you can focus on tax returns only. Then, organize your firms so reviewers can work those client returns.

5) Communicate With clients

Communication is an underrated tool for many CPA firms, however it can facilitate tax processes like you wouldn’t believe.

In an age of social media and instant messaging, clients expect a level of personalized service. That shouldn’t be looked at as negative but rather, as mutually beneficial.

Communicating changes to clients through newsletters, emails, calls, social media, and tax updates will prepare your firm in anticipation of tax season where most firms simply react to it.
This gives your clients the personal touch they appreciate while giving you the information you need ahead of time.

The Takeaway

Your firm shouldn’t wait until tax season to prepare. A proactive approach to workload compression can come a long way when peak season hits and your firm is pressed for time.

Workload compression is the dreadful for everyone and hopefully, the tips reviewed here can alleviate it for your firm. Always plan ahead before tax season and tax season might not get the better of you.
For more tips, check out the Nerd Support blog where we discuss technology, strategies and more CPA’s can use to improve their firm.

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