Quickbooks vs. Excel

Are you a small-medium size business owner who still spends hours bookkeeping in excel? Are you spending the majority of the day creating excel formulas and formatting fields to change colors whenever a data change occurs? Well, maybe you should consider a more efficient and less time consuming way of doing so by using Quickbooks.

The Quickbooks software is made to make bookkeeping more efficient and effective. One way in which the program does this is through its financial register, which functions like a checkbook by tracking all expenses and cash flow. The software also links banking and merchant services accounts. By doing this, Quickbooks automatically downloads information and updates debits and credits everyday. Another major function allowed by this program is that it links point-of-sale processing, which allows all cash flow data to be in the same, one place. Because of this, Quickbooks doesn’t just make bookkeeping simple but it also makes tax reporting just as simple. The Quickbooks account can be added to the reporting for taxes by merely downloading the report, which is a big time saver from having to search for receipts and registries in order to transfer them over into an excel sheet.

If this information alone doesn’t convince you to make the switch, let’s go deeper into the services. Quickbooks comes in three different levels to help satisfy whatever needs your business may have.

Quickbooks Pro

This is the basic form of the software. It registers for bank accounts and credit cards, has customer and vendor tracking, and more inventory reporting in details.

Quickbooks Premier

This provides all that the Pro version does but more detailed reporting and the ability to add extra inventory. If this isn’t blowing your mind already, this version also provides pre-built reports specific to various industries like retailers, wholesalers, non-profits, contractors, and professional services.

Quickbooks Enterprise

This is somewhat of the expertise version out of all three. The enterprise version is best for businesses that are in multiple locations. It provides all the services the other two versions have but with more customization. It also allows more inventory features like the ability to barcode scan and track products. Even with all these amazing features, the best part about this version of Quickbooks has to be the one-year service of unlimited technical support.

Dangers of Installing Third-Party Programs

There are so many helpful and inexpensive programs out in the cyber world that it becomes difficult to avoid installing them, especially when it is meant to create efficiency. Why would you pass on that offer? Well, there are actually many reasons why you should think twice before downloading one. Third-party programs can become a serious security problem.

When you install a third-party program, you do not have any real control over what goes on with that programming system. In other words, you have no actual way of managing such program’s security risks. Third-party software’s vulnerability is mainly security compromises and once these are exploited, breaches occur. Many times, companies tend to overlook these security issues because they are more likely to examine those dealing with confidential data. By doing this, a blind spot is created giving hackers a leeway into the company’s system. These issues tend to become more prevalent as the software speeds up the business process.

Aside from a third party software containing weaknesses and giving leeway to hackers, there are other security risks that can come from these programs. The program could have unmaintained codes. With something like this, the program can fail at doing what it is intended to. Its performance and functionality would be obstructed. Because you have no control over the system, you also are at risk of having security holes that are not being taken cared of as quickly or effectively as it should be. If your company is using Open Source Software (OSS) where multiple suppliers are adding or deleting certain codes, it can create a compromised system.

If your company uses Open Source Software, it does not mean you’re using a bad program. The truth is that they can be effective software to have, but in order to know if you are downloading the right program, you need a person of expertise to analyze the program. If you are looking for a software program to service a specific need in your business but don’t know which are the safest to use, contact M&H Consulting.

 

Switching to Hosted Exchange Email

Like many other companies, you may be struggling between making the switch from onsite email provider to hosted exchange. This can be a difficult to decision to make because both of these, like everything else in the world, have their benefits and disadvantages. Let’s break these down, below.

Onsite email provider:

Benefits: One of the greatest advantages onsite emails have is that they are on the work premises. This means that the emails will have more instantaneous delivery and can be more reliable. Because they are onsite, the email server can be customized for whatever needs your business may have.

 

Disadvantages: Even though many of the advantages come from the provider being onsite, there is also a disadvantage to this. For example, having an onsite provider requires a secure IT personnel, or firm, to be able to maintain and troubleshoot the equipment whenever needed. This means that your company would have to pay for this added service. Other cost disadvantages that come with this are the higher upfront costs for the equipment and the rising electricity costs due to the power exchange server. A big functional disadvantage to take into consideration is that the server does not provide much flexibility when it comes to adding new employees to the server because they are bought with a certain capacity level.

Hosted exchange provider:

Benefits: Hosted exchange email is managed via cloud by third party services, which means no physical equipments and no large upfront or electricity costs for the equipment. This also means that your company would not have to spend extra money on IT services to maintain and update the system because the host company does it for you, and their services are provided 24/7. Adding and deleting email accounts can be done easily, which means flexibility while your company expands.

This service’s greatest benefit is that it can increase your company’s productivity entirely. With this hosted email employees can stay in touch whenever and wherever through any device. It also provides users with collaboration features like sharing documents and calendar tasks, to name a few. Also, because this server is cloud based, it minimizes the risk of losing data.

Disadvantages: The only real disadvantage that comes with this is that these services require a monthly fee that is determined by the amount of users. But, is this really a disadvantage when it is eliminating other major expenses?

 

Importance of Software Updates:

Are you constantly receiving random pop-up notifications on your computer asking you if you would like to update a program/software to its latest version? Are you hesitant on updating the software? Well, today we are going to give you reasons for why you should be updating your software whenever needed.

Software updates are usually made to address a security issue present in the current version of the program. Many times, programmers study and test their software before they distribute it, but when various people are using them in real time, there are issues that can appear and report back to the original programmers. This is when they go back and encode solutions to the issues, which creates a new update. Microsoft is one software company that is consistent with creating new updates. After they created “Patch Tuesday” more than 10 years ago, they have been able to go back and edit any software issues every second Tuesday of each month. (Source: SuperAntiSoftware.com)

If theses issues are not taken care of, your computer can become susceptible to malware, viruses, and hackers. Hackers and online criminals tend to look for software security flaws, especially in popular programs. In April 2013, a Trojan used a flaw in Java to attack multiple computers, leaving them vulnerable. Because of this, critical software updates are needed, even when the updates are said to be optional. You may think that by simply having other software protection programs you are free from such vulnerable experiences and that it is enough to protect your electronic devices from any attacks and malicious threats. The truth is, nothing works better than a simple software update. They make sure to fully patch any security holes that may exist in the program. Updates that are optional should still be updated even if they are a tedious job. The advantages updates have makes dealing with the process far more valuable.

Importance of a Solid Backup

Importance of a Solid Backup

If you didn’t already know, having a backup plan is crucial for any business. There are many disasters that can happen and if you are not ready for them, they can cause a ton of damage to your business both physically and metaphorically. Making sure you have a solid backup plan can go a long way.

Hacking:

Hackers are constantly getting into diverse business’ data, and we are constantly hearing about them in the news. According to InformationIsBeautiful.net, there have been reports of retail businesses like EBay, Target and Home Depot being hacked with over 70 million customers and employees’ data being stolen.  This can cost a company millions of dollars to correct, and, although these are well known retail stores, that doesn’t mean a small business can’t be targeted. Hackers do not discriminate and can target companies from different industries and sizes.

Natural Disasters:

Natural disasters are situations we cannot humanly control. Floods, fires, and other natural issues, can occur whenever and wherever. A surprise attack like this can leave a business close to impossible to get back on their feet. This requires days and, sometimes, weeks of downtime. The majority of businesses that undergo as much as a week of downtime tend to go out of business within the year.

Server Breakdowns:

Server breakdowns like crashes, viruses, unexpected deleted data, and corrupted data are constantly happening at any time. The worst thing about this is when your data can’t be restored as simply as you thought. Losing client information, accounting documents or other important data is something that most businesses can afford to do. Testing out your backup plan occasionally is crucial to avoid immense amounts of data loss.

A solid backup plan includes regular testing including post-recovery testing, a full recovery system with appropriate backup hardware, and print copies of important documents.

 

Avoiding Malware by Changing Habits

Business happens some days at a breakneck speed with many tasks to complete and clients to handle. Most business professionals, from employees to company leadership, have more than enough work to keep them busy. Part of the daily workload probably includes accessing  business software and the internet through emails, social media and more. Unfortunately, the long list of things-to-do may not include appropriate online security for your data including work habits that may leave your company vulnerable to malware and viruses. Complacency about work habits can mean dealing with malware or other security issues down the line. Here are a few guidelines to help your company avoid malware and viruses that can open your company up to a host of security issues.

 

  • PasswordsStopSign Internet Security recommends protecting your passwords just as carefully as you do your social security number. Don’t make it easy for hackers or people who have evil intentions to get to your data. Use passwords that use a combinations of letters, numbers, symbols and characters. Gone are the days of 123456 and QWERTY. Change passwords regularly and dont, dont keep them on a sticky not at your desk.
  • Attachments – Businesses deal with hundreds of emails a day from known clients, contractors, and sometimes unknown sources. Do not open attachments when you do not know the sender. Hackers love to slip their viruses and malware into email attachments because they know they’re going to get clicked. If they’re clicked, they’re getting their bad stuff installed. Scrutinize every email attachment and don’t click on it, download it, or even preview it until you’re sure it’s from a reliable source. (Source: StopSign Internet Security)
  • Questionable Sites – Yes business professionals visit multiple sites daily, weekly and monthly. Avoid questionable sites including adult sites and sites asking for money or log in information, and data about your company.
  • Software Updates – Keep your software current – this includes Java, Adobe Flash, and internet browsers like Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Firefox – as well as regular Windows Updates. The more updated your software is, especially your security software, the less likely you are to get malware. Make one person in your office in charge of regular updates or choose update automatically where possible.
  • Firewall Updates – A firewall is a set of rules that chooses which information can access your PC. It can help prevent malware infections by stopping suspicious programs from getting onto your PC, or accessing the internet once installed.

Are Mobile Devices Taking the Place of Desktop PCs?

Remember that 1970’s song, “Video Killed the Radio Star” about how the new video technology made the radio outdated and less useful? The song relates to concerns about mixed attitudes towards 20th-century inventions and machines – specifically how movies and video were destroying the radio industry. In this same vein, are smartphones pushing out the need for a home computer? Are phones making desktop computers less useful? How exactly is this evolution happening?

Just last year, the online magazine Wired asked the question, “Could the Smartphone Eventually be your only Computer?” While the answer to this remains to be seen, it is plausible as wave after wave of mobile devices become more capable and powerful as the generation before it. The article in Wired explains how businesses are now at the tipping point of using smartphones and mobile devices just as much as they use desktop computers.

Just a few years ago the smartphones were not powerful enough to handle all the business needs of small and medium size companies. Now they are closing in on being powerful enough to handle just about any business need you may have. In addition battery life, networking speeds and larger screen sizes are making mobile devices seem a lot like a computer we keep in our pocket.

The global personal computer industry seems to be on a downward trend while smartphones and other mobile devices like tablets and, even, watches are definitely on an upswing. Does this necessarily mean that traditional computers are a thing of the past?  Most definitely not.  Many businesses will continue to need the computers they currently have while supplementing with mobile devices. Mobile Chipmaker ARM’s leading strategist James Bruce explained that while PCs are not gone they are slowly becoming a secondary computer device as each year passes.

What are your thoughts on this? How are mobile devices playing a role in your company? If you want more information about these growing trends call M&H Consulting for a complete examination of your businesses computer needs.

Top Business Apps

Conducting business in this technology-driven world today means that most business leaders are probably attached to your mobile device for things such as social media management, business travel plans, productivity, accessing data, checking your calendar/”to-do” list, and many more daily tasks. Mobile devices have made our business (and personal) lives easier on many levels especially through the ease of communication wherever and whenever. But this also means that there is no real “down time” to relax or even catch up on the latest technology or apps to use on your mobile device. With millions of apps available and more coming out every month, which ones are worth trying? Which ones could really help your business stay organized and on track? That is where we come in. Here is a quick list of some favorite business apps.

  • Password Security – The average small or medium sized business has multiple passwords for different accounts. Combine that with the ever-growing list of data breaches that happen daily and a password app is needed to safeguard your private data. A favorite of many businesses is 1Password. It is the best app for managing your web log-ins and sensitive information. It has a user-friendly interface and it’s available on whatever device you have with you at the moment, whether it be your desktop, phone, or even Apple Watch.
  • Storage –  When employees are on the move for meetings and travel they depend on storage services to maintain data in a safe and organized manner. Apple’s iCloud Drive and Google Drive are excellent for storage.  But you may want to also consider Dropbox. Dropbox is a reliable and well-designed cloud-storage app that works well on multiple devices.
  • Productivity/Internal Communication – Business productivity apps will let you work faster, smarter, better. Evernote is a must-have note-taking app chock full of features and third-party add-on apps. You can take notes, clip web pages, store images, take audio notes, and then share them across devices and among coworkers. (Source: Business Insider)
  • Travel and Entertainment – When getting around to meet with clients and trying to find venues for dinner or entertaining there really is no match for Google Maps.  This app keeps getting smarter and offering more options.
  • Finances and Expenses – Keeping track of spending while being mobile can be a challenge. Expensify helps you easily log expenses, capture receipt images, and manage reports.

How WiFi Has Changed over the Years

Remember that first time you saw the sign in a coffee shop or business about free WiFi being offered?  Maybe at the time you didn’t even know what it was. Today, most people would not be able to survive or work successfully without WiFi as an integral part of their lives.

WiFi is a technology that uses radio waves to provide network connectivity. Without that connection to the internet we could not access business data, social media and the endless number of things we love to pour through on our smartphones, laptops and tablets.

WiFi would certainly not exist without a decision made in 1985 by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), America’s telecoms regulator, to open several bands of wireless spectrum, allowing them to be used without the need for a government license. This was an unheard-of move at the time; other than the ham-radio channels, there was very little unlicensed spectrum. But the FCC, prompted by a visionary engineer on its staff, Michael Marcus, took three chunks of spectrum from the industrial, scientific and medical bands and opened them up to communication entrepreneurs. (Source: The Economist)

In 1988 other corporations wanted to get in on this action for business dealings such as wireless cash registers. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) along with Bruce Tuch of Bell Labs and Victor Hayes set up a committee to create standards and regulations regarding this ethernet use. Years later the new standard was published and engineers immediately began working on prototype equipment to comply with it. Companies began to develop devices compatible with these wireless devices. By the end of the 1990s six companies began using these devices and created the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance (WECA).

By the year 2000, the term WiFi had been hatched and companies like Apple began incorporating a WiFi slot into all its laptops. As the technology spread, fee-based access points known as “hotspots” also began to spring up in public places such as coffee-shops. Since this time, WiFi has spread. In fact, with today’s WiFi capabilities we have the internet instantly at our fingertips, as long as we have a smartphone, mobile device or laptop close to hand.

How the Internet has Changed our Business Lives

Think back 60 or 70 years to a time when computers were not such an essential part of our lives. No smartphones to be found. No Googling answers to common questions whenever we felt like it. No social media to check incessantly through the day. What did we do with all of our time before the internet? How did we gain information quickly that we need to run our businesses? The Internet has turned our existence upside down. It has revolutionized communications, business, personal interactions, education, science, the global economy and so much more. It sure has changed our lives in both positive and some negative ways. Let’s examine these changes and how our lives have evolved right along with the evolution of this technology.

 

  • Communication Changes! – Can you imagine running your business without email, social media, or texting capabilities? Before the dawn of the internet, the business world moved much slower. Today, a business owner can achieve success with online communication almost instantly. In fact, most businesses report that customers find their company online or through some other method related to online marketing. Some companies are even communicating with co-workers in other countries using face-time or similar apps to spread their business globally.
  • Research Changes – Before the Internet, research often involved reams of documents in storage, libraries filled with books and microfilm and cold-calling customers with surveys. Today, large and small businesses alike have the world at their fingertips. A few keystrokes and businesses can survey clients,employees or subcontractors to find out what works and what doesn’t work.
  • Customer Service Evolves – While some experts may report that without face-to-face interactions customer service is declining, others explain that the use of customer review sites as well as social media has made customer feedback and service better. The faster a customer’s complaint is resolved or suggestion is noted, the happier that customer will be. Social media avenues have become powerful tools for businesses if handled with politeness, consideration and even a touch of humor.
  • Ecommerce – How did we ever order presents, or shop for needed items before the internet.  Now everything is just one click away. The internet has allowed business owners to escape the risk and expensive costs of owning a physical shop. Setting up small businesses has become lucrative because the extensive reach of the internet can help sell products, not just in one community but, in neighboring cities, states and even countries. Because of this the internet is a driving force in our economy.

 

These are just a few of the ways that the internet has impacted our business world.  Just look around your office right now. There are probably people multi-tasking on the smartphone and desktop. There are probably employees dealing with customers online. There are probably even employees marketing your product or service as we speak!