Microsoft pulls support for popular operating systems: How to save your company

You’re choosing to leave your company doors wide open to attacks, ransom, and more unless you update your operating systems. This is not a drill.



Our previous newsletter talked over the basics of the EOL, or End of Life, that Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 are coming to. To recap; come January these operating systems are not supported. What does that mean? That hackers have written code and are prepared to launch it come the day of EOL and there’s nothing Microsoft will do about it. That means that these new strains of viruses, ransomware and keyloggers are one push of a button away from stopping your business dead in its tracks. Microsoft have given us all plenty of warning about this date, and it is fast approaching.

This is one of the best times to consider moving yourself towards the Cloud. Not only will the integration will be easy and cost efficient, but by moving to cloud your Operating System is always kept up to date, but will be on the latest version as well. You’ll never have to worry about upgrading again!

Will it still be safe to use Windows 7?

The constant evolution of computer viruses and other malware means security updates play a pivotal role in protecting a business’s data. Newly identified vulnerabilities will not be patched by Microsoft. Therefore, businesses that choose to continue running Windows 7 beyond this point will be doing so at their own risk. Leaving themselves vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

What’s the best route to change?

Implementing positive change can be expensive and time-consuming. To ensure your business experiences an efficient and cost-effective migration to Windows 10, you must understand your options: replace legacy systems with new devices that run Windows 10 or upgrade existing devices with a full version of the software.

Replacing legacy systems

According to Microsoft: “For most Windows 7 users, moving to a new device with Windows 10 will be the recommended path forward. Today’s PCs are faster, lightweight, yet powerful and more secure, with an average price that’s considerably less than that of the average PC eight years ago.”

Upgrading existing devices

Alternatively, it’s possible to upgrade compatible Windows 7 PCs by installing a version of the Windows 10 software. This may be the most cost-effective option in the short-term. However, it’s worth noting that PCs older than four years often cost more to maintain than a new Windows device.

How to implement your migration project

Avoid a situation where you need service or support that’s no longer available, by carefully planning your business’s migration to Windows 10. Having decided whether to replace or upgrade existing devices, it’s time to devise your implementation strategy.

Common issues to avoid during the migration

Avoid compatibility issues — evaluate the compatibility of Windows 10 with your business’s applications — these might include accounting, HR, CRM, and ERP. Despite being the most compatible version of Windows ever, take the time to coordinate with your application vendors to confirm their compatibility and avoid disruption further down the line. Applications that need upgrading should be tested separately prior to the upgrade to minimize user impact.

Avoid post migration issues — mitigate against potential post migration issues by implementing a strategic plan for each application. Adopting a proactive approach to your Windows 10 migration will help ensure a smooth user experience.

Avoid integration issues — some applications may require integration setup — this might include Outlook and CRM integration on the client PCs, browser add-ins and Office application plugins. To prevent any disruption, setup processes should be tested when upgrading to Windows 10.

Unsupported applications — although some applications may not be supported by Windows 10, this does not rule out an upgrade. For example, a legacy application can be replaced with a new Cloud-based solution.

Taking the time to implement your business’s migration to Windows 10 in a considered and well-planned manner will ensure a smooth transition for users and reduce risk.

Denver Construction in 2018

Denver’s rapid growth is no secret. With cranes speckling the skyline and rental properties being scooped up minutes after they’re listed, the city’s growth seems to have no end in sight. From job opportunities, to major capital expenditures on large projects, to interactive maps letting you explore what’s happening, Denver construction has a major impact on the City and it’s residents.

Job Opportunities

The construction industry in Denver is abundant with job opportunities. Jobs range from entry-level, to those that require light training or apprenticeship certifications such as electricians, or pipefitters, all the way up to degree level jobs such as architects and civil engineers.

The state’s industry employs about 175,000 workers according to the Associated General Contractors of Colorado. That’s slightly more than the pre-Great Recession peak in 2007. But a Colorado State University study has projected the industry will need to fill 14,000 more positions in the next five years, a figure that equates to hiring 30,000 new workers, once baby boomers’ retirements and other attrition are factored in. (Source: https://www.denverpost.com/2018/06/25/denver-construction-job-training/)

With upwards of 4 billion dollars set to be spent on construction projects in Denver alone, “construction employment, on a seasonally-adjusted basis, saw the biggest monthly gain, 2,000 jobs, followed by trade, transportation and utilities with 1,900 and manufacturing with 1,300,” states Aldo Svaldi of The Denver Post.

Just look at Indeed, ZipRecruiter, or Craigslist and you will see over 4,000 open construction jobs, with the average annual salary between $26,000 and $42,000. “Construction needs skilled workers, and they can’t hit the job market quickly enough,” states Erin Douglas of The Denver Post.

Denver’s Major Upcoming Construction Projects

Interested in the big players on scene? Check out these links to major Denver construction projects happening now.

Denver Health to break ground on $157 million medical center

Great article on one of the largest new facilities to be constructed in the City.

DIA

Learn about DIA’s $3.5 billion, five-year capital improvement plan spanning 2018-2022.

The River Mile

Check out the plans for this new urban district written around the rediscovery and revitalization of the South Platte.

I-70 Overhaul

Construction doesn’t just have to do with buildings. Here is everything you need to know about I-70’s 1.2 billion dollar overhaul that will start at the end of the year.

Up-to-Date Information on All New Denver Construction Projects

Interested in keeping up to date with all of these new projects? Check out this awesome map Denver Crane Watch, an interactive map showcasing metro Denver developments and Denver construction projects. Each project is indicated by a graphic corresponding to the type of project and can be clicked on for a photo of the project as well as a description. The description includes the name of the project, the location, a description of the project, the owner/developer, the cost, the status, the estimated completion, and a link for more information.

Another savvy interactive website is Denver Infill. A blog style site, it features all ongoing projects in icon view, and gives updates on recent project developments every few days. You can also search through the site by project name, category, or location to find specific information. In addition you can access interactive maps, renderings of future skylines, and check out current project photographs.

For Business Owners in Construction

Are you a business owner leading Denver’s construction boom? Perhaps you are struggling to find employees and could benefit from specialized IT services for the Denver construction industry? Check out what Cloud Colorado can offer including: Remote Desktop, Cloud Based Solutions, and Managed IT services to help mitigate the labor shortages and keep your projects on track to completion.

Why Companies Are Switching to Cloud Business Solutions

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what is cloud computing

Cloud Business Solutions allow business owners to maximize their time and energy in 4 crucial ways.

It is no secret that business owners are turning to the internet for the majority of their administrative needs. Nearly all businesses these days use online services for their POS reporting, scheduling, data analysis, hiring, and file storage. Why? Switching to cloud business solutions allows business owners to maximize their time and energy by offering real time information, increased security, more proficient communication/collaboration, and access to the latest apps made specifically to increase productivity and their bottom line. Below we will discuss some of the advantages of cloud based business solutions in each of these areas.

Real Time Information

The pace of business in the world today requires instant access to real time information. Whether you are signing up for a new product or service, transferring documents, scheduling employees, or monitoring finances, you need to have access to real time information in order to effectively complete these and many other tasks. In order to keep up with your competition, you must have access to real time data when opportunities arise. If you have to go to your office in order to access information while your competitor can simply bring up everything on his/her phone, you have lost out on the opportunity. Find out how we can help you utilize cloud business solutions to access all of your business data and information in real time, instantly, so that you are not left behind while others capitalize immediately.

Increased Security

Antiquated file storage systems are a ticking time bomb in terms of security. What happens if an employee accidentally loads a virus onto your operating system that houses all of your important documents and files? What if you have a break in or fire at your office and everything gets destroyed? What if a disgruntled employee decides to delete critical documents from your office computer or share other employees personal information?

While you as a business owner don’t want to think about these, “what if” scenarios, they happen, often, and you need to protect yourself. Housing your critical and sensitive information in a cloud based system mitigates all of these “what if” scenarios. You can throw away the single computer that houses EVERYTHING you need to run your business, burn those file cabinets full of years of back payroll data, and give your staff members access only to specific information pertinent to their position.

More Proficient Communication/Collaboration

Are you still calling each member of your staff to update them on the latest promotion you have decided to run? Are you sending out memos to multiple staff emails, only to have to wait for a reply to make sure they received the information? Are you having to call multiple employees when schedule changes happen on the fly because someone gets sick or has an emergency? If you are doing any of these things, we’re sorry. Try cloud business solutions to alleviate all of these communication issues. You will be able to engage in real time communication with your staff on memos, business documents, scheduling, financials, reporting, and pretty much anything else you would like to communicate about. You can track changes, see views, set alerts for responses and much more. Stop waiting by your phone all afternoon for a callback. Use that time to find out more and make the switch today!

Access to the Latest Apps

Technology in business today is increasing faster than you as a business owner can learn about it. I am sure you have heard someone say, “there is an app for that” after you have proposed some lightbulb idea? Well, they are right. In order to access and capitalize on the people who have already developed your lightbulb idea for you, the rest of your operations must be up to date enough to integrate with them.

For example, you can’t utilize MailChimp to record and sort your customer demographics if your customers orders are all documented on paper invoices that are thrown in a box in your office. Check out this great article on cloud based app integration by MailChimp to see what we mean. You can’t utilize apps like HomeBase to manage your employees schedules if you don’t let the cloud manage their information. You can’t track and analyze your payroll automatically without utilizing cloud based apps like Gusto.

Cloud Business Solutions

In a nutshell, cloud based business solutions allow you to keep up with the accuracy, pace, and real time data needed in order to keep competitive in today’s business environment. Don’t get left behind. Get in touch with us and make the switch today!

Running a Small Business – What to DIY and What to Outsource

Running a Small Business

As the owner of a small business, you undoubtedly have an endless to-do list. No matter how hard you work or how little you sleep, you cannot possibly devote your best effort to all of the day to day tasks necessary to run your business. There comes a point when you have to decide what to DIY and what to outsource. While some things to outsource may be obvious, such as hiring a payroll company or an accounting firm, other aspects which could be made more efficient by outsourcing may not be so clear. Here are a few not so obvious segments of your running a small business that are worth outsourcing.

SEO and Social Media Marketing

The importance of maintaining a robust and up-to-date online presence for your business is a no-brainer these days. Simply having a website is not enough, yet understanding what types of accounts are right for your business and how to maintain them can be daunting. It seems as if a new app, plugin, social platform, or SEO tool becomes available nearly every day, and just learning about the latest technology can become a job in itself.

If you have a clear outline of your business goals, the task of managing your online presence can easily be handed off to a specialist. A Website and Social Media Specialist will pick out and maintain the online platforms that are most impactful to your target market. He or she will do the research for you, make updates as necessary, and be able to come back with clear data analysis showing the impact on your bottom line.

Information Technology or IT Services

The majority of large business publications like Entrepreneur, Business Insider, and Forbes all have articles suggesting which aspects of your business you should outsource. Though the lists vary in some ways, the one thing they all suggest is to outsource your IT services! This article in Entrepreneur specifically sites IT services as falling under the “Specialized Knowledge” category, one of the three types of tasks best suited for outsourcing.

The reason? You’re a business owner, not a student learning a new specialization. Any task that requires learning a whole new position is a task that takes away from your role of running a small business. Having an in-depth knowledge of the latest ways to manage and process information is not your job. Outsource to an experienced and specialized IT Management Company like Cloud Colorado.

Administrative Tasks

The often tedious and mind numbing tasks of updating spreadsheets or returning phone calls can be exhausting for a business owner. These necessary tasks seem like chores and their simplicity allows them to pushed aside easily as more pressing responsibilities take their place. Any basic task that requires continuous action with the same formula for completion should be delegated to a lower level employee or an outside service. This ensures that these tasks are getting the proper attention necessary and will free you up to tackle more important issues.

Inc.’s article, “10 Tips to Master Your Time as a Business Owner” emphasizes the importance of this point when discussing how to, “Cut out distractions” in Section 4.

All said and done, when running a small business consider this key aspect when deciding what tasks to outsource: “Is it in the best interest of my time and knowledge to do this task myself, or could it be done more efficiently by someone else?”

StreetSmarts Construction Software

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Street Smarts

Are you one of the many companies still running StreetSmarts Construction Software? You’ve likely been humming along for years with StreetSmarts, only to have a problem arise with the software one day, and realize that Maxwell no longer offers tech support. Where do you turn? Sure, transitioning to a new platform is ideal, but when your day-to-day operations rely on StreetSmarts, something needs to get fixed now! If you are finding yourself in this situation we’ve got great news – Cloud Colorado is one of the only IT support companies that still offers support for StreetSmarts. We will even help you transition to a new platform when the time is right.

Who is StreetSmarts For?

StreetSmarts Construction Software is a comprehensive line of business accounting application software designed for construction contractors in the heavy and highway construction space. In its heyday, it was a very popular software used by many big name companies. It helped businesses to better manage materials, equipment, finances, and more with its powerful tools that include:

  • Contract Management
  • Human Resources
  • Document Imaging
  • Financial Management
  • Equipment Inventory
  • Equipment Management
  • Material Billing
  • Project Management
  • ScaleSmarts
  • SmartTraxx
  • Subcontract Management

Many Still Run StreetSmarts Construction Software

Even though Maxwell discontinued StreetSmarts, I don’t have to be the one to tell you that the construction industry can be slow to adapt to change. Many construction companies still run the old software and do their best to get by without updates and tech support from Maxwell. A lot of businesses spent years learning the new system and have been resistant to change over to something new. This strategy works until a major bug arises in the program and businesses have no where to turn for help. For such an important part of your daily operations, having no back-up when things go wrong is not a good feeling.

How to get StreetSmarts IT Support

If you are one of the unfortunate souls to find yourself in the situation described above, we’ve got great news. With ex-StreetSmarts developers on staff, Cloud Colorado is in a unique position to help. Not only can Cloud Colorado fix any issues you might be facing right now with the program, but we can also help you select and transition to a new construction management software when the time is right. Give us a call today to schedule a consultation.