Team tracking to drive business performance

Working from home on the laptop under the duvet.

Many business owners with staff working from home, face a daily challenge of maintaining productivity,  supporting employees and ensuring that targets are on track.

When your teams are not in the office, do you really know how they’re doing?

Virtual check-ins are helpful tactics, but business performance is too important to be left to chance. Now there’s an online tool empowering you to see how work patterns affect staff wellbeing, productivity and business performance.

For Microsoft Word customers, Workplace Analytics brings visibility to remote working  to ensure that your business is running smoothly and efficiently. You can find out more by signing up here.

Why this tool is vital for your businesses today

  • Take control

Feel reassured that your office is running smoothly with a clear overview of data-driven insights. A user-friendly dashboard presents all the data in an engaging visual format to help you see patterns and take actions quickly. 

  • Manage Productivity 

The tool illustrates problem areas allowing you to step in with smarter working practices. By monitoring working from home trends, you can identify any issues before they affect your business.

  • Protect your most valuable asset

Minimise downtime by ensuring your staff’s wellbeing, which is more important than ever in these stressful times. Does your team need extra support, training or meeting-free time for deep work? This tool will help you manage staff wellbeing wherever your team are working.

Free tool to help your business

At Alliance Systems, we’ve decided to offer this useful tool at no cost. We hope this helps to ease the transition for small businesses to the future of remote working.

To benefit from this free tracking tool, sign up here.

Top 5 Windows 10 Tips

Make the desktop more stylish
Windows 10 lets you personalize your desktop more thoroughly than before. Head to Start > Settings > Personalization > Colors, and choose Show color on task bar and Start Menu. You can also tell it to automatically pick a color from your wallpaper and apply it underneath icons of open apps, and you can remove the Start Menu’s translucent option. In addition, a Dark Theme option turns the menus black. We love it, but your feelings may differ. We also wish it extended system-wide, to Explorer, the old Control Panel, and other places, but hey, at least it’s a start.

Task view and virtual desktops
One of the best things about Windows 10 is how it handles virtual desktops. The fact that it finally handles them at all, out of the box, is a great step, since Mac OS X and Linux users have had that capability for a long time. It lets you set up a series of tasks and windows on your desktop, your email and Twitter window on another, and a third for general Web browsing and research. To get started, click the Task View icon on the task bar (immediately to the right of the Search box), or hold down the Windows key (abbreviated throughout as Win) and Tab. You can also drag an app to a new virtual desktop by bringing it over to the +New Desktop option at the lower right.

Configure privacy settings
Microsoft has finally come clean with privacy settings in the Creators Update. When you’re first setting up Windows 10, make sure to select a Custom install so you can modify the privacy settings, instead of going with the Express install. While Windows 10 was free for Windows 7 and Windows 8 users, it’s not a free product in and of itself — so there’s no reason to share your personal information when it’s not required.

Tone down Notifications
Notifications are a giant pain in Windows 10; there’s just too many of them, and some are unnecessary. Turn them off by heading to Start > Settings > System > Notifications and actions, and turn off Windows tips and specific app notifications (you’ll need to scroll down for the latter).

Pin Items to the Start Menu
While having a full app list is great, it can be a pain to scroll through if you find yourself constantly opening the same few apps over and over. To make them easier to access, simply right-click on them, then choose the “Pin to Start” option to have placed as a Tile. This can also be done with folders and documents from File Explorer.

How To Send Bulk Emails Without A Headache

For many businesses, email is the quickest and most cost effective way of communicating with their staff and customers. In fact, most marketing experts will tell you that you are missing a trick if you are not ‘speaking’ to your customers on a monthly basis using email.

Sending emails regularly to your clients and staff may present you with a headache though, as many businesses have a large number of staff and an even bigger customer list. This means you will need to be able to send bulk email.

Limitations caused by your software, your network or your Internet Service Provider (ISP) may mean delays in sending your email and the risk of being blacklisted for spamming too. Therefore, the task of keeping in touch with your customers is unachievable as a result. However, you do have options available to avoid these issues.

The first is a web based programme – there are many options out there and with the help of Google you are sure to find lots of choice. This option is based on a subscription service and the costing will be based on the number of email contacts you have stored in the software. The more contacts, the higher the price for the service.

Another consideration with this type of bulk email system is that most web based bulk email software is based on a ‘double opt in’ system. This means that once you add your current client list to the software, all of your contacts will receive an email asking for confirmation that they wish to subscribe and they will have to click on a link to confirm their subscription. A large proportion of your customers will not click on this link which means that you will end up with fewer email contacts on your list if you follow this route. Although this will be frustrating, you a clean list of customers who want to hear from you, which is encouraging.

The second option to consider is to ask an IT support company to provide you with a bulk email service. This will allow you to use your existing software to send bulk email without the worry about email delays. By moving your email to a dedicated server used to handling large fluctuations in email traffic, there is no risk that your email will be delayed or held back.

There are some unscrupulous companies who use suspect IP addresses to route bulk email, which can result in blacklisting but a reputable IP address should be used, which would not expose your business to any blacklisting risks.

There is no double opt in process, meaning that you won’t lose any of your customers or clients along the way, apart from if they actively unsubscribe. You should always include an unsubscribe option in your bulk emails and make the process as easy and quick as possible.

Each of these options will have benefits and drawbacks for your business, so you should take the time to consider which one suits you and your needs best.

If you would like to speak to us about mass email options, please call us on 0845 0944 715, complete our Free Online Enquiry Form or email us on and we’ll be happy to talk you through your options.

A New Approach To Business Telecoms?

Small businesses tend to think that they have to go down the traditional route of having phone lines installed and spending large amounts of money on a telephone system so they can have the functionality and flexibly that they need from business telecoms, including voicemail, call transfers, call holding and other functions.

However, thanks to constantly improving internet technology, there is now another option. Voice over Internet Protocol, more commonly known as VoIP allows you to make voice calls over the internet using digital internet technologies called ‘sip’. Costs are therefore massively reduced from standard landline rental and call charges you would normally have to commit to.

As a result of the low cost of a virtual VoIP telecoms solution, your business will be able to take full advantage of functionality which would normally be out of reach for small businesses due to the cost. You could have a fully functioning virtual PBX (private business exchange) with up to 800 extensions and direct dial numbers.

It is possible to set up call groups too, so if you have a call centre, you can programme groups of phones to ring together. In addition, call queuing is available so your customers won’t ever get an engaged tone when calling your business.

You can easily set up a virtual switchboard directing your customers to the right department first time and call costs are minimal. There are huge benefits to utilising VoIP telecoms if you are making lots of international calls as your costs will be significantly reduced, and you aren’t limited in the type of calls you can make either. Any number, any country, mobile or landline, no calls are off limit.

By being given the option to choose the telephone number you wish to use, whether it is a Freephone number, Lo-call rate or a geographical number , this provide you will the flexibily you need to position your business. This could mean having a London dialing code for your business in Skegness if you think this will help.
Functionality and affordability are the key with VoIP telecoms, and by using this virtual system, your business can make the most of both.

If you would like to know more about VoIP systems, we can help so call us on 0845 0944 715, complete our Free Online Enquiry Form or email us on and we’ll talk you through all the options to find the right fit for you and your business.

Top Five Tips To Help You Love Windows 8

Windows 8 has been around since summer 2012 and whilst it was a bit of a shock to the system to navigate around after XP and Windows 7, most users now find it simple, quick and easy to use.

However, there are a number of clever shortcuts, tips and tricks to make your Windows 8 experience even easier and more efficient, so we thought we would share some of our favourites with you and if these don’t grab your attention, there are many more you can find using Google.

These are our 5 favourites:
1. Handy keyboard shortcuts – these time saving keyboard shortcuts were a favourite of many a typist who had migrated over to a computer and were used to using a keyboard rather than a mouse, but we think these new keyboard shortcuts for Windows 8 are brilliant. Here are some we think are real time savers:

Press your Windows key and get straight to your tiled Start screen
Hit the Windows Key + M – this minimises all of your windows
To open Explorer allowing you faster access to your files and folders, simply press Windows key + E
To change your settings quickly press Windows key + I and you’ll have access to your Control Panel, Personalisation and your Power options

This is a small sample so google some more options and see what works for you.

2. Closing Apps – if you have spent time trying to work out how to close an app on Windows 8, you can be assured that you are not alone. Microsoft have made it difficult to close apps because they want you to run them in the background. However if you do want to shut down an app, grab it at the top of the screen, drag it down to the bottom of the screen and it will close.

3. Menu Access – Right click on the Windows icon on the left hand corner of your screen and you will get the Quick Access Menu, with access to your Control Panel and many other useful system tools.

4. Minimise Your Tiles – Your Start Screen has lots of tiles representing all of your apps, but if you have lots installed, it can be difficult to find what you are looking for quickly and without a great deal of scrolling. You can minimise them in order to fit more on the page by pressing Control (Ctrl) and scroll up on your mouse wheel to make them smaller or to make them bigger scroll down.

5. Give me back my desktop – Windows 8 looks drastically different from what you’re used to. Those colours! Those tiles! Charms! While we’re big fans of the overhaul, you may long for the Windows desktop of old. Don’t worry; Microsoft built an ejector seat specifically for people like you. If you press Start+D, you’ll shoot instantly to the desktop environment from wherever you are. Press it again, and you’ll clear all the windows to show the desktop you’ve spent the last two decades getting comfortable with. Press it once more and your fancy tiled windows come back. A four-fingered vertical swipe also accomplishes this, but we found the keyboard shortcut a little easier.

These top five tips will hopefully go some way to enhancing your experience of Windows 8, so enjoy trying them out and seeing which ones are your favourites.

If you need help with any aspect of your computer, software or applications, we can help so call us on 0845 0944 715, complete our Free Online Enquiry Form or email us on and we’ll be delighted to discuss this with you.