How to save money on Office 2010

Computerworld – Now that Microsoft has officially kicked Office 2010 into the market, the next milestone is just weeks away: the June 15 launch of the retail versions and the beginning of the roll-out of the it’s-all-free Office Web Apps to consumers.

That gives you a little more than a month to decide whether to upgrade to Office 2010 — and figure out how you’re going to pay for the suite.

The second part may be tougher than the first: Money not only doesn’t grow on trees, but for many of us, that tree has withered since the last time Microsoft upgraded Office.

Ah…2006, 2007…the boom times….

Fortunately, there are ways — legal ways, we should emphasize — to save money on Office. In fact, there are several.

Save $30

Microsoft’s dropped “upgrade” pricing for Office 2010, replacing it with what it calls Product Key Cards, single-license codes that will be sold at retail. The licensing codes will activate a full version of Office from free trial downloads and Office Starter 2010, the bare-bones suite that many computer makers are expected to preinstall on new PCs.

Key cards can also be used to upgrade an older copy of Office to the new 2010.

Microsoft’s priced the key card for Office Home and Student 2010 at $119, 20% (and $30) less than the boxed copy’s $149 price tag.

Word of warning: The key card is for a single license. If you want Office 2010 on more than one machine, the better deal is the $149 boxed edition, which lets you install the suite on up to three machines.

Key card savings increase for the more expensive Office 2010 editions. A card for Office Home and Business 2010, for example, runs $199, $80 less than the $279 price of the boxed version. Office Professional 2010, meanwhile, costs $349 in key card format, $499 in a box, for a $150 savings.

Save $49

Earlier this year, Microsoft launched a free upgrade program, called Technology Guarantee, to keep Office 2007 sales humming along until Office 2010 shows up. Customers who buy an eligible copy of Office 2007 through Sept. 30, 2010, will be allowed to download and install a corresponding edition of Office 2010 for free. (Users who want a DVD installation disc will have to pay a small shipping-and-handling fee.)

Technology Guarantee saves you money only if you can find a copy of Office 2007 for less than either the key card for Office Home and Student 2010. But that’s no problem.

Amazon.com, for example, is currently selling Office Home and Student 2007 for $100, a savings of $49 over Office Home and Student 2010’s boxed price, $20 less than the key card.

Don’t let the small amount between the Technology Guarantee deal and the key card for Office 2010 fool you. Going the 2007-to-2010 route here lets you install the new suite on up to three PCs; the key card only allows a single install.

So here’s the plan: Buy 2007 now, install it, then download the free version of 2010 on June 15, when Microsoft launches the upgrade.

Save $121

You can use Technology Guarantee to save money on higher-priced editions of Office 2010 as well.

Amazon.com’s selling the upgrade version of Office Small Business 2007 for $228.49, a $121.51 savings over the $349 for the single-license key card for Office Professional 2010. (A purchase of Small Business 2007 makes you eligible for an upgrade to Professional 2010.)

No money down, free for two months…or six

Microsoft hasn’t yet shipped the retail versions of Office 2010, but it’s already posted a free 60-day trial of Office Professional Plus 2010 on its TechNet site.

When you request the 650MB download, Microsoft generates an activation code that’s good for 60 days.

You can extend the free deal to as long as six months — assuming you time things right — by not applying the activation code.

Instead, you’ll use a technique dubbed “rearm” (named after the command in Windows that does a similar trick) to extend the life of the free trial to as long as half a year.

Like Windows 7, Office 2010 will run up to 30 days without a 25-character activation code. As the grace period comes to a close, however, increasingly-frequent messages appear on the screen to remind you that it’s about to end. But by invoking a rearm, you can reset the time-until-activation to 30 days.

Office 2010 lets you rearm up to five times; with the original 30-day grace period, that means you can run the suite for 180 days free of charge.

The “My Digital Life” blog outlines the one-step Office 2010 rearm process.

Free forever

While you can’t have Office 2010 free for longer than six months, you can use the Office Web Apps free-of-charge for as long as you want.

Microsoft will roll out Office Web Apps on Windows Live starting June 15. (The company’s said it might take several weeks to reach everyone, as it will make the online software available in stages around the world.)

Included in Office Web Apps will be scaled-back online editions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, the latter Microsoft’s lesser-known note-taker.

But be warned: The online editions pale in comparison to their desktop cousins, with glaring omissions — you can’t print, for instance — and an overarching attitude that Microsoft “is less than thrilled with the whole idea of online office suites,” as Harry McCracken of Technologizer put it in his excellent eval of Office 2010 and Office Web apps this week. (McCracken is a former editor-in-chief of PCWorld, a sister publication to Computerworld.)

Learn More

To learn more about how MS Office 2010 can improve your business’s productivity, please follow along for the next several articles where we will discuss the new or improved Office 2010 features.  We also invite you to contact by visiting us at Kadee Associates or calling us at 484-974-2319 to discuss the specific ways that Office 2010 will help improve your business’s productivity.

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Save Money via Web Meetings

Think hard now. Can you remember your first virtual meeting? For many of you, it was in the late 20th century, and you called it a “teleconference.” It was an expensive proposition.

Not anymore. Virtual meetings save you a boatload of money nowadays. And they are relatively simple. In this day and age, that’s a good strategy for a business owner. In fact, getting up and running with Web conferencing software today is so low-cost and easy that virtually anyone with a PC and an Internet connection can do it. For example, it took me less than two minutes to sign up for Microsoft Office Live Meeting’s free 14-day trial.

If it’s that easy, how much harder can holding a Web conference be? Careful. You can make mistakes. And blowing a Web meeting can cost your business money — either in lost sales (if it’s a sales presentation) or in lost productivity (if it’s a staff meeting).

So, before you jump into a Web conference, let’s review some of the most common Web conferencing errors, and discuss what can be done to prevent them.

1. You’re having a Web meeting — but you probably should have had a face-to-face meeting. A Web meeting isn’t a substitute for every kind of meeting. The No. 1 mistake small businesses often make is thinking that this newly affordable technology will actually eliminate their travel budget. “It’s a good way to maintain a relationship,” says Addison Schonland, chief executive of Innovation Analysis Group in La Jolla, Calif., and an experienced Web conferencing user. “It’s not a good way to start a relationship. You can’t read the expression on the participants’ faces; you can’t see their body language.”But even if you’re certain that a Web meeting is appropriate, Schonland advises caution.

Solicit questions from the audience. Pay attention to the little things, like the breathing on the other end. “You may have blown the sale without even knowing it,” he warns. Live Meeting participants can indicate their “state of mind” (for instance “I need help” or “I have a question”) by using buttons in the application to change their “seat colors.” That allows participants to give feedback without disrupting everyone. Pay attention to little things like that when you’re the moderator.

2. You don’t have an effective presenter or facilitator. “Delivery of the meeting is an area in which small businesses still lack experience, good reference models and tools that facilitate the effective management of a live online meeting,” says online meeting expert Robin Good, publisher of MasterNewMedia.org. “The ability to provide appropriate visuals, supporting information, clear objectives and interaction with other participants are of the essence in making such meetings successful.”In fact, many Web meeting experts say that, frequently, the weakest link in a Web meeting is a poorly trained or unprepared facilitator. Live Meeting offers a series of free resources for presenters that can make your Web meeting more effective.

3. You’re using the wrong technology. It goes beyond the right software and hardware, according to Web meeting experts. And not to downplay the importance of those, because having the right equipment makes a big difference. But often it can come down to something as simple as bandwidth. “Make sure that meeting participants have appropriate connectivity,” advises Richard Nicholas, chief executive of E Solutions Corp., a Tampa, Fla., data center and application development firm. “Dial-up connections generally do not work very well.”Although most Web meeting software, including Microsoft Office Live Meeting, can run on a connection as slow as 56 kilobits per second (Kbps), it goes without saying that a faster connection is more desirable. Make sure your participants are appropriately connected.

4. You’re not using the technology effectively. OK, so there are things you can’t do during a Web meeting — such as look out into the audience to see if anyone is snoozing. But there are other things you can and should do.”Use polls, ask questions, engage the audience through the interactive features available to you,” advises Mark Organ, chief executive and co-founder of Eloqua, a Toronto provider of marketing effectiveness solutions. “Your meeting participant will appreciate the attention and you’ll be able to gauge effectiveness and share results in real time.”Live Meeting offers features such as interactive polling, application and desktop sharing, a Q&A feature, and white board slides. If you use the Microsoft Office System, you’ll find them easy to use, and the latest version of Live Meeting offers even tighter integration with other Office applications — so it’s that much easier to learn.

5. You fail to follow up. Web meeting pros such as Good say that after every Web virtual pow-wow, a facilitator should do his or her due diligence. And what is that?”Offer attendees a meeting summary consisting of zipped files of the presentation or content shown, indexed recordings, and chat logs,” Good advises. That’s particularly important for sales meetings, when prospective customers may have additional questions about your product or service. Don’t leave them in the dark after the session ends. Live Meeting’s Registration Pro tool allows you to conduct evaluations, quizzes, send thank-you notes, and solicit opinions about future event recommendations by way of follow-up. (Here’s a full list of Registration Pro features.)

Your next Web meeting can be a success, as long as it’s carefully planned, takes advantage of your technology, but also appreciates the limits of the Internet. Stay in contact with your participants even after your session has ended, and your Web meeting will have proven to be a success.

The Benefits of Volume Licensing: Discounts and More

There are precious few slam dunks in the world of running a small business. But volume licensing of software products is one of the notable, if misunderstood, exceptions. In a universe where cost control and options are often few and far between, volume licensing offers a hard-to-beat combination of dollars saved and flexibility.

“Once small-business owners really come to understand what volume licensing is, it just makes all the sense in the world,” says Eric Ligman, business development manager for Microsoft’s small-business segment. The rub is in knowing precisely what volume licensing really means, says Ligman, who acknowledges that the term is not clearly understood among many.

Volume licensing can be likened to bulk discount acquisitions, only the “bulk” isn’t necessarily required. Rather than purchasing necessary software on an as-needed, retail basis, acquiring through volume licensing allows you to obtain licenses in the quantities you need — from as few as five to as many as several thousand.

This hits on the first significant advantage of acquiring software through a volume licensing program such as the Microsoft Open License program — cost savings. But there are other benefits too. Here are half a dozen.

1. Volume discounts. Saving money is obviously at the top of the list for most business owners. While software bought piecemeal over the course of a number of years can add up to a prohibitive expense, volume licensing is far more cost effective. For one thing, the initial expense is less. To illustrate: buying a single copy of Microsoft Office System 2003 via a conventional retail outlet runs $499. By contrast, acquiring the same software through Microsoft’s Open License program trims the initial outlay to $456.The cost savings continue from there. One-time upgrades bought through retail cost $329. The Open License program trims that expense to $264 for upwards of two years. Add-ons such as InfoPath 2003 and eLearning are also included in Open License. Buying retail, on the other hand, means additional out-of-pocket expenses for both. Even the means of payment is advantageous with volume licensing. By locking in prices for a period of time, you can plan your software budget well in advance and make balanced, systematic payments. Not so with retail — when you need it, you pay for it, no matter how steep the expense.

2. License safety. While retail means a paper license that has to be safely stored, volume licensing offers electronic licensing — instead of paper that can be misplaced or destroyed, a license is stored electronically so that it can never be lost.”If you lose a physical license, you lose your license — period,” Ligman says. “That means you no longer have a product that qualifies for upgrades. With electronic licenses, there’s no paper license that can possibly be lost.”

3. Easier installation and management. Instead of different software programs with different identifications, volume licensing means one ID. That makes installation and subsequent management that much simpler. Also, with Microsoft Open License, you can manage your software license portfolios electronically, though eOpen.

4. Better training and education. Not even the best software on earth is worth what it costs if it’s used improperly or inefficiently. With Microsoft Software Assurance — an additional volume licensing option — companies get superior product training, education and support than usually comes with conventional retail purchases.

5. Greater flexibility. Every small-business owner knows that his or her work isn’t limited to the four walls of an office. With Software Assurance, users can obtain rights to use software at home, as well as the office. Not so with software bought through conventional retail.

6. Greater protection. Microsoft Open License program’s strict licensing parameters offer greater protection from piracy, no matter if it’s intentional or otherwise. (For tips on ridding your business of unlawful software piracy, see this article.) Even with these advantages, volume licensing is fraught with misconceptions among small-business owners, Ligman acknowledges. Some of them include:

  • I’m too small. Many small businesses assume that theirs is simply too small an operation to qualify for the Microsoft Open License program. Anything but. According to Ligman, businesses with as few as two computers can qualify (this includes desktop as well as laptop computers). The required initial order is five or more licenses for any combination of Microsoft products.
  • It’s an obligation. Mention anything other than a straight up, one-shot deal purchase and many small-business owners run out of fear of some strangling long-term obligation. While Microsoft Open License does, indeed, cover a certain amount of time, every element of the program is available exclusively at the business owner’s choice. “There’s no obligation to buy anything,” Ligman says. “These are just other options. You can just own the license and not buy anything else moving forward from there.”
  • The software is somehow different. Many small-business owners also have a hard time accepting the fact that Microsoft Open License software is not one iota different from the Microsoft products sold in retail outlets. They are, in fact identical. “It may have something to do with the fact that retail was a way of life in the ’90s,” Ligman says, “but these are the exact same products that you can buy in a store.”

There’s some funky purchase procedure. Acquiring the software you need through Microsoft Open License isn’t some form of alchemy, or some complicated, mysterious process. You should expect the software resellers serving you — from within a worldwide software-reseller channel involved in the program — to provide you with fast, efficient service, Ligman says. “It’s just as easy to buy [software licenses] as any boxed software program.”

Managed Services: 2 Signs of Q1 2010 Market Growth | MSPmentor

Managed Services: 2 Signs of Q1 2010 Market Growth | MSPmentor

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Seven Managed Services Blog Posts We Didn’t Write: April 30 | MSPmentor

Seven Managed Services Blog Posts We Didn’t Write: April 30 | MSPmentor

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Thoughts on Microsoft’s Cloud Zeal

Partners Impressed With Microsoft’s Cloud Zeal

5:28 PM EDT Fri. Jun. 04, 2010
Microsoft (NSDQ:MSFT) is “all-in” with cloud computing, and it’s not worried about potential negative impacts the cloud could have on its traditional on-premise software business.At the D8 conference Thursday, the Wall Street Journal‘s Walt Mossberg asked Steve Ballmer whether the cloud represents a threat to Microsoft’s traditional business, and the Microsoft CEO struck a characteristically optimistic tone.

“There’s nothing bad for us in the trend. It’s all good,” Ballmer said. “But it’s a transition and as such, it’s a period of tumult. So we need to be smarter and more vigilant. But not because we’re moving from a world that’s fundamentally good for us to a world that’s not. We’re moving from a world that’s good for us to a world that’s potentially even more good for us.”

Travis Fisher, executive vice president at Inacom Information Systems, a Salisbury, Md.-based solution provider, understands why Microsoft is bullish on the cloud’s future impact on its business.

“Microsoft is going to be able to enjoy a positive pricing delta that factors in the cost of hardware, data backup, and electricity related to an on-premise server deployment,” he said. “They haven’t been able to capitalize on this before.”

Microsoft in February launched Windows Azure, its cloud development platform. Azure’s tight integration with the existing Windows ecosystem means that Microsoft’s army of developers will be able to keep using their Visual Basic and .Net skills as they transition to the cloud. Microsoft has invested vast sums on building the data centers to run Azure, and it’s banking that developers will embrace the platform.

For a company that has made most of its money from on-premise software, Azure was a bit late in coming, but Microsoft partners believe the company is now on the right track.

“I think Microsoft, being the large company that it is, reacted a little slowly to delivering their solutions from above, as this was not ‘their way’ of doing business,” said Steve Hall, CEO of District Computers, a Microsoft Gold partner in Washington, D.C. “But they’ve made a huge shift and invested a ton of money and research into the cloud.”

Azure is a huge bet on Microsoft’s part, but it’s one that comes with certain risks, notes Sandy Bateh, vice president of the Microsoft national alliance at Idea Integration, a Jacksonville, Fla.-based solution provider

“If Ballmer assumes that he will get the business on-premise or in the cloud then it is a win-win for Microsoft. But when you give the customer a choice of moving from an on-premise situation to cloud, then you do open the door to competitors’ cloud options,” said Bateh.

The Role Of BPOS In Microsoft’s Cloud Vision

Another pillar of Microsoft (NSDQ:MSFT)’s cloud strategy is its Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), which includes hosted versions of Exchange, Sharepoint and Office Communications Server. Unveiled in 2008, BPOS initially gained the most traction in large enterprises but is now moving downmarket, according to solution providers.BPOS is an example of how Microsoft is doing everything it can to stay ahead of the curve in the cloud space, says Chris Ward, senior solutions architect at Greenpages, a solution provider in Kittery, Maine. Ward has been fielding more and more customer inquiries about BPOS, particularly on the Exchange front.

In Ward’s view, the greater challenge for Microsoft lies in the traditional Office application environment with apps such as Word, Exchange and Powerpoint. That’s a space where Google and Microsoft are going head to head to gain consumer mindshare, but Ward says both companies’ cloud apps fall short.

“Both Google (NSDQ:GOOG) and Microsoft have online-based ‘cloud’ offerings in this space, but they fall way short on user experience and functionality versus the traditional locally installed apps,” he said. “The future here may in fact be more of a cloud-based VDI offering in which users can run the full desktop app via a remote session.”

Much has been made about the Google-Microsoft battle in the cloud, and both companies are clearly paying an inordinate amount of attention to what the other is doing. But for Google, which has a fraction of the breadth of offerings that Microsoft has, the task of positioning itself as a cloud pioneer is simpler.

“The breadth of Microsoft’s offerings and the subsequent complexity this adds to their own messaging is their real challenge,” said Joseph Giegerich, managing partner with Gig Werks, a Yonkers, N.Y.-based solution provider. “Google can focus on the hype of a singular message with their cloud offerings, where as Microsoft has a much more challenging triangulation of story.”

Microsoft will continue to sculpt its cloud messaging at its TechEd conference next week and at its Worldwide Partner Conference in July. Although the cloud stands to disrupt channel partners’ business models in much the same it has affected Microsoft’s traditional software revenue stream, VARs are impressed with the amount of effort that’s going into the company’s cloud strategy.

Green Your IT Workplace

April 22, 2010

We’ve all heard this before: Computers, office equipment, and appliances are driving increased demand for more energy consumption both at home and at work. In a workplace dominated by Internet and information technology, taking steps to become greener is more crucial today than ever.

With commercial energy use increasing every year, there are several simple things we can do to reverse the trend. The thing is, environmentally friendly actions don’t have to be huge to have an impact. Consistently reducing the amount of energy, water, and paper our businesses use can make a huge difference, both to the environment and to our wallets. Needless to say, a greener workplace means a lighter ecological footprint and a healthier and more productive place to work. Whether you’re the boss or the employee, you can take steps in greening your IT workplace.

From saving on printing, energy and lighting, all the way even to food, becoming greener can be easy when it is broken it down in small, simple steps:

Paper and Printing

• Create hard copies only when necessary. If you can, go paperless. Storing your documents online makes it easy for you to update, and you waste no paper at all.
• For not-so-important documents (such as those you just need to review and keep a personal copy of), try double-sided printing.
• Communicate by email, and read messages onscreen to determine whether it’s necessary to print them.
• Use a fax-modem and a fax cover sheet only when necessary. Fax-modems allow documents to be sent directly from a computer, without a printed hard copy.
• Recycle toner cartridges and buy remanufactured toner cartridges for printers, copiers and fax machines.
• Switch to e-bills and e-invoices. You’ll be able to send and receive payments much more quickly while reducing paper waste.

Energy

• Choose products that meet credible environmental standards, such Energy Star or EPEAT. Environmental certifications on your appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, microwaves, toasters and coffee makers can make a big difference.
• Set equipment to go to ’sleep’ mode when not in use.
• Connect your office electronics to power strips and switch them off at the end of the day, or when not in use for a long period of time.
• Invest in LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) computer monitors.
• Recycle old or outdated electronics.

Lighting

• Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). They are 3-4 times more efficient than standard incandescent bulbs.
• Consider energy-efficient electronic ballasts. This will allow you to control workspace lighting.
• Maximize natural lighting and turn off lights when leaving a room.

Food, Plants, etc.

• Get indoor plants. They act as filters that suck up all the pollutants created by your computer equipment while also cooling the air in your office.
• Invest in a set of reusable coffee mugs, plates, and silverware.
• Provide organic, fair-trade coffee, tea or cocoa.
• Say no to plastic bottles.
• Use only paper towels and napkins with high post-consumer waste content.
• Encourage work colleagues to make lunch from fresh, local ingredients purchased from a farmers’ market.
• Use biodegradable soaps and recycled paper or cloth towels in the bathroom and kitchen.
• Provide biodegradable cleaners for your cleaning staff.

Finally, check out WasteWise. It’s a no-fee voluntary program run by the EPA. WasteWise helps you audit your office’s output of solid waste. They will also produce a report on waste elimination strategies specific to your own office environment.

It pays to consult with IT consulting experts on IT procurement services, and for keeping maintenance standards high in order to be more efficient, and thus environmentally friendly. IT specialists can also help you find more ways to go greener in your office. For all your IT consulting needs, visit Kadee Associates at 484-974-2319

Collaborate and Communicate with MS Office 2010

May 21, 2010

Microsoft Office 2010 makes it simple to collaborate and communicate with others.  In addition to improving many applications and tools, Microsoft had also added new applications and tools that make it easier than ever to work together and keep in touch with others.

Co-author

MS Office 2010 makes it easy to work with others on shared files at the same time.  With MS Office 2010 programs, you don’t need to be in the same location to work together and you won’t have to worry about version control or about being locked out of a shared file.  Word 2010, PowerPoint 2010, Excel 2010, and OneNote 2010 have new and improved features that make it fun and easy to collaborate on documents, presentations, spreadsheets and notebooks.  Key enhancements to the co-authoring experience include the following:

  • Real-time update feature- lets all co-authors know when a shared file has been updated.
  • Save to share feature- lets each co-author choose when to share work by simply saving any revisions or additions to the co-authored file.
  • Real-time status feature- notifies all concurrently collaborating co-authors when other team members join or leave a collaboration session.  A small icon on the tool bar will present you with your co-authors’ contact information and make it simple to IM, email, or call them.

Web Apps

Microsoft Office 2010 has made it simple for you to have access to your most commonly used programs through Web Apps.  Web Apps are free, slightly pared down versions of Excel, PowerPoint, Word and OneNote that let you work on files in your favorite productivity programs regardless of your location.  In addition, you can share your work with others that might not have access to Microsoft programs. (Now you can share your work with Mac and Linux users and not worry about compatibility.)  Web Apps are available through two different routes to meet the needs of most users.

  • Microsoft Office Live -is a free online storage and document sharing site that gives you access to Excel, PowerPoint, Word, and OneNote.  Users can create and save files online and access them securely from any location with most smart phones, laptops, and workstations that have an internet connection.  With Microsoft Office Live and Web Apps, it’s easy to share files with others.
  • Microsoft SharePoint- is a moderately priced business collaborative platform that can support Web Apps for small, medium, and enterprise businesses.  When using SharePoint with Web Apps, storage, document creation, and sharing are kept in your business instead of being stored online. Together, SharePoint and Web Apps integrate perfectly with Office 2010 and give you more administrative control over file creation and sharing.

Social Connector

This new application helps you keep track of all your social networking sites from Outlook.  Anytime someone in any of your networks updates their status or profile you will get a real-time update in your inbox.  Currently, Microsoft has partnered with LinkedIn, My Space and Facebook to help you stay connected to your business contacts, friends, and family.

Conversation View

Outlook 2010 makes it easy to keep track of email threads by compressing them into a few conversations that are simple to manage.  Conversations are collected in your inbox based on conversation IDs instead of subject lines.  The Conversation View removes the clutter from your inbox and makes it easy to keep track of important conversations and also makes it easy to flag, follow up, or delete entire conversations in one step.

Learn more

To learn more about how Microsoft Office 2010 can make it easier for you to collaborate and communicate with others, please contact the Microsoft Office 2010 Gold Partners at KaDee Associates Inc. or call us at 484 974 2319 to get more information


Is the iPad right for your small business?

Released on Saturday, April 3, 2010 & iPad 3G on May 1 2010, the iPad had people queuing up at stores, hoping to get their hands on one of the highly coveted new devices.  While the touch screen device is simple to use and does have functionality, it’s still more of a consumer product than a business productivity tool.  Regardless, it might be just the thing for your small business.

Some (consumer-centric) things to know

With the iPad, you can browse the web, send and receive email as well as shop for apps and music when you are in Wi-Fi range.  In addition, regardless of Wi-Fi access, you can also play games, read eBooks, set appointments with the built in calendar, and access contacts just like you would when using an iTouch or iPhone.  With the iPad, you have access to most of the iPhone features except the ability to make phone calls.

Business productivity

  • Email- The iPad can integrate with most business-class email systems.  However, talk to your IT support staff before installing your corporate email account on your iPad to ensure that you are not violating your company’s IT security policies.
  • Productivity apps- Thousands of productivity apps such as calculators, bid-generators, database applications, real estate tools, e-fax, Cad-viewers and more are available from Apple’s App store.
  • Service apps- Apps are available from several of your favorite business-class services such as salesforce.com and WebEx.  With these and other similar apps, you can gain access your company’s sales information and customer management tools, attend online meetings, and more.
  • Compatibility apps- With applications such as Documents-to-Go, you can read, edit and create documents that are compatible with Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
  • Remote access apps- Apps for logmein, VNC, Citrix, thin-client and VPN users, and other programs provide secure remote access to networked corporate systems.

Potential (business-centric) disadvantages

  • Networking- Networking the iPad with your business IT environment is currently limited to Wi-Fi.  This means that you can’t plug in an Ethernet cable and jump on the network.  In a few months, Apple will release a new version of the iPad that will offer 3G access in addition to Wi-Fi.  While the new device will give you access to AT&T’s 3G network, providing you another way to connect to your network, it will also require the purchase of a monthly data plan.
  • Computer replacement- The iPad is not a computer replacement.  It needs access to a computer for set-up, registration, OS updates and data syncing.
  • Upgrades- Hardware upgrades are impossible.  For example, when you run out of space on your hard drive, you can’t upgrade it or add a peripheral device.
  • App availability- Not all business applications are currently available as iPad apps.  Also, consider that some of your needed business applications might not ever be available in app format.
  • Peripherals- Lack of an external keyboard can decrease productivity because you have to peck at a screen to enter text.  Fortunately, Apple has plans to release an iPad keyboard later this year.

Final conclusions

While Apple’s advertisements made the newest Apple device seem like an excellent productivity tool, initial research reveals that it is currently a device best used by consumers.  Keep in mind that the iPad is still in its first generation format.  Apple’s R&D team is probably already hard at work adding bells and whistles that will make it more business-centric in the next year or two.  Through popular use, consumer pressure, and some thoughtful retooling, the iPad will likely find its way into the business world in the next couple of years.

For more information on how KaDee Associates Inc. can help you with your IT strategy. Visit us at KaDee Associates or call us at 484-974-2319.

Express Yourself with MS Office 2010

Microsoft Office 2010 makes it easy for you to punch up the simplest text into an attention grabbing statement.  They did it by improving several tools introduced in earlier versions of Office and by adding a few new ones to enhance your productivity.  By using familiar programs such as Word, PowerPoint, Publisher, and Outlook, you can create a message that your audience won’t be able to ignore.
Create it
Expressing yourself starts with creating content that can connect you to your audience.  Microsoft makes it easy to do that with Office 2010.
Improved picture editing With Office 2010, you don’t need to edit pictures in a separate program before inserting them into your Word document, Publisher file, or PowerPoint presentation.  A large choice of artistic effects  allow you to take a basic photo and manipulate it as you would in any other photo program, except that you don’t have to leave your current project to do it.  Combined with a large and newly enhanced choice of Office themes and SmartArt® graphic layouts, it is easy to turn basic text and a few photos into professional presentation material.
Improved audio and video editing Office 2010 makes it easy to add audio and video effects to your presentations.  With the newest version of PowerPoint, you can easily insert audio and video files and edit them in PowerPoint.  Earlier versions of PowerPoint required third-party editing programs to modify audio and video before inserting it into a presentation, often causing compatibility issues, but with PowerPoint 2010, file editing is done in the program, eliminating those issues.  Also, in this newest version of PowerPoint, you have access to terrific special effects that make it easy to fade in and fade out sound and video, and manipulate the files in other artistic ways that let you express yourself and get your point across to your audience.
Share it
Once you’ve created a document or presentation you need a way to get it to your audience and Microsoft makes it easy for you to do that.  Office 2010 helps you get your message out in several ways.
Broadcast Slide Show- This new feature lets you publish your PowerPoint slide deck to your audience, even if they don’t have PowerPoint on their computers or mobile devices.  MS makes it easy to upload your presentation on your company SharePoint server or cloud storage site and make it accessible to your audience through almost any web browser.
Publish it with Publisher- Publisher 2010 makes it easy to create and post your web publications.  With the click of a button, you can post your newest web publication to any folder on your computer or to a FTP, network, or web server.
Learn more
Office 2010 makes it easy to express yourself and share your ideas with others.  To learn more about how the newest version of MS Office can help you express yourself, please contact the Microsoft Partners and Office 2010 experts at KaDee Associates at 484-974-2319.

Overview Of Office 2010

May 10, 2010
Microsoft Office 2010 will be internationally available to consumers on May 12, 2010.  Small, medium, and enterprise businesses will appreciate the many new or improved features that are designed to improve overall productivity.  Read on to learn how Microsoft Office 2010 will increase your business’s overall IT productivity.
Express yourself
Office 2010 offers your business many visual ways to get your point across to board members, clients, investors, and everyone else in between.  Picture formatting tools, SmartArt®, new PowerPoint tools, and prebuilt Office themes give you the tools you need to express your yourself visually.
Collaborate and communicate
With Office 2010, it is easier than ever to work and share thoughts and ideas with others on team projects.  Microsoft has improved Word, PowerPoint, Excel Web App, and OneNote so that teams can share co-authoring rights and share completed projects with targeted audiences.  In addition to making collaboration simple, Office 2010 makes it easy to communicate with enhanced Outlook features such as the Outlook Social Connector that keeps users connected to social networks and through a new email management system called Quick Step.
Take it on the road
Office 2010 makes it easy for users to enjoy the familiar Office experience from many devices, regardless of location.  Microsoft Office Web Apps lets users store Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Word files online or on a business server, and then access, edit, and share those files through the internet.
Manage your data
Collect, filter, and assess data in visual tables to track trends with new tools such as Sparklines and PivotTables in Excel.  Organize, store, and track notes, pictures, text, video, and audio with OneNote.  Manage data quickly and easily with Backstage™, a new and centralized way to view, print, publish, share, and save files and tasks.
A practical platform for your business
Office 2010 will save your business money by maximizing the performance of all your IT hardware.  Enhanced connectivity features make it easy to connect to servers and other services.  Your business will benefit from enhanced productivity through data archiving and retention tools as well as new security tools that operate behind the scenes to quickly identify and solve problems.
Learn more about MS Office 2010
To learn more about how MS Office 2010 can improve your business’s productivity, please follow along for the next several articles where we will discuss the new or improved Office 2010 features.  We also invite you to contact by visiting us at Kadee Associates (www.kadeecorp.com) or calling us at 484-974-2319 to discuss the specific ways that Office 2010 will help improve your business’s productivity.

May 10, 2010Microsoft Office 2010 will be internationally available to consumers on May 12, 2010.  Small, medium, and enterprise businesses will appreciate the many new or improved features that are designed to improve overall productivity.  Read on to learn how Microsoft Office 2010 will increase your business’s overall IT productivity.

Express yourself
Office 2010 offers your business many visual ways to get your point across to board members, clients, investors, and everyone else in between.  Picture formatting tools, SmartArt®, new PowerPoint tools, and prebuilt Office themes give you the tools you need to express your yourself visually.

Collaborate and communicate
With Office 2010, it is easier than ever to work and share thoughts and ideas with others on team projects.  Microsoft has improved Word, PowerPoint, Excel Web App, and OneNote so that teams can share co-authoring rights and share completed projects with targeted audiences.  In addition to making collaboration simple, Office 2010 makes it easy to communicate with enhanced Outlook features such as the Outlook Social Connector that keeps users connected to social networks and through a new email management system called Quick Step.

Take it on the road
Office 2010 makes it easy for users to enjoy the familiar Office experience from many devices, regardless of location.  Microsoft Office Web Apps lets users store Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Word files online or on a business server, and then access, edit, and share those files through the internet.

Manage your data
Collect, filter, and assess data in visual tables to track trends with new tools such as Sparklines and PivotTables in Excel.  Organize, store, and track notes, pictures, text, video, and audio with OneNote.  Manage data quickly and easily with Backstage™, a new and centralized way to view, print, publish, share, and save files and tasks.

A practical platform for your business
Office 2010 will save your business money by maximizing the performance of all your IT hardware.  Enhanced connectivity features make it easy to connect to servers and other services.  Your business will benefit from enhanced productivity through data archiving and retention tools as well as new security tools that operate behind the scenes to quickly identify and solve problems.
Learn more about MS Office 2010
To learn more about how MS Office 2010 can improve your business’s productivity, please follow along for the next several articles where we will discuss the new or improved Office 2010 features.  We also invite you to contact by visiting us at Kadee Associates or calling us at 484-974-2319 to discuss the specific ways that Office 2010 will help improve your business’s productivity.

6 Secrets Tax Pros Won’t Share

My name is Joseph Anthony, and I’m a tax pro. I do tax returns for individuals and small businesses in my home city of Portland, Ore., and all over the country.

More than half of you will pay someone like me to prepare your tax returns this year, according to statistics from the IRS. I also talk to other tax professionals from around the country. Because I do what they do, we talk shop and share insights. They tell me things they won’t tell you, including stuff that could help you deal with your own tax pro and maybe even save you money, if only you knew.

Here are six things you’ve probably never been told by a tax pro:

1. That first meeting? You’ll probably get charged less if you’ve got your stuff together. Most tax pros charge based on some combination of hourly rates, complexity of the tax return and the so-called “hassle factor.”Having information dribble in — one form this week, a couple of necessary numbers next week — increases the hassle factor, and the amount the tax pro is going to want to charge. As one tax pro said, “I wish there was a nice way I could tell clients to wait until they think they’ve got all their information and not both sending me part of it now and part later. I cannot complete the puzzle until they give me all the pieces.”Another tax pro was more direct. “Every time I open up a client’s file to add another form or another piece of information, the cost of preparing the return goes up,” he said. “I charge for my time. How else can it be?”

2. The early bird gets more attention. It’s human nature. Early in the tax season, tax pros feel like they have more time. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get a “better” return — a good tax pro should go through the same questions and process regardless of when the return is done. But you have to figure that if your return is being worked on early in the tax season, a little more time (including time talking with you) is going to go into it than would otherwise be the case. If I had to use a tax pro, I would see him or her in mid-February. Each tax office has its own “crunch” period, but for most the worst weeks fall somewhere between March 15 and April 15. Interestingly, Tax Day itself, April 15, often is not that bad a day. Many tax professionals, including myself, leave that day open for any last-second calls and clients picking up their returns. All the returns that are going out will have been finished by the 13th or 14th of the month.

3. We don’t like last-second rush jobs. And you shouldn’t, either. I want to do a good job for all of my clients. If someone I’ve never talked to before calls me on April 12, saying he needs to file by April 15, I’m probably going to refer him to someone else. I don’t want to take on a new client that close to the deadline and potentially take time from my existing clients. Many of my peers feel the same way about those last-second rush jobs. However, read on to No. 4.

4. Extensions are fine by us. Many taxpayers worry that they’re going to have trouble with the IRS if they file an extension. I’ve never seen any evidence of that. In fact, extensions are the perfect solution for the taxpayer who would otherwise be a “rush job.” It’s way better to file an extension and send in an accurate return later than it is to rush to meet the April 15 deadline and later discover things you missed that require you to amend the return. With the extra time afforded by an extension, we can go over a client’s tax situation after April 15 and make sure we’ve gotten all the documentation and asked all the questions that could help trim their tax bill. Individuals can get an extra four months to send in their return by filing Form 4868 by April 15.

5. Don’t ask us to help you cheat. We don’t want to do it. We can’t do it. And in a legal proceeding, we may even have to testify that you wanted us to help you evade the law. (Tax professionals maintain the confidentiality of their client’s information, but we generally do not have the same kind of attorney-client privilege that lawyers enjoy.)”One client wrote me a letter telling me they were going to have some income that they would not be declaring,” remembers one tax pro. Yikes. There’s a lot a good tax pro can do to help you pay no more in taxes than you are legally required to pay. There’s nothing a good tax pro can do to help you cheat. If that’s the kind of “help” you want, you should just do your own returns.

6. The person preparing your taxes may make less than a fast-food worker. I was in a cab one day and started talking with the driver. It turned out that he had more than one profession. His other job: working during the tax season for one of the big tax return chains. For this part-time, seasonal work, he made about $9 an hour — pretty low, to my mind, for someone doing work so closely related to your financial life. But he wasn’t a certified public accountant or an enrolled agent — professionals recognized as specialists. And he didn’t have to have any formal training beyond the coursework offered by the company that hired him. Firms may have more highly trained or experienced people reviewing the work of low-paid assistants. If you want to know, you’ll have to ask.

7 Good Reasons to Call a Lawyer

For many small-business owners, contacting an attorney is akin to opening a faucet — everything gushes out but little comes back in return, short of a hefty water bill.

OK, so this analogy is a little trite. It’s also horribly inaccurate. Legal advice and guidance in varied forms is absolutely central to any small business. You will get a bill, yes. But using an attorney doesn’t have to be a burdensome financial drain.

Here are seven signs that suggest your business may benefit from the involvement of an attorney:

1. You’re starting a business. Far too many businesspeople get their operations up and running before contacting an attorney for legal guidance. Don’t make the same mistake. Before the very first dime of income shows up on your ledger, hook up with an attorney to review business structure, legal ramifications and other elements designed to protect your business and help it flourish. “It’s essential that an attorney become involved before you start,” notes attorney John Ventura, author of “The Everyday Law Kit for Dummies.” “An attorney isn’t someone you go to just when you’re in some sort of trouble.”

2. Check your contracts. It may be a pleasant afterthought to a bygone era, but these days it’s rarely a wise idea to conduct business with a smile and a handshake. That means it’s imperative for an attorney to review every contract you use in your business, both with customers as well as suppliers — or draw up suitable contracts if none are in place.

“We’ve become so litigious as a society that it’s critical that you have contracts that protect all your business relationships,” Ventura says.

3. Review your exit strategy. It may sound macabre, but it’s also a good idea to have an attorney construct and regularly review a suitable exit plan should your business go under, no matter how well things may be steaming along now. For instance, an experienced bankruptcy attorney can help identify — and protect — property and other items that, should the worse happen, are exempt from bankruptcy proceedings. “You’re always at risk, so planning a suitable exit strategy is absolutely essential,” Ventura says. “You should know your bankruptcy options, ways you can protect your assets and simply lessen the overall blow of failure.”

4. Check your debt collection. As money becomes tight in a dicey economy, it can become more difficult to collect funds owed you. An experienced attorney can advise you on suitable collection methodology and resources. That way, you can avoid becoming entangled in any legal action against an overzealous collection agency. “Cash flow is king, so when that gets slow, you get aggressive,” Ventura says. “But you have to be careful in using some collection agencies — if they step over the line, that can always get back to you.”

5. Begin to draw on your wealth. Enough stories about ways to avoid disaster. An experienced estate attorney also is essential in setting up programs to fund retirement from the proceeds derived from the business. Here is something that, as Ventura notes, many small-business people tend to put off until the very final moment. “Most entrepreneurs don’t even start thinking about their retirement until they’re well in their fifties. If you’re doing well, an estate attorney can help you start taking the wealth out of the business to fund your retirement.”

6. Keep the business going after you retire. Few small-business people want to see their businesses close for good once they retire. A key area a solid business attorney can address is succession — establishing procedures and step-by-step guidelines to hand off ownership of even a small portion of your business to someone else. An attorney not only can strategize on ways to keep the business alive and flourishing, but can also possibly help you determine an ancillary source of income from the business to round out your retirement funding.

7. Resolve a business dispute. Yes, this is an obvious reason to get a lawyer. Merely hiring an attorney will show you mean business, and may end up getting you the results you desire. A lawyer also may be able to help you avoid lengthy and costly court action. Moreover, a lawyer can help you avoid — by working on your own — turning what might be a bad situation for your business into something worse.

In seeking out an attorney, here are two important tips.

Get a specialist when you need one. Law is no different from scads of other professions. We live in an age of specificity, so be certain to establish relationships with attorneys who have training and experience in defined areas. Not only does that provide you with the best possible guidance, but it can also serve as a system of checks and balances. For instance, an estate attorney may point out a problem in your retirement planning that, say, a general practitioner might overlook.

Don’t fear the cost. No one’s about to claim that getting solid legal advice is dirt cheap. But it need not be as prohibitively expensive as you might fear. For one thing, Ventura urges entrepreneurs to delineate what sort of legal advice will be an ongoing requirement and what can be addressed on an as-needed basis — that can save on retainer fees right there. And, adds Ventura, don’t be gun-shy about dickering over price. Some attorneys may be willing to cut rates for a guaranteed amount of work, while others may gladly set up payment plans for particularly expensive bills. “I think the days when an attorney simply charged by the hour have gone by the board,” Ventura says. “Shop around and get a quote for fees. And, once you find someone you like, clear the air and get the subject of money out of the way.”

7 Ways to Look Good to a Lender

Even as interest rates remain at attractive levels, many people looking to start or expand a business venture are having trouble getting a loan.

Banks may be pushing great deals on home-equity credit lines and other loan offerings, but they also are being extremely selective about who they lend to.

Now more than ever, you must engender the trust and confidence of your lender.

There’s no magic bullet that you can fire to bag yourself a trophy loan. But there are some guidelines that can put you on the right path to your quarry.

Here are seven dos and don’ts when applying for a business loan.

1. Even if you’re not organized, look organized. Yes, it’s especially hard when you’re trying to grow a business and changing your company’s internal systems to meet that growth. But this is when looking sharp is even more important.”I think the thing that will really impress a banker and get him excited about a borrower is a well-organized package,” says Bob Bifolco, executive vice president with Progress Bank in Blue Bell, Pa. What Bifolco likes to see: Three years of tax returns, an interim financial statement, listings of receivables and payables, insurance records that show what equipment the company owns and the assets’ possible replacement value and a cash-flow statement for the past year.”You bring in a package like that and the banker is likely to immediately deem you as a sophisticated prospect who is running the business in a sound financial manner,” Bifolco says.

2. Clean up your “a/r” and your “a/p.” That’s accountant-speak for accounts receivable and accounts payable. The problem is pretty simple: Lenders don’t like it when they see a business waiting for lots of money to come in (accounts receivable).”If somebody is getting paid in 90 days but has to pay his vendors in 30 days, we feel like he has a problem,” says Merv Shorr, senior vice president with Banco Popular North America. Old accounts receivable aren’t just an indicator of slow-paying clients — they also can be a red flag for nonpaying accounts. Lenders may want to see a reserve for bad debts to reflect potential uncollectible bills.

3. Your assets: Know that lenders care about what they are worth now. “Bankers are going to want to tie up more assets than the loan is worth whenever possible,” says Dana Barfield, a financial planner in Richardson, Texas, who specializes in planning for businesses with up to $80 million in revenues. So lenders will look at your assets not in terms of what you paid for them, but rather in terms of what they could be sold for if the business is ever to be liquidated. Overall, this is going to favor the manufacturer with a brand-new production line over the information services business with rapidly depreciating computer equipment. You can’t do much about this, but be aware and plan accordingly.

4. Improve your loan-to-value ratio. Desirable loan-to-value ratios vary by industry. Leasing companies, for example, tend to have higher acceptable loan-to-value ratios. Bifolco says that, in general, he likes to see loan-to-value ratios of 3-to-1 or less; Shorr suggests that 4-to-1 is a winner. But there isn’t a strict bar for this ratio. “What I’m looking for is a snapshot that will tell me if this company can make it through a few rainy days, through a couple of recessions,” Bifolco says. “Not being overleveraged is part of that.”

5. Remember that lenders want interest payments plus. It’s not unusual for people looking to borrow money to consider themselves good risks if they can show that they can service the debt — that is, produce enough monthly cash to pay the interest on the loan. But that’s not enough for lenders these days. Most of them want to see that you can generate enough cash to not only service the debt but also to pay back principal. So instead of just interest coverage, you have to think about — and be able to show — how the business will have total debt coverage.

6. Yes, they want you , but not too much. A business that has a track record of borrowing and repaying always has a leg up on getting a new loan. But lenders don’t like to see debt servicing consuming too much income. Debt-to-income ratios of less than 40% are preferred. That means if you are making $10,000 in profits monthly, not more than $4,000 of that should be getting siphoned off for debt servicing.”In general, we really don’t like debt-to-income ratios of 50% or more,” says Melissa Hammit, commercial credit analyst for Woodforest National Bank in Woodlands, Texas.

7. Personal credit dings? Hold back a bit. Lenders say that good personal credit can help with a business loan, especially since many small-business borrowers have to guarantee the loan personally. The reverse is also true: Some dings on your record could hurt you. So try to hold off on applying for a business loan if you’ve recently missed some payments or had other credit problems. Going more than a full year with a clean personal credit record can make a difference when signing that business loan application.

Protect Your Good Name with a Trademark

2. You may not have to go global to require a global trademark.

Major corporations — or anyone doing business globally — will have to be concerned about protecting their trademark not just in the United States, but anywhere they do business. With the Internet, it’s more possible than ever to earn money globally. Unfortunately, it’s also more possible than ever to get ripped off globally. But Radack says that many small businesses in the U.S. don’t have to try to rush out and establish worldwide trademarks. “If you’re a GM or a Ford or a Microsoft, then yes, of course you have to do this,” he says. “But what I tell my small-business clients is that if you start to sell in foreign countries, then at that point, yes, you do need to register in those countries.”

One of the biggest problems for small businesses selling in other countries is the relationship with their foreign distributor. “It’s not unusual that if you have a distributor in another country and relationship with that distributor goes south, the distributor may register your trademark,” Radack says. “The distributor can wind up with the right to your trademark in that country.”

3. It’s not hard to get started. As of 2004, it costs $335 to apply for a national trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Lawyers may charge $1,500 to $2,500 or more to handle the process. They point out that the research involved in clearing a trademark and even the process of filling out the trademark forms is not as simple as it may first appear. With what’s potentially at stake, a lawyer may be a good investment. You can start learning about the process yourself by going to Patent and Trademark Office Web site.

“Little guys, small businesses can go there,” Groetken says. “There’s a free searchable database to search trademarks, there’s information to help you do some basic research and learn more about what a trademark is and what is involved in establishing or protecting it. It doesn’t hurt to take the time to check it out and then hire someone.”