28 Feb 2018

Keep your business afloat in bad weather

The sudden extreme weather that is causing disruption across the UK, prompts us to remind you of our article about adverse weather. Be it floods or snow, are you prepared? Tony Poole, the Managing Director of Synergy Technology warns not to be complacent, protecting valuable business data and reducing the risk of financial loss due to damage to IT equipment and the subsequent disruption to business is critical to SMEs, particularly in areas susceptible to flooding or affect by snow. It may happen again!

“The Environment Agency warns that climate change will increase the risk of more floods across the UK, leading to further problems for businesses and homeowners. Whether or not we can expect more frequent adverse weather conditions, business owners must remember it only takes a single disaster to potentially wipe out the whole business with the damage it can cause.” warns Tony.

“Even if a flood is not necessarily on your doorstep and whether or not water damage is destroying your premises, it may affect the power supply to your business or accessibility to your office for your workforce. It is also important to remember that supplier catastrophes are as critical as your own, so know your supply chain too. It is therefore essential to consider how prepared you are to avoid an interruption to the daily running of your business, and the long term financial effects that adverse weather may cause to your business.

Many of these problems can be avoided by ensuring you are well prepared and that your systems are set up to cater for unexpected interruptions to the running of your business due to natural disasters.”

Based on his own client experience, here are Tony’s 10 useful tips to avoid disruption to your business due to flooding or adverse weather condition.

Ten Top Tips to keep your business afloat in the next floods.

Back up and storage of critical data

It is important to instil a regular data backup procedure. Power cuts, flooding and energy shortages will cause disruption, but preparation is key. As long as staff know in advance what to do if the worst happens, data can be saved. For organisations, a solid data backup plan is the best way to keep critical data protected; establishing a relationship with a trusted data recovery provider should also be an integral part of any disaster recovery plan.

Conduct a data assessment. Know your high-value data assets – where your customer information and other sensitive data is stored, which files are heavily used, who is using them and which departments and teams they align with. Try to restore data on a quarterly basis.

Prioritise what data you need to have on hand after a disaster and who will need to have access to it. And don’t neglect laptops, as most people do. Most disaster recovery plans are focused on protecting just the office server and business data stored at data centres.

Remember – never assume that data is irrecoverable. Professional data recovery services offer the expertise and tools required to recover data quickly and successfully.

Make sure critical applications are also accessible

Not only does your business data need to be backed up and accessed during a flood crisis, but business applications too. Make sure critical applications are also accessible. Protecting your data is not enough if you want to keep the business running during an event that causes downtime. Ensure critical applications can be virtualised in the cloud and are licenced for use in different locations or from different hardware and devices, should you have to change the location and computer equipment used, if your business office and IT equipment is affected by floods.

Keep sensitive electronic equipment high and dry!

It might seem obvious, but if your office is susceptible to the risk of flooding, keep IT equipment and cables at a reasonable height off the ground and store critical equipment on higher levels, i.e. first floor or second floor. Make sure that your team switch off and disconnect computers and electronic equipment at the end of the working day, leaving only the vital systems operating.

Secure your data by using offsite servers

SMEs can actually improve their disaster preparedness by adopting a hosted workspace and cloud data storage which also greatly improves backup costs, recovery of data and boosts performance, and also reduces the requirement for office-based critical IT support.

Store business data in a secure cloud or hosted workspace and keep backups off site, in a safe location. How far off site depends on the risks you are worried about. Essentially, you are putting your business operational network into a hosted cloud environment and it is then delivered to you on-demand. The onus of responsibility for security, updates, redundancy, and failover and business continuity then rests with your hosted provider.

Cloud storage and hosted workspace providers such as Citadel digital workspace and cloud services, takes away the requirements for an in-house server and subsequent in-house maintenance and server-based IT support. Desktop hardware can be replaced with the most up-to-date hardware or mobile devices available on the market offering significant additional cost benefits and user flexibility.

Reduce the risk of damage to IT and computer equipment

By implementing a hosted workspace you immediately reduce the computer hardware and IT equipment required onsite in your office and you can operate your business using much less desktop hardware. Therefore much less computer equipment is at risk of water damage due to flooding.

Most business applications for users delivered via virtual desktops have very minimal requirements, so any laptop or mobile device with internet access is likely to be able to access the virtual workspace.

Adopting a virtual environment where your team can work from any location

Creating a flexible workspace is king. By adopting a mobile workspace for employees, users of a hosted workspace can gain a full desktop experience from Internet-enabled devices as varied as tablets, smartphones or their home computers.

Your business programs, applications and data delivered from the virtual desktop can therefore be accessed from any location – not just the office, so employees can even work from home.
If flood risk is imminent, encourage workers to take their laptops, work phones and other vital equipment home each night.

If creating a mobile office solution works for your business, just make sure in advance that your employees have a suitable Wi-Fi connection at home and that your insurance policies cover both the employees and company equipment when working from home.

Prepare a back-up workspace for business

In the case of flooding or a similar disaster affecting your office, if your employees still need to work collaboratively from one location, then ensure you have access to an alternative office location. Temporary office space leases are available with options to access:

  • Executive meeting room access
  • Wi-Fi, IT and phone support
  • Reception services

So make sure you have already a record of suitable temporary office services (think carefully about their location) which have the capacity to meet your business needs and can offer your office space at short notice.

Keep things running

When storms and other natural disasters strike, small businesses are especially vulnerable to power outages. While larger companies may have multiple locations that can pick up the slack while operations at one site shut down, the same is usually not true for the typical small business, particularly businesses in rural locations where the priority for reconnection may be lower than for nearby town centres.

Small businesses can combat these potential issues by installing a generator. Two basic varieties of generators are available. Automatic, or standby, generators that are permanently connected to a building’s electrical system. When the power shuts down, those generators automatically detect the problem and restore power to the building. On the other hand, portable, or backup, generators run on gasoline or diesel and have to be manually installed once a power outage occurs. While automatic generators require little or no work for the business owner, portable generators are typically less expensive.

Prepare a Crisis management procedure

To prepare for any future threat to your office being affected by flooding, prepare an effective disaster recovery plan. During a chaotic emergency in which there is flooding, fires or power outages, your team may not have the time to follow a long, complicated plan.

A plan must identify crisis management team members and set out their roles and responsibilities. It should also establish processes that:

  • Engage the right people at the right time
  • Maintain effective communication
  • Manage information and resources to keep the business running
  • Promote timely decision making

Think through the most likely threats to your business, cover all aspects, as well as natural disasters such as flooding keep in mind everything from human error to component failure. Most disasters happen without warning. This is what makes them so difficult to deal with. The actual disaster is not going to happen regularly, it’s going to be more chaotic. You need to be prepared.

Have a practice run!

Once you have considered all of the tips, make sure that your plans and preparation for running your business in adverse weather actually work, and don’t wait for the next spate of floods to see if your business sinks or swims! Try it and try it again. If you plan, the likelihood is that your business will stay afloat!

Enjoy working in a rural environment

Nateby Business Park, Cartmell Ln, Preston PR3 0LU

Synergy Technology is based in Wyre House, Nateby Business Park which is located in the stunning rural setting of Nateby. Working from a converted barn complex the Synergy Technology team enjoy the balance of working in a stress-free environment with a calm countryside location yet still operating a fully professional IT business. “Our office environments were designed from the outset to be disaster ready. We have an onsite generators, fibre and lease lines, CCTV with 24 hour onsite security, yet all set in a tranquil environment with nothing but beautiful views to fill your vision and inspire your team.” says Tony.

“We should encourage more businesses to set up office in rural areas to engender a more calm and welcoming working environment for employees” he adds. “Reducing the stress of commuting to crowded and expensive office locations in the city and town centres can only be beneficial to both the business and employees.”

“Our rural office can operate independently in adverse flooding or similar situations.  Says Tony, “By adopting a hosted IT system and engendering a mobile workspace it is the ideal solution to meet these requirements. I welcome any local business to come and take a look at our rural premises and determine the benefits of a peaceful rural office location. We have office space available for your business, and we can also discuss your business IT and data security, if fact, we can offer you a complete business solution.”

Footnote: For businesses located in areas prone to flooding, The Environment Agency provides a comprehensive guide for SMEs “Would your business stay afloat? A guide to preparing your business for flooding” 

Share this
01 Feb 2018

Dynamics NAV and Dynamics 365 : Understanding the differences

When it comes to looking for the perfect ERP solution for business we often receive enquiries regarding which product to choose between Dynamics 365 for Financials Business Edition and Dynamics NAV. A lot of these conversations have come about due to the push in the industry towards the Dynamics 365 brand, and what we are seeing is that it causes a lot of confusion for prospective buyers.

Michael Gibbs, Microsoft Dynamics NAV specialist at Synergy Technology, offers guidance to help eliminate some of the confusion, but to also establish that this is not a debate about Dynamics 365 for Financials Business Edition vs Dynamics NAV, but determining what is the best option that fits your business, and your future plans and depending on how much control you want over its implementation.

Dynamics 365– The Brand

To start off with, you will see a lot of communication around Dynamics 365, but do not think this is an all-consuming product. View it like you would Office 365 – a solution that encompasses several products – but as a business systems solution.

Dynamics 365 this is not just one product, it has a suite of functions delivered as apps ranging from Sales, Marketing, Projects, Field Service through to Financials. Dynamics 365 apps are built to work integrally together.

When we are talking about Dynamics 365 in this article, we are referring to the Financials Business Edition app. A bit like if you wanted to talk to someone about Office 365 and its offering around email, you would be referring to Outlook. As simplistic as this may sound, this is exactly the scenario we encounter with Dynamics 365. As a brand it is all about which applications (apps) within the Dynamics 365 stack you want to use. You can opt for just a one off application, or you can choose from the suite which apps fit your business requirements to work together.
Michael Gibbs, Synergy Technology

So, let’s just talk about the Finance / Operations element

Now, within the Financials application, this is where most of the confusion comes into play. This application is offered as two different solutions: the standard Dynamics NAV product, which has been around for over 30 years, and Dynamics 365 for Financials Business Edition app. The point to be made clear here is: they are not two competing products, they are one of the same designed with different ways of delivery and usage!

To make this simple, there are two distinct differences between these two solutions: Dynamics 365 for Financials Business Edition is only offered as Software as a Service (SaaS) solution and it is a cut down version of Dynamics NAV. This mean that it is only available through a cloud based application (hosted by Microsoft) and the software can only be accessed via the Internet, whereas Dynamics NAV can hosted on a third party cloud service, or implemented locally on your own server which is also coined as “on premise” and offers all of the ERP functionality.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV

Dynamics NAV, which has an established presence in the ERP market, has grown over the years to be rich in functions and features and has developed over time as the most popular ERP solution for business. As well as supporting generic business functionality, Dynamics NAV also provides features that support supply chain management, warehouse and manufacturing, customer relationship management and much more. Microsoft Dynamics NAV is suitable for businesses with 15 to 300 users.

Learn more about Dynamics NAV

Dynamics 365 for Financials Business Edition

Dynamics 365 Financials Business Edition is hosted by Microsoft. Microsoft hosting is a recent development, but the actual application behind the product has the same code-base as the on-premise version of NAV so it’s not more recent from a functional point of view. Delivered as a SaaS ERP system, it is offered as a more economical cloud based application developed and hosted on Microsoft’s cloud service Azure. Dynamics 365 for Financials provides functionality in finance, procurement, sales and inventory and is intended as a cloud based solution designed for companies with between one to five users who want a small implementation to replace or to migrate upwards from applications such as Xero, Sage 50 and Quickbooks.

Learn more about Dynamics 365

Hosted vs on Premise solutions

When considering the best way to determine the right solution for your business, one of the major differences between these two applications is the implementation. Dynamics 365 for Financials Business Edition is a cloud application and can only be purchased on subscription. With Dynamics 365 for Financials Business Edition, there is no requirement to install the application directly onto your computer, nor any requirement to install updates, patches or new releases. This is all managed by the host (Microsoft Azure) and the software application is delivered online. For many companies particularly without an internal IT infrastructure this is great option. Needless to say for other companies, this model involves some disadvantages including lack of flexibility and data autonomy.

Microsoft Dynamics NAV offers more flexibility particularly for businesses looking for additional bespoke development and customisation within the system. With Dynamics NAV, you choose whether to install the solution on your own server or in a third party cloud such as Azure or other third party hosting services such as Citadel. Dynamics NAV works equally as well when the solution is placed in the cloud or on premise.

Learn more about Hosted solutions

Synergy Technology also offers a hosted version of Dynamics NAV called inSpiredNAV, which can have your business up and running on NAV within two weeks and is positioned as a “go between” the two products. Designed for organisations with between 5-15 users, the key benefit of inSpiredNAV is that some businesses want to move onto better ERP solutions but are equally concerned about venturing into costly project and time-consuming software implementations.

Learn more about inSpiredNAV

User Flexibility and Functionality

Dynamics NAV can be purchased either with a permanent licence or you can purchase the solution on a subscription basis, where you pay your license on a regular basis as with a ‘SaaS’ solution. The Dynamics NAV starter pack includes three full users. Additional users can be purchased either as ‘Full Users’ that have access to everything in Dynamics NAV or as ‘Limited Users’ with read only access and the ability to work in a limited number of databases or modules.

Dynamics 365 is delivered with named users licenses on a subscription basis only. You pay for each user who needs access to Dynamics 365. With regards to the functionality of the software itself, Dynamics 365 Financial Business Edition and Dynamics NAV are very similar. Microsoft continues to release updates and supports both applications. If you need more advanced functionality such as inventory management, production and advanced service out of the box, Dynamics NAV is almost certainly the right solution for your business. This functionality is included in the Dynamics NAV Extended Pack, but is not available in Dynamics 365 Finance Business Edition.

Bespoke Development and Customisation

If you need expanded or additional functionality for Dynamics 365 Financials, third party add-ons and modules can purchased via AppSource, whereas with Dynamics NAV you can develop the add-ons and additional functionality within the system to exactly meet your requirements.

Dynamics NAV has been designed to support client specific enhancements that work alongside its standard functionality and can be tailored by developers to suit a wide range of requirements. Development work can cover anything from integration between Dynamics NAV and third party add-ons or modules, developing sophisticated reporting systems that combines data from several systems linked to Dynamics NAV. Dynamics NAV is one of the most open ERP systems when it comes to customisation and the system can be modified to accommodate the exact business needs in your company.

Learn more about bespoke solutions and customisation

The Future

One thing to consider is that this is the current landscape only and Microsoft are looking at decommissioning Dynamics 365 for Financials Business Edition and replacing it with Dynamics 365 Tenerife – this is just a code name until it is branded. Great, I hear you say, another confusion. Well, this should actually make this simpler, and again to reinforce that they there are not two options competing against each other.

Ok, so how will this be achieved? Well Dynamics NAV will also become Dynamics 365 Tenerife and then your only decision is to whether have the product as a SaaS model, where Microsoft controls your system (including upgrading the software) or you still license the product to be hosted on your own servers, or alternatively hosted on a third party platform (for example Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Citadel, etc). The second option allows you to control when you upgrade the software, what modules you install from the software suite onto your system as well as the ability to integrate it with your other internal systems, add bespoke functions developed in-house or bolt on third party add-ons (even elements like how to integrate with a suppliers EDI system etc).

More news will be coming out in the next few months about the future development , but in the meantime to discuss your ERP requirements and which version of Dynamics NAV is best for your business, contact Synergy Technology on 0345 456 0050.

Share this
03 Jan 2018

Making Big Data work for an SME

We spoke to Tony Poole, Director at Synergy Technology, for his experience and insight into the movement of Big Data and the analytics that goes along with it.

In terms of a Big Data project you have implemented, be it either internally in your business or externally with an SME client, what were the key objectives of the project?

“Traditionally in business you have a number of data “silos” – within accounting, ERP, contact management systems etc. as well as other data, like banking data, sales data – and, both could be national and international. The major problem for businesses is that it’s all disparate data.

What we have in real terms in businesses today, worldwide, is multiple silos of data that do not talk to each other. The objectives we aim to achieve with Big Data for clients, is to integrate these silos of data so that they are unified and easily accessible”.

And that was a challenge – to unify these silos?

“About six years ago the biggest challenge we had was that people had contact management data on one side and accounting information on the other side of their business. And when a customer would write to the organisation the accounts department might get the letter and update the accounts, but nobody would update the contact management system.

Now we have CRM, websites, social media and e-commerce platforms, and of course we have even more silos of data that are all disparate. The first hurdle to get over is linking simple internal systems together so if information is changed in any apex it changes throughout the business. For me that was the start of Big Data.

Now the challenge is even greater. Now it’s about taking data that’s internal to the business or purchased data, with data from the cloud, plus statistical data, and bringing it all together to build a better and more informed picture”.

What does that picture look like?

“We have clients who will take point of sale data, and combine it with data on the weather and data on their own customers.

What that allows them to do is to take a holistic view of sales in a particular store on a particular type of day.

A good example is a major homeware stockist in the UK who stocks barbecues when they know it’s coming into warm weather. But how they determine how many to precisely stock is down to data such as the temperature and the average sales at a certain temperature. We’ve seen this with a few clients and the demand for this data is growing; a one degree change in temperature can double sales”.

Is this the real impact of Big Data?

“Well, if I was running a store selling barbecues then Big Data has an impact and this would be: if the weather forecast tells me that next week will be on average 22 degrees, I’m going to have to stock up very quickly on barbeques. Because of the ease of access to data, I can now combine my predictive weather forecast with my historical sales data – which is sliced into specific temperature headings and predict how many barbecues I should have on order from my wholesaler, on their way to me, to satisfy the potential demand.

If this is done properly the impact is: more sales. If badly planned, I could be out of stock and thus not meet demand. By using the data that’s available and by bringing it all together it allows us to predict more accurately”.

How has it changed your clients’ processes?

Unless you have access to the right data – both internally to the business and external subscription data – you can’t bring it together. What we are seeing is that our clients are becoming more aware of this.

The largest area of this is in e-commerce and website purchasing, particularly for FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) businesses, because people’s trends change based upon the time of year, their requirements, seasonal events etc.

It’s important to remember that what we’re really talking about is just the joining of the silos of data. Whether it’s data you own or that others own and you’re renting, or whether it’s just you keeping all your silos in sync, this end result is consolidating and joining to create Big Data.

If you would like to find how to consolidate your business data and utilise it more effectively for your buiness then contact Synergy Technology on 0345 345 0050 or send us an enquiry today.

Share this
03 Jan 2018

GDPR compliance is about training your employees

Even the best cybersecurity tools are only as effective if people use them correctly. As useful as the tools are to implement GDPR (see our previous blogs GDPR Compliance and GDPR Compliance – Navigating a steep learning curve ) – it is important to ensure that your business avoids accidental data breaches by training your employees. Make sure they understand what they need to do to remain compliant and avoid simple mistakes.

Why do employees make mistakes?

Human error is at the heart of most data breach incidents. Something as simple as attaching the wrong document to an email may seem like a harmless mistake, but if that attachment contains information about any individual from an EU country, this will likely put you in breach of new GDPR regulations.

The following is a list of the most common reasons an employee may breach data security laws:

  • Lack of understanding or knowledge
  • Shadow IT (where users inside organisations download and use software without explicit organisational approval.)
  • Non-secure mobile devices
  • Weak or stolen credentials
  • Misuse of access privileges

Why you can’t afford mistakes in relation to the GDPR

The GDPR encompasses multiple requirements designed to make businesses more accountable for their data practices. The increase in territorial applicability, severity of fines and conditions for consent will create a serious learning curve for compliance. To cope, employee training will need to be in-depth and thorough. The good news is, investing in holistic, company-wide training can get everyone – from the managerial level down – on board and up to date with the changes that are coming in May 2018.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) - the numbers behind its importance

How to keep compliant and avoid mistakes

Failing to address the human component of data protection leaves the impressive features of your security technology redundant. Considering the changes that the GDPR will bring, employee training should, at a minimum, cover the following core areas:

Personal Information

How to deal with personal information your company is holding:

  • Securely storing personal information when it is not being used.
  • Encrypt personal information so it can be securely taken out of the office.
  • Perform and keep back-ups of information.
  • Limit the amount of personal information given out over the phone and to follow up with written confirmation.

Individuals’ rights

Understand the main rights for individuals under the GDPR:

  • Subject access.
  • To have information erased.
  • To prevent direct marketing.
  • To have inaccuracies corrected.


How is your company seeking, obtaining and
recording consent?

  • The difference between consent and explicit consent.
  • The standards for consent per the GDPR.
  • When to rely on consent and when to look for an alternative.


You must document the details of the personal data you hold:

  • What kind of data is it?
  • Where did it come from?
  • Who is it shared with?
  • Are you in compliance with the GDPR’s accountability system?

The value of training

Without the right training, even the best enterprise IT platforms can be rendered irrelevant. If employees are unable or unwilling to use latest software, it will end up underutilised or not used at all. This can unintentionally lead to non-compliance in your organisation and increase the likelihood of fines.

Dedicated training courses and schemes can deliver targeted, practical experience to users in the tools they use daily. Through this training, they can gain the knowledge and confidence they need to use such applications effectively. This can drive improved communication, collaboration and business information analysis. Most importantly, though, it can lead to data security best practice. Users that are familiar and adept with the tools they are working with are far less likely to make mistakes.

Organisations found in breach of the GDPR will face regulatory sanctions and reputational damage, at a minimum. The scale at which these changes are coming – and the fines that come with them – is monumental. Large organisations could suffer a massive setback if they were to be fined 4% of their annual income. But for SMEs, the potential threat of a regulatory fine may be enough to shut them down for good. Organisations should, therefore, seek potential managed service and cloud providers to assess their situation regarding GDPR compliance.

If you are looking to update your systems in order to comply with GDPR or want access to further GDPR resources contact Synergy Technology today.

Go to the Information Commissioner’s Office website for a full overview of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).



Share this
02 Jan 2018
19 Dec 2017

What we love about Dynamics NAV 2018

With the release of Dynamics NAV 2018, Microsoft has focused on the development of the Web client and ease of use as well as smoother back-end work to help benefit developers and programmers.
Synergy Technology’s Dynamics NAV specialist Michael Gibbs identifies some of the highlights of NAV 2018, the latest release from Microsoft, released in December 2018.

read more
Share this

© 2017 Synergy Technology. All Rights Reserved

Click Me