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Multiple offices and software

burgburg Experienced MentorGloucesterModerator, FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,441
Not sure if any of you fellow MIP's run multiple offices but if you do can I ask a few questions:-

1 - What software do you use and would you recommend it?

2 - Do you share access between the different locations?

3 - Have you considered or do you outsource your IT servers and access remotely

Thanks
Regards,

Burg

Comments

  • JodieRJodieR Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 1,002
    I've only got one office but I do often work at client's offices and need to access files there. I have an HP server in my office - usually I'll drag the client files I need onto my desktop before visiting them as this is quicker, but if I need to access anything from the server when I'm not in the offfice I use filezilla to retrieve the files. It's pretty simple to use and only take a few seconds to download a word/excel file but a big quickbooks file can take about 10 mins or sometimes longer depending on the speed of the internet I'm connected to.
    Don't know if that helps you!
  • burgburg Experienced Mentor GloucesterModerator, FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,441
    Thanks Jodie.

    It does help somewhat but I do already have a similar facility.

    This would be however to access all client files and the software database between the two locations as it would be a permanent solution rather than temporary.

    Thanks though
    Regards,

    Burg
  • jamesm96jamesm96 Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 523
    We don't have multiple offices, but we do have some remote workers. As it stands we have a PC for each of them in our comm's room, and they use Remote Desktop from their homes to work remotely with full access to our software and databases (we use Iris) and emails... etc. They have a SIP telephone line at their home (a VOIP technology, so it just requires that they have a reasonable internet connection) so that we can put calls through to them through our own telephone system and when they call clients it shows as being our main telephone number, so the clients don't know any different.

    Iris did try to sell us their Virtualised service, whereby they host a server and we would all access a virtual desktop via Terminal Services or something similar. I personally thought their prices were a tad steep, but maybe if there aren't too many user it might be worth it.

    We did also consider doing away with the local PCs for each remote user in favour of having a Terminal Server which would host up to 5 remote users but the capital outlay was prohibitive.
  • JodieRJodieR Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 1,002
    I'll be really interested to hear what you end up going with - I'm no IT expert but can't think of an easy cost-effective way to do this. I can't even think of any clients of mine who operate like this. Even most of the larger companies I've worked for in the past have had their own IT structure and maybe synced with other offices overnight. Somewhere like the insolvency service had a national database which everyone had access to but that was archaic and very slow.
    That was a long time ago though, I'm sure there are way better products avaliable now!
  • jamesm96jamesm96 Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 523
    There is also the option of having a VPN? We found that Iris didn't work very well over a VPN so it wasn't a good option for us, but other software / databases might? To be fair, Iris now uses a SQL database and we haven't tried VPN since they changed, so maybe it'd work now.
  • burgburg Experienced Mentor GloucesterModerator, FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,441
    Mike,

    Thanks for your responses. We have considered a VPN but our worries are over the reliability of it.

    Whilst RDP to a single machine can work well for remote users on an ad-hoc basis I think on a regular day to day basis it may become difficult. As you say a terminal server is going to cost a bit though.

    I think hosted servers are possibly the only way to get access to the full clients at both locations unless we purchase the hardware ourselves which with the cost of maintaining is probably going to be similar to remote hosting anyway.
    Regards,

    Burg
  • jamesm96jamesm96 Experienced Mentor Registered Posts: 523
    burg wrote: »
    Whilst RDP to a single machine can work well for remote users on an ad-hoc basis I think on a regular day to day basis it may become difficult.

    Well, I've always felt it's a bit of a Heath Robinson solution but, to be honest, it works! We have three remote workers ourselves and they all say they get on fine with it. Obviously it does require that you both have a solid internet connection, but that's not much to ask these days. We have one guy in London (we're in Kent), another in Ireland and another in Spain, and we've had no problems with any of them for a while now, as far as IT setup is concerned.
  • burgburg Experienced Mentor GloucesterModerator, FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,441
    Thanks Mike,

    I've gathered some prices together. Regardless of software used the options are:-

    Host servers - (monthly + VAT) £25 per user for hosted desktop, £10 per user for MS office, £5 per user for MS exchange email box. For our total users around £200 per month

    Own Servers - Add an additional server for terminal services with enough CALS and Volume license of MS Office - £4k + VAT.

    We could expect this server to last around 3 years but then we would be looking at replacing both servers at this point so cost would be around £6-7k as our other server also has Exchange server.

    Plus we would have a need for IT support for the hardware which may come at some additional cost as well.

    Although a VPN is possible we become reliant upon upload speeds as well as download and usually to achieve this we would need a leased line at our local exchange but may be more difficult and unreliable.

    Overall I think we are set to go down the hosted route. We now just need to decide which software we choose to go forward with...???
    Regards,

    Burg
  • deanshepherddeanshepherd Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 1,809
    Hi Ian

    Have you decided which route to go down?

    I'm thinking ahead for changes at our office that may need a similar solution.

    Thanks,

    Dean
  • burgburg Experienced Mentor GloucesterModerator, FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,441
    Dean,

    Yes we have decided on doing hosted servers from www.hosteddesktopuk.co.uk based on recomendations.

    This seems to be the most economical way. Our current server is only 6months old but we have two options with it.

    1 - virtualise it and add licensing for remote desktop but it will need some serious upgrading to cope

    2 - add a second server and do the above bu without the need to upgrade our existing server

    Both of these options have come back with quotes around the £6k mark.

    Hosted desktop for our anticipated 5 users would be £200 a month so given the servers would need replacing in 3-5 years and would need maintaining and possible trouble shooting hosted seems a much better option.

    If our plans go ahead then we will move hosted in the near future, all of which can be done from thurs to mon with little lost time.

    Even if things don't go as planned then our experience with the recent floods down here may mean we decide to go hosted anyway.

    Happy to chat about this if you want.
    Regards,

    Burg
  • DeanDean Experienced Mentor DevonRegistered Posts: 646
    Here's another you might like to enquire: http://www.hostedaccountants.co.uk/

    Regards

    Dean
  • burgburg Experienced Mentor GloucesterModerator, FMAAT, AAT Licensed Accountant Posts: 1,441
    Have spoken to them as well Dean
    Regards,

    Burg
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