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New Look

Ready for a tech makeover?

In the fast-paced world of travel agencies, New York City-based Skyline International Travel was struggling to keep up. Saddled with an outdated computer system that lacked networking, remote access and Internet capabilities, employees were spending valuable time passing around floppy disks and waiting to use the fax machine.

With only four employees, Skyline was too small to justify hiring a full-time information technology (IT) specialist, so president Vivian Rodrigues turned to Ramon Ray and his New York City Family Computer Consulting Services to get the firm up to speed. Ray, who had three years' experience working with small-business owners, engineered a solution for Skyline's computer shortfalls. He started by installing a peer-to-peer network to optimize information sharing among employees. Since Rodrigues does a great deal of business from his home office and on the road, Ray equipped Rodrigues' PCs with a high-speed modem and remote access software, allowing him to access Skyline's LAN for timely information. An Internet connection, space on a server to build a Web site and e-mail capability completed the job.

The outcome of this IT makeover? Rodrigues has seen improvements not just in office productivity but profitability as well. "[Ray] put us on the map, so to speak," Rodrigues says. "The exposure from our Web site has gotten us at least one account. Also, without e-mail we were faxing a lot, and since we do a lot of international work, our phone bills were very high. He saved us a tremendous amount of money."

When outsourcing your IT needs, Ray suggests testing prospective vendors with small assignments before signing a contract with them for a complete makeover. While most IT outsourcing referrals come via word of mouth, you can also check out the Web site of the Independent Computer Consultants Association at http://www.icca.org for more information.

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This article was originally published in the March 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: New Look.

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