Category: Time-Saving Tips


Excel and Access applications to the cloud economically and safely with Amazon Workspaces

Recently there has been a major new development in cloud platform tools that allows your Excel and Access applications to the cloud economically and safely with Amazon Workspaces. This development by Amazon is truly standing them apart from other cloud providers at this stage.  We have tested and can verify excellent results with MS Access, MS Excel and other proprietary Software applications.Amazon Workspaces

So, let me explain to you, as a business owner, what this is, without the technical mumbo jumbo.

In short, Amazons new function, “Amazon Workspaces”, is a set of tools that will allow users to put their Excel spreadsheet, or MS Access application, or Word templates on to the cloud and allow all their staff to access this information.  This new feature also has backup option and security.  It allows the user to access this information via a login to the cloud on what is referred to a as a remote desktop (e.g. a window inside your operating system), so they can use whatever their business has loaded there.

It allows users to print locally where the user is located. In addition, the user has the ability to use programs and data that are remote.

Here’s a practical example of this

Last week, a client of Accede’s came to us to help them solve their dying server.  Logic dictated to move to the cloud.  They have a MS access application, a PHP based intra-web, and a proprietary software product loaded to their new Amazon Workspaces.  We loaded A few extra tools so that our client could handle

  • their shared documents and shared images,
  • auto backups,
  • photocopier/scanner document transfers
  • a range of other unique software applications.

My client uses Office 365 for all their Office Software and for their business outlook. My clients peripheral devices include Macs, tablets, hubs, printers, scanners and Windows PCs.  All my clients software and data has now been loaded to the Amazon Server, and all peripherals have been transparently  connected. As a result, all their staff can locally and remotely use this server.  We have turned off their old server locally (as this was dying and needed a full replacement or an alternative solution).

A lot of testing  has been performed on this new function and we have found that even though this client has no NBN and very poor ADSL he is getting good results from this cloud option.  This is because all of the processing and work is actually done on the server and by sending data up and down very poor internet lines.

Why Go to cloud?

Simply put; ease of use and it’s also very cost effective.  Many customers use Office 365 exchange simply because it works better.  So does this cloud feature.  It just works better, easier and has more flexibility than what most small business companies currently offer their own staff with their own servers and IT facilities; and it is so much cheaper.

I have often been asked about security.  You will find that security for exchange on office 365 is better than it was when exchange was on the average small business server.

What Amazon Workspaces offer is also more secure than what the average business offers.  So much so, that even the CIA has moved to Amazon purely due to its security.

Lack of security for cloud access is really an outrageous fear put into most business owner’s heads, due to IT people being afraid of loss of revenue.  I see this time and time again.

Cost Review of Amazon Workspaces

Based on a small business server, whose hardware, software and installation costs about 20K (this is a very average type server for say 8-15 terminals).  This 20K would be amortized over the average 4 year life span that technology and servers generally offer today.  So, the monthly cost excluding interest etc. would be $416 per month.  Plus, the average server of this type, costs about 5K per annum to maintain.  All up costs would be closer to $833 per month.

Now, if one used the Amazon Workspaces as their server, and Office 365 for their exchange one’s server maintenance is included.  On’s space, backups etc. is all included.  The monthly cost average for 10 users is just $275 per month.

The difference is clear, $833 versus $275.  Security is safer. The accessibility is easier.

Why are people not advertising how to use Amazon Workspaces?

Simply put – IT Technicians that advertise this will lose revenue.

Accede do not source their revenue from network or hardware maintenance as we are Software developers.  Our clients seek solutions to their particular needs.  Amazon really does offer a full solution for loading simple based applications to the cloud.  We continually review other cloud service providers, however Amazon is a clear leader in this area.

How could you test your Excel and Access applications to the cloud economically and safely with Amazon Workspaces without committing?

As Amazon offer this service on a monthly fee, customers can try this for a month and turn it off if it is not good enough for them.  We did this for the example I gave you at a monthly fee of about $60.  We have also loaded a single application for a client and given them access so they can test the viability of this before  investing in setting up their own virtual server etc. and this has cost the client just $40.

What does Amazon Workspaces and its setup cost?

Price varies depending on space, users, facilities etc.  If you are IT literate, you could do this yourself. However, as with any server setup, I suggest you use skilled IT people to do this for you.  An average application cost would be about $250, but a full server replacement cost, could be between $1500 and $5000, – about half the cost of a physical server setup in your office. This is really a great break through with Tools and options offered for Cloud Users.

So why not move your Excel and Access applications to the cloud economically and safely with Amazon Workspaces.



Super + Tax + Paperwork increase = ABUSE

As a business owner and employer of 32 years experience in South Australia, I am angry and tired of being abused by our Governments. For 32 years, I have done the right thing by staff, government and the Australian people and what is the outcome ABUSE!!!  Even worse than this, there is one set of rules for us and one for the Government – that’s just not fair – so much for a “Fair Go Mate”!!!

The business vacancy signs increase as does unemployment. Why can’t our government or our business advocates hear us? Not only do they refuse to hear us, if their own reports force them to see, they change the rules so the reports don’t show them the facts , e.g. unemployment figures.

Here are some examples of ABUSE by our Government on the Australian People

Payroll Tax

This tax is placed on a business that employs too many people. However, the Government does not have to pay Payroll tax, and they often compete and quote against business for contracts.

This is giving government an Unfair advantage and a false costing, when comparing Private enterprise to Government.

But what a stupid tax.


Brought about because the PAYG that we employees pay, is being abused.

Originally PAYG or payroll tax, was paid to the government for 2 reasons. Running the Government and to provide a pension in our retirement.

So what now, we will increase the retirement age, and make people be self funded, whilst we increase the PAYG tax.

Totally abusive and Unfair.

Plus to add to the nightmare, as a business each person has a right to chose their own fund and we must oblige this – Funny – the government does not offer the same rights to Government employees – Why – probably too hard!


Fact, living in SA is cheaper than the same lifestyle and life in Sydney. E.g. to live the same distance from the city, with the same food, etc. costs more in Sydney than in Adelaide. So in the past our pay rates, reflected this. Oh! But that was considered unfair!! So now we have the Fair Work Act, and we pay all people all over Australia the same rate. So when Cities smaller than Melbourne and Sydney could get jobs because of our labor rate, we no longer can. This the end effect is chaos. We are overburdening Sydney and Melbourne and losing all our talented youth to there. We are closing businesses. Those that remain open are getting less work and doing with less staff or less profits. This is non Sustainable. What brilliant legal team thought this through. Here in SA we face an election were all are promising to create new jobs (this statement in itself is a joke), but without removing this act and getting really fair – how can this be sustainable.


Many employers are 50+ years old. They have been raised without a computer, and learnt computing post school. 60% of those employed are employed via small business owners. These people often struggle with fulfilling the extra demands of Government. For example. 20 years ago, a business paid, and reported annually is Payroll related tax, its Income tax, and its financial situation. Today, we do monthly or quarterly paperwork on pays and Income. Plus annual reports. What does this mean, more paperwork, or accounting, higher accounting costs. Here is the real bug bear. 20 years ago, we paid in arrears by between 2 to 18 months. E.g. after the end of the financial year, it would be due with our company reporting. Now we not only pay each month, but we even pay predicatively in advance on our Income Tax. How abusive is that!. Pay even before we make the income – and too bad if you have a loss, you wait and the Government in the mean time enjoys your money. Plus if you are late, you get huge interest fees.


The other night on TV, an audience complained that Businesses aren’t fair when it comes to apprenticeships. I used to employ apprentices and post graduates – but no longer. It just does not pay – thanks to the Fair work Act. The reasons are simple, the unskilled unexperienced worker does not perform anywhere near the same level as a skilled worker – but we have to pay them a rate that does not relate to performance but a fair work rate. E.g. a skilled worker may get $30 per hour full time, the unskilled worker gets $22 per hour, but needs the support of the skilled worker to do his or her work. So you save $8 per hour, but it costs you about $10 per hour to support, so you are losing $2 per hour to employ an apprentice. The schemes the Government offer don’t financially cover the costs. Our government is really not being fair to our youth, and only either a foolish businessman or a businessman with personal reasons would take on an apprentice.


We are told to buy Australian – why then does our Government buy off shore, when the same if not better solutions are here and available locally.Why – because of cost, and the cost is high because of labour. This is just so unfair.


Well our government has given us the only solution. Employ contractors or Virtual assistants. This is the harsh outcome of all these demands. For some business people, it is just too hard, and they are just giving up. I still however have hope, that our government will wake up and start caring for its people, and bring back some true fairness for employers and employees. Maybe someone in the government might even read this blog and think about bringing in some changes that will assist all of us.


Cate Schafing is a successful Australian business woman in the IT field serving as CEO of Accede Holdings Pty. Ltd. makers of Ezymeetz, ICE and Virtual Gym. She develops innovative new technological products as a programmer and entrepreneur. In gratitude for her success her company supports NFP’s by donating $5000 per month in programming time for NFP’s requesting work.


Risk Management – How to Survive the Heatwave

Here in Adelaide, South Australia, we have survived an unbelievable heatwave. For many companies this means, tools down. It costs more, staff are lethargic, and customers are just not coming in. However, for others it is a boom time. It all seems that we all want the almighty dollar. Employees want security, safety and a fair pay. In addition, government want more taxes, union want more amenities and companies want more profits. Getting a balance is really the trick. Also surviving from GFC, extreme weather and an aging population. So how can we achieve this balance?

It comes down to a simple, but true adage “Work Smarter, not Harder”

Technology is doing a lot of this for us. Here are some examples:

  • Online Shopping – We don’t have to go outside and spend hours to shop.
  • Virtual Offices – We have all heard of and in occasions like this, allowing people to work from the comfort of their homes, reduces risks with travel (many angry hot road users), errors and even loads on the systems at work. So businesses that can offer virtual office work, should really encourage this during very difficult times.
  • Information on the web – It’s so often that people can get the information they need by researching on the web. Staff should keep directing them to their websites and make sure their websites are up to date.
  • Databases – What a difference can databases make? HUGE. Databases enables online shopping, paying bills, booking trips, accommodation etc. Databases can also allow people to work virtually. You just need to have yours up to date. Plus, databases can save a huge amount of wasted human resource – hence working smarter.
  • E Conferencing – Having meetings online, over the phone, via conferencing calls saves a lot of time, travel and resource. This is really getting smarter.
  • Social Media – using this to give you advantages.

Post5-imageThis is a tough time for many businesses. This heatwave and the effect it has can mean the end of the line. This could be due to age, health, profits or a range of reasons. Howeverfor most businesses, they can reduce risk, costs and in increase profits by just working smarter. We need to stop being afraid of IT, and start making it work for you. This may sound normal, but from my practical experience – this just does not happen at all.

Only last week, I wrote a Web to MYOB Automatic integration routine. I then asked the client if they knew of anyone that may use any of our other products, such as an automatic service provider. This client had already saved 2.5 days of manual labour with this integration function. He is now looking at the service provider solution and if implemented, this should save him not only loss of time, written off back debts – but 3 staff peoples jobs that can be deployed in other areas to increase business. This is working smarter, not harder. In this case, my new client did not even realise what I was discussing was possible.

If you have not done so, get someone to review how you use your IT. Review where your money is spent, and don’t forget – Ask Questions. This is the answer to getting a balance, reducing risk for all, and bringing peace of mind to all.


Cate Schafing is a successful Australian business woman in the IT field serving as CEO of Accede Holdings Pty. Ltd. makers of Ezymeetz, ICE and Virtual Gym. She develops innovative new technological products as a programmer and entrepreneur. In gratitude for her success her company supports NFP’s by donating $5000 per month in programming time for NFP’s requesting work.