Saving Money and Increasing Efficiency in IT
With the uncertainty generated by BREXIT, the economy generally being a bit slow to pickup during the first half of 2016, and with the price of oil seeming to creep back up, the future seems uncertain and everyone is looking at how to save a bit of money. The question is can you save money and be more efficient at the same time?
The short answer is yes but you have to be willing to change, and those changes in the short term will cost money and/or time which is recouped in the medium to long term. Trying to be frugal on the following solutions and do it yourself can, unless very well managed, cost you a great deal more time. After all, you get what you pay for.
An example of change and efficiency working hand in hand to increase revenue: A UK technology provider is forging their own path to growth by diversifying their business and using their hard won efficiencies to nurture a new business arm. Fidelity-Group have traditionally been in the leased line and telecoms market but are now heavily promoting their energy savings arm. Their rationale is that the systems and processes needed to manage quoting and billing are very similar. In this way they are using their strengths to build a new market for far less upfront cost than say a new company would experience.
As we are from the IT world though we wanted to give you our top ten tips on saving money on IT whilst increasing efficiency, and none of them involve firing anyone.
- Get rid of your server and its maintenance. Whilst this isn’t suited to a company doing in house software development there are still thousands of small companies out there running Microsoft Small Business Server for nothing but email, calendars, contacts and file sharing/backup. Often the way these have been setup is haphazard and leaves gaping security loopholes but that is another story. The point is if this sounds like you then you need to consider moving to Office 365. Let Microsoft look after ‘your’ server in their massive, purpose built server farms. Let them deal with updates and maintenance. Not only is it virtually guaranteed to save you money and time but with a correct implementation and the appropriate training you can become more efficient too.
- Get a better hardware supplier. Do you ever find yourself walking in to PC World to pick up a new computer? Oh dear, not only are they expensive but the tendency is to, with the best intentions, buy something with all the bells and whistles that you just don’t need. The same goes for many small computer supply shops. The problem is being able to trust that what you will get is fit for purpose without trying it first. To be honest though, should you be making that decision? Your IT guys should know what applications you need and buy the PC that is fit for purpose. Get a standard workstation from an industry supplier, and have it delivered to site the next day. No need to think about it, no need to drive/walk anywhere.
- For that matter get a better software supplier. Some hardware suppliers will also do software so long as it relates to the systems they sell. For example a large distributor of Dell will probably also do Kaspersky licenses for a fraction of the price you would pay from the Kaspersky site.
- A minor point, but something you can implement right away. Did you know that ~85 per cent of UK landline phone numbers are registered with the Telephone Preference Service, but only 3 per cent of mobiles are signed up to the service (which is mostly free)? Whilst this won’t save you money directly it will save you time from answering those pesky sales calls. Just text “TPS” to 78070.
- Hire an accounting expert, perhaps just as an advisor or on a temporary contract. They should be able to help you make cuts which don’t just get shifted on to another business unit. You may also be able to tap legal resources to review existing supplier contracts.
- Take control of “unmanaged” costs such as power consumption, or printing. Ensure you can measure these costs accurately so you can see where you can make further savings.
- Get rid of useless software. We all have that subscription somewhere that eats away at our bank account until we notice one day and wonder why we ever bought it in the first place, or in some cases IF we even bought it! It could be the anti-virus software you used to use, or even the current software which can often be bought cheaper through a different supplier. Is it strictly necessary? Does anyone use it? Isnt there an open source version you could use?
- Switch to VoIP telephony. Typical savings are in the 40% region. You will need a good internet connection to do this but even the Virgin home broadband upwards of 100mbps is good enough for a dozen people (though not if you run a call centre).
- An obvious one – review your marketing plans often. Are you getting a return on any of your expenditure? Are you spending enough in the right places or just throwing money at a marketing spread where its impossible to tell what is working and what isn’t? For example if sending a branded Filofax to a highly targeted prospect costs £200 but they become a high value customer for life is that not better than sending 10,000 emails to fairly random people?
- Rationalise your systems. Emails, websites and failover services are high on the list for this. If youre a bit worried about touching it (using the “if it isn’t broken” rule!) get in a consultant to help make it more efficient moving forwards. So much can be done on the cloud today, and often it presents a much more economical option.
You are not expected to know everything. Equally though when was the last time your IT company came to you and said “hey, we have this great idea that will improve your business/an aspect of your business, and it is really easy to implement”? And then it happened, it was easy/cost effective, and it made a difference?
Do we practise what we preach? To some extent yes we do, we invest back in ourselves in new learning, certifications, and IT equipment and software to do our jobs better. We have embraced the cloud and learned to use the tools it gives us to be more efficient. We have also just refurbished our office which now looks respectable enough to not be embarrassed about bringing clients to. So why not come and visit us for a coffee if you are ever in Oxfordshire?
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