IT budgets always attract attention, and for good reason. Investment in technology is expensive, making it just as important to manage the costs after your initial spend, by:
- Staying on top of running costs
- Leveraging operational efficiencies where sensible and
- Applying strong cost-benefit rationalisation when it comes to new initiatives and system development
Good IT management and cost optimisation is an ongoing discipline and any business that treats it like a one-off exercise will soon realise the negative effects, and not just on the P&L.
A well-oiled machine performs best when all the parts work together and knowing when and where to attribute spend is essential to serving the best interests of the business, especially when that business or agency is growing..
That’s not to say it will always be easy. If you’re working hard to make progress on your business IT roadmap and the budget throws a spanner in the works, it’s going to be frustrating. But, it’s much better to be part of the longer-term solution and accept when it’s right to make money-saving changes or press pause on a project, than dig your heels in and find your project taken off the table altogether.
To that end, here are our top five tips around IT costs and keeping them tight for the greater good.
1 - Keep IT costs transparent
As well as having a definite idea of the IT requirements of your business, keeping decision makers in the loop is always a good idea. If IT-related costs are transparent and you can benchmark them against competitor or peer spend, all the better. By doing this, you can see where costs fall below or sit above industry averages and help those who don’t have as much exposure or experience as you, to see where and why money is being spent.
2 - Use shared services wherever possible
Multiple offices, vendors, agencies, consultants and varying service contracts, can duplicate costs unnecessarily. By making shared services the norm, standardising costs, agreeing service levels up-front and locking in competitive terms, you can improve the cost and standard of service in one smart move.
Small businesses can make huge savings if they’re prepared to share their workspace with like-minded businesses. All-inclusive office packages are another viable option, allowing businesses to set-up shop in a space that comes with furniture, hardware, internet, phone lines - even receptionists, conference facilities, kitchens and IT support - in some cases.
3 - Standardise technologies
And don’t worry, parity doesn’t mean you lose the ability to create unique network capabilities for employees with very specific roles such as accountants or IT developers, for example. That’s perfectly doable, it just means the bulk of the business can be managed as one and individual updates don’t take excessive amounts of time or create gaps that leave your network open to risk.
4 - Optimise software licensing
With vendors moving licensing models from one-off charge to subscription-based accounts, it’s a good idea to review your agreements and take stock to make sure you’re getting value for money and not paying over the odds for services you don’t need or won’t use.
- Revisiting your business needs
- Shopping the market and comparing providers like-for-like
- Reading the small print and
- Talking to a provider such as Optimity if you need help working out what’s best for your business
Remember, there are lots of free and competitively-priced office software and IT support options out there too. The software market has been booming and innovative programmes are now available on everything from accounting to project management for businesses that need IT support in London, for example. Most offer free trials and all of them promise to save time, money and resource, so it makes sense to get in on the ‘try before you buy’ offers and test a few.
5 - Leverage cloud services
Cloud computing allows companies to avoid up-front IT infrastructure costs such as servers, and allows them to focus on their core business and the things they’re good at.
- It offers new levels of flexibility: letting businesses scale the service to match changing needs, and simplifying decision-making around storage, system access and security.
- It’s efficient: helping businesses get their offering to market quicker, and, because it relies on remote resources, organisations save on hardware and storage and negate the need for data centres.
- It adds strategic value: allowing business to collaborate better, offer remote working and bridge time zones with ease. It means always having access to the most up-to-date software and technology without paying for upgrades and streamlined processes that increase productivity.
There are many other ways to reduce your business IT costs, and investing in the services of an IT consultancy will help you create an effective and efficient IT infrastructure that works for you.
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