10 Ways Your Small Business Can Cut IT Costs Without Cutting Value (Part 2)



In part one of this two-part series (here) on ways to cut IT costs without cutting value I talked about cloud services, virtualization, consolidating service and the importance of inventorying your current usage. In part two I’ll talk about some other cost-saving techniques you can employ to bring your overall costs down.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (Go Green)

Do we really need to talk about going green?  There is no secret here, going green not only helps the environment but it also helps the bottom line of any business. 

This can be a very broad topic; including eWaste and Recycling measures.  For purposes of this article, we’re going to keep the scope narrow and only focus on the Reduce side of going green!

As discussed already, there are many ways for you to reduce your carbon footprint using Virtualization or consolidation – or even upgrading to more energy efficient hardware.  However the biggest [reduce] impact, to all businesses, is in going paperless!  In fact, the bigger the company, the bigger the impact.

Let’s face it though, a 100% paperless office is not a reality for most businesses – yet!  But there are many solutions that allow businesses to reduce a great portion of their paper usage. 

We already know that Electronic Medical Records and a higher level of integration within the medical, pharmaceutical and insurance industries are helping quite a bit.  Naturally, moving other business tasks, in other business sectors, to an electronic format can achieve the same savings.  Think about the savings if you replaced printed employee handbooks, phone lists, expense reports or minutes of meetings with electronic versions. And electronic documents are easier to update if the need arises.

Luckily there are many solutions such as CRMs or project management solutions that do exactly that.  A new trend is to create Intranets, an internal Internet within the company, to share information and collaborate on projects.  A great example of this would be Novell’s Vibe, which allows you to bring people, projects and processes together in one secure place to enhance team productivity—no matter where the team is or what devices they use. 

If you would like to find out more, you can reach out to Santech Network Solutions for a free consulting session.

Reduce soft costs

This is business 101 and yet, it is probably the hardest to explain to most small business owners.  I think it’s because they are always looking at hard costs and not thinking about the soft costs – so what’s the difference?

When you purchase a computer the amount you pay is a hard cost.  The amount you pay to install that computer on your network and maintain it over the years are examples of soft costs.  These kinds of soft costs are easier for most people to recognize.

But there are also hidden soft costs like loss of productivity due to slow computers and the cost of the electricity used to run and cool them. 

One of the biggest costs ignored by most, is the cost of consumables with imaging solutions.

Just like there’s no free lunch, that free inkjet printer you got with your PC purchase – isn’t really free.  The money you think you saved is actually costing you $.50/day in electricity! Multiply that by the number of employees with ‘free’ printers on their desks then compare that cost to running a single networked printer!

Buy Refurbished

I’ve explained how virtualization or upgrading outdated equipment can directly impact the bottom line.  Buying refurbished is the hidden magic that’s going to super-size all the benefits already discussed above!

Why?  If you find a good source for your refurbished equipment, you can recognize all the savings and benefits at a fraction of the cost.  Let me say that again, you can save on your savings; you can pay less to save more!

It is obvious you pay less for refurbished equipment, but, to learn more read our articles on: 10 reasons to consider buying refurbished or off-brand equipment, Refurbished, reconditioned and remanufactured – what do these terms really mean? and other future articles.  And you can always drop by The Other Guys as a good source for your IT needs.

Go open source

So far we have pretty much focused on hardware, but these days, software licensing is becoming even more cost prohibitive.  At the time of this writing, Microsoft was asking a good $882 for its Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard; plus Client Access Licenses (CALs).  So for a 10-users network, you’re looking at shelling out well over $1,500 just in licensing.  Even if you can get better [street] pricing, you’re still looking at a minimum of $1,000. 

Compare that to a Linux based Operating Systems and now you’re looking at anywhere from free to $75 for something like SuSe Linux Enterprise Server (SLES).

The same logic can extend to Microsoft Office Professional 2013 which was costing $399 at time of this writing, compared to Libre Office which has equivalent power for free!

There are many other example like these; the take away is that, in this case, you can get the same bang for free!  The biggest challenge in taking advantage of these savings is the learning curve of your users – which is valid concern.  But, the same is not true for the servers. On the server(s) you can save, at a minimum, $1,000 per server for a 10-users network – you do the math.

Keep it simple

These last two tips are actually closely related but let’s tackle the simplicity side first.

The more complicated and customized your IT becomes, the more it will cost to maintain and troubleshoot – this should be fairly intuitive.  Ideally you would like to have the most automated system with the minimum amount of technology.

Using our examples from above, adopting a NGFW or other technologies to consolidate would be a great way to simply your IT.  Other ideas might include not relying on tons of customized code or spreading data across multiple databases.

Automate!

Automation can also drastically reduce costs. For example, integrating different systems can reduce re-entering data. Take the example of your ecommerce website and your back-end accounting solution; for many these are two non-integrated solutions.  Forcing double entries, extra paper trails and a higher potential for mistakes.  Then there are remedial (routine) tasks, such as defragmentation or applying updates, tasks that tie up network administrator’s time. If you integrated your ecommerce website to your back-end accounting solution you can reduce costs. Finally, a huge portion of [technology related] soft costs come from staff’s downtime due to system problems, wrong passwords and alike. Luckily, there are many solutions out there which allow you to empower your users to self-provision resources and resolve remedial tasks such as password recovery on networks; and there are even more ways (solutions) to allow integration of disparate systems.

Now, to combine the two ideas, you should take the simplest path to automate your Information Technologies.

Conclusion

These are just a few tips you can use to save your company money and like I said at the beginning, we’ll be diving deeper into some of these topics in future articles. In the meantime you should be able to start saving money right away by implementing some of these suggestions. If you want some one-on-one help with your particular business needs you can always contact someone at Santech Network Solutions for a free consulting session.



Soroush Madjzoob

Soroush Madjzoob is an Information Technology professional with over twenty years of experience in design, management and testing of IT solutions; consulting with small to medium tiered businesses. His current areas of focus are: Virtualization, NGFW, Collaboration and CMS-based web solution.


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