IT tech and support – it’s a big expense for any business – isn’t it?
Well, that’s what we’re led to believe – but in actual fact, there are some great tips and tricks that will help you significantly reduce your IT costs – it’s just not always simple working out what they are.
The reason is fairly clear – there are some enormous companies that profit greatly when smaller businesses aren’t 100% sure where to turn with their IT needs. Inevitably, the business is won by the company who has the biggest marketing spend – and, again, inevitably, that’s usually one of the tech giants.
Here’s an inside line on what some of the bigger IT providers don’t want you to know…
Use opensource software
It’s one of the biggest things we take for granted when working for a large company – you get to work on a Monday morning, open your email, fire up Office, log into a CRM – and so forth.
In reality, all these things cost significant amounts of money – but quite how much is often a mystery until you need to implement the applications yourself. When the time comes – you’re going to be staring down significant licencing costs, or, worse still – looking at hiring a team of developers to create something for your company.
The truth is, there’s a world of free software out there that anyone can access, use or modify to suit their business needs – it just doesn’t have the huge marketing budget that’s behind some of the big software names.
That world of software is ‘opensource’ – i.e. the development code is open for anyone to see, change, continue to develop – etc. You could be fooled into thinking there’s no way free software could be as good as paid alternatives – but you’d be wrong. There’s huge movement that’s all about keeping software open – with the idea that it can benefit a huge number of people and companies.
If you’re looking at needing software for your business soon, why not take a look at a site like SourceForge or similar? You’ll be able to browse what’s possible – and you’re likely to be amazed at what’s out there to use without any cost.
Encourage workers to use their own devices
If you’re familiar with the idea of BYOD (bring your own device) you might also be aware that it’s an area that splits opinion in the world of IT.
On one hand, there’s the idea that asking workers to use their own devices for business purposes is unfair – or could even be a security issue. On the other hand however, there’s significant evidence to suggest workers actually like using their own devices – and are more productive as a result.
That productivity claim is backed up by some significant research in fact. Studies show that workers who use their own devices are regularly 10% more effective than those who log-on to a business owned device each day. In effect, that means you’re getting an extra 4 hours of productivity each week from each member of staff – if you implement a BYOD policy.
Of course, BYOD isn’t right for everyone – if you’re a financial startup or you’re handling significant customer data that simply cannot leave your site, then it might not work for you. It goes without saying the a BYOD approach to IT must operate under strict working practices – but assuming it does, you might save money and see enormous rises in company productivity.
Use a managed service provider
There’s always a place for having great IT knowledge in-house – but as a growing business, it’s not always possible to find, recruit and maintain a full IT team under your roof.
So what do you do when you need the experience and staffing but you can’t justify having employees on a payroll? Well, an increasing number of businesses are looking to managed service providers as a solution. A managed service provider (or MSP) is an experienced IT company with a significant skillset – but one that outsources that service to other companies.
Where an in-house IT team is likely to cost tens, if not hundreds of thousands over the course of a year – an MSP is likely to cost just a fraction of that – but that reduced price doesn’t mean you get a less professional service.
In fact, using an MSP is likely to mean you get an even better service versus an in-house team. There’s no covering for holidays, sickness or other leave – and an MSP will never hand their resignation in and find another company to work for. What’s more, a good MSP comes with accreditations, certifications, and training stacked to the rafters.
If you’ve got an IT need but you can’t justify keeping the experience in house – talk to an MSP and prepare to be amazed at what they can offer.
Use all IT as a service
There was a time, not very long ago, in which outright purchases were the only way to do business in IT. If you wanted a mail server, you bought, installed and supported your own mail service – until it was time to upgrade.
From a capital expenditure point of view, this was difficult – especially when it came at the same time as needing software licenses, workstations – and so forth.
The good news is – big tech providers realised this way of working was prohibitive for smaller companies – and, since prohibitive means, they’re less likely to get your money, they introduced an alternative – the ‘as a Service’ model.
‘As a Service’ can be attached to the end of virtually any type of IT – software as a service, platform as a service, infrastructure as a service – and so on. In essence, it describes a ‘pay as you use’ model for IT – and it’s made possible by the cloud.
Cloud computing and robust, high-speed internet connections allow us to work online just as quickly as if we were accessing an application on our local machine. So, instead of working on an application that needs to be paid for before it’s accessed, why not work on a system that’s held centrally by the likes of Microsoft, Google, Adobe – or one of the other big providers?
Before you next spend money on IT – check whether it’s available as a service. You could shortcut your way to some enormous savings.