Let’s face it, times are tough. Everyone from consumers to small businesses to monolithic multinationals is feeling the pain inflicted by a weak dollar and expensive oil. You know it’s bad when they start running out of tortillas in Mexico. It could even be costing you more money to do (less) business this year than last year. And on top of that, now your IT guy says you need a new server … or do you?
Many businesses view IT as a cost center and not as an investment that can increase efficiency and therefore increase profits. That view is becoming less popular as the general understanding of IT implementation and management increases. You can use IT to work more efficiently and save money, but to do that you will have to tread the fine line – spend too much and there will be waste, spend too little and you can’t get your job done – but how can you find that line?
The first thing to do is to understand what you have and how you are using it. Conduct an inventory of all hardware, software, and custom applications and databases. Are people using the resources that you already have? Trust the numbers and don’t leave it up to Bob to tell you his computer is slow and he needs a new one, primarily because everyone thinks they deserve a new one. How much hard drive space is available on workstations and servers? What are CPU and memory utilization during peak usage hours? What is network utilization like during business hours? If resources are maxed out, then you may have to upgrade. Likewise, if resources are underutilized, then save some money and skip an upgrade cycle.
Implement a time tracking system for your IT department (if you have one) and track human resource utilization the same way. Do you have dedicated technical support staff? If so, how busy are they? It just might be the case that you don’t need them. This is usually the first function that can be outsourced in many businesses. A local consultant or a technical support provider will charge a monthly or per incident fee for support that will almost always be less than the cost of having someone on staff. Also, how often do you change your network configuration? Many small businesses install cables (or go wireless) and equipment and then never make any changes. If this is the case with your business, then you probably don’t need network support in-house and can outsource this function.
Come back tomorrow to read about how to save money on voice and data service.