5 areas to look first.
“Cut the budget.” You’ve probably heard this line once or twice. Reducing operating costs is a necessity for most IT departments.
When it comes to your IT and communications strategies, it’s common for execs to task their staff with trimming costs. And employees, in turn, must figure out how to do this without jeopardizing critical operations.
When looking for these types of cost reductions, quite often the answers can be found via external suppliers who can perform an “IT assessment.” Your communications provider, for example, can help examine the IT systems you currently use to support your business practices. Ask them to help assess your operational goals and offer recommendations and alternative that may deliver savings.
Common vendor-supplied items include your phone systems, smart devices used within the company and more complex IT systems. It’s not about eliminating any of these; rather, it’s about finding and using new efficiencies thanks to improved technology and innovations in the industry.
Let’s look at the time to implement alternative solutions and the potential savings that can be achieved.
Use an Internet-Based Phone System:
Aka VoIP (Voice over IP), this system may help you to bundle your phone, data, and video into one unified service. This will also allow you to travel seamlessly between home and office, or while working remotely and on business trips.
Time to Implement: If you’re starting from scratch or adding on to your existing service, this doesn’t have to be a long implementation. If you’re making a more elaborate switchover, include timelines for planning, implementation, training and optimization.
Savings Potential: High.
Introduce a BYOD Policy:
A “bring your own device” policy for your employees can cut your hardware costs and instead, allow you to provide staff with a certain level of voice and data plans or offer subsidies on the plans they pay for personally. The business costs can be cut dramatically when purchasing and managing business devices is reduced. And you get the added bonus of empowering employees to use their preferred smartphones and tablets.
Rather than juggling multiple similar devices for work and home, employees can now stay connected on one single device, which may also improve their work/life balance.
Time to Implement: Staggered. Creating the policy and getting approvals can be the most time-consuming task. After that, consider current contract timeframes and life expectancy on different devices.
Savings Potential: High, if you’re currently supplying devices to all staff.
Move to the Cloud:
Vendors are continuously increasing their “cloud service” offerings, so check with your existing IT service and telecom providers to learn about new outsourced alternatives. You may be able to move data storage, backups and other IT considerations to the cloud. Compare costs with your current internal systems to paint a realistic picture of current-state vs. future-state.
Time to Implement: Some cloud services can be implemented very quickly. If you’re transferring entire systems over, you’ll need more time to make sure you’ve made your lists, checked them twice, and then triple-checked your new IT processes.
Savings Potential: Moderate, with increased savings in the long-term.
Switch to Online Software:
There is a lot of discussion about SaaS products and the advantages for business. The short and skinny is that Internet speeds have improved so dramatically, along with data security and storage in the cloud, that you can reliably access your software solutions online. This eliminates the need to keep every device in your office updated with the latest software and patches—it’s all done for you.
For example, consider using the online version of Office 365, which has different payment options and great features. Integrations with Skype for Business allow users to communicate, provide feedback, IM wherever they are, and present content. You can also get integrations with Yammer, a private social network, and SharePoint Online for team and project sharing.
Time to Implement: Get up and running with new software very quickly. If you’re switching from existing apps, you’ll need a detailed transition plan and a little more time added to those schedules.
Savings Potential: Moderate in year one, and potentially dramatic savings onwards.
Host Your Infrastructure:
Switching from an internal to a hosted infrastructure (IaaS) could save you the ongoing costs of hardware updates and upgrades, not to mention the associated maintenance costs to house them. It can also provide an efficient process for future business growth.
One of the greatest benefits of IaaS is the ability to quickly scale up and down computing resources in response to your company's requirements. This provisioning is typically automated. Because IaaS requires less in-house expertise, your IT employees can focus on developing and delivering IT improvements to the business rather than spending all their time maintaining a data centre.
Time to Implement: When looking to replace or upgrade your existing server systems, or adding new systems for growth, your first step is planning. This could take a significant amount of time to cover all your bases, and coordinate your teams.
Savings Potential: High. In an IaaS environment, you pay only for the services you use. No large capital investment is required, and costs can be spread out over time.
Next Steps: Develop Your Action Plan
There are multiple ways to lower your IT costs and generate savings, so make sure you do these three things before moving forward:
- Consult with your service providers for options and recommendations. They’re in the business to provide you that support.
- Make sure you have the people resources at hand to manage any implementations and system changes.
- Look at year-one savings, and then factor in the ongoing savings. The long-term planning with make a difference in deciding which areas will provide the biggest savings.
Where do you see an opportunity to save on your IT costs? Tell us in the comments below.
About the Author
Mark is a 25 year veteran of the IT world. In his current role as a Change Maker, Mark continually seeks to improve IT governance through formal change management practices. Mark has also worked numerous years as a network architect, and IT Security analyst. Outside the office, he enjoys travelling the world climbing rock and ice, and sailing with his wife. LinkedInFollow on Twitter More Content by Mark Carriere