Performance is top of mind for CFOs and COOs who are trying to do more with fewer resources. They are facing more pressure than ever to justify their spending and prove they’re providing value. Our goal is to help every department, not just IT, get what they want while still delivering results. The following are 9 ways we’ve found to get the best value from your IT investment.
1. Standardize your systems
Every piece of software and hardware you add to your computer network will have issues, both in terms of its own operation and in terms of interoperability with other systems. Say no to things like using several different applications, cameras, and headsets for video meetings. The more you standardize your systems, the fewer problems you will have, and the more you’ll reduce the number of software updates and patches you manage.
2. Use proven, broadly deployed technology
Unless you have specialized needs, purchase hardware and software from bigger technology vendors. They’re the biggest kids on the block, so everyone plays nicely with them. Choosing their products makes it more likely that your new purchases will be compatible with what you already own.
For computers, go with Dell or HP — not lower-quality brands — and consider IT support contracts that include quick part replacements.
For software, stick to broadly deployed vendors, like NetSuite and Salesforce.
For other hardware, invest in equipment that suits job requirements. This is especially true for printers, where economizing up front is likely to cost you more in repairs and replacements later.
3. Strategically adopt Software as a Service (SaaS) and cloud services
If you’re still using software that is installed and updated on every computer, server, and database, switching from the traditional client-server software model to SaaS will reduce your IT support costs almost immediately. Cloud-based software like Salesforce and Microsoft 365 are easy to update across geographies and entire companies, rolling out new features to every user at once with a single update to the central cloud platform.
For variable server loads, like the holiday rush or the need to scale up or down quickly for testing, use Amazon (AWS) or Microsoft (Azure) cloud services. Although it may seem to cost less to buy hardware, buying computing power by the second ends up being more cost-effective than maintaining servers you don’t fully utilize.
4. Monitor your computer network
If you use at least some on-premises infrastructure, you’ll need to monitor it to detect and correct potential problems before they turn into downtime. To protect productivity and avoid the high cost of emergency repairs, watch out for avoidable issues like full disk drives, missing patches and outdated software.
5. Review your telecommunications contracts
Voice and data costs are lower than ever, and they keep dropping. Vendors that want to keep you will review your existing contracts for free — and these reviews commonly lead to savings of 30% or more.
6. Safeguard yourself against social engineering
Social engineering attacks designed to fool users into installing ransomware or falling for a direct deposit scam are on the rise. The single most cost-effective way to defend against these attacks is to educate your users on how to spot and avoid the criminal’s trap — for example, by sending them periodic messages that look suspicious, but won’t cause problems if one of your employees responds. These tests keep your employees on their toes while making it easier to identify anyone who was fooled and therefore needs remedial cybersecurity awareness training.
7. Avoid custom software development
We see a lot of SMBs that have developed their own software or customized implementations of common SaaS offerings like SharePoint or Salesforce. They almost always regret it. From gathering requirements and managing development, to user training and version management, software development is a highly specialized skill set. When the person who developed an in-house solution moves on, their replacements will spend a lot of time figuring out your software’s idiosyncrasies. Save yourself the time, trouble, and expense by outsourcing your software development to a company that specializes in it to make sure you always have access to appropriate expertise and thorough documentation.
8. Invest in training
Spend at least one day every year training your people in how to use your systems, including your critical business apps, online collaboration tools and productivity suite. One-time training pays off in a lifetime of more efficient use. In addition, train people in conventions for naming documents and storing information in your online file sharing system. Having discipline in how you store information saves huge amounts of time in data retrieval.
9. Outsource IT support services to a Managed Service Provider (MSP)
Outsourcing is typically 30-40% cheaper than hiring in-house.1 Read Seven Reasons to Outsource IT to a Managed Service Provider to learn how SMBs are further managing IT costs, improving productivity, and scaling efficiently.