Business IT networks often form the core of a company’s daily processes – so there’s no doubting their mission critical importance; however, there’s also no doubting the significant impact they have on your financial bottom-line.
So, what should you do? Compromise the growth of your business because you need the right systems? Or compromise your ability to deliver your service by cutting corners on cost?
The good news is, there are some money saving IT methods that’ll see you delivering your same level of excellent service – just with a lot less money spent on the infrastructure needed to do so.
We’ve compiled 4 of the best money saving hacks that’ll significantly reduce your IT budget…
Get behind open-source software
Who do you think of when people talk about word processors? Microsoft Word perhaps? Google Docs? What about photo and video editing? Most people would immediate think of the Adobe range.
90% of people select the ‘most obvious’ answers when they think of software – but that’s generally thanks to the fact that the companies behind them have billions of pounds at their disposal for marketing campaigns.
What if we told you you’ll be able to find exceptional software with many of the same functions totally free of charge? Interested? If so, open source software might be exactly what you didn’t know you were looking for.
Check out a resource like SourceForge for an idea of what’s possible. The open source movement is created and maintained by passionate developers who do an incredible job of supporting and customising these free-to-use products, so you’re never short on support either.
Choose to purchase your resources as a service
Since virtually the beginning of personal and business computing software has been bought on a licence basis – that’s to say, you purchase the right to use the application for as long as it’s supported. These licences are generally very costly in the first instance, although use of the product thereafter is covered.
So what happens when the world changes and millions of small businesses that don’t have huge amounts of initial capital pop up? Well, the software companies respond – and begin offering software as a service, or ‘SaaS’ as it’s commonly known.
The concept is simple – rather than access a local licenced copy of the application, you use the cloud to access an ‘always up to date’ central copy, and instead of paying a one-off large fee, you simply pay on an annual or monthly basis for that access.
The result? Access to software that you might not otherwise be able to justify – and never worrying about upgrading to ‘the next version’ of software (with the massive cost and painful logistics that’s involved!)
The great news is, it’s not just software that’s available as a service. There’s an increasing number of suppliers who are making their development platforms available on this pay-as-you-go basis (PaaS) – as well as virtual infrastructure (IaaS) providers. Before you go putting your hands in your pockets for any upfront service – it’s worth looking at where it’s available to buy on a monthly basis first…
Drop those IT staffing costs
So, you’ve got your network set up, your software loaded, your end-users trained – now you just need to implement an IT team who can keep the whole thing running smoothly for you.
Sound simple enough? Time to think again – not only will finding the right people be tough and time consuming, you’re also going to need to make sure they have the exact training needed (and make sure that’s kept up). Even if all this is possible, you’ve just added thousands to your monthly IT budget – and that figure is going to need to be multiplied upward depending on how many people you need.
So what’s the answer? Increasingly, it’s to outsource everything we’ve just talked about – and use a managed service provider, or ‘MSP’.
In effect, a good MSP is like an IT team that’s ready to go. They’ll be based elsewhere – but with remote cloud-based access to your systems, distance is no issue. Depending on the service level agreement you have in place, you could potentially have access to them 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – meaning your IT systems are constantly in safe hands.
There’s a place for having IT professionals in house – but if it’s cost-prohibitive, you can get a LOT of IT support for your money if you can find the right MSP.
Think long-term when you buy infrastructure
After explaining about how you keep money in the bank when you’re shopping for all things IT, you might be surprised to find that one of our ‘money saving hacks’ actually involves spending more money than might seem necessary when you’re looking for networking infrastructure.
The idea here is referred to as ‘future-proofing’ – and it’s a simple concept:
You’re about to purchase a 4G router for one of your on-the-road team members. You know 5G will be along soon – and that’ll allow them to access your real-time systems, but non-forward compatible modems are available at a discount. You buy one – and in 12months time, you’re forced to buy another, because you’re moving your team onto 5G connectivity.
Now approach it with a futureproof mindset – you spend 15% more on your initial purchase – which allows forward compatibility with 5G SIMs, and in 12 months-time, there’s no additional purchase to be made – just an uprated SIM that’ll take 20 seconds to install…
See, it doesn’t always make sense to go for the cheapest option – especially when you’re dealing with huge cost large scale devices like you’re possibly going to need throughout your IT network installation.
You might worry that this idea of futureproofing will then begin to eat into your time as you have to research each device before it’s bought – but that’s when our MSP tip comes back into play:
A smart MSP will be knowledgeable on all IT developments – so, if you need a short-term vs. long-term cost analysis of any device you’re thinking of buying – make sure your ability to discuss purchases is built into their service level agreement…