24 February 2016
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Seven ways your small business can cut its IT costs

office-technology

Most small businesses face the challenge of sourcing the right IT for their business while keeping within a relatively small budget. This can be a challenging prospect – What should you buy? How quickly will it go out of date? Is it compatible with other systems? Does it have the capacity to grow with your business?

If you’re worried about your IT costs spiralling out of control, or want to balance being tech savvy with being financially savvy, then we’ve put together our top tips for cutting your IT costs and getting the best for your budget.

  1. Know what you need from your IT solutions

Before you make any IT purchases for your business, it’s important to think about what you need and why, and whether it will work with what you already have.

  • Is it business grade equipment rather than for Home use?
  • Will you need secure storage for customer’s payment details?
  • Do you want to use automated systems?
  • Will employees need to access information from a number of different sites?
  • Do you need specific software to be able to provide your services?
  • Is anything new you purchase compatible with your business network and/or existing hardware/software?

By knowing exactly what you need, why and who for, you’ll find it easier to identify your IT priorities and sort the ‘must haves’ from the ‘nice to haves’. You can also save time and money by ensuring that you don’t buy something that’s not compatible with what you already have.

2. Invest in quality equipment that will last

There’s a popular saying, Buy cheap and you’ll buy twice, which very much applies to IT. When you’re on a limited budget, it’s tempting to buy a budget PC with the lowest possible specs to get by, but you may find that your computer quickly struggles to handle everything you throw at it.

Instead, you should consider investing in a brand name PC that’s supported by a warranty and a service agreement, in case you need repairs down the line. Also, go for the highest specs your budget will allow, especially for your PC’s processor and memory.

3. Look at cloud solutions

Many small businesses find that using cloud storage services is a very affordable way to increase their amount of storage, as well as improving how they access, share, backup and protect their company’s data.

Other cloud systems such as Microsoft Office 365 incorporate cloud storage and file sharing with access to the full Office suite across multiple devices, Office online, and professional digital storytelling app, Sway.

It’s important to do your homework about how secure your data will be, but cloud solutions can save you substantial amounts of money.

4. Choose a bundled telephone and internet package

Consider opting for a bundled telephone and internet package where all your data, voice, mobile, telephone system and maintenance requirements are covered in a single package. This means you’ll only receive and pay one invoice per month rather than working with several different companies, all with their own charges and invoices. Many businesses may substantial savings this way.

5. Use a central server

Many small businesses decide not to use a central server for their network because of the initial hardware and software costs. However, not having a server for your business may prove to be an expensive mistake further down the line.

Without a server, you will need to update anti-virus software, and add operating system patches and updates to every workstation individually. You will also need to backup each work station on a daily basis, one at a time, which can be surprisingly time consuming. Also, if you don’t have a central place to store data, you may find that several different versions of the file are soon circulating.

A server, unlike a desktop computer, is designed to manage, store, send and process data 24/7/365. They offer file and network security, central data storage, and a place for shared resources, centralised back-up and virus management, and increased reliability across your network. Having a central server can also save a significant amount of man hours and reduce the chance of human error, such as an individual forgetting to back-up their work.

6. Introduce an ‘Acceptable Use’ policy

If you have employees within your small business, then you may want to set clear boundaries on what you consider to be acceptable use of the internet. This is to ensure that your staff aren’t spending hours of the time you’re paying them to work surfing the net instead. You might decide 30 minutes a day is acceptable or that the internet should never be used for recreational activity at work – it’s your call.

You may find that the decision to buy and use a content filtering system saves you above and beyond the money you currently lose to your employees’ recreational surfing at work.

7. Commit to regular maintenance

Most small business owners know that regular IT maintenance would be ideal, but with so many demands on their budget, they decide to keep their fingers crossed that nothing major goes wrong. Unfortunately, when problems do occur, they can then present a major expense.

In fact, regular IT maintenance is a far more cost effective approach in the long-term, a bit like having your car regularly serviced. By having someone come in to check your IT at agreed intervals, they can identify and address problems before they occur, prevent unnecessary downtime for repairs, and give you advice based on their knowledge of your business and your IT systems.

Also, knowing that you have one point of contact overseeing your IT solutions can be a great time saver and help to give you a full overview of how IT is being used across all areas of your business. An external company can also give you the value of their experience of working with other businesses.

At One Source Communications we work with businesses of all sizes, each with their own IT needs, to give them the best IT solutions and support for their budgets. If you would like to find out more about cutting the costs of your IT, give us a call on 08442 570 111.

 

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