If you’re a decision-maker for a small business, you’ll already be well-aware that IT costs a lot – but, often, it feels like these are a series of costs that you simply cannot work around.
IT is one of those areas that provides a double impact to your budget. For every pound or dollar that goes on a capital expenditure report, there’s another five that are backing that up through operation costs involved with keeping your IT lights on.
Part of the trouble with cutting IT costs is the lack of glamour involved. While a marketing guru might amass millions of views talking to you about how companies can retain their customers or find innovative new ways of getting into people’s newsfeeds, a video about employing infrastructure-as-a-service often doesn’t have the same mass-appeal – despite the fact IT represents the backbone of almost all modern companies.
The truth is, money saved is money saved – whether that’s in customer retentions – or through smart use of alternative software or handling your IT support in a slightly different way. What follows might not be the most exciting series of steps you’ll ever present to your board, but they’re likely to save you a lot more money than any marketing guru ever will…
Explore outsourcing your IT support
It’s somewhat controversial to embrace the kind of changes that see employees swapped out for external services – but, when the greater good is at stake, exploring options for massively reducing your on-going IT running costs can sometimes be the difference between keeping your business alive – or seeing it drown under its own expenditure.
IT costs a lot – but it costs even more to run, and a bit part of that cost relates to the sheer weight of the team you’ll need to keep your head above water. Even a small IT network requires support – and, depending on the type of business you are, that support often needs to be round-the-clock.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though, a steady monthly running cost comes well beyond recruiting and training the right IT staff – tasks that can cost thousands of pounds or dollars before a single server setting has been adjusted. Remember, all this cost is also wrapped in the human cost of recruitment – and that’s likely to be significant too; it’s hard enough finding the right staff for your core business – let alone a technical area that’s unfamiliar territory for most people.
So, what’s the answer? Increasingly, it’s working hand-in-hand with specialist managed IT service providers, rather than taking on an in-house IT team. Why? Well, before you’ve considered any other benefit, they’re usually a fraction of the cost. Don’t misunderstand though; this isn’t all about money – it’s also about value. For most companies, the reduced cost that you associate with an MSP also represents a massively increased ‘bang for your buck’ – for a number of reasons.
Reason one relates to experience. While an in-house IT team will become au-fait with just your systems, an MSP’s team continues to work with a huge range of other clients – meaning working knowledge and best practice never slows – as there’s always a need for up-to-the-minute understanding of IT as a whole – not just your tech. The second reason is all about sheer availability; while you would require a broad team of people to pro-actively administer your infrastructure around the clock, using an MSP negates that requirement – as they’ll always be at the end of the phone or watching their system monitoring tools – without the need for staffing a complex rota.
It’s not just infrastructure support that a world class MSP will provide either. Since you’ll be working with an IT team that understands your business, it’s possible that they’ll even be able to support you in developing your own software and applications – keeping you at the very forefront of your industry.
Look into buying software and infrastructure ‘as a service’
In reality, cloud-computing has had almost as significant an impact on the way we live as the commercial internet as a whole. Whether it’s social media platforms, web hosting services, gaming, or accessing your CRM software – cloud-computing impacts each of us significantly, and that couldn’t be truer for businesses.
In days gone by, we bought applications and devices outright, before configuring them and working with them. When the time was right to update or upgrade, we went through the process again, buying the latest device or software package, increasing our speed or efficiency as we did.
Now, it’s almost inconceivable to think that a copy of Microsoft Office would die if the machine it was installed on came to the end of its life – or the employee that was using it left. Subscriptions are now exactly as they sound, paid access to a service that you can stop, start, increase, decrease or any other way adjust to suit your business.
The thing is, it’s not just the Google suite of services or Microsoft Office that you can access as a service. Now, you can enter a world of ‘platform as a service’ (PaaS) or ‘infrastructure as a service’ (IaaS) – paying for a subscription style access to development platforms from which you can work on your own, in-house platforms, or accessing otherwise enormously expensive servers and other major IT infrastructure devices.
It’s important not to misunderstand the scope of IaaS either. This isn’t a subscription-style service for people who can’t otherwise afford the kit they need to drive their business forward; this is the way that enormous, multi-million (and billion) dollar companies choose to engage with IT. You might expect the movie you watch on Netflix to come to you from a data centre that Netflix own – but you’d be wrong, instead, they employ IaaS services that see Amazon providing a huge amount of their storage. The same can be said for Pfizer, Samsung, GE, and millions of other household names.
Next time you consider or require any kind of tech for your business, explore purchasing it ‘as a service’ – you’re likely to save a lot of money now, and save a lot of the hassle that’s involved with actually ‘owning’ kit that requires maintenance and support.