Avoid The IT Cash Crunch

Buying technology for your firm doesn't have to break the bank

No matter what kind of business you’re in, information technology is likely to be an important part of your operation. Fax machines, computers and even lowly telephones are the stuff of life for anyone who competes in today’s business environment. Most businesses couldn’t stay afloat without these tools, but would gladly trade in their high maintenance costs. Besides the expense of the initial purchase, service and support have probably become permanent fixtures of your budget. Here are some ways to minimize the cash crunch:

Standardize everyone in the enterprise on the same hardware and software. It’s cheaper for the Information Technology (IT) staff to roll out a single model of a PC or single version of an office suite, and train everyone with a single, well-scripted class. Beyond rollout and training, you’ll save in support costs. Neighbors are more likely to be able to help each other, rather than standing around “considering” the problem while waiting for tech support to arrive-often drawing more and more people away from productive work.

andardization ensures that your technical support staff has only one technological paradigm to learn, and is therefore likely to have a greater percentage of answers and fixes, spending less time on each incident. Another benefit is the ability to leverage large purchases of identical PCs and software licenses to get volume discounts. If your vendor says no, it’s time to find another vendor.

Buy an extra system and components such as hard drives and RAM (memory) if you can afford them. This creates less downtime due to computer failure in your organization. If you’ve invested in an employee and his or her PC, you want them both running. If a machine, or part of it, bites the dust, spare parts can have your employees back in full stride within minutes instead of hours or days. The extra parts and machines in the swap pool push up the number of systems to bargain with for that volume discount.

Don’t buy service contracts you don’t need–drop unneeded ones. Evaluate service contracts carefully. Consider the following: if you have swappable machines and parts, and warranties to repair broken equipment at your leisure, do you need a service contract? What would it cost to buy parts off the shelf when the warranty expires? Will you be upgrading by then anyway? Is the warranty period for parts and labor at least two years, and inexpensive to deploy? Do you have people on hand who can replace a hard drive or add RAM themselves? Is that something to consider when hiring?

Buy standard equipment. Don’t become a hostage to vendors of proprietary hardware or software and their service contracts. For instance, why have a custom accounting program deployed when your needs can be satisfied by a program like Intuit’s Quickbooks? Off-the-shelf software and hardware will save money and cause fewer support headaches. Proprietary systems mean new employees have to be trained from the ground up. Your IT people may offer some valuable alternatives. Perhaps a proprietary solution was the only

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