Avoid The IT Cash Crunch

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

answer 10 years ago, but there might be a more cost-effective answer in the local computer store or in those ubiquitous PC catalogs.

Cut your business long-distance bill. Drop a dime–not a quarter. Call your long-distance carrier and find out if you’re getting the best deal you can. Chances are they’ll go out of their way to make sure they keep your business. Ask other carriers for their best offers, and get your carrier to meet it or hit the road. Savvy callers check residential rates and get adjustments to keep up with current promotions–imagine what you can negotiate with a business account. If you’d rather let your computer handle the comparison shopping, MediaCom’s MegaMiser is a good alternative.

MegaMiser is an intelligent telephone router that serves as a fully automated gateway between your existing business phone system and the numerous service providers. The product searches for the best rate for each local toll call, long-distance and international call. As each phone call or fax is dialed, MegaMiser selects the carrier offering the lowest cost and automatically routes the call through the carrier. The unit also includes a call-accounting package, which details incoming and outgoing calls as well as the carrier used and the savings obtained on every call. The savings should make the multiple bills you’ll receive from the various providers a minor annoyance at best. The basic MegaMiser model accommodates up to four telephone lines and is available through most telecom equipment dealers for $400. Contact: www.phonemiser. com; 781276-8400.

Use the Net to get better deals on professional services. Because the Internet extends your access to service providers all over the planet, you’re not limited to the professionals down the street or the quasi-professionals in the next city. You can reach out to providers who deliver national-class services with no cost surprises.

For example, if you’ve ever signed a contract with a PR firm, your first bill may have been a real surprise. The firm may charge high hourly rates for every junior account executive who sips lattes in meetings about your company. That may be perfectly legitimate, but it’s expensive. Some PR firms offer specific services, such as press releases, at fixed rates. Check the Web, then talk to the Better Business Bureau and follow up on references for alternative service providers. Just because they’re far away doesn’t mean they’re not better and cheaper.

Get your own money back! Visit the Web site of the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) at www.unclaimed.org, find your state, and look up your business–you may find unclaimed money you didn’t know your business had coming.

While you’re there, look up yourself and friends and family. You can find money for yourself, family members, and places you’ve worked. Simply print the claim forms, supply photocopied documentation and hear the jingle in your pockets!

Customer Relationship Management Association (formerly the Sales Automation Association) www.crma-saa.org Professional association supporting organizations’ sales processes, partially through high tech. Check out the SAA’s 20-page booklet Audit Standards, a peer-developed set

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