Mon, December 14, 2015

2016 IT Budgeting: 5 Simple Ways to Trim Your Technology Expenses

As the end of the year fast approaches, chances are that you are in the midst of a deep dive into your company’s budget — analyzing, tweaking, cutting and increasing. When thinking about your business’ IT expenditures, it can be overwhelming to think about the ever-constant technological advancements that — for better or for worse — could affect your bottom line in 2016.

It doesn’t matter if your budgeting process is highly structured or leaves room for flexibility, whether you’re working in excel or penning in a notepad — whatever your process, the below tips can help you develop a more cost-effective and easier-to-manage technology budget that keeps your business running smoothly.

Utilize Cloud Computing

Ready-to-use IT cloud services are less expensive than traditional IT. Cloud services penchant for low-cost and easy, user-friendly set-up make it an ideal addition to your IT budget and allows your company to forgo the more expensive in-house tech. Cloud services also allow you to get rid of licensing and renewal headaches because software and application updates are typically immediate and simple. Additionally, cloud data security has come a very long way; and nowadays, it is often less expensive and more secure to host your network on a cloud server, avoiding the higher costs related to IT support and antivirus. There are several options for cloud computing providers, including many that specialize in solutions for small businesses.

Update your Phone System

Many business phone systems could use a refresh.  If your business is one that still relies on handwritten memos and post-it notes for daily messaging, you could certainly save a little bit on supplies by providing users with helpful voicemail and messaging capabilities. Additionally, a connectivity audit might uncover ways you can consolidate your internet and phone bills into one combined monthly payment. In some cases, switching to VoIP might be an inexpensive alternative altogether. There are plenty of options for updating to a modern and feature-rich phone system that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Its just a matter of finding one that works well with your business, and evaluating the cost savings.

Outsource to Promote Growth

Adding more employees to meet your growing IT needs isn’t always the best solution. Managing all the technological aspects on your own is not only cost inefficient, but it can also negatively impact your organization’s production levels as untrained employees try to fill gaps within your IT system. Setting up your network infrastructure, data storage and backup, acquiring and retaining knowledgeable tech staff, and supporting and maintaining it all can become a resource drain, especially for smaller operations. Outsourcing or cloud-sourcing IT tasks to highly-qualified and dedicated technology professionals can help minimize payroll expenses and immediately boost your technology capabilities.

Audit your Software Expenses

To run a lean business, it is necessary to scrutinize every spending decision made and how each affects ROI. Premium software might have the best features and capabilities for a large corporation, but for a small business that’s not using any of the bells and whistles, the software’s premium price tag can do more harm than good to a bottom line. Whether it’s for bookkeeping, CRM or project management, software options are aplenty and you can likely find something that meets your needs at a fraction of the cost of high-end options.

When evaluating your software, you should also be on the lookout for instances where you can consolidate software expenses and standardize what you already have. For example, if you’re using Microsoft Office software on several different machines, you may be able to save some costs by switching your whole organization to Microsoft Office 365. Microsoft Office 365 includes Office Suite, and other additional software options like email, calendar, Skype, social and instant messaging tools, as well as cloud and storage solutions. In some instances, your employees may be using different or outdated versions of the same software which can hinder collaboration and document sharing capabilities. In this case, you might consider Cloud-based software that auto-updates, and/or switching to a subscription software plan that allows you to pick and choose from several different apps, depending on your specific users’ needs.

Consider Energy Efficient Initiatives

Even though your energy bills aren’t grouped in with your IT budget, your energy draining technology and office hardware could be costing you more money than you realize. Energy efficient initiatives aren’t limited to switching to LED lighting or shutting down equipment during off-hours. Cloud computing can help keep your operating costs low by eliminating the need to power, cool and maintain servers and additional hardware. Other ways to cut down on your energy usage include utilizing remote employees, using laptops instead of desktop computers, setting your computers to go to sleep when not in use and/or unplugging certain hardware during off-hours.

There’s Still Time to Save Money

Your technology doesn’t have to make a big dent in your business’ operating expenses in 2016. There is still time to discuss and launch some initiatives that will have an immediate impact on your bottom line. If you have any questions about the above tips or would like to audit your overall IT expenses, contact Centrality to learn more.