Cash is tight so every SME owner is looking for ways to cut outlays. IT could look like an easy target. Trouble is, your IT is one of those things with the potential to fuel real efficiency increases in many areas of operation thus ultimately being a dollar saver. Besides, sooner or later you will be forced to refresh old technology, either because it’s stopped working or is so slow that it’s cramping your productivity. Here are some suggestions for how you can rein in the IT budget without sacrificing opportunity.
  1. Postpone non-essential purchases – then bargain shop. Let the lifetime of hardware extend out a little past the recommended upgrade date and stick with the current version of your software programmes. If you do need to buy, don’t just settle for the first price you’re offered. A number of websites specialise in price comparing IT products. They often include details about discounts and other offers that can reduce the price of a product substantially.

  2. Use open source software. Not only does Open Source software enable you to create more customised solutions to better fit your needs but it’s way cheaper than proprietary products (often free) so you can spend your budget on upgrading hardware infrastructure. You and your team will need training to make it work and there’s a migration process involved but it is definitely a money saver.

  3. Set up a client/server system to run your computers. Invest in a robust server (to do all the processing on behalf of all the individual terminals you have) and hang even your obsolete computers off it as thin clients (they don’t require their own hard drive now).

  4. Virtualise applications. Virtualisation enables you to run multiple operating systems and applications on a single server rather than several. It can dramatically reduce costs for IT management, hardware, power consumption and maintenance.

  5. Compare your internet service provider costs against the offerings of other providers.

  6. Get the best deal on communications. Consider amalgamating your business, mobile/s and internet services with the one provider – amalgamating accounts usually means better pricing. Compare provider’s plans – there are great plans available out there in the market that could save you a lot of money.

  7. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) hardware costs are dropping and quality is improving making it a fast growing resource for small businesses intent on cutting communication costs.

  8. Investigate moving to software as a service solutions (SaaS). Outsourcing via SaaS can provide savings on software and maintenance as well as other benefits such as automatic backups and data security.

  9. Assess alternatives to new computer purchase. Consider upgrading e.g. adding memory and removing unwanted software and files to improve performance; buying refurbished hardware; in the case of most PCs, the hardware, packaging and even warranty coverage are literally identical to those you would buy new, only with a lower price tag.

  10. Turn your computers and monitors off at night. Make sure everyone in the office does this as well. It will save you money, your equipment will last longer and it is much better for the environment.
Most SME owners aren’t IT wizards and the learning curve necessary to make a smart IT decision often leaves them with less than the best setup. That can mean a lot of unnecessary expenditure in the longer term. So, invest your time first up in finding a vendor able to understand your business and tailor their recommendations to particular needs – it will be time very well spent.