The possibility of an economic recession, steep inflation, and supply chain disruptions have dominated headlines for the last few month, prompting concerns from business leaders. It's crucial to take predictions of a potential recession seriously, much like heeding a warning of a tornado or flash flood. Being unprepared could result in dire consequences, so it's essential to plan ahead.
However, the initial reaction of many businesses is to reduce costs by eliminating anything deemed non-essential, including IT. While slimming down IT may be possible, it's vital to avoid making cuts that could lead to higher long-term costs. If IT suffers, the impact on customers and employees could result in inefficiencies and frustration, which have their own costs.
Instead, the focus should be on optimizing IT resources by right-sizing them, not only during challenging times but at any time to make the best use of available resources.
The way you do this is to evaluate:
What you’re supporting
What you’re paying for and why you’re paying it
How you’re supporting IT
How you’re managing cyber risks
Who is supporting IT
Double Check What You're Currently Supporting:
To reduce IT costs, the first step is to examine the equipment you currently have. There may be unused or redundant hardware that is driving up support expenses. Each computer comes with licenses for software and security, and you may be doubling up on these without realizing it.
For instance, if employees have a desktop computer at the office and a laptop for home, consider switching to just laptops and providing docking stations for ease of movement between locations.
Reconfiguring workspaces may also be beneficial. If employees aren't in the office at the same time, there may be too much peripheral equipment, such as monitors and docks.
Another area to streamline is data storage. The more data you have, the more space and money it requires for backups. Review data archiving policies or create new ones. To make backup procedures efficient, determine which data is critical for operations and which is less important
Audit Your Technology Bill
Have you ever paid a bill of $200 each month without knowing what it's for?
Believe it or not, this is a common scenario. People pay bills routinely without knowing what they're for or what will happen if they stop paying them. To reduce IT expenses, it's essential to review all technology-related bills, including telecom, voice, data, and subscriptions.
While it may take some time to track down all the details, persisting through the process could save you thousands of dollars. You may even find that you're paying for something you haven't been using and can request a refund.
Another area to review is software licensing. If your employee offboarding process doesn't account for software licenses, you may be paying for more licenses than you need. Conduct an audit to ensure that each license is associated with a user.
It's also worth asking employees if they're using all the web apps you're paying for, as their preferences and needs may have changed. If you're an MapleTronics managed client, you can seek help from your Client Relations Manager to facilitate this process. They may not have visibility into every technology-related bill you pay, but they can help you look into anything you need.
Adjust your Approach to the Right IT Management
After you have removed unnecessary hardware, services, and applications, and have a good understanding of data storage, the next step is to examine how you are managing IT. This includes the philosophy and approach guiding your IT support team.
While it may seem like a good idea to only call IT when you need them, this reactive approach can lead to more problems down the road. IT should be viewed as an ongoing process with daily activity, similar to accounting. You wouldn't wait until you had a pile of bills before engaging your accounting person, and you should have the same approach with technology to avoid interruptions.
Without the right proactive practices and processes, managing IT will be challenging, and issues will arise frequently. This can slow down your employees and make it difficult to serve your customers. It's essential to have support desk services and escalation resources available when problems occur.
A strategic approach to IT management will help you manage technology costs effectively. Being strategic means operating with a purpose to establish a strong technology foundation, provide employees with the tools they need to be productive, leverage technology for innovation and competitive advantage, and use technology to achieve specific business objectives. If you need help with any of these steps, MapleTronics can help if you're a managed client by reaching out to your Client Relations Manager.
Optimize Your Security Solutions
To discuss IT management, it's essential to touch on cyber security. Making random cuts to your security measures without considering the implications can have severe consequences. A prime example is an IT manager who stopped performing software patches to cut costs. This led to unaddressed vulnerabilities, ultimately resulting in a cyber attack.
In today's business landscape, cyber security is not optional. Enterprises require a high level of protection, and even small businesses must implement advanced tactics into their cyber security strategy. The baseline for security has risen, and it's crucial to keep up with it to prevent any security breaches.
Make Sure You Have the Right Team
The aspect of who provides IT support is closely linked to how it is delivered. Once you understand the impact your approach to IT and cyber security management can have on your results and the value you derive from your IT spending, it's important to evaluate the capability of your IT team or managed services provider (MSP).
You need to ask yourself a number of questions about the people responsible for supporting your IT infrastructure:
Do you have an internal team or do you outsource IT support?
Do you have an IT manager or co-managed IT services?
Is your current arrangement with the right people and is it delivering the results you need?
If you've always relied on onsite support, is that still necessary? Does your IT team - whether internal, outsourced, or both - have all the necessary skills to manage your IT and cyber security needs comprehensively?
It's also important to consider how staff turnover might impact your business, and whether you need to make changes to your IT support arrangements.
If you're considering switching to a new managed IT services provider, be cautious of companies that slash their prices to take advantage of a recessionary situation. While things may start out well, their operational maturity may not be sufficient to handle your business needs in the long term.
If you're tempted by a "good deal", remember to refer back to the "how" part of this article and ask the right questions to ensure that your IT provider is capable of delivering the approach to IT and cyber security management that will deliver the most value to your business.
Looking for some help? We’ve been around a long time and wouldn’t still be here today if we didn’t know how to guide our clients (and our own business) through the ups and downs of changing circumstances. So whether you partner with us in a co-managed or fully managed arrangement, we’re on a mission to help businesses reduce the cost and risk of IT, and we would love to help you with it too.