IT Management: 5 Proven Strategies to Lessen your IT Budget
The head of IT in every organisation is under increasing pressure. Pressure to reduce cost, and at the same time increase the range of functions available to users and customers. Often with a reduced IT Budget. In short, do more with less. Add to that the effects of social media and the increasing incidence of malware, and the headache is only getting worse.
It may not be lessening the budget, but more likely doing more with what you have.
How can these conflicting demands be met?
Fortunately, history provides lessons and examples of proven and successful ways to proceed. Here are five to start with.
A perennial problem for the IT Head is being able to estimate IT costs, and keep a handle on IT support costs. Staff and licence costs will trend upwards, if only because of inflation and it is notoriously difficult to add supplementary budgets during the year.
An IT department has traditionally run in two modes. A “Business as Usual” (“BAU”) mode that would carry on day to day operations, even if there were no changes in the IT environment. BAU is usually coupled with a support, development and maintenance environment of minor changes to software applications, and the replacement of hardware in a normal refresh cycle and following equipment failure. A second environment are development and implementation projects around new hardware and software but these tend to be budgeted separately from normal operational costs.
The IT Support costs of BAU can usually be accurately calculated, and can therefore be easily compared against the costs of outsourcing it. It is usually cost-effective to outsource, either to a cloud-based service provider as part of a migration to a cloud environment, or to a service provider who takes over in-house operations under a Service Level Agreement.
The nature and extent of any outsourcing is dependent on the organisation, it’s culture, and whether it’s business allows outsourcing. Some environments, for example research and development, hold and process highly confidential and sensitive material that should not be visible to third parties.
Use Subject Matter experts only when you need them.
A development project often needs particular skills only for the duration of the project. Employ a contractor for the project rather than calling in a permanent hire. The specialist can be included in the project budget, rather than the overall IT Support budget. A further benefit is to ensure a skills transfer to one of the permanent staff members.
Recycle paper and other consumables. It’s not much, but it looks good and the savings can be used to pay for the Xmas party or the office coffee and biscuits. Most regular printed reports are circulated according to a time-honoured schedule. Once in a while “forget” to print and circulate a report. If no-one complains, it’s being used as a door stop. Save paper and remove it from the print schedule.
Standardise on printers and copiers.
A major part of the running of office printers and copiers is the cost of ink and toner. Most devices, even from the same manufacturer use different ink and toner cartridges, so you end up buying small numbers of different ones. Standardise on office printers and copiers, and benefit from being able to bulk buy supplies.
It is also possible to outsource printing and copying, with the equipment, servicing and consumable costs included in a cost per page contract. Depending on print volumes, that can result in a major cost saving.
A major cost is any ICT budget is that of voice and data communications. If you don’t already use VoIP, implement it. VoIP can provide major cost reductions in regional and International call costs. If brought in as a bundle with Internet data access, the reductions in cost can be substantial.
There are also the associated benefits of an improved company profile and new cost-free features and services unavailable with a copper-based communication system.
There are many ways that an IT Head can trim IT Support costs without sacrificing service levels. The process is often incremental, pick the low-hanging fruit first, and then continually review ongoing costs. Be careful though. It is a false economy to scrimp and save on malware protection and business continuity.