Did you know that small businesses tend to spend, on average, 6.9% of their revenue on IT? There’s no denying that technology is expensive. For some, IT can feel like a financial black hole.
Here’s a common predicament we see all the time:
What you want: To keep costs down.
What stands in your way: You feel like you have to keep throwing money at new technology to keep pace with the competition.
We get it. We know exactly how you feel. The good news is that there is a straightforward solution that will allow you to reign in your IT spending while keeping pace and yielding better results.
The solution: You have to reduce the total cost of ownership of your IT systems. That includes hardware, software, management and support, communication, user experience, training, as well as opportunity cost downtime and other productivity losses.
Easier said than done, right? Well, here’s how you do it.
Standardize your IT infrastructure. Technology standardization is the process of positioning your applications and IT infrastructure to a baseline of standards that fit your business strategy, security policies, and goals. Standardized technology reduces complexity and offers benefits such as cost savings through economy of scale, ease of integration, improved efficiency, and better IT support. It also simplifies your management of IT.
The ultimate goal is to get to a streamlined, template-based approach that provides your business with operation-wide consistency, which reduces cost and complexity in the long run. We realize this can be difficult for a lot of companies but when you limit the number of variations you will end up reducing the total cost of those systems. A company that uses a variety of Mac’s and PC’s is much more costly and time consuming to support than a company that is just using one device across the board. The four hallmarks of a company using a standardized technology infrastructure is that all team members are using the same:
- Hardware: The same devices for every user.
- Software: Password managers, email, business management software, CRM’s, operating systems.
- Equipment: Standardized servers, printers, scanners, copiers.
- Policies and Procedures: Framework of technology policies that define the principles and strategy for decision making and the procedures that allow your team to act within that framework.
You might be thinking that a standardized IT infrastructure sounds great but can also seem daunting. It will take time to standardize your infrastructure, but the benefits are more than worth it and you can do it in just five steps:
Step 1: Understand your goals and challenges. Envision what your ideal IT structure should look like. Look at how you can use your people, processes, and technology in a way that amplifies your strengths and minimizes weaknesses. Figure out the way IT Infrastructure will address your needs today and anticipate your needs for the future.
Step 2: Take inventory. Take stock of your software, hardware, operating systems, system integrations, and policies. Don’t just catalog the items but seek to understand why your team is using specific software or hardware and if there is any duplication. For example, if every person on your marketing team uses different applications to create designs then then you’ve found a straightforward area to standardize.
Step 3: Identify meaningful standardizations and policies. The goal here is to reduce cost and complexity. This will include minimizing the number of devices and software solutions that need to be supported. Do 10 people need personal printers such that each will need support, or would it be better to have 1 office printer (hint: it’s the one office printer)? If 10 people in an office need a personal printer then that is 10 more items to support than if there was one office printer. Every time you think about adding a new system, no matter how small or seemingly inconsequential, there is a total cost of ownership impact, so be careful and make sure you can justify it.
Step 4: Integrate Standards. The first place to start is always with a review of the policies. There needs to be business justification for any new piece of software or hardware. If you already have a solution in place, then you should not be making additional purchases. Users should not have the authority to just add programs.
Step 5. Educate. Help your team understand the total cost of ownership by creating a group of leaders that understand your business needs and strategic plan who oversee all requests. This group will make sure there is a business need for everything prior to implementation, ultimately reducing waste and driving down the total cost of IT ownership in your company.
Finally, understand that IT standardization takes time and can have a significant initial cost but in the end your company will realize a huge return on investment through total cost-of-ownership savings.
If you’d like to have an in-depth conversation about IT standardization or how to reduce the total cost of ownership for your IT infrastructure? Talk to a Lazorpoint expert today.