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Part 4 of 7 Managing IT Expenses - You Can Use IT Consultation to Improve Your Business Goals

As an SMB owner you have to know a bit of everything to set the proper goals for your business. It's  a smart move to leverage the knowledge of experts in their field to help set the right goals and a pathway to success.

#4 You Can Use IT Consultation to Improve Your Business Goals

Regular IT consultations shouldn’t focus solely on which expenses can be approved or denied. Instead, you want to have a regular face-to-face get together with someone who can help you find technology that fits in with your bigger business goals.

For example, you might be looking for ways to expand your marketing, to streamline customer service, or to add automated fulfillment and logistics. Knowing that these kinds of shifts are going to take place, your IT partner might be able to identify tools and technologies that can make implementing them faster or cheaper. Or, they might know of hardware and software you can use to make the transition easier.

We’ve reached the point where having the right technology isn’t just helpful to a business, it’s essential. No matter what your vision of the future looks like for your company, it’s very likely to require some sort of IT investment to make it happen. Things like sales, marketing, customer service, logistics, and even employee training or management can all be dependent on different technological tools. Without them, your business can’t keep up, much less get ahead.

It’s amazing, but business owners often miss out on easy and affordable solutions that save them tens of thousands of dollars per year, and sometimes per month, simply because they don’t know what’s available. If they were having regular IT consultations with an expert they could trust, they would at least get a sense of what their options are like. Instead, they fall behind their competitors, or miss out on profit opportunities, due to a lack of advice.

IT consultations cost you very little, and can pay off many dozens of times over through the years as you use technology to build a smarter, more efficient company. Why not get a bit of expert advice to make sure your business has what it needs to run smoothly?

Part 3 of 7 Managing IT Expenses - Taming Your IT Budget is Easier Than You Think

Expenses might the be the one thing that keeps you up at night.  In our next tip on managing IT expenses, we explain ways that will ease anxiety and improve your bottom line.

#3 Taming Your IT Budget is Easier Than You Think

One of the hardest things about cutting IT costs as a business owner is that you may not know which expenses or subscriptions you can safely reduce without harming your business in important ways. And, it’s probably difficult for you to accurately predict what you’re going to spend on technology in the future, since you don’t know where upgrades and improvements are needed.

This is an area where having ongoing relationship with the trusted IT vendor can make an enormous difference. When you have someone who knows how your business works, and what kind of technology you’re using, they can help you make smarter investments that are likely to pay off over time.

Contrary to what your favorite salesperson might tell you, it’s not always wise to go with the bigger, faster, or newer model of anything. In fact, doing so can often lead to headaches – when you buy a brand-new piece of technology, you’re often paying the highest price for something that hasn’t been extensively tested or proven. You might be much better off sticking with what you have, or waiting until prices come down (and updates are released) before making the change.

That’s just one simple example, but the point to draw from this is that you can lower the amount of money you spend on technology, or at least stop the figures from climbing endlessly, if you know what to look for. The trick is having someone with knowledge of your business and some expertise with the kinds of hardware and software you need to keep your business running.

The most cost-effective way to get that expertise is by working with a trusted IT partner who will consult with you regularly to ensure you’re making decisions that move you towards your most important goals while factoring in the financial costs.

Part 2 of 7 Managing IT Expenses - You Shouldn’t Pay Hourly For IT Assistance

Information Technology is something your business must have to operate. Issues can be unpredictable. Managing IT expenses will make a big difference to your company bottom line and your sanity.  Here is the second part of seven of things every business owner needs to know about managing IT expenses.

#2 You Shouldn’t Pay Hourly For IT Assistance

For a long time, IT companies worked much in the same way as plumbers do: by answering the phone when a client had a problem and charging on an hourly basis to fix it. And of course, there are still a number of firms who work this way, along with business owners relying them.

But as technology has become more complex, and more integral to business, this model has become outdated. In fact, it tends to work against your best interests in a couple of important ways. First, it makes your IT team reactive, because they are only working with you when something has gone wrong. And, it can make your technology budget unpredictable, since you never know when those IT hours are going to be needed, or how many of them it’s going to take to correct things in the middle of a crisis.

Imagine for a moment that you’re facing a situation where you can’t open any customer files, your payroll systems are working, or your website has gone down. By putting in an emergency support request with an hourly IT firm, you’re essentially getting hit twice. In that moment your business has stopped making money and you’re likely to be paying the highest possible rate for IT care at the same time.

A better way to manage your IT care, and costs, is through a managed services model. Under this type of program, you pay a monthly fee to have your technology team keep all your systems up-and-running. Because they aren’t waiting for you to call, they can work proactively to solve problems before they become noticeable. And if there is an unforeseen issue, you can rest easy knowing that they’re already familiar with your technology and will solve the problem without incurring any extra costs to your company.

Paying for hourly IT service might be less expensive in any given week or month, but over the long run it’s bound to take a bigger bite out of your bottom line at the worst possible moment.

Part 1 of 7 Managing IT Expenses - You Can Make Your IT Team Bigger by Going Smaller

Many of the business owners we meet with have a love/hate relationship with technology. On the one hand, their companies are dependent on computers, phones, tablets, and software. But on the other, technology seems like a part of their budget that, while necessary, seems to constantly be growing even though they never understand why.

Even worse, many businesses face a situation where they are paying more and more for IT equipment and expertise, but getting little in return. Perhaps they are being forced to buy new hardware they’d rather not invest in, or are feeling persuaded into investments that are difficult to make sense of… much less pay for.

Each of these can be frustrating. And, they’re in direct contrast to the way the most successful business owners look at things like hardware and software. Technology should be a source of strength and innovation within your business – a way to save time, cut costs, and reach more buyers efficiently. If it feels like a drag on your bottom line, then you probably aren’t getting the advice you need.

To show why, and how a little bit of knowledge can make such an enormous difference in your profitability, we share the first thing every business owner absolutely needs to know about managing IT expenses.

#1 You Can Make Your IT Team Bigger by Going Smaller

In a lot of companies, the biggest technology expense isn’t the hardware, software, or networks required to keep things running; it’s the people who are charged with installing and overseeing all of those different elements. But if your IT personnel budget keep swelling in size, there is something you should know: you can often get a lot more, in terms of performance, by going smaller.

In other words, you might be able to get by with fewer on-staff IT employees, or even none of them at all. And contrary to what you might worry, your technology won’t fall apart. In fact, you might actually see things get better.

To understand why, you simply have to understand that outsourcing your IT is almost always a more efficient option than hiring a big in-house staff. For one thing, a separate vendor can scale your service package up or down as needed. That means you can cut costs in the blink of an eye without having to lay off employees. If things are going well, you can increase your IT coverage without having to conduct interviews, train staff, or worry about taking on another long-term salary.

At the same time, and outsourced IT team is going to be made up of many individuals with differing skills and backgrounds. So, no matter what the Challenger problem, they can find the right person to fix it. You would have to hire dozens of technology employees on your own – and keep them up-to-day with training and certifications – to get the same kind of specialized come around-the-clock coverage.

 If you’re in business for long enough, you’re eventually going to need someone with a unique set of IT skills. Why not share that expense with dozens of other business owners, and improve your coverage at the same time, by keeping your in-house team small and using an outside vendor?