How to reduce IT costs

Joe Svetlik

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Poor choice of devices, coupled with a digitally uneducated workforce and an IT department that’s not strict enough can mean IT costs go through the roof. Thankfully, a few easy steps will bring them down.

Too many devices spoil the broth

IT is a costly business. By the end of the year it’s predicted that global spend on IT will reach $3.5 trillion (€2.98 trillion) – an increase of 2.9 per cent on the previous year. But as anyone who’s ever worked in a medium to large company will tell you, a lot of this spending is unnecessary.

A huge part of the problem is device compatibility. If a firm buys devices made by lots of different vendors, they will have different ports and different software. And making them work with each other can be a nightmare.

“If everyone is using different devices, the IT department will need to stock up on all sorts of different leads, adapters and dongles,” says Graham Thomas, Senior Technologist at Lenovo. “In many organisations I’ve worked with, I’ve gone into meeting rooms to see cable ties on the leads coming from the projector with several different adapters to make it compatible with all these different devices.”

Not only does this look unsightly and unprofessional, it also puts an unnecessary strain on the IT department. “Adapters go missing,” Thomas says. “Which means IT needs to stock spares, which all adds to costs. Quite often, IT ends up acting more like a glorified spares department than an IT department.”

Creating work for yourself

The problem is bad enough in one office. But when you have multiple offices in one country, or across Europe or the world, Thomas says “you find yourself operating in the supply chain business”.

“You have to work out how many spare adapters, power supplies and video links of each kind you keep in each office, and when to reorder them,” he says. “It might sound small, but it becomes someone’s job. Someone who would be much better utilised doing other things.”

Commonality is key. Buying from a single vendor will ensure all the devices are compatible with each other. But if your company insists on buying from multiple vendors – and some will – they should make sure there’s compatibility across the selected devices.

The importance of a good warranty

“Another way to cut costs is by buying machines with a decent warranty,” Thomas says. “For a business device, you should really have a three-year next-business-day on-site.” Go for anything less, and you’ll find yourself having to stock spares to give to bereft workers. Or leave them to twiddle their thumbs while they wait to get their device back.

“These are unmeasured costs, and they soon add up. But they can be avoided with a bit of forethought.”

Out of the shadows

Another issue caused by poor device selection is Shadow IT, where workers use devices or software without prior management approval. Again, this can prove costly. “It could mean they spend far too much company time trying to get company emails on their own laptop because they don’t like the work one,” adds Thomas. “Or maybe they end up buying their own devices on expenses.”

Costs could also come in the form of large sanctions from the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) if a worker has their laptop stolen and their work data is breached. But this won’t be an issue if they’re using a properly secured machine that’s been issued by the company.

Education is key. If your employees struggle to work out the functionality of their device, they’ll constantly be on the phone to helpdesk. Which takes the IT department away from other tasks, be it working on a side project or focusing on tasks related to career advancement.

“Although helpdesk is an inevitable overhead, it still costs the company more when the phone is ringing than when it’s not,” Thomas says. “You can avoid this by picking devices that are intuitive to use. For example, our Lenovo machines have software tools that enable the user to self-help if they have an issue.”

When it comes to IT costs, small changes can make a big difference. With a bit of planning, and by choosing the right devices, you can cut costs and improve your bottom line.

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