There’s one question that haunts every single business leader, regardless of industry, business size, mission statement or product. How do you lower costs without sacrificing performance?  If you can answer that question effectively, you’re set up for ROI and stability. If you can’t, you won’t be a business leader for long.

To complicate matters, the answer will vary for different departments within your organization. The strategies that lower IT costs may or may not work when you turn to HR or accounting. Some techniques are universal, and some are functionality-specific.

In this whitepaper, we’re going to focus on trimming your company’s IT costs.

But before we dive in, there are no magic bullets here. The suggestions outlined below aren’t even particularly innovative or unique. Instead, they’re solid. When combined, you’re sure to see a difference in your technology budgeting.

If you’re serious about reducing your IT costs, this is how you can do it.

Learn to be proactive

We begin with an underlying philosophical approach. Stop waiting for network problems to pop up before you address them. Get out in front of potential technical issues by becoming a proactive organization.

The primary advantage of getting proactive is a reduction in downtime. Few things will drive IT costs up like downtime. The hourly cost of downtime varies, of course, with estimates soaring as high as $100,000 per hour in some cases.

There are two things you can do to stop downtime before it starts.

Infrastructure monitoring and alerting

The only way to know if your IT network is healthy is to monitor it. If there are warning signs, alerts should trigger appropriate preventative action. If you’re unfamiliar with monitoring and alerting, Network World has a great introductory article on the subject.

Patching and updating

Software patches are critical for network health. They include everything from security updates to bug fixes. They’re easy to overlook, though, because they rarely feel urgent and they seem so frequent. We strongly encourage you to make them a priority if you’re interested in lowering potential IT costs.

“In 2017, organizations were losing an average $100,000 for every hour of downtime on their site.”
– Forbes

Tackle IT projects strategically

No organizational project should ever begin without clear objectives. That’s particularly true for IT projects where timelines, budgets and organizational impact can easily get out of hand—if you don’t have a solid game plan.

We recommend a balanced approach. Yes, upfront IT costs are a consideration. However, you should also think about productivity, integration, efficiency, reporting, training and employee satisfaction before you undertake a new IT project.

For example, there are compelling reasons to move from a PBX phone system to a hosted voice solution, but there’s more to the decision than the math. Also consider how your staff, customers and processes will be affected by such a foundational change.

“Before any project gets off the ground, you will need to be able to develop a sound business case to present to decision makers.”
– TechRepublic

Utilize outsourced support

While many CIOs are hesitant to embrace outsourced IT support, there’s a strong case to be made for the change. Not only that, but you don’t have to approach the decision focused exclusively on an absolute solution.

Why not have both in-house and outsourced IT support? Just make sure you use the two support sources differently in ways that make strategic sense. Some tasks, due to security, compliance or other business needs, are better kept in-house. And some tasks can be effectively managed by an outsourced firm at a fraction of the cost.

Additionally, keep in mind that even a world-class outsourced IT support provider will need your organization to play an active role. Take the time to find the best way to work with your IT support provider and don’t forget to bring your employees into the loop.

“Establishing a strong, strategic partnership with your MSP is essential.”

Take cybersecurity seriously

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of cybersecurity. In the last year alone, the headlines have been littered with horror stories of data breach. It only takes one cybersecurity lapse to compromise your company’s data and devastate your reputation.

Just one.

“54% of security experts anticipate a successful cyberattack on their enterprise within the year.”

While it’s possible to handle network security on your own, we highly recommend partnering with a managed IT services provider for the best possible protection. Cybersecurity is a complex, multi-layered issue. This is one area where it’s simply pragmatic to trust an expert.

The moderate IT cost of cybersecurity protection from an MSP far outweighs the negative impact of a successful cyberattack.

Get your employees up to speed

We’ve touched on this idea a couple of times already, but it deserves its own section. If you’re not convinced, consider this. 100% of government IT workers surveyed report that they believe employees to be the single greatest threat to cybersecurity.

You read that right. 100%.

That doesn’t mean most employees mean to pose a risk. In many cases, employees simply don’t know the best practices necessary to maintain network security. The same goes for every other factor that can drive up IT costs, from downtime to productivity.

Employees need to know how to protect data, utilize available IT tools, and interact productively with IT support to lower IT costs.

“When employees have all the training, skills, and knowledge they need, your business will run more smoothly.”
– Forbes

Prepare a worst-case-scenario plan

Finally, few things will unexpectedly add to your IT costs like a disaster. Disasters include things like floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and fires, as well as smaller downtime-causing incidents like power outages and equipment failure.

In other words, a “disaster” is anything that takes your IT network offline.

How you react in the face of a disaster, regardless of scale, will either set you apart from the competition or bury you beneath them. The deciding factor is typically your level of preparation. Smart CIOs make sure their companies have a complete backup and disaster recovery plan.

Everyone in your organization, from your IT support (in-house or outsourced) to customer service and sales should be familiar with your backup and disaster recovery plan. The less time you spend offline, the lower the impact on your reputation and your revenue.

“A well thought out and appropriately written disaster recovery plan can be the major difference in how fast your business can be up and running following an interruption in your IT operations.”

Wrapping up

It’s not that difficult to lower IT costs while simultaneously boosting organizational performance. All that’s required is a strategic approach that includes all of the above areas. If you cover these bases, your company will operate more efficiently without incurring unnecessary expenses.

That’s a major win for any CIO.