Given the challenges of the economy, many businesses may be looking for ways to cut costs wherever possible. Others may be looking to spend on new equipment for tax planning purposes. Here’s a look at few things to consider for the fourth quarter.
If you’ve weathered the economic woes well and have profits to spend on new equipment, consider refreshing and repurposing some of your IT systems. Systems three years or older need review for performance, warranty, and/or functional role. Most business class systems have a 3-year warranty; use this as a benchmark to review options to replace critical systems that your daily operations are dependent on. Some systems that are out of warranty may still maintain good performance specs (i.e. speedy processor or plenty of memory) and are therefore still ‘OK’. Systems that have a good processor such as a Pentium 4 2.8GHz or better may have the flexibility to have the warranty extended for another year and memory upgraded. If replaced with a new system, these ‘OK’ systems could be repurposed elsewhere on the network in place of older, but less critical systems on your network.
When replacing the server or user systems is out of budget range, look for memory, warranty, monitor, or printer upgrades as a lower cost alternative. Increasing the memory to 2GB or more in user systems costs little but returns great performance. Systems with plenty of memory use less of the hard drive to substitute for memory shortages resulting in a longer life of the hard drive. If you want to get another year or two in before doing a system refresh, extend expired warranties now to avoid costly replacements in the meantime. Monitors and printer prices have continued to drop throughout this year. These also are a lesser spending option with valuable contributions to the daily workflow.
Businesses looking to cut costs and do more saving than spending this quarter have some options too. One idea is to leverage some low cost online advertising over print advertising. You even be happy to find that your go to advertising medias have new online ad programs for the online versions of their publication that will drive new business leads and users to your web site. Additionally, basic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to your web site will increase your site rankings in some of the major search engines such as Google, MSN, and Yahoo. SEO is the use of keywords and other web programming options to improve results for users looking for your services or products online.
Those of you with a regular need for IT services should seek to get away from traditional high cost hourly Time & Material (T&M) type invoicing and get on a service plan billed monthly. Regular service plans including preventative maintenance services will reduce the cost of system downtime. Additionally, being a monthly plan sets your monthly expectation for service costs. Often these plans that include support will reduce rates at a discount of 10-20%. Avoid getting into a ‘Retainer’ trap. Retainers, or pay ahead bulk purchasing of support hours bring no real value to your service needs and victimize your cash flow.
Dale Walls is President of Corsica Technologies, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner & Small Business providing complete IT Solutions for businesses, government, and home computing in Maryland, DC, and Virginia. Feel free to contact Dale at 443.262.9290, or by email at email@example.com.