10 Tips for Trimming Your Small Business IT Budget

by Doug Heestand

Most small businesses spend a significant amount of money on technology covering everything from the printer on your desk to your phone lines and web site fees. Here are 10 ways you can reduce those expenses while actually improving the quality of your IT services and equipment.

Ditch the Ink-Jets - Ink-Jet printers are cheap to purchase -- but very expensive to keep running. Your best bet is to consolidate printers into a few reliable laser jet printers. Most small businesses will recoup the extra initial investment in less than a year.

Consolidate Servers - It's cheaper and more effective to operate a few powerful servers than a bunch of older, single-function servers. Use virtualization to make the migration seamless.

Get Rid of your T-1 - If you are paying $400/mo for your T-1 Internet connection, it's time to look at alternatives. DSL, cable, and other options offer a lot more bandwidth for less money.

Remote Employees - New remote access technologies such as Remote Desktop, Instant Messaging, and VoIP allow employees to be productive from anywhere. Save on office space by allowing some employees to work remotely.

Thin Clients - If you're thinking about purchasing new computers this year, consider thin clients instead. A thin client is a small device that lets users share a central server rather than each having their own dedicated PC. Thin clients cost less than PCs and are much easier to manage.

Phone Bills - Voice-over-IP (VoIP) may not be ready for customer calls, but it's perfect for conference calls with employees, inter-office calls, or calls to remote employees. For customer calls, consider a "Flex T-1" if you have more than six phone lines.

Hosted Servers - Most small businesses already host their website with a hosting company. Which other applications could you host externally? You might be able reduce the number of servers you manage.

Web-based Applications - Web-based applications are easy to deploy and require almost no on-going maintenance. Consider using services like Salesforce.com for CRM, PayCycle.com for payroll, and FreshBooks.com for invoicing.

Open Source Software - Don't pay for applications that have a good open-source alternative. Examples include 7-Zip (ZIP utility), WebHuddle (alternative to WebEx), FileZilla (FTP program), Paint.net (alternative to Photoshop), OpenOffice.org (alternative to Microsoft Office).

Outsource Your IT Department - If you are paying a full-time or part-time IT person to manage your network, you should consider outsourcing to a professional IT support company. IT outsourcing offers 24x7 support, a higher level of expertise and professionalism, and fewer management headaches. Bottom line: you get better IT support for less money. Contact a local IT support provider for more information.

Vital Networks is a leading provider of IT Outsourcing and Consulting services in Sacramento, Oakland, and the East Bay.

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