The benefits of multiple offices: better access to customers, better access to talent or lower cost to manufacture can quickly be squashed by escalating technology costs. So how do you minimize spending too much on an IT budget? These five strategies will prevent excess costs all while connecting and enabling your workforce.
1. Adopt VoIP
Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, allows for shared voice and internet data plans, phone lines and equipment. Instead of paying for long-distance, VoIP allows for free calls between offices over the internet.
Due to shared phone and data plans, VoIP becomes a lower long term cost compared to unbundled data and voice plans. VoIP is also easier to install, cheaper and more flexible than a traditional PBX or private branch exchange.
VoIP systems on site, are similar to a PBX, yet rely on a server to establish an internet connection. The servers are less expensive than a PBX, although a telecommunications consultant is recommended.
Hosted VoIP is another option and it doesn’t require any equipment for implementation. Although monthly payment for the service will soon surpass the cost of installing VoIP on site at multiple offices.
VoIP is cheaper for multi-location businesses both in setup and in monthly recurring data plans. Many businesses who adopt VoIP still consider keeping phone lines to connect to customers outside of an office network. Businesses who adopt SIP trunking can move to a full voice over internet connection and cut the phone bill for good, with even greater savings. NCC Data’s sister company NCC Technologies handles VoIP and standard phone systems.
2. Bundle Services
You probably get tons of junk mail at home about deals on bundling services. When you’re trying to save money across multiple offices, look for full service contractors and providers that are experts in multiple areas. For example, look for a single company offering HVAC, electrical and plumbing vs. three separate companies. Or a telecommunications consulting, computer repair and IT managed services company. Often the savings can be significant and you can negotiate lower rates.
First figure out your offices’ needs, then compare plans. Bundle voice and data with one provider serving all offices vs. keeping them separate. Bundling networks and hosting of technology applications can lead to even more cost reduction. Keep costs minimal by centralizing information technology, serving all locations.
3. Adopt Freeware vs. Paid Licensing Software
Licensing fees can quickly add up, especially when you hire more employees and open satellite offices. Most software today has competitive free options. Either it’s a freemium model startup, or a bigger competitor with a stripped down free version of software. Businesses with less than 30 employees and expanding offices, will find free software for task management, time sheets, sales follow-up, social collaboration, and presentations more than suitable.
Ask around the office first, and gauge how many employees need the advanced functionality paid software delivers. Even if you fail to adopt a free replacement, you may be able to reduce the paid licenses for several individuals, just based on usage.
Next, research the market, it takes some deep searching to find startup solutions and free software. Integrate it slowly in the office alongside paid versions. The goal is to gradually allow employees to test the software and its performance. If it’s successful, they should over time stop using the paid software and you can reduce or completely cancel ongoing payments.
4. Use the Cloud
Cloud computing was made for businesses with multiple offices. Cloud computing boosts employee productivity, improves collaboration and innovation. For a business with multiple offices, cloud computing narrows the distance and walls separating unique locations. Access becomes universal through any device, with security and controls still available to manage the network.
Public Clouds are managed by large scale cloud service providers. Although equipment and maintenance isn’t required, service plans can be more costly than other options, depending on the size and usage of your business.
Private Clouds are on site and managed within your walls by an Internal IT department. It offers greater flexibility and control over access, yet it also requires an onsite data center which can increase costs.
Hybrid Clouds combine the benefits of both private and public cloud networks. Secure data can be kept on location, while less sensitive data and applications can be outsourced to a cloud service provider.
5. Consultants and Outsourcing
Offloading IT duties to a qualified consultant can save time and money. For businesses where technology isn’t a primary driver, outsourcing IT can lower turnover, hiring costs and increase efficiency. Hire a professional IT company to monitor network security, optimize your infrastructure, serve as your help desk and/or make sure you’re up on current IT-related regulations in your industry. Freeing up employees to focus on core work.