With inflation and the economy in flux many business owners and IT professionals are taking a hard look at IT spending. The big question is how to eliminate waste in IT spending. As part of our effort to be a good partner for our clients i.t.NOW has developed a checklist of places you can look for savings and eliminate waste.
An Illustration of Impact
As part of recent conversations with a potential client we did some discovery on their network. What we found was that they had an MPLS circuit that connected several of their sites. We also observed that they have cloud servers hosted on Microsoft Azure. The customer was complaining that if the internet at their headquarters went down their other sites would also go offline as well as their phone system.
This made curious and we started to ask additional questions. What we found was that their current IT had set up the satellite offices so that they were receiving internet over the MPLS from HQ. Traffic was also all routing back through HQ to their hosted Azure servers. This complicated routing was causing other issues with printing and other items.
Digging deeper we found out that their servers used to be at HQ, and the MPLS was set up to give access to users from the additional satellite offices to their primary applications. However, their servers had been moved to the cloud more than 3 years ago. The MPLS and network routing was never changed, and with the new cloud servers was doing more harm than good.
To top it all off, their MPLS circuits were on an old contract and costing them around $2000 per month. This business has paid over $70,000 to maintain a legacy network configuration that no longer works with their current needs. Their IT provider never said anything about it to them. When they learned about the waste, they were understandably upset.
This is one small example of how mismanaged IT can cost you money. There are a lot more. Here is our quick checklist of how to eliminate waste in IT spending.
Review Telco and Internet Bills
One way this client could have avoided this large potential waste was to do a regular review of their billing for telephone and internet. If you see a charge on the bill and don’t know what it is, ask. Even better, ask your IT provider to review the bills and look to see if they seem appropriate.
If you haven’t shopped for internet over the last 3 years or so, it may be time to take another look. As fiber networks have been expanded over the years new connections are available in many locations that weren’t before. The cost of internet has gone down, and the available speeds have gone up. It’s very possible you’ll be able to save money, or at least get more speed for your buck.
Another thing to look out for is legacy copper lines. Some telco providers have been trying to get rid of all their old copper lines. As a result, they have started to charge exorbitant fees for those who keep them. Of course, they haven’t bothered to tell their clients and simply tack additional charges onto your bill. Be aware of this and move to a digital connection to avoid the extra fees.
Another thing to look out for is outdated network configurations like the afore mentioned MPLS. As businesses have migrated key workloads to the cloud over the last few years, some of their previous needs just don’t exist. Web based applications have taken the place of on premises servers and complicated networks connecting multiple sites.
A review of the overall structure of your network might reveal unnecessary expenses. Take the time to understand how your network is set up and work with your IT provider to identify if that is the most efficient solution.
Another area where we’ve observed a significant amount of waste is with mismanaged Office 365 licenses. When i.t.NOW takes on a new client we typically do an audit of their O365 licensing to ensure there isn’t any waste. A new client earlier this year had about $1600/mo in licensing that they were paying for that was not being used. We simply turned them off and let them enjoy the savings.
Licensing may change as your company grows and evolves. Regular software audits can help to ensure that you are operating as efficiently as possible.
IT User Audit
If you have an outsourced IT provider that helps manage your technology needs, they probably bill you by either number of users, or computers. We’ve observed that in the natural course of business as you hire new employees and have turnover those numbers can fluctuate.
Many IT providers don’t do a good job auditing machine or user counts, and consequently will continue to bill you for users that left your company months ago. An audit can help true these up.
i.t.NOW works hard to make sure we have accurate billing. We have software that trues up your user count with the server every month to ensure accuracy, and we audit your machine count regularly.
Another area where we frequently see waste is when companies don’t standardize on their hardware. Buying hardware of different brands and configurations from different places ends up costing you more. It will increase your support costs because the IT team now must know how to support a plethora of devices, and that will inevitably take more time.
It also increases the cost of peripherals when every device is different and requires a new setup.
Pick a few models of a single brand and standardize your equipment across the organization. This will save you time and money.
Server Virtualization and Cloud Solutions
If you have on premises servers that aren’t virtualized, you’re wasting money. Very few workloads these days can’t be virtualized. It offers efficiency from a hardware cost and utilization standpoint. You also can save significantly on support costs as virtualized servers are easier to backup, easier to migrate, and easier to centrally manage.
Another thing to look at is whether your company should still have on premises servers. Many times, companies can go completely serverless, and enjoy savings by leveraging web-based applications. This allows them to avoid server hardware and maintenance costs.
The cloud doesn’t save everyone money, and it’s not a great fit for all workloads. Work with your IT provider to examine your options and get recommendations for what’s best based on your situation.
Not Using All of Your Office 365 Benefits
Many businesses have more than one paid application that does the same thing. The most common thing I see is businesses that use Dropbox or another cloud-based file sharing platform when they already have SharePoint included with their Office 365 subscription.
Businesses use an application like Calendly for scheduling when Microsoft Bookings has the same functionality. They use Zoom for virtual meetings when they already have a Teams license included with their O365 subscription.
By knowing what’s included in your subscription of Office 365 and taking full advantage you can eliminate waste in your IT spending.
There you have our top 7 places to look for savings in your IT environment. i.t.NOW loves to work with clients to add efficiency and cost savings to their networks. We even work with folks and offer a free network evaluation where we can work with you to identify potential waste. If you feel your business could benefit, please reach out.