Five simple ways to cut your IT costs

Because of rising business expenses and taxes, it’s more important now than ever to cut costs in any way possible. One sector of your business you may not have considered as an area in which you can save money is IT. While you certainly don’t want to affect the quality of your business by making drastic changes, there are still effective ways that you can save a substantial amount.

1. Buy used equipment

If your business’s IT hardware needs some upgrades, buying used items is certainly a viable option. Many “used” listings on both eBay and Amazon are in fact virtually brand new. Some items, though unused, may have an open box or are lacking a UPC symbol due to being the product of a mail-in rebate. These items are priced significantly lower than items listed as “new.”

Just remember that buying used items may void the manufacturer’s warranty. Also, always check the seller’s rating to ensure that you’re buying from a reputable company.

2. Use free software

Before investing in any paid software options for your business, see if you can get what you need for free. The Web site CNET offers a variety of gratis software titles, and the Apache OpenOffice suite is free and virtually identical to Microsoft Office.

3. Consider hiring freelancers

If you have some short-term IT projects coming up but don’t want to hire a full-time employee, consider hiring a freelancer. You can find qualified professionals via the Web sites Guru or Freelancer. Just be sure to thoroughly vet each candidate before making your hiring choice, and understand that contracting overseas personnel could present issues due to language barriers and varying time zones.

4. Barter your services

Another way to save money is to barter your own professional services for the IT projects you need. Check out the website U-Exchange – post the services you have available, and start earning “currency credits.” Then, search for the IT services you need and use your credit balance to pay for them.

5. Invest in green technology

Investing in green technology requires an upfront expenditure, but will result in significant savings in the future. Purchasing energy-efficient computers is one way to decrease your energy output, and utilizing one integrated, centralized printer for your office is another. When upgrading your computers, consider switching to laptops, which use much less energy than desktops.

Be cautious with cost cutting

Be cautious if you are considering trimming your IT staff to save money. By all means, use freelancers to take on new short-term projects – but do not haphazardly cross names off your IT roster to reduce labor costs, as this could do serious damage to your business. Remember, your IT folks are interconnected to virtually every sector of your business, so before you think about cutting just one staff member, consider the overall effect it could have on your business. Saving money is important – just don’t make any rash decisions.

What other ways can you think of to save on IT?

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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