Find out how to cut IT costs without hampering compliance and productivity
If law firms are typical of most businesses, they will be spending around 60% of their IT budget on operations and infrastructure. That’s what Gartner estimates. For SMEs this will mainly be spent on IT hardware and maintenance, support, software upgrades and comms networks, including Internet services.
So how can you set about cutting business IT costs in a way that won’t impact on your productivity or compliance but still allow adequate flexibility?
How to slash IT costs by 25%
Gartner has identified 10 steps which will help companies to slash their IT costs by 25%. While some of them are more applicable to large enterprises, with a little adaptation they do translate into a useful starting point for a cost-cutting audit for legal firms of every size:
- Renegotiate contracts with service providers.
- Consolidate IT infrastructure and operations.
- Reduce the amount of physical infrastructure including servers.
- Automate as much IT support as possible.
- Stick to IT investment that supports specific business requirements.
- Reduce power consumption.
- Streamline data storage.
- Streamline IT operations.
- Manage your IT assets better so you can spot cost-cutting opportunities sooner.
- Source IT systems and services more effectively.
Don’t go it alone
Underlying each of these steps is the sense that for a smaller legal firm, going it alone is probably not the best way to cut IT costs. Piecemeal changes can actually work out more expensive, as Jeff Vance, the author of the Internet.com ebook, 25 ways to cut IT costs, suggests:
‘A single small change may be a small investment, but many small changes that are introducing risk and not providing value over time add up to significant cost.’
This is where the expertise and support of a specialist business IT partner can come into their own, helping you to spot pain points in your IT expenditure and providing a range of managed services that will relieve you of the support overhead while benefiting from fast-emerging hosted technologies.
Watch those contracts
Gartner certainly hits the nail on the head with its advice to challenge service providers over contracts. For example, you could be missing out on the right bundle of voice and data services from your broadband provider, you could be paying for maintenance cover on hardware that isn’t used anymore, or you could be spending money on services that you don’t actually need.
If you don’t get satisfactory answers, change your supplier. And when you’re signing a new services or IT support contract, make sure that it covers all your business needs and expectations so that there won’t be any nasty upgrade surprises down the line.
Using web-based events management and diary applications, for example, help you to reduce costs and run a tighter administrative ship without the upfront cost of software licences. But automation can also extend to managing servers and desktop devices.
Many automation tools are cloud-based. Hosted systems and services are a great way to cut costs, especially when they’re provided as part of a contract with a managed service provider who really understands the needs of your legal business, as a recent article on the financial benefits of cloud applications in CloudPro explains.
Liberate your staff
Outsourcing business IT support will save you money from the moment that your staff don’t need to spend any more time dealing with trivial help desk queries that can have a disproportionate impact on the business if they aren’t resolved quickly.
Hosted software and outsourced IT infrastructure will protect you from the overheads of the upgrade cycle while making sure that you benefit from the latest versions and technologies.
Kiss upgrades goodbye
Upgrading your technology can not only be very costly, but can also be time-consuming. However, choosing not to upgrade in order to cut costs can mean lost productivity and opportunities. A good way around this is to choose a hosted system delivered by an IT provider who manages upgrades for you at no extra cost - meaning you’ll never have to worry about upgrades ever again.
- Don’t go it alone: the right IT partner can help remove costly support overheads.
- Watch those contracts: be sure to challenge your providers on any possible errors.
- Embrace automation: for fewer head-based licences.
- Liberate your staff: don’t overpay for trivial help desk queries.
- Kiss upgrades goodbye: the right IT partner will include these in their fixed monthly fee.