5 ways small businesses can slash IT costs

It’s not easy to maintain a business IT system on a limited budget. While your staff might lust after the latest laptops, you might be keener to make their existing machines last another year. But there are plenty of ways to make your IT budget go further. Here are some ideas.

1. Buy refurbished desktop or laptop PCs

A decent business computer can cost £500 or more if you buy it new. But you can get a good quality, refurbished computer for as little as £100 – £200. If you buy from a reputable supplier you should get a guarantee too – just make sure the specification is adequate for your requirements.

(Important Point: even computers that were mid-range a couple of years ago still have more than enough power for normal business use, so you should be able to find machines to meet your needs.)

2. Shop around for anti-virus software

When it comes to security software, settling for second best is definitely a false economy. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t shop around. There are a number of different anti-virus packages available and prices for the same package can vary considerably between suppliers.

If you’ve been using the same anti-virus software for a couple of years or more, do some research surrounding other alternatives. Things can change a lot in that time – you could be paying less to another provider, but for better protection.

3. Buy your server warranty separately

If you have a server in your business, it’s important to have it covered by a warranty. As the single most important part of your IT system, you need to be able to get it fixed quickly and efficiently if something goes wrong. Most people buy their warranty from the same place they bought their server, but you can save 20% – 30% by cutting out the middleman and buying it separately, from a specialist.

4. Review your IT support contract

Your IT support contract can be a bit like your mobile phone agreement: initially it’s right for your needs, but a few months later your requirements change. You end up either overpaying, or spending money on the wrong sort of cover.

If your server and computers are new then it probably makes sense to pay by the hour for your IT support. With older PCs and an older network likely to need more attention, move to an ‘all in’ contract, where you get all the support you need for a fixed monthly price.

5. Rent your software

Software can seem really expensive. For instance, at over £400, shelling out for the top-of-the-range Microsoft Office suite can be painful. There are alternatives though: it’s becoming more and more common for companies to ‘rent’ software on a month by month basis.

Paying monthly is better for your cash flow, and usually means you’ll get updated to new versions of the software as it’s released. However, you also have to keep up payments; if you stop, the software will stop working too.

Follow these simple pointers, and you’ll be well on the way to ensuring your IT budget goes much further!

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Jonathan Edwards is MD and founder of Integral IT, a preferred IT support partner to many UK businesses. Jonathan has been working in the IT support industry since 1996 and is a Microsoft Certified Professional. He is actively involved with all aspects of client relationships and ensures Integral's IT support is of the highest quality possible.