Archive for the ‘IT’ Category

  • How Can I Use IT to Reduce My Business Costs?

    Date: 2017.07.06 | Category: IT | Response: 0

    In our previous blog, ‘How to reduce your company’s IT costs’ we focused on saving expenditure on IT. However, a potentially more valuable question is to flip that question on its head and ask – How can I use IT to reduce my business costs?
    By the way, cost does not simply manifest itself in obvious pounds and pence – that would be nice. You have to look deeper – identify tools that can boost your existing resource, your staff, productivity – thus saving cost by reducing head-count and/or drive more value, more productivity from each staff member by allowing them to focus on what is important and not the ‘doing of tasks’.

    IT is a vastly powerful resource for business, we don’t need to go into detail as it’s abundantly clear for all businesses in today’s world, that IT will play a critical role in the organisation, from being able to deliver your products and services, to managing your business. However, many businesses are missing out on the opportunities that IT presents with respect to time-saving and/or increasing the productivity of their teams.

    Let’s take a simple example. Think about your company’s ‘staff time-off’ booking procedure for a minute. Do your staff send in requests for various dates, as and when they require, via email or in passing comment during your busy day, does someone need to manually check the calendar to see if there’s conflicting holidays and then someone else has to decide if they can have the time-off?

    But, I hear you say, I already use IT to support this function – we use Outlook and Exchange, we use spreadsheets to record the information and store in a secure file on our network.

    Yes, you are using IT but, could you be using IT in a smarter way? The answer is of course, YES! Just about every single task or process can be improved and in our example above, there are a load of simple solutions on the market you can use to help with this, such as Timetastic, or Appogee to name just two.

    How valuable would it be for someone to come into your organisation and identify a bunch of business activities, deliver them in a different way, and walk out of your organisation saving your business 50 days effort per annum? What could you do with an extra 50 days of staff resource time? A lot, right? Well, it is not as hard as it sounds, but you must be willing to embrace change and try new solutions as well as make an initial investment in resource time to identify these savings.
    If you (or an external consultant) can recognise the issues faced by your staff in day to day activities, then you don’t need to re-invent the wheel. There are invariably loads of businesses who have come up with the same issues over the years and an application or tool will have been developed to help deal with those issues. If you suddenly find that is not the case, and your issues is not unique, then that might be a Eureka moment! Bottle it immediately and get in touch with an app developer to help you to exploit the opportunity!

    Specialist tools or software, are designed to take the hassle out of managing systems and processes. E.g. in the case of staff time-off, if you can make this self-serve as much as possible, whereby your staff can see all the available dates in a single view, request time-off with minimal clicks, their manager gets a quick one-click approval and if approved the details automatically populate into the staff calendar. It may sound trivial but think about it. If you have 50 staff, and the process that the above software can do is being done the team, how many hours would this save? I would estimate that 50 staff, generate around 4-8 requests for leave per annum. Let’s say each request can take 10 minutes per request, then you have between 200 and 400 requests per annum which boils down to 33-66 hours or somewhere in the region of 5-10 days per annum! If by implementing software you brought the per request time down to 2 minutes, think how many more days are available for more productive and valuable work?

    There’s plenty of different IT solutions which can have the same time-saving (and therefore cost-saving) effect, from your accounting package to office productivity applications, document sharing and social media management. Due to your busy schedule, you may not be able to find the time to identify which software or applications could help your business and that’s where a business IT use audit from a reputable company can pay dividends. Your consulting firm should be able to identify not only cost-cutting opportunities but also time-saving opportunities that IT can enable.

    For a friendly discussion about what areas IT could improve your company’s productivity give us a call on 020 8099 1502.

  • How To Reduce Your Company’s IT Costs

    Date: 2017.06.28 | Category: IT | Response: 0

    In an ever more technologically focused business world, there is an increased pressure on IT budgets to go further. According to consultancy firm Alinena, small businesses currently spend, on average, 5-7% of their total annual revenue on IT services.

    There are also hidden costs of IT to be mindful of, Samsung conducted a survey in 2016 and found that on average each employee spends 2 hours and 47 minutes on IT related issues each week, significantly harming productivity. The same study also found that 9 in 10 employees claim they regularly lost concentration at work, having to come to the aid of a colleague with an IT related issue.

    There are other hidden costs which can come from a number of sources but the most common is sometimes referred to as ‘IT by the back door’.

    How many SME businesses sign off on projects to implement software tools for a specific function (e.g. HR, Payroll, etc) using their departmental budget, but don’t consult with their IT team? We expect this is almost 100% to a greater or lesser degree.

    Ultimately, the costs of signing off projects which have not been reviewed by IT can be much higher than expected, since no assessment for compatibility has been made and any integration issues could end up costing far more than anticipated because a few simple questions were not asked. (Not to mention this is very dangerous as IT by the back door can be a big problem to businesses – e.g. who knows what level of unstructured data sits on systems which are not compliant with regulation – e.g. GDPR – but that’s another topic!).

    So, how can you keep a handle on IT costs whilst ensuring operational capability, staff productivity and of course maintaining security? As ever there isn’t a single answer to this question… However, by implementing a number or all of the below suggestions you can begin to get a better return for your IT budget.

    5 Steps to Reducing IT Spend

    Regularly review and consolidate where possible: As a business grows, naturally it’s IT requirements will change. At various times it is likely you will utilise more software and applications to run your business. It is useful to conduct a regular audit of your IT systems (annually is a good start) and identify if any products/services can be removed. You will be surprised how much software is paid for that is no longer used, even if only one or two licenses – it all adds up! Consolidate services to fewer suppliers. Much like your insurance, if you have several family members needing car/home/health insurance you have more clout with a supplier to drive a discount.

    Move to the cloud – Hosting your data within secure virtual server environments is becoming more common as business demand changes. It is no longer cost effective, secure or productive to have physical services in your offices; they can be cumbersome for office moves; increase the risk of data loss by damage caused by overheating, fire, flood, etc; not to mention the capital cost of sourcing and implementing. Virtual servers and hosted desktops are an effective alternative. Your data is housed away from your office in secure data centres offering resilience (dual power supplies, backup services, etc) and control is centralised and costs usually fixed on a per user or per service basis. i.e. You can purchase the required services you need as your business grows, flexibility and at a known cost.

    Outsourced IT Support – As Samsung’s study has shown, your staff are wasting too much time on often minor IT issues. Much better to utilise an expert who can solve the problem in fraction of the time, although it may seem an additional cost, packages can be flexible on a ‘call as you need us’ basis and the time saved by your employees will far outweigh the investment.

    Embrace the idea of Multi-Cloud services – Applications such as email, Accounting, and Microsoft Office can be run from the cloud and, as you add users only when you need them, this flexibility ensures you’re not wasting money and can keep a clear eye on your costs.

    Alternative Office Hardware – Of course it’s essential your IT equipment can perform the tasks required reliably, without issue, but there are smarter options. For example, using the cloud and hosted desktops you only need purchase thin client devices rather than PC’s. They are available at a lower Capex, use 60-80% less electricity to run than a standard desktop, and also produce less heat in the office that then needs cooling, which all drive down cost.

    As ever, please feel free to call us for a friendly, no obligation discussion if you have queries on any of the above – 020 8099 1502.