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We're looking at cutting costs in all departments, which of course, includes IT. There wasn't a whole lot of ideas other than auto-shutdown of all workstations at x-time and having low consumption power supplies.

I'm just wondering, are there any more IT specific ways to cut costs for the company (without sacrificing up-time and the like)?

If it helps to know the architecture: 4 servers (domain controller, exchange and 2 voip servers) 30 workstations

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4 Answers 4

up vote 7 down vote accepted

I'm in a similar boat. With a setup the size of yours, there's really not a lot you can do to reduce costs purely from an IT perspective. Sure you can turn machines off and save a couple bucks -- it's a good thing to do -- but it's not going to make a drastic difference. And you might be cautious when moving to low consumption power supplies, make sure to run the numbers.

Here are a couple of things you might look at:

  1. Software costs often outweigh physical costs. Make it a priority to examine open-source solutions when making a software buy. Perhaps you have ten of your thirty users / machines who really only need to do basic text processing. Eliminating ten Office Pro licenses from the budget and replacing them with Open Office and the like might be a good save. On the server side of things it's even easier because end users don't see it. I rely on Linux and various free software packages to do some of the behind the scenes grunt-work that would be considerably more costly if I had to license Windows Server (etc). IT-related tools are also a place where you can utilize free software (inventory management, network monitoring, etc). Free software can be a hard sell to management, however. On the back end side of things I "just do it" and announce later how much money I saved.

  2. Examine ways in which IT can "save" money by making others more productive. After all, that's sorta the whole point. You might find that the accounting department is taking three days to compile some report that you can find a way to automate and have done in thirty seconds. You might find that the company has a real problem with document management for which you can come up better solution (and here's another place to look at free software). Don't wait for non-technical people to ask you for a solution, be proactive. At every weekly management meeting I hear at least one thing that could be made more efficient if automated (I only get around to 1% of them, but it's important to listen).

  3. Examine ways in which you can communicate better with business partners. Perhaps an extranet would reduce support calls. (Again, you might use free software)

  4. Don't be afraid to negotiate with vendors a little bit. Of course we don't want to ruin our relationships with our go-to vendors, but it doesn't hurt to ask why they're charging a bit more than their competition for some product (even if you wouldn't buy from the competition). Now is the time to negotiate in general. Maybe call up your ISP and telco and express your concerns over their pricing. (Once I saved the company upwards of $30,000 per year because I happened to notice that our phone bill hadn't been renegotiated for nearly a decade...I wasn't looking into it specifically, I just happened to notice)

  5. Examine the lifespan of your workstations. Are you turning them over every three years? Can you stretch that out to four? Five? Would it be worth it to spend a little more on a new machine if you believe it'll be maintainable for an additional two years? Again it's time to play with the numbers a bit. Sometimes a really cheap machine that only lasts a couple years will have a cheaper cost of ownership than a more expensive machine that lasts five -- but don't forget to factor in maintenance (i.e. it's easier to replace a failed video card if it's not built into the motherboard)

  6. If your company does a lot of printing, it might be wise to look into this area. You might eliminate desktop printers for a few inexpensive network printers. Start watching print numbers and encourage people to only print when necessary, and to use the appropriate device (e.g. the copier that is super cheap per page over the convenient but expensive inkjet). We're actually starting to enforce that people print to mailboxes on our copiers to reduce the amount of print jobs that don't get picked up...which happens an awful lot.

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Excellent, excellent answer. Thank you. Some of these things we're doing: OSS and Free software as well as laser instead of ink printers. I hadn't even considered negotiating with some of our vendors. We're also a pretty young company (3 years) so we haven't turned over many machines yet but I'll definitely look into that as well. –  SnOrfus Dec 2 '09 at 0:01

You are probably spending more on software licensing than anything, on a yearly basis. I would push your vendors hard to get the best pricing. Also, look at open source alternatives for office software. And depending on how many mail users you have, hosted exchange or even something like Google Apps for business could be a cost effective alternative. We have used all of these effectively. Another place to look is refurb equipment from someone like Dell, or even eBay.

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Our company has recently (very recently) got into virtualization as a way of saving money on hardware. If you have 7 services that only need 5 machines, why pay for 7?

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Might be worth checking out becoming a Microsoft Certified Partner as you will be entitled to some internal licencing which comes as part of your partner status.

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