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How to Strategically Reduce IT Costs

How to Strategically Reduce IT Costs
With the global COVID-19 pandemic running wild, the economy has taken a dip. The World Trade Organisation estimates that global trade volume could plummet by 13% and 32% in 2020. The uncertain economic climate means that fewer customers are buying, which means that businesses have to take steps to reduce costs.
 

However, there is a right way and a wrong way to do this. Trying to cut costs isn’t about throwing away everything but the bare minimum, it’s about finding ways to make your infrastructure leaner with a targeted IT investment.

As an IT Consultant and Managed IT Service Provider, the Network Overdrive team has a wealth of experience helping clients to manage their IT investments. That experience has enabled us to assist many clients in prioritising their spending during a recession. When trying to cut costs, there are some key areas we recommend that companies take a look at:

  • Overspending on subscriptions
  • Freeze long term projects with no immediate short term results
  • Review IT leasing terms – printing, phones, etc.
  • Review IT contracts (particularly SLA terms)
  • Change staff expectations of support/assistance – offer IT training instead
  • Alternative technology – VoIP vs fixed line
  • Change the mix of cloud/on-premise infrastructure (Some will save by moving to the cloud and others will be better off moving back to on-premise)
  • Automate repetitive IT tasks
  • Outsource/hybrid IT teams

Each of these areas should be looked at to determine where you’re going to cut spending. You also want to reconsider your general IT spending strategy, so you’re not handcuffing your growth and leaving your company open to instability.

Tips for Reducing IT Spending Rapidly

To maintain your financial stability, you need to reduce your spending fast. It’s no good cutting spending that’s going to make you a saving next year. Instead, it is important to cut expenditures that are going to have a financial impact in 1-6 months. More than a year is too long.

You also don’t want to fall into the trap of deferring costs. If you reduce spending, make sure it’s through cuts because deferred costs will remerge later. With so much uncertainty about how long the pandemic will last, and the amount of time economic recovery will take, cutting spending is the safest option.

Lastly, don’t worry about the sunken costs of your current tech. If you’ve spent a fortune on solutions that are no longer right for your company’s situation, it can be frustrating to abandon them, but sometimes it’s to move forward.

The pandemic has changed the market, and making difficult decisions is key to making it through. Remember that when the economy returns to normal, you can then start to reinvest in more experimental and ambitious technology.

Align Cost with Strategy and Aim High

While cutting costs is necessary during the pandemic, it’s essential to have the right mentality when you’re spending. You can’t fall into the trap of cutting spending just to survive – you should be aiming to grow rather than simply minimising your losses. If avoiding losses is your goal, then you’re setting up for failure.

Instead, align cost reduction with your overall business strategy and aim high. That means not just trying to make it through economic instability with minuscule savings, but reallocating resources toward investments that stimulate growth.

Aiming high will enable you to stay competitive in the market more effectively than cutting back to the bare minimum. To stay competitive, try to make your overall operation leaner while attempting to maximise the value you provide to your customers. Cost reduction is just one tool you can use to make that happen amid the pandemic.

Use Cost Cutting to Stay Safe Amid COVID-19

Making the decision to cut spending on infrastructure is never an easy decision, but sometimes it’s a necessary one. The best way to insulate yourself against the uncertainty of the economy is to pull back your spending until it recovers. After all, doing so could be the difference between keeping or letting go of employees.

While reducing your operations may force you to scrap some of the initial plans you had for this year, you can revisit these once the economy starts to recover. If you’re unsure about how to reduce your IT spending, our expert team is here to help you find what infrastructure is essential to your business, and help you manage your costs.

If you’d like to find out how to control your costs and stay profitable during the global pandemic, contact our team today.

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How to Enable Your Staff to Work Remotely During Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads across the globe, more and more governments are advising people to stay away from crowds and public places to limit the spread of the infection. Such guidance has made business owners anxious, as the workplace is one of the most common ways that people come into contact with others.

Many business owners are struggling with the dilemma of doing the responsible thing and closing the office or staying open and trying to make ends meet. Staying open raises the risk of spreading infection, but widespread closures could seriously damage the global economy, making post-coronavirus life much bleaker.

Thankfully, remote working offers a solution. In 2019, 62% worked remotely. While remote working isn’t an option for every company, there’s a substantial amount of work that doesn’t need to be done in the office. In this article, we’re going to look at how you can prepare your employees for remote work and stay productive in 2020.

1.   Computers

Nine times out of ten, your employees will need access to computers to work from home. Depending on the device management controls/restrictions you have in place, there are two main options:

  • Allow employees to take computers home – If you already have employee laptops, then it makes sense to allow employees to use these from home. Desktop computers can be a little trickier as there is a higher risk of damage to hardware, but it’s still possible to migrate.
  • Allow employees to use personal machines – Most, if not all, of your workers, will have their own devices, so using these for work is a natural choice. You can choose between using the machines directly or enabling remote access to work machines through Virtual Desktop environments.

2. Software

Software is the key to successful remote working. If your employees don’t have access to the right tools, then they won’t be able to do their jobs. Businesses that have already moved to the cloud have an advantage because users can already access cloud services from home.

You can access popular CRMs, ERPs, communications tools, and other cloud solutions, whether you’re in the office or at home. With the right software, your employees can work from anywhere.

If you haven’t moved to the cloud, then you can support remote access by allowing access with a VPN, permitting remote access to local desktops, or even by adopting cloud-based services. Choosing a cloud-service can be done on a short-term basis and then refined to a more robust setup later on.

3. Phones

Depending on your business, access to phones can be a big or small issue. If your employees use mobile phones most of the time, then you’re almost good to go. All employees need to do in this scenario is to start taking calls from home.

On the other hand, if you regularly receive calls from customers on a mainline, you will want to have calls directed to people’s personal devices or via the internet to their desktop devices.

4. Communication/Meetings

One of the biggest challenges of remote working is the reduced level of social contact. While working from home is great for working on a task undistracted, there are many problems we can resolve much faster when we can communicate with our peers. Encouraging and supporting staff to maintain communication is essential for getting the best results. You can do this by adhering to a few things:

  • Pick up the phone and call! – If you need to talk to someone, don’t forget that they still exist even if they’re not in the room!
  • Use team tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams – These are great tools for sharing knowledge but be cautious because they can also serve as a source of constant distraction. Encourage employees to stay disciplined during chats.
  • Use meeting tools like Zoom – Meeting tools are invaluable tools for scheduling meetings and communicating through video or voice chats online. Many solutions offer integrations with calendars, which eliminate back and forth via email.

5. Security

Security is a significant challenge that you can’t overlook when it comes to remote working. Whether employees are in the office or working remotely, they always have the capacity to compromise sensitive information. If you’re still working with them, then that means you already trust them to a degree.

However, when working from home, it’s essential to educate your employees in security measures so that your data stays safe. Instruct employees to:

  • Only using secure/trusted networks.
  • Lock their computers any time they walk away from it.
  • Connect to cloud or remote services via a secure connection.
  • Have an up to date antivirus.
  • Clean personal machines before use.
  • Keep sensitive files in a consistent location on machines for easy removal.
  • Report any concerns immediately.

Use Technology to Unlock the Possibilities of Remote-Working

The abundance of technology solutions available gives you 101 different ways to support remote working. Network Overdrive has prepared to help clients during this time of uncertainty by partnering with Aryaka, to deliver clients a Secure Remote Access solution designed specifically for remote teams. The solution increases application performance, so remote workers don’t get sidetracked by poor connectivity.

If it’s a choice between closing your doors or adopting new tools to prepare for remote working, the latter is a natural choice. Now is a better time than ever before to get your enterprise ready for remote operations, and to give your employees some stability during this difficult time.

If you’d like help or advice on getting your business ready for remote working, please give us a call on 1300 368 928.

The Techceptance Journey: From Denial to Nirvana

workers, computer, technology, teamwork

The path towards on-boarding new technology is as much a mental journey as it is a technical challenge. Moving from denying the value of new solutions to achieving empowerment and Techceptance is anything but easy. But what is Techceptance exactly?

It may come as a surprise, but by reading this article, you’re experiencing a form of Techceptance. The very act of taking the time to read an article on technology shows that you accept the power new tech has over your life and your business. In other words, you recognise that you need to invest in new technology to grow as a modern enterprise.

Techceptance: The Journey to Tech Acceptance

It is no secret that adopting new technology is a tumultuous process. New technology disrupts established operations and changes the day-to-day reality of business dramatically. When on-boarding new tech, there are four stages an enterprise must go through before reaching Techceptance; Denial, anger, bargaining, and depression.

While battling through these stages can be a test of willpower, completing the journey is a competitive necessity. In the digital age, any company that uses technology to do business is a tech company by default. Every company that exists today is a tech company; it doesn’t matter if you’re selling socks or pizzas because you’re still part of the digital economy.

Technological Investment is Paramount to Success

Putting your money where your mouth is and investing in your technology is an important step to enhance your business. Investing in the right solution can refine processes and deliver a substantial increase in your bottom line. Systematically building a complete IT strategy is a great way to drive long-term profitability.

It is paramount that you know what technologies to invest in to get the most bang for your buck and thrive in the modern economy. Investing in new tech should be a hands-on process rather than something you outsource to a third party. Unfortunately, many companies make the mistake of handing over control of IT to someone else based on “expert advice.”

Many technology experts and IT management firms urge companies to take a hands-off approach to new tech that can slow progress. These experts encourage companies to hand over control of their IT so that an expert can deal with the nuts and bolts.

The truth is that outsourcing your IT management is a fantasy because your IT is part of your business, not someone else’s! The “leave it to the experts” approach may be good for the service provider’s business, but it’s not for most modern tech companies. To adopt new technology, you must discover solutions and integrate them into the operations inside your enterprise.

The Right Way to Invest in New Technology

Picking which technology to put your money behind is one of the biggest sticking points companies face. Many CEOs struggle to find the right technology to invest in because there are so many options to choose from, like cloud computing, AI, and automation. Just knowing where to start is extremely difficult.

Furthermore, the technicalities and strategy of adopting new technology is a nightmare. The hassle of on-boarding new solutions leads many CEOs to take a “leave it to the experts” attitude to IT. Nine out of ten times this means leaving IT management to CIO’s, IT departments, and managed service providers to move forward.

However, there is a more effective way to invest in and nurture new technology; the Techceptance Initiative. The Techceptance Initiative provides the senior management of a business with the next steps towards achieving their IT strategies. Enterprises can use the Profit Stacks Framework to examine potential solutions and identify the IT actions that will drive profit.

The Techceptance Initiative takes a scientific approach that companies can use to onboard new technology that brings results and actionable insights that will transform your business. A recent client of our Techceptance Initiative achieved a boost of $100,000 in profit in the first 12 months of engagement! Viewing IT investment through the lens of profit makes it much easier to choose what tools to adopt.

Use Techceptance to Kick-start a Tech Revolution 

Sometimes all it takes to kick start your Techceptance journey is a concrete plan. Stop listening to experts who tell you to outsource your IT management, take control, and start managing your IT yourself! Tools like the Profit Stacks Framework can help you to weigh up IT options, select the most profitable course of action, and transform into a better business.

Taking the time to understand the real-time value of new technology (and the potential profit!) can be an ah-ha moment. Pinpointing a profitable IT action gives you a feeling of certainty and clarity that can only be called Tech Nirvana. Mapping out the road to business success turns digital transformation from a chore into an unprecedented opportunity.

If you’d like to learn more about how to start your Techceptance journey, give us a call on 1300 368 928 or get in touch through our contact form.

What to Look For in Managed IT Service Providers

desktop computer, technology, managed service provider

There’s one thing that all businesses have in common – we all rely on technology. When a company is just starting up, it’s IT department may consist of a couple of techs who manage a small number of tasks and operators.

But with bigger company growth comes a more complex IT infrastructure. This complexity, combined with rapidly developing technology, can make it enormously challenging for an internal IT department to keep up with a business’ needs.

Additionally, the stakes are higher with multiple operators, transactions, and customer needs to manage quickly and efficiently for the business to remain competitive.

That’s why IT managed service providers are the obvious choice for mid-size businesses and growing enterprises in Australia.

An IT managed service provider can provide appropriate levels of support to meet a range of business requirements, while also relieving internal staff from having to keep up with staff requests, changes in technology, and system maintenance.

That being said, not all managed service providers are equal. It’s important to ensure that the provider you choose to work with is able to meet your business’ specific needs. After all, hiring an IT provider means outsourcing an important arm of your organisation. So it’s worth your time to ensure the right fit.

What you need to know about managed IT service providers

When searching for an MSP, you first need to make sure you work with a company that can bring your technology and business goals together. Any MSP that says ‘let me take care of your IT so you can focus on your business” is doing you a disservice.

While a service provider’s primary focus is to ensure the safety and availability of your infrastructure, they should do so within the context of your broader business strategy. The MSP’s role should be to bring your tech and business needs together.

A key requirement to look out in an MSP is that they demonstrate how they will help you to use technology to drive profit in your business. They should be able to equip you with understanding and insights to make great technology investment decisions.

More specifically, A reputable MSP will:

  • Ensure the strategic alignment of IT with business goals
  • Manage servers, workstations, switches, and LAN
  • Manage messaging and email communications
  • Manage security, virus protection, and spam filtering
  • Provide a data back-up and recovery service
  • Offer Service desk support
  • Provide software deployment management and support
  • Conduct network monitoring and incident remediation
  • Offer internet access and VPN management
  • Provide vendor management and hardware replacement

To help you select the right provider for your organisation, we recommend you lookout for the following considerations:

Availability

Your computer network works 24 hours a day, which means problems can occur at any time both day and night. When it comes to your IT support, you want a provider that’s always available to deal with any issues swiftly and efficiently.

A good service provider will have adequate resources to provide both remote management and monitoring, and also offer first call support on a 24 x 7 basis.

Response time

Being available for calls is one thing, providing fast answers can be another thing entirely. Some IT managed service providers outsource their calls to a call centre, meaning your request will likely bounce through a few departments before it actually gets dealt with.

Make sure your provider offers a guaranteed response time.

Local maintenance and support

Using a local provider can make life much easier when on-site works are necessary. Local providers can have a tech out to your business within hours to fix problems, upgrade hardware, and provide in-house assistance.

Vendor relationships

A big advantage of using an IT managed services provider is being able to leverage their relationships with third party suppliers. A good provider will have strong relationships with multiple manufacturers, saving you the time of tracking down multiple vendors for service and support.

Chances are that some problems will occur with your technology that requires the manufacturer’s assistance to resolve. Look for a provider that has access and experience with specialised support and tools across every vendor your business uses.

Daily backups and cloud services

Your business’ data is its most valuable asset. But what happens when disaster strikes? Fires, water damage, theft, accidents and other threats can wipe out your company’s precious data.

Your IT managed service provider should provide automatic and consistent backups on a safe, remote server. Having your data safely stored this way means should some catastrophic failure occur, your business can weather the storm and be back to normal within hours.

Security monitoring

Cyber crime is on the rise, with hackers targeting more businesses than ever in the form of ransom ware, data theft, and other malicious attacks.

This unfortunate new ‘normal’ of doing business means it is crucial you are prepared and protected from online security threats. A good managed services firm will have a plan that includes regular security testing and monitoring.

Proactive maintenance

Technology isn’t built to last, which is why any good managed service provider performs an array of proactive tasks that help prevent issues before they occur. Your partner should work with you to make sure you are up to date with your technology at all times to save costly repairs and upgrades later.

Make better tech decisions!

Partnering with the right managed service provider not only keeps your IT available but helps you to make better technological decisions. Having an expert on hand gives you access to vital support and guidance you can use to keep your services available when you need them.

Investing in the assistance of an MSP is a proven way to make your IT operations more efficient and secure. A good provider will show you what technology will enable your business goals so you can maximise your ROI.

Outsourcing your IT to Network Overdrive gives you access to a full-suite IT department – without the huge cost and hassle. To find out how we can help your business, call us on 1300 368 928.

What Does IT Success Look Like For Your Staff?

Network Overdrive

What does IT success look like in your organisation? And what do you do when tech isn’t working in your business? If the answer is to bury your head in the sand, then chances are you could benefit from an action plan to increase technological utilisation. The challenge of on-boarding and maintaining new technology is a hurdle that managed IT service providers encounter consistently.

The key to breaking down poor adoption is to get to the root of why the company is using these tools and identifying the problems stopping employees applying them. Many organisations have a fundamental disconnect between management’s perspective of technology adoption and the attitudes of employees in the ground.

While 92% of C-suite execs say they’re satisfied with the technology experience their company provides for making progress on their most important work, only 68% of staff agree.

The saying “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink” is as relevant to employee productivity as it is to a trusty steed. No matter how many tools you have at your disposal, you won’t start to reap the rewards if your employees don’t use them.

However, enterprises need to acknowledge that poor adoption of technology isn’t always the fault of employees. Sometimes new tech just isn’t up to scratch. As Geoffrey James Contributing Editor of Inc has said, “employees who say ‘no thanks’ to crap software do their company a favour because crap software always gets crap results.”

Regardless, knowing what to do when your technology, systems, and processes aren’t working for you is paramount for building a productive workforce experience. That’s why we’ve compiled an action plan to help motivate your employees and get technology working for you.

What to do When Technology Isn’t Working for You

If your technology isn’t delivering the results you expect, then your immediate goal should be to increase utilisation. Getting employees using the technology in front of them is critical for reaching techceptance (a state of synergy between employees and digital solutions). To boost adoption, we recommend the following process:

  1. Focus on small teams of no more than 20 and look for potential advocates. Advocates are people who want to improve their job and the customers’ experience of the company.
  2. Gather their feedback and review current pain points or inefficiencies. Identify a part of their job where existing technology within the company would allow them to complete their role quicker and more efficiently.
  3. Take a video of the employee explaining their frustrations and ask them what the ideal use of technology would look like. Follow up by creating metrics such as how long it takes to do that job or how often it needed redoing because of technical errors.
  4. Implement a new technological tool or teach them a better way to use the existing technology.
  5. Monitor employee feedback to assess the improvements made throughout the transition.
  6. Use this before and after comparison to help implement the change for other staff.

Following the steps above will help to increase the use of new processes or systems smoothly, and actively educate employees on how to make their job easier. Rather than deploying a new platform and hoping for the best, this approach actively nurtures the technical development of your team.

The core ideas behind the process are:

  • Stay focused on the staff and understand their current workflow very well.
  • Stay focused on improving one key part of their work with technology.
  • Take records so that the experience can be amplified and motivate other parts of the business to look for more ways to improve their work processes.

Applying the Managed IT Service Provider Action Plan

Research has shown that 60 percent of all occupations comprise at least 30 percent of activities that are technically automatable, which can cause employees to have anxiety over adapting. Following the strategy above will help create a stable workforce experience even in the wake of digital disruption.

You can apply the action plan regardless of whether regulatory compliance has forced you to implement new technology or because management requires greater visibility into operations.

Even if you install new technology primarily for the benefit of employees, you can improve adoption by being proactive and finding ways to improve their lives. For example, you can give an employee a faster computer as part of the transition to boost enthusiasm going forward. The key is to be creative!

Of course, active dialogue with staff will also uncover when you shouldn’t deploy a certain technology or remove it from the workflow ASAP. If a piece of technology is going to make the life of your employees more difficult, then you can look at alternative products, or find different ways of using current platforms.

Tell Us Your Experience with IT Success (or Lack Thereof!)

If you have made it this far then the chances are that the technology in your workplace could be better. Do you think there is a disconnect in your business between management and employees on how beneficial the technology used in the company is? Is the right amount of effort being spent finding how to improve your team’s experience?

If you think your company could do with more human-tech synergy or you have a battle-tested adoption strategy, tell us about it, we’d love to know your thoughts.