Investing in the technology your business uses on a daily basis is one of the best ways to facilitate higher productivity and stimulate innovation. But if you’re going to make every dollar count, you need to scrutinize those investment decisions.
How can the average business owner make better IT investment decisions?
Hire a Consultant
You’ll make better decisions if you have the wisdom and guidance of a qualified IT consultant on your side. IT investment decisions are very complex, and they tend to involve a cascade of different variables.
Before you even start making purchases, you need to practice architectural planning; you need to build a network and assemble a fleet of devices capable of meeting your business needs without totally crushing your budget. After that, you’ll need to carefully select the devices, materials, and resources necessary to turn that architectural plan into a reality.
If you don’t have much experience in IT, if you’re short staffed in this department, or if you’re just concerned about your ability to make the most effective business decisions, a consultant could be exactly what you need. They’ll help you analyze your current needs and current resources. They’ll help you select the most effective devices and services for your requirements. And they’ll even help you save money by directing you to the most cost-efficient acquisitions.
Of course, a consultant is going to cost you some money, but the investment is usually worth it. Consultants are incentivized to pay for themselves and exceed expectations so they continue earning business and referrals.
Start With an Audit
Even if you don’t choose to work with an IT consultant, every IT investment decision you make should start with an audit. In other words, you’ll need to take inventory of what you currently have, evaluate your current and future needs, and analyze the gap between the two. What does your current network look like? Where and why is it falling short? What’s the best way to close that gap and expand the capacity of your network?
Proactively Plan for the Future
Next, in the course of planning your IT decisions, proactively plan for the future. In other words, it’s a good idea to invest proactively rather than reactively. Instead of waiting for your network to fail or allowing your business to grow beyond its means, you need to make purchases that give you plenty of runway and allow your business to grow.
Don’t just think about the next few months or the next year. Think about the next several years. Obviously, this doesn’t mean you should buy a ton of new equipment and subscribe to a bunch of new services because you might need them several years from now – but these future needs should be on your radar.
Invest in Scalability
Scalability is a vital concept in IT architecture planning. If you build a system that only works for your current business environment, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes irrelevant; at that point, you might have to tear everything down and start again from scratch. In contrast, if you build a system that works for your current business environment and has the capacity to expand and serve your future business environment, no tear-down or restarting is necessary.
When making new acquisitions, ensure their scalability. It will help you save money and time in the long run.
Part of making better investment decisions is knowing when to cut your losses or stop unnecessary hemorrhaging. In addition to looking at new acquisitions, you should be looking at what you’re currently spending money on. Are there any subscriptions you’re paying for that you don’t use, or subscriptions that could be replaced by better alternatives? Are there any vendors that are being outcompeted by their close competitors? It’s important to make these periodic reviews so you can update your systems as necessary.
Second-hand technology can be just as functional and effective as new technology, but it tends to be much cheaper. Consider buying refurbished equipment to reduce your acquisition costs.
Commit to Regular Reviews
Finally, schedule regular reviews of your IT spending and your current equipment. This way, you can stay on top of waste control, you can plan proactively for the future of your network, and you can evaluate the effectiveness of all your prior investment decisions. Schedule an audit at least once a year, if not more frequently.
Your technology investment decisions have a massive impact on your company, setting the stage for its capabilities and representing significant expenses. With the right strategies, you can keep this spending under control, acquire all the equipment you need to remain operational, and ultimately run your business more efficiently.