Running Your Business From Home During COVID? Reduce IT Costs

Business: Launching and sustaining your own small business is already hard enough in normal times. The pandemic has thrown about twenty new wrenches into the clockwork, complicating everything from investments, clients, and contracts to payroll, staff, and information technology (IT).

While we can’t solve all of these (at least in one blog), we can offer some tips about how to reduce your IT costs. Since IT is an especially big piece of the pie in a new business, understanding how to best leverage your tools and assets is critical.

Use the cloud to outsource your ecommerce platform

It’s hard enough to convert customers and clients. The last thing you need to worry about is whether your website’s self-hosted checkout portal is stranding potential sales. Have you ever clicked ‘checkout’ only to find that the company’s payment platform is so confusing that you’d rather just exit the screen and abandon your purchase altogether? That’s exactly what you’re trying to avoid as a business owner.

Newer cloud-based platforms allow you to streamline your sales while also boosting customer engagement, reducing overall IT costs, and eliminating bandwidth and transaction fees.

The enterprise ecommerce solutions Shopify offers via its website development services, for example, allow multi-channel, automated workflows and customizable storefronts. Such upgrades can ultimately be good for building your brand as well.

Take advantage of open source software

Open source software is advantageous for several reasons. On the front end, you avoid the cost of software licenses that usually carry repeating maintenance fees. Some of these proprietary licenses can be very expensive and may not even be necessary for your day to day operations. Perhaps even more importantly, using open source allows you to modulate your code and have more options if you need help troubleshooting a development issue.

Learn to love automation

There is growing anxiety about automation replacing human labor but the reality is right now, humans need automation and business owners especially need to embrace the idea of automating IT services. This is a no-brainer.

Machine learning algorithms can revolutionize the way your company handles IT service requests. What would previously occupy hours of a human IT administrator’s day can be cleared rapidly. According to Gartner, approximately 20-50% of service desk calls involve password reset requests. Using algorithms and chatbots to streamline these processes not only saves you money but it allows your human admins to focus on more important problems that require human problem-solving skills.

Restructure your IT workforce

As you probably know well by now, it costs money to find employees and this is especially true in IT. The cost of onboarding new hires is thousands of dollars and if they don’t work out, you’ve basically flushed that money down the toilet.

Create a system, your own special pipeline, for how to recruit, train, and incentivize employees. If you’re still in the early stages of developing your company, you may not even have any employees. But a solid IT hire can expedite your business significantly and take the pressure off the technical side so that you can focus on sales, partnerships, and R&D. It’s important during these early days to find an IT expert willing to go the distance with your company. The best way to do this is to offer a good salary and benefits.

Virtualize your databases

Increasingly, IT teams are opting to virtualize their databases. This is a rejection of previous models that saw businesses hosting a dedicated server for every application In addition to saving on storage costs, developers say that virtualized databases save on productivity, too, allowing a more efficient trial and error process.

One way to virtualize your databases is with containers. For example, Linux containers reduce hardware costs and are portable.

The benefits of virtual databases are higher server utilization, reduced infrastructure costs, reduced manpower costs, increased flexibility, a better quality of service, and improved performance.

There are plenty of other tips for reducing IT costs. In fact, you could talk to a hundred different IT specialists and probably receive a hundred different ideas. Some analysts advise you to focus on reining in unspent and uncommitted expenses; they also recommend reducing capital expenditures, which often occupy a bloated space in the budget.

The key is applying the tips that will work best for your specific business situation.

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