Five Ways To ...

Reduce your IT Support Costs

Five Ways To ...Reduce your IT Support Costs

1Be prepared. If an engineer is scheduled to visit or you need to make a support call, work out in advance what they might need, so they spend less time on the task. For example, the instruction manual, manufacturer's warranty, original software packaging for the license number etc. Software CDs and product keys are very valuable items, so keep them guarded and protected. If you ever had to re-install your equipment and couldn't find these things you'd have to buy them all over again, which is a complete waste of money.

It's not economical for an IT support company to replace a printer cartridge or change email settings like auto-responders. These are easy jobs you can do yourself. Learn some basic maintenance and settings for your equipment so you're not completely dependent.

On the other hand, know your limitations. It can be a complicated and technical task to load new software or configure new hardware for your network – best leave it to the experts if it's not something you're comfortable with. Otherwise you'll incur call-out costs for repairing any damage as well as paying to re-do the initial job correctly.

2Have a regular check-up. Do you service your car regularly or have a periodic medical check-up? You should do the same for your technology. Reputable computer maintenance and IT support companies can provide an audit of your systems, to make sure they're still fit for purpose and functioning efficiently, as well as tuning them up so you get the most out of them.

3Renew equipment regularly. Computer equipment is reliable but it can only last so long. If it has frequent usage (8 hours a day for 5 days a week) then it will start to get a bit creaky after two to three years and will not work as efficiently as you would like. Newer equipment needs less attention and you'll benefit from state of the art technology too.

The best way to approach this is to have a planned programme of renewal. If you budget a certain amount to spend every month or quarter you'll gradually replace all your equipment before it ceases to function, reducing down time caused by faulty kit. You'll also be able to make decisions when you have time to consider it, rather than in a rush because your server has finally died on you.

4Buy quality equipment. Why is there a price difference between suppliers for what looks like an identical specification? It's the quality of the components - not the things you can see but the things you can't, like chips, processors, connectors etc. Buying equipment with better quality components may cost more initially but it should last longer and need less attention.

Also, consult your IT maintenance or computer support company before you buy anything IT-related, even for small items. They should make sure you get the most appropriate item for your system and that it's installed correctly for your configuration, reducing the chances of any future call-outs. You don't have to buy from them, but you should listen to their advice.

5"Have you switched it on and off?" It might sound obvious, but many things can be easily fixed by checking they're plugged in, the fuse hasn't blown and there are no loose wires. Then reboot it again and if it still doesn't work, ask your company IT support contact if they've come across the problem before – it might be an issue common to your organisation. This will reduce the number of service calls made.