A potential recession in 2019 or 2020 is all over the news, so how do you recession proof your IT infrastructure and make sure operating costs stay under control in the coming months?

Your Desktops and Laptops – In many cases, extending a warranty for a broken machine is less expensive than outright replacement.  If a PC is down and out, you might be able to extend the warranty on it and rebuild it for a fraction the cost of a new machine.  Typical desktop warranties can run anywhere from $750-$200, whereas a new workstation can run anywhere from $500-$700 for a new (not refurbished) entry level machine.  Often times, the warranty support will include remote support, and on-site support, and also potentially include the ability to perform a full operating system rebuild, making the machine as fresh as it was when it came off the factory line, less hardware wear and tear, of course.

Your Network – I’m willing to bet lunch at a place of your choosing that you aren’t using anywhere near the total bandwidth of your existing Internet connection.  Large Internet service providers always advertise high speeds, big bandwidth and other “attractive” features.  So, let’s get a few important details out of the way first – you can only download something as quick as someone else can upload it to you.  If the remote site isn’t able to send data to you quickly enough, it doesn’t matter how fast your download speeds -could- be, what you’ll actually get is how fast the other side can send it to you.  Also, typically, Internet service providers will provision connections well above what they expect usage to actually be at – similar to how gyms will sell subscriptions knowing that not everyone will use the gym daily for the same amount of time.  Due to this larger economy of scale, Internet companies heavily profit from selling higher speeds (which is really just access to higher speeds that you may never actually achieve) across the board, knowing their clients actual usage is low.  Also, as a last point, your local Internet routing equipment needs to have the capability to connect out at these higher speeds.  As an example, if you have a high speed fiber connection at 500mbit/sec, but your local WiFi connection only operates at 54mbit/sec, you can max out your local WiFi connection and you’ll never touch the additional bandwidth at the router managing your Internet connection.

Data – In the unlikely event that you need to downsize or move employees from full time to part time, you should recognize that your staff may leave with your data, or worse, sabotage your environment on the way out.  It’s unlikely, but it’s a realistic possibility you should be prepared for.  The easiest way to protect against this fallout is making sure you are regularly running backups, but more importantly, that you’re able to restore files.  There’s a big difference, so make sure you are able to recover files from your backups.

Software Licensing and Telecom Usage – Most modern software follows a per-user license model, and this is an easy area to review for cost reduction.  In many cases, we’ve seen former employee’s mailboxes still active in an environment years after the employee left, consuming valuable ongoing resources.  The same goes for telecom usage – a quick check of the number of phone lines, cell phone numbers, conference call bridge usage and other important services like this can quickly identify idle or limited usage that can be reduced for immediate financial relief.

Budget – It’s worth mentioning that almost all vendors which provide recurring services will offer some type of bulk discount or up-front pricing for service pricing.  If you look closely at all of the services you’re consuming, you might find that there are several you just can’t live without – and that’s fine, as long as you negotiate the lowest possible cost with the vendor.  Separately from the ongoing expenses, it’s worth looking into the expected hardware lifetime and seeing if advance replacement can help mitigate risk; although this may require a higher up front capital cost, the ongoing expense in the long run may be much lower.  It’s worth looking at both the one time and recurring costs to make sure that you’re not only getting the best pricing for any particular vendors’ services, but also that the service is needed, that it’s the best fit and that you have a clear view into future expenses.

Labor – Full time staffing is expensive.  Between salary, benefits, expected raises and other increasing expenses, it’s often times more difficult to maintain a higher expense level for full time staff when there isn’t enough work to keep that employee busy on a full time basis.  Most organizations will delegate an informal Head of IT who actually has a substantial load of other, non-IT related, work which they are responsible for.   Also, inevitably, when a larger problem arises that in-house talent can’t solve, you might end up paying a premium to someone else who isn’t familiar with your environment to come up to speed and fix the issue.  Worse, they might charge you above and beyond a normal rate simply because you’re stuck and they need to hedge their labor bet on potential problems they encounter.  The easiest way to solve both of these problems is to partner with a firm which provides this type of on-demand service, but already understands your environment and can come in only when needed at an affordable break-fix rate.  The best case, though, is you partner with an organization who can help prevent these problems from occurring in the future.

Audit – Engage a trusted partner to conduct a full audit of your environment to identify all of these areas of risk, cost savings and help you better understand how to control costs in the future.

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