Now more than ever, during these tough economic times, it's important to keep our eyes on the ball, cut costs where necessary, and invest in things that can have a measurable return on investment. At times like these, it's easy to think about cutting costs in technology investments and expenditures. However, technology can provide many opportunities for returns with a huge bang for the buck.
We've put our collective heads together and compiled a list of Money Saving Technology Tips which can quickly impact your business' performance. This list is not all-inclusive and each component is not necessarily applicable to every organization – the purpose of this compilation is to provide insight into unexplored avenues of business growth and to serve as a "grab bag" of ideas that we hope will inspire you to take action that you haven't previously considered.
- Automate your KPI's (Key Performance Indicators). Many times the automation of this reporting can save days or weeks of time in providing the information you need to run your business successfully. Whatever accounting or ERP system you're using, there are always ways to streamline the process of creating this data in a more timely, accurate, and efficient manner.
- Invest in the technology needed to provide remote access so that you and your staff can work more efficiently. Why sit in traffic for an hour when you can work at home during rush hour and then only take a half hour to get in? This simple change would improve your productivity by 2.5 hours per week which equals over 120 hours per year.
- Build an intranet to improve your effectiveness and better share documents and information across your staff and locations.
- Implement EDI with your strategic partners to save money by eliminating the need for data entry and the costly printing of paper documents.
- Look to implement a VoIP phone system to increase capabilities while significantly reducing your ongoing telecommunication costs. VoIP is bundled with features such as conferencing abilities, caller ID, and call forwarding at no additional cost, and not only makes securing calls easier, but allows for user location independence.
- Scan documents and save them on the network rather than printing them. This will help you avoid ongoing costs associated with paper, toners, printer maintenance, storage space, and more.
- Implement bar coding and scanning if your business requires heavy data entry. Implementing bar coding and scanning in your warehouse can capture data entry at the point of origin and eliminate after-the-fact data entry. This will not only save you money by eliminating or minimizing reliance on data entry personnel, but will also reduce data entry errors.
Review Tech Expenses
- Audit your telecommunication costs, especially if your contract is over two years old. This is an area where we're seeing HUGE cost savings with many of our clients.
- Audit your internet costs. Odds are, if your contract is more than a year or two old, better deals are available now.
- Organize and review your ongoing software and hardware maintenance fees. This is an ideal way to track down licenses you no longer use and allows you to discontinue payment and unnecessary coverage.
- Configure your accounting application to email or fax client invoices and statements. This will help make your accounting functions flow more smoothly and efficiently and save you hundreds of dollars by eliminating printing costs.
- Switch from printing paper forms to using computer-generated forms.
- Implement a policy to have staff power off their computers, printers, and peripherals each evening as they leave the office.
- Have an IT Support Provider automatically shutdown all business devices at the end of each night and power them up before your office opens for business each morning.
- Change various applications from the purchase model to SaaS (Software as a Service) to run them hosted via the internet. This includes Anti-SPAM filtering, MS-Exchange Hosting, and much more.
- Move servers to a third-party co-location facility to eliminate the cost of server rooms. This can also serve as a great disaster recovery solution!
Outsource Your IT Services
- Consider replacing in-house IT staff with outsourced support, eliminating all of the costs associated with full-time staff (salary, payroll taxes, workers' compensation, benefits, vacation days, sick days, training, etc.).
- Eliminate vendor responsibility avoidance by outsourcing. There is no multi-vendor finger pointing when there is just one, resourceful solution provider.
- Do away with technology that is not the right fit for your business model. An outsourced IT provider with an intimate understanding of your business can guide your technology decisions based on your business objectives while steering you away from hidden pitfalls and overspending on unnecessary purchases and upgrades.
- Look into advertising on social networking sites such as Facebook or LinkedIn, if business appropriate.
- Generate email blasts using simple, outsourced online companies such as Swiftpage, Constant Contact, or Campaigner.
- Implement a contact manager or customer relationship management (CRM) system to allow you to effectively manage your customer list, generate email blasts, or various marketing and advertising campaigns.
Optimize Website Function
- Consider adding B2B capabilities to your website to automate your interactions with your strategic partners. This will help automate and standardize correspondence.
- Add eCommerce capabilities to your website and sell your wares online!
- Allow your customers to enter orders through your website. The less time a client has to spend to place an order, the more likely he or she is to do business with you.
- Integrate order taking on your website with your back office accounting to eliminate data entry costs and errors.
- Optimize your website for search engines to drive more traffic and potential customers to your site.
- Launch a pay per click campaign with Google or Yahoo to drive more traffic and prospective customers to your site.
Please let me know your thoughts on this subject...