Top Tips on Saving Money on Your IT

Small Business

Top Tips on Saving Money on Your IT

With all the current gloom around finances in the world we thought it was time to refresh our ‘top tips on saving money on your IT’. Whether you’re suffering in the financial chaos, or weathering the storm, it’s always worth looking at where your IT spend is going and seeing what you can trim. Here are our top tips that could save you over £500 per team member per year.

Tip 1 – Cheap is Expensive

A great client in my early days of consultancy gave me the expression ‘cheap is expensive’ and it is no truer than in IT. If you buy cheap computers and cheap servers they’ll work slower, go wrong more often, but most importantly you’ll have to replace them sooner.

I’m writing these top tips on a Dell Latitude laptop from 2005 (the computer is 6 years old, I’ve not actually gone back in time), while it is long past my primary computer, for light business use, it serves me well.

Don’t overspend though, the latest and greatest will cost you a premium and probably won’t outlast a decent business machine.

Our quick tips on buying machines:

  • Desktops | Dell OptiPlex or HP Pro | spend £450 – £550 (excluding a monitor)
  • Laptops | Samsung, Lenovo or Dell Latitude | spend £550 – £950
  • Netbooks | Samsung | spend from £200
  • Servers | Dell PowerEdge or HP Proliant | spend at least £1200


Tip 2 – Buy Retail Versions of Software

Generally speaking ‘licence agreements’ on software do not save small businesses money. In fact Microsoft’s ‘Open Value’ agreement can cost over twice the price of buying the software under standard retail.

I am yet to see a software lease agreement that saves money for a business. The last time we pitched against a competitor offering a lease agreement, we saved the client £0.5k in year 1 and £6k in year 2 and 3 on an office with 28 computers.

If your business is a charity, then bear in mind you’re entitled to free software from Microsoft as well.


Tip 3 – Buy SIM only deals for you Mobile Phones

When we moved from a company package with our mobile phone provider, to SIM only contracts (and purchased the handsets outright) we shaved 30% off our annual telecoms spend.

If we were to look at a 5 handset deal, with 500 mins per person per month, 250 texts, and 1GB internet and each person got a HTC Desire S phone, this is what you could find:

  • Option 1 – 5 x standard contracts
    Phone cost: 5 x £0 = £0
    Monthly cost: 5 x £21.28 = £106.40
    Contract Length: 24 months
    Total cost: £2553.60

  • Option 2 – 5 person business plan of 2000 mins
    Phone cost: £0
    Monthly cost: £115
    Contract Length: 24 months
    Total cost: £2760

  • Option 3 – 5 x standard SIM only contracts
    Phone cost: 5 x £240 = £1200
    Monthly cost: 5 x £8 = £40
    Contract Length: 24 months
    Total cost: £2160

These prices are taken straight off the website, and you can knock a lot of the telecoms people down. You will get more of a % movement on the SIM only contracts than the full contracts, for example our account manager knocked our SIM only rate on 750 mins from £15 per month to £7.50 per month!

Also be weary of the newer phones – if you do the same maths on a iPhone 4S the maximum saving jumps from 22% to 28% over the life of the contract.

Tip 4 – Check your print costs

Printers are expensive to run, if you’re still using inkjet printers (you are if your ink costs under £20). Then by switching to laser printing you can save up to 75% of the cost of printing.

Also installing a duplex unit (printing on both sides of the paper automatically) can save you up to 50% on the cost of your paper; not surprisingly…

To give you some numbers on what printers actually cost. If you were to have 10 people in an office printing say 50 pages a week each (about what our office does) and printing about 4 black and white pages for every 1 colour then your print costs on the various printers would be:

  • HP inkjet – £1110 per year
  • Lexmark cheap inkjet – £1960 per year
  • Dell Laser – £520 per year

Considering that the Dell Printer we recommend is ~£500 (Dell 3115CN), by switching from an expensive inkjet to a decent Dell laser you can get your investment back inside 3 months!

Beware that even large printers can be expensive, your print costs will often be bundled into the rental of the unit. Basically you should be spending less than 1p per BW print and less than 6p per colour print.


Tip 5 – Turn off your equipment

We recently measured the power draw of a client set of servers and they clocked in at around £380 per month in electricity to keep them going. Even a standard desktop can draw as much as 1.5 kilowatts in a day.

Based on a 10 person office, with a standard desktops and monitors, and a KwH charge of 0.15p then you’d be looking at the following costs:

  • £2277 per year – cost of leaving all your equipment on 24/7
  • £620 per year – cost if you set your computers to standby after hours
  • £540 per year – cost if you turn your computers off after hours

This is also just the cost of your desktops; add to this printers, servers and switches and by shutting down at night and weekends you save your wallet and your carbon footprint.

You should also look at energy costs when buying new equipment, LED monitors for example can save you up to 10 pence per day, but will only cost you an extra £10 upfront, and they look better.

Tip 6 – Check your call costs

You’ll either care about your call costs or you won’t. If your team are calling a lot internationally, you’ll have probably made the call to your telecoms provider already, or even switched to a new carrier (or even VOIP).

For those of you who haven’t thought about it yet, it’s probably because the cost per person in the office is very low. There are though some quick and easy things you can do to save a few pounds per team member per year.

The best way is to get a copy of your bill and send it to any number of carrier providers who’ll analyse it and tell you the cost saving they can offer. Drop us a line if you need a recommendation on who to contact.

If your cost is reasonably low anyway, then just having a conversation with BT (or whoever you pay your bill to) can often yield reasonable savings. The client we just helped out saved 30% off their bill at £180 per month with just around 20 mins of time speaking to BT.

If your team make the occasional international call then simply circulating this link, detailing which calling service to use, can save over £1 per min. It’s nice and easy and just requires calling a 0844 or 0870 number before dialling your international number, no account and no setup needed.

Remember it’s unlikely you’ll get a call from BT saying ‘hi you can save 25% off you calls last month by moving to this package’. So call them and press them for a better call package.

If you need help with any of your IT costs, then drop us a line and we’ll be more than happy to talk to you about whether you’ve got the most cost effective systems or whether there are ways of reducing your IT spend.

For more information on Lucidica, the IT department for small businesses, check out our website.