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A small business blog featuring tips to help entrepreneurs succeed in the small business world. Topics include family business, human resources, marketing, money, networking, operations, ownership, startup, taxes and technology.
Ways to Save on Technology in 2008
As each new year approaches, we all try and think of ways to make things for our business work more smoothly. And we definitely want to cut corners where we can and save some money. Here are some ideas to help to save some dough when it comes to your business’ technology needs:
Speed Things Up
Have your network bandwidth increased to speed up the overall processing time of your computers. The faster things move on your computer system, the quicker tasks get done. This means more time available for other tasks and, essentially, saving money because employees are getting more done for the same amount.
Consider Remote Access
If you have employees who are on the road a lot (including yourself), or even those who may be workaholics and would put in more time in their off hours if the had the option, then you may want to consider making your system remotely accessible. You will need to have a server that can provide for access by multiple users, or simply set up password-secure access to your service. Provide your employees with a laptop, a wireless card and an internet browser and they will be able to access your system and do extra work wherever a Wi-Fi connection is available. While it’s an investment, it will save you money in the long run because, again, more work will get done in a shorter amount of time.
When running a business, there are all sorts of reports and charts that you will need to examine on a regular basis. But it costs money to have those produced. So, to save yourself some hassle, narrow it down to a few essential reports that you must see on a regular (weekly) basis and hire someone on as staff to do just that. It may mean another salary, but it will save you from outsourcing to another company, which can typically be more expensive than having someone on board.
Hold Off on the Vista Upgrade
It’s better, at this point, to stick with Windows XP until all the kinks are worked out of the Vista program. A service pack for Vista is due to be release by Microsoft in 2008 which should make things work more smoothly. But, until then, it’s better to use a program that works smoothly so that you don’t have to spend money fixing the problems Vista creates. Additionally, if you need to purchase a computer or Windows program for your business and want to stick with Windows XP, you had better do it before January 1st, because at that point, Windows XP will be pulled from the shelves.
While providing smartphones (mobile phones that include a calendar and other office applications) to your employees will be an investment, it will help with the overall communication of your company and save both time and energy in the longrun (which, as mentioned, will save money). Keep in mind that you don’t know what kind of stuff people will put on their phones in their spare time, so it’s a good idea to only allow data synchronization from computer to phone. Additionally, consider getting unlimited text messaging so that all of your employees can have direct and speedy communication with one another.
Outsource Your Phones
Instead of maintaining your own phone system, consider outsourcing to a provider that deals predominately with businesses (i.e. multiple phone lines). They will provide a mailbox for each employee, an automated attendant, call forwarding, the works. And typically it is under $20 per month per mailbox. This is most cost effective for a small business.
An intranet system is a website that is limited to access by only certain individuals, whether that be just your employees, or extended to your customers, a password is required. It can be one location for providing information, such as intra-office memos, messages, contact lists, forms, etc. For customers you can provide your companies financial data as well. It simply means less duplication of efforts, which leads to more productivity. And you now what that means. . . saving money.
Calendar and Alerts
You and your employees should have a joint calendar system on the server, that everyone can access. You can see one another’s schedules and know when everyone’s available. We have one in the law firm I work at and it’s great because you always know where everyone is (as long as it stays updated). Additionally, make sure the calendar program has some sort of alerts system, so that you can set up reminders for yourself about important deadlines, etc. It’s hard to miss these little messages when they pop up in the middle of your screen, and they’re very helpful when you have a lot of things to remember.
There are many other great ways to save time and expense and make your business run more efficiently. Hopefully these ideas will get you brainstorming for the new year a head.
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