How much should your company spend on IT?
As consumers, we make large purchases throughout our lives, i.e. vehicles, a house, electronics. When we spend a significant amount on these types of purchases, a responsible consumer would warranty or insure their items. As consumers, we know that spending too little on these large purchases may give us a sub-par product. When businesses make capital expenditures into their IT infrastructure: servers, workstations, switches, firewalls, battery backup units, etc., they will want to make sure their systems are maintained. They do this to ensure they receive the maximum ROI from their IT systems. Much like how consumers usually opt to buy better products, even if they cost a little more, spending too little on your IT support model will often also give you a sub-par solution.
From an IT management point of view, here are some things you can to receive the most benefit from your technology investment:
- Long-term strategic planning is important to consider prior to making big investments into IT assets. Your business’ goals should align with technology, to help from over-spending on unnecessary items that do not add value to your business. Strategic planning will also help your technology to scale and grow with your business. An IT professional should put this plan together, and continually review it on a quarterly or as-needed basis. The business alignment process is a moving target, you should adjust it as business needs and/or technology available changes.
- Proactive/ preventative maintenance: whichever IT support model you choose (in-house, outsource, hybrid); you have to make sure your technology receives proper maintenance on the soft side: firmware updates, operating systems (OS) updates, patches, and upgrades, anti-virus definitions, etc. These updates are important for security compliance purposes to protect against attacks or intrusions from security vulnerabilities. If you want to ensure the most secure environment, make sure updates are actively managed. Microsoft releases updates at least every month, but sometimes more often. Security is truly a moving target and needs to be actively addressed. If security was static, IT managers would not have to deal with continual system and security updates.
- Warranties: following the asset life-cycle best practice, make sure your hardware, servers, workstations, switches, and firewalls have coverage under their manufacturer’s maintenance warranty. Most of these warranties range from 3 years to 7 years. Warranties from Dell and HP can include on-site repair of covered items. Once hardware falls outside of its warrantied life, it is best practice to replace this software. Most IT vendors will only support hardware that has an active warranty by the manufacturer. It will not only end up costing too much money to try to repair hardware not covered under warranty (parts and labor), but parts availability can cause extended downtime. Plus, hardware repaired outside of its manufacturer’s warranty will typically void any manufacturer warranty in the future.
Other expenses of the business compared to IT costs
A significant amount of money is not necessary to support and maintain your IT systems. We recommended working with an IT provider who can manage all the warranties and maintenance. Generally, under a full managed services plan, where your IT provider has become your IT department, part of your service includes warranty management. A managed services offering includes maintenance of your system.
When you compare the other operating expenses required to run your business, the cost to support and maintain the technology is minimal by comparison. How much is payroll, rent, health care, and taxes? Compared to these expenses the amount required to properly support your technology is less than you would think. An adjustment in how businesses view these costs when moving from little to no support (break/fix) to a fully managed solution should happen. A world-class MSP will have the processes and procedures in place to manage and maintain the systems appropriately.
Custom Information Services has developed a continually evolving list of Best Practices which can help identify areas that need attention such as security components, password management, health and maintenance of IT hardware and applications, and acceptable use of the network just to name a few areas.
How do costs compare to NOT maintaining your systems?
Long-term strategic planning can be an overlooked component if not working with the correct vendor or IT personnel. Do you know if your business’s technology aligns with business goals? How often do you review these alignments? What does the timeline of major projects look like? Servers, workstations, and other IT hardware need replacing once they reach the end of their covered life. This can ensure newer implemented technologies such as operating systems, processors, and newer hard drive technologies can increase the speed and performance of the systems.
What happens when your mission critical systems do have an issue? Are your warranties in place? Do you have technical support that you can call? Do you know how long you will be down upon a hardware failure?
How much revenue do you lose per hour your critical systems are down? Per day? Each company has a different allowable downtime depending on several factors.
Take a vehicle for example, you need routine maintenance to assure the vehicle performs its best. Routine maintenance would also take care of any issues which could lead to more major issues down the road. IT infrastructure is no different, the state of IT is a moving target and it must go through routine maintenance to keep your systems secure and in its most optimal state. Do you have a backup plan if your vehicle does not start one day? What is your backup solution? What is your plan to replace the vehicle once it has reached its end of life? This is all part of long-term and disaster planning.
Spending too little on IT support and maintenance can end up costing you much more in the long run from downtime or system inoperability. Through strategical planning, Custom Information Services can help you plan the most efficient way to get the most productivity and life out of your infrastructure. We do this because we sure your technology is aligned with your business’s goals.
Working with a trusted business advisor can help you keep your technology and business goals aligned.
A business should want to get the most out of its IT investment. There are options available to achieve this. From warranty and vendor management, proactive/preventative maintenance to long-term strategic planning for your business. A world-class MSP will be able to provide the above services and much more.
If you have any questions about what Custom Information Services can do for your business contact us today.