How Technology Can Make You Money – Part 1 of 3 Reduce Costs

There’s no reason to smile if you’re spending money that you don’t need to. This series is focused on using technology effectively for businesses. We explore three themes: reducing costs, increasing sales & increasing staff productivity. In short, this post looks at ways save without spending money, the next looks at ways to make money and the third looks at where you should spend your money if you want the business to run sharper.

Hardware Audit

We can save money by saving power. The computers in your office are on all day, often all night wasting money. Office memos & emails are usually ineffective after a few weeks, so let’s make simple changes that minimise the power loss.

Steps to take

Take a look at the types of activities that your staff are undertaking on the computer. It’s likely that they need little more than word processing, email & the Internet. If this is the case, here are some tips:

Give the fans a clean

Does the computer sound like it’s going to take off? That’s the fan trying its best to cool down the rest of the computer. If it’s getting quite loud, it means that it’s struggling. Open the case up, and give the fan a wipe down. The fan will be more efficient, quieter & you’ll end up saving money.

Turn down the revs

Find someone that has technical skills and ask them to reduce speed the CPU of the computer. It’s actually quite easy, you don’t even need to open up the machine. If you’re keen to do this yourself, you’ll need to search for BIOS settings on the net.

Dim the lights

Turn people’s screen brightness down 20%. As well as saving quite a bit of power over the course of a year, it’ll probably also help with eye strain.
Not using wireless? Disable it!
If you’re plugged into a network cable, do the bottom line a favour and switch off your wireless. Your computer’s spending energy sending radio waves into space for no reason.

Thinking of upgrading?

Consider second hand machines for low-use requirements. There are usually ex-lease business quality machines that will do just fine. Just make sure you buy a new hard drive, as they can get unreliable after a few years.

If you’re leasing machines, then ask your sales agent for “Thin Clients”. These machines are usually much more suitable for general applications than high-end performance machines.

Try Linux. It’s an operating system that is highly likely to run your current machines much faster. Also, if you are buying second hand machines you can save yourself a bit of money by asking them to be given to you without an operating system. Just order a free CD from https://shipit.ubuntu.com/, and you’ll have a new computer within about 15 minutes of it arriving.

Software Audit

As a manager, it’s your job to reduce costs and run your operation as efficiently as possible. Money spent on software licencing, if it is unnecessary, is money that you didn’t need to spend.

Sick of expensive phone bills & video conferencing?

Voice over IP (VoIP) technologies are your your friend. Try downloading a copy of Skype, you’ll be surprised how effective it is.

Annoyed with spam or spending too much on email? Try Google Apps

Google has a great set of applications that are designed to work in harmony with business operations. New Zealand Post recently moved their email operations. Why is this significant? Because Google charges are free (up to 50 users) or minimal (US$50/user). This can be much more cost-effective, than running your own email servers. What’s more, is that Google is much more likely to have a decent backup service than you do.

What are you paying for, is it worth it?

Even if software only costs a few hundred dollars per user, if your company could have received a compatible service for nothing, you’re still spending money when you don’t need to. You can take advantage of the corporate rivalries. For example, over the last few years, companies like Sun Microsystems & IBM have spent massive amounts of their own money enhancing Open Office. It’s free for you and well worth trialing.

Here are some recommended options:

Office Suite > OpenOffice.org
Email & Calendar > Mozilla Thunderbird & Sunbird
PDF newsletter creator > http://www.scribus.net/
Antivirus Software > http://www.clamwin.com/
Web conferencing > http://www.dimdim.com/

Wrap up

The general theme of the post is be proactive with your ICT savings. It’s possible to save quite a lot of money with effective back office operations. Hopefully this post provides a few suggestions of things to look out for.

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