Now that you know where you've been bleeding money, and are inspired to cut costs, here are more ways to reduce your IT spend.
REOPEN YOUR SUPPLIER CONTRACTS: If your hardware or IT-services leases are almost up, consider negotiating a 12- to 18-month contract extension. The vendor will like the cash flow and retaining your business, and you'll delay on changeover costs. Or you could extract a better lease rate by hinting that you're considering other vendors.
GET THE VENDOR—AND THE FEDS—TO FINANCE IT: Credit crunched? Hungry vendors and suppliers are making it easier to fund tech purchases. Hewlett-Packard, for instance, is until April 30 offering 0% interest on purchases for 12 months, and 0% on 36-month leases. Add in a generous tax writeoff—the 100% capital cost allowance for computer equipment and software for business announced in January's federal budget—and you'll save big on any new printers, servers, PCs or applications you acquire. As a bonus, today's IT equipment has far lower operating costs than its equivalent of just a few years ago.
SWITCH TO "MINI-ME" PCs: If it's time to replace older desktops, it's also time to consider moving to thin-client machines. These small, stripped-down desktop PCs—such as the Sun Ray system from Sun Microsystems—delegate most storage and processing to a central server. "Thin-client machines cost a lot less than traditional computers, and are easier and cheaper to maintain," says Steve Savage, co-owner of AdvizeIT Consulting Services Inc., a Toronto-based IT consultancy. And they're more secure than desktops because employees can't install software or remove key company data without proper approval.
BECOME A SOFTWARE CHEAPSKATE: There's a host of software available, such as OpenOffice.org or Google Apps, that do pretty much the same job in the same way as Word, Excel and Outlook. But there's one big difference: the former applications, accessed via the Web, are free or almost so.
CONVERT TO PAPERLESS FAXING: Fax machines rack up paper, toner and maintenance costs—mostly to spit out junk faxes. You can avoid this by switching to an online faxing service that will cost about $10 per month per fax number. The service will convert your outbound faxes into PDFs sent by e-mail, and allow you to print only those inbound faxes for which you need a hard copy.
HIRE A BUYING EXPERT: Outsourcing your tech procurement taps into a third party's know-how to figure out what you really need and where best to buy it. This service is free to you, because it's paid for by the IT vendors. "We can ensure that what you buy is compatible with what you already have," says Daniel Reio, senior marketing manager at CDW Canada Inc., a Toronto-based firm whose services include outsourced IT procurement. "And we prevent overkill, so you only pay for what you need and don't overspend for features you won't use."
DON'T LET YOUR PRINTER EAT YOUR MONEY: You can stretch your printing budget by using high-yield toner cartridges and thinking twice about outsourcing a print job that would look fine if output on an in-house colour laser printer. And you might find further savings by re-examining other printing practices. "Sometimes you don't realize you're using the printer with the highest cost per page as your main printer, while other printers that are cheaper to operate are underused," says Mark Lorne, Toronto-based general manager of Grand & Toy's technology and imaging advisory service. "An audit will identify that, and you could save just by moving printers around."
Read: 5 Big Ways to Save Money on IT spending.