Understanding the costs of It in an SME enviroment - Part 2

Understanding the total cost of ownership (TCO) and making things more efficient

Taking all of the above into account it is possible to now try to put some form of value against the elements in question. Hardware and software are pretty competitive environments and thus it is now easy to compare these through comparisons with different suppliers, for this reason we will concentrate on the more complicated area of support and hidden costs.
If we take the support as split in to two key areas, we can get the following diagram :-

If we put the hardware and software in the middle we can then surround this with a support/service element. This has been split into scheduled and unscheduled which can be classed as proactive and reactive. The major question to ask here is that “will investing more in Proactive service decrease my total Cost of Ownership?” Below are some pointers to help you do this:-

Removing Hidden Costs

It is possible to remove hidden costs by investing in certain areas and getting the right support where it matters. It is also important to understand where your limits are and where your time is spent best. For example, if your car breaks down you may be tempted to fix it due to some knowledge you have gained in the past, this may be the same for your home computer. However, if i was to suggest that you try to look after the company car or van fleet, you would not even dream of trying. The same can be said for your IT estate, know your limits.

Minimise Downtime

As discussed earlier in this document downtime is essential, there are ways to mitigate this by increasing your proactive support. Reactive maintenance is usually in some form or another going to affect downtime, move to a proactive model and downtime should decrease. It is also prudent to select your hardware carefully. Having a piece of kit that has a full guarantee is not going to be great if it breaks every few weeks.

Minimise Distraction

It is possible to reduce the time you spend on managing IT and It suppliers to consider all options from the outset. What do your support contracts include? Is there any hidden charges which may need to be queried. Are additional charges going to force you to attempt a fix yourself (thus distracting you further?) How long are your strategies being formulated for and do they align with your business strategy (e.g. if you plan to grow by x% in the next 3 years, does your IT strategy allow for this growth?)

User Instigated Issues

Are your users trained appropriately? If they have an application query, does your service / support arrangement allow for this? Can they get answers quickly? Do you want them to have minimal admin rights over the systems?

Part 3 to come soon.... or find out more at http://www.virtualit.biz/