When you think of your company’s IT costs, what comes to mind? Odds are, hardware and software top the list, as well as the costs of IT support, like salary and benefits for in-house staff or fees for an outsourced IT provider. These costs are easy to quantify and predict. The problem is that they are just the tip of the iceberg. Within your organization, there may be hidden costs associated with your IT that can linger under the surface and hinder your business’s growth.
Here are three examples of hidden IT costs that many businesses face:
1. Productivity Drain
When a company’s hardware or software is not sufficiently maintained, productivity suffers. Sometimes, this is obvious—an application has numerous bugs, a network is frustratingly slow, a computer constantly crashes.
But, often, owners and managers never see the bulk of the drain on workers’ productivity. Your employees may have either come to accept certain technical issues as “normal” or developed their own “work-arounds” to address them. Maybe one employee’s workstation is functioning extremely slowly, but she has chosen just to keep her head down and live with the issue—not realizing that her productivity is significantly affected. Or maybe there’s a printer that can only be accessed from one workstation, meaning that when someone needs to print, two people have to be involved, and time is lost.
These may seem like insignificant slowdowns – 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there. But, over time, they add up to a significant loss of productivity. So, even if you don’t hear of a lot of support requests in your organization, there’s a chance that you’re losing productivity to nagging issues that can be avoided.
2. IT Risk
Broadly speaking, there are two major kinds of risk that businesses should consider – data security risk and business continuity risk.
Data security risk is exactly what it sounds like – the risk that your company’s data – employee information, customer information, company finances, trade secrets, etc. – could end up in the wrong hands.
Business continuity risk is the risk that any form of disaster could cause your business to stop functioning. This could include acts of God, hardware failure, or even cyberattacks aimed at incapacitating your systems, such as ransomware attacks.
While risk may never be completely eliminated, there are common-sense measures that every business can take to drastically reduce the risk of data breach or loss of business to disaster. But when businesses fail to consider their risk, they incur potentially huge hidden IT costs. We hear about it in the news every day; by failing to safeguard their systems against risks, businesses suffer the consequences of negative events—lost time, regulatory fines, lawsuits, loss of trust. And yet, many businesses still refuse to consider IT security until after it becomes an issue.
3. Misalignment of Technology with Business Goals
Getting the right ROI from technology involves integrating technology strategy with your overall business planning. The technology you invest in – from servers and networking equipment to workstations, software, and printers – should align not only with your current business needs but also the needs you see in the medium to long-term future. If it doesn’t, you’ve just tacked on another hidden cost.
Take, for example, the case of a new hire who needs a new computer. It would be easy enough to go to Best Buy and get a serviceable laptop. In the short term, this seems like a good solution – your new employee is up and running in no time with inexpensive hardware. The problem is that the laptop is designed for consumer use, not with business functionality in mind. So, when you decide a year down the line to install design software on your employee’s computer, it becomes far too sluggish for him to use.
The same kind of thing can happen in all areas of your company’s technology. Businesses often outgrow their network capacity much faster than the normal lifecycle of the hardware they invest in. Or they choose inexpensive business applications that can’t keep up with the growing complexity of their needs.
In short, by failing to align technology with business goals and projections, businesses often implement technology that is not scalable or sustainable—thus incurring enormous hidden IT costs.
How to Find and Reduce Hidden Costs
The best way to reduce hidden IT costs is to invest in a strategic and proactive approach to IT. Whether you have an in-house IT department or are outsourcing management of your systems, your company needs individuals who will fill the following roles:
Integrating technology strategy with business planning to increase technology ROI
Proactively assessing and maintaining your systems to mitigate risk and prevent productivity drain
Providing fast, reliable support for issues as they occur
By failing to fill these roles with competent individuals, you subject your business to hidden costs that are out of your control.
If you’d like to schedule a free consultation to assess your company’s hidden IT costs, contact us today.