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A properly configured IT system should simply work and add to productivity, but no matter the system, there can still be unavoidable hardware failures. It is however possible to build in redundancies that reduce the impact, writes COLIN THORNTON, CEO of Dial a Nerd.

Does your IT expenditure resemble a roller coaster ride? If the answer is yes, it probably means that there are some fundamental problems with the infrastructure. Incorrectly configured or sub-standard hardware can cause a lot of problems which are difficult to isolate and time consuming to fix, meaning you might encounter spikes in the amount you pay for IT support and more importantly, a serious loss in productivity. A properly configured and well-maintained IT system should simply work and furthermore add to productivity, not detract from it. No matter the system there can still be unavoidable hardware failures but it is possible to build in redundancies that reduce the impact.

If you are faced with this rather expensive roller coaster scenario, step back and assess (ideally with the help of an IT professional) your entire infrastructure – keeping in mind that technology is constantly improving. What you bought three years ago may no longer be suitable for your needs. For example, maybe you used to need three servers but because of the increase in processing power nowadays you can buy one to replace them all. Having one properly setup server means less ongoing support is necessary and there are less parts which can fail.

Alternatively maybe all of the work which those servers did can be put into the Cloud on someone else’s server. Now you have no hardware of your own to worry about, less support fees, and someone else is responsible for backups and redundancy. In this scenario you might spend more on your Internet connection and bandwidth but the other savings should more than compensate. Do you have an internal IT department or permanent staff member dedicated to IT support? Its a safe bet that they will be busy no matter how much or little support is required and you are left with a fixed cost regardless. Outsourcing your support gives you much greater control over this expense and gives you access to much bigger knowledge and experience pools.

No matter the decisions you make here, the important one is how it is all supported afterwards. Preventative maintenance is always more cost-effective than fixing problems after they occur and there are various tools to help.

So, by streamlining your infrastructure and having the right support in place, you can reduce IT expense fluctuations and the associated headaches.

Turning to Managed Services

Large multinational companies and big corporates have traditionally worked on a ‚’per device’ support structure, whereby every device has a monthly support cost associated with it. So, for example, a server might cost R5,000/month and a laptop R500/month no matter how much (or little) support was needed. This allowed the client to have a fixed cost for IT support, and it put pressure on the IT support company to have as efficient a system as possible. Now, with the types of software automation and hardware available, this cost has dropped dramatically and made it affordable for smaller companies. It is a more customer-centric model, and as a result is growing swiftly in popularity among SMEs as well.

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