By Jared Peterson
As an IT consultant, I provide everything from network security to outsourced CIO services for the SMB market. Over the last year, I’ve been able to help several of my clients drastically reduce their IT spending in two ways. Here’s how.
First, I discovered the benefits of a brokered-procurement service during a dumb terminal-to-PC migration for a midsize tire wholesaler. I had to purchase 50 PCs and monitors, numerous print servers, routers, cables, etc., and had an impending deadline that left me no time to shop around.
I knew that if I got ripped off on those purchases, I’d come in way over budget (since I was borderline already). Around the same time, Hydra Network contacted me and introduced me to the concept of a brokered procurement service, which turned out to be a dream come true.
Hydra is a great strategic partner for any consultant or business that can’t afford a Fortune 500-type e-purchasing portal, which can cost in the millions per year. It's a professional price negotiator with deep industry knowledge and connections, but it's totally unbiased. It has access to, or negotiates, the lowest prices from any vendors for pretty much anything related to technology.
In my first encounter with the company, a technology broker took down my entire order, and one day later came back with a detailed quote that was lower than I could have hoped for. I now push all my clients to use this service, since it gives them one point of contact for ordering, confidence that they'll get the best price available, and typically saves most of them between 15 and 50 percent on their annual IT purchases.
Remote server/network administration
I’ve recommended to a few of my small business clients another cost-saving service. I’ve come across several companies that provide remote server/network administration to SMBs for a very reasonable monthly charge. Using a VPN connection or other tools, they can handle most day-to-day administration or end user support remotely. Technicians are dispatched to the client premises only as needed. Two of these companies are Comaxes Corporation and Lanlogic.
For many businesses that are facing IT problems or standstills due to staff shortages or recent layoffs in the department (particularly very small businesses that may have let their network administrator go, or those with small branch offices with no onsite tech support), this service can provide equivalent or better support for less than half the cost of a full-time employee.
Unlike the more prevalent firms that sell service contracts or blocks of hours (which clients tend to save for emergencies only), these remote plans allow you to have a virtual help desk and engineering department on hand up to 24x7 for all your day-to-day needs.
Hydra Network also offers such a program, which complements its brokered procurement service nicely, but it has limited national coverage. I’ve used it to supplement the network support for three of my Tampa and Chicago clients, and as part of the overall restructuring of those departments, I slashed over $80K per year from the IT budgets.
Both of these tools have helped me add value to my engagements and provide lasting benefits to clients. The more educated you are about such services, the easier your job will be.