Do you pay a consultant to perform a monthly or annual systems checkup for you? If so, one way you can cut those costs is to ask the consultant to train you or your staff to perform those assessments.

That’s what Sarah M. Reidy, IS manager for Population Action International, did—and she estimates that simple step saved the nonprofit company approximately 30 percent on consulting fees last year.

Reidy’s company outsourced its IT support. The consulting firm performed a monthly, four-hour systems assessment that included checking logs, usage parameters, free disk space, antivirus software logs, and other simple maintenance tasks.

For four and a half years, the agency paid for that service. But last year, Reidy hired an additional IT staff person, so she decided not to renew the support contract. Instead, she asked the consulting firm to teach her and her staff how to perform the check.

Because the agency and the consulting firm had a good working relationship, the consultants agreed.

“We still retain the consultants for troubleshooting and IT projects that we need additional technical assistance with,” she said. “It all comes down to having a good and honest relationship with the consulting firm.”

Reidy simply scheduled an appointment, and the consultants walked her and her staff through the steps performed both monthly and annually. The staff took careful notes, then constructed its own monthly and annual checklists and created a log for each checkup. The logs were a useful addition, because they contain pertinent information that the consultant can review in the event of a problem.

“When we run into problems or have new projects [for which] we need to outsource the IT support, it’s easy to pull up the monthly reports,” Reidy said. “The consultant sees just where the network and systems are without having to come in each month.”

In addition to the cost savings, Reidy said that performing the checkups in-house has helped her staff provide better IT support because they now have a more thorough understanding of their company’s systems.
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