IT Cost Savings during COVID-19
In my last article, “IT and “COVID Complacency”, I wrote how I believe IT is missing opportunities brought on by business working differently during the pandemic response. IT has been overwhelmingly successful, so why not consider parlaying that into savings?

These changes will not come easily. They are a fundamental shift in how people work and how IT delivers services. Our current advantage is people are doing this today and, in one form or another, will be doing so for at least another six months.

Hey, We’re Not Using Our Business Continuity Site

Business Continuity/Recovery provides plans for people and facilities in the event of a disaster (like a pandemic). Disaster Recovery is the failover of systems (more on this later). We have spent the past 6 months working from home and we rapidly figured out how to continue business operations under those conditions.

If you still have dedicated business continuity sites, contingency rental space (e.g., hotels), or utilize business continuity services (e.g. SunGard), my question is why? COVID-19 has been the worst business continuity event in my lifetime and we have done fine with a work-from-home strategy. Sure work-from-home is not perfect, and why not invest in making it that and much more. Identify what makes it difficult for people to work from home and find solutions to those problems. Staff will appreciate it and you will save lots of money. Solutions for home are far less expensive than those in an office.

Why Do We Need Desktops?

This should be obvious by now. Laptops are both office computing devices as well as part of your Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery solution. Laptops are more expensive but they save you money for two devices, two sets of software licenses, support for two systems, antivirus and security solutions for two devices, and, if you use them, managed services costs for two devices. When you add it up, one high-performance laptop is more expensive than a laptop and a desktop. Investing in better laptop technology (e.g., screens, tablets, weight, etc.) and performance makes users happier and reduces support calls.

Do We Need All The Office Space We Have?

You already know the answer to this question, and what is important is for the business to work with IT as future space planning evolves. While IT is dealing with this today it evolved from a work-from-office strategy, then a work-from-home strategy for Business Continuity, and then a hybrid strategy as 50% of staff was allowed in the office at the same time. IT successfully delivered and should be given the time to develop a comprehensive, holistic strategy so as to optimize each environment and effectively implement concepts like “hoteling.”

Did Zoom (at $200/year) Just Replace The $146K We Spent On Audio/Video Equipment?

The answer is yes and no. There is no replacement for a professionally installed meeting room system with built-in monitors, cameras, microphones, shades that automatically close, and a cabinet filled with audio/video equipment. What you need to ask yourselves is whether you now need that in every conference room or just for a large meeting room?

In the spirit of thinking out-of-the-box has anyone thought about the cost savings from configuring Zoom or MicrosoftTeasm rooms for people in the office? Besides a cost savings, we have finally got to the point where staff knows how to use the AV tools and doesn’t require IT support. A $400 4K Hi-Definition TV, $60 microphone, $150 camera, and about $60 in lightening and you have a pretty impressive video conferencing setup. Something to consider and experiment with.

Remote Support Worked Fine While People Were Quarantined

Sometime in March, most people went to work from home and “magically” there were able to get support from IT remotely. It has been rare to have someone come to your home to diagnose a problem or fix something on your laptop. The cost of supporting a user remotely is less than deskside support. The complaint with remote support is it is less responsive, less personal, requires wasteful communication, and takes longer to solve problems.

During quarantine, basic healthcare was delivered via “telehealth.” We accepted it and used it and, for both doctor and patient it turned out to be an effective and less costly way to deliver services. Appointments were made, visits were short, and problems were solved. Can’t we do the same for support of a PC?

If We Went To The Cloud, Would We Need A Dedicated Disaster Recovery Site?

The simple answer is “no.” “The Cloud” was built with Disaster Recovery in mind and has multiple methods of providing data replication and failover across diverse geographic regions. Your data is replicated but you don’t turn on your servers, processors, memory, and local networking until you need it, which might be never. That’s where you save all the money! For years, the money I spent on Disaster Recovery data center space, hardware, software, storage, networking, connectivity, support, power, cooling, etc. without ever using it makes me sick. Now, I look at companies’ Cloud Disaster Recovery costs and feel like the cost matches the value.

Do We Really Need To Do So Much Travel?

If you are not using Zoom or Microsoft Teams then you are probably out of business. The real question is, are teaching your people how to use Zoom or Teams for selling, customer service, project management, board meetings, seminars, sales meetings, training, etc.? If the answer is “no” then get ready to go back to higher credit card bills from JetBlue, United, American, Delta, Hilton, Marriott, and hundreds of restaurants.

I don’t deny face-to-face interaction is more effective. Developing relationships and reading body language is very important. I wonder whether we can get that from technology solutions? I think we can, but it is not going to be by doing it how we did it before, with the exception we are interacting with a screen. We need to be thinking about techniques, tricks, and behaviors to produce the same results we have when sitting across a conference room table.

“The Good Old Days Weren’t That Good”

You have heard the phrase, “the good old days weren’t that good.” The questions above mostly relate to technology services adding no business value. When was the last time you generated additional revenue from a Business Continuity or Disaster Recovery Site, a Desktop AND Laptop strategy, very expensive AV rooms, or remote vs. local support? These are all defensive technology implementations and ones IT does because we have been doing it that way for a long time. If people are not led to transformation, they will go back to their old ways because that is all they know.

Now is the time to plan and begin to execute on these changes. Users are conditioned to work in a new way. Focus efforts on improving the quality of these services rather than going back to the way things were. At the end of the day, staff want to get their jobs done with as little interference by IT

Try some of these cost savings suggestions and you might be surprised how staff embraces the flexibility and feels more empowered.