As a business owner, I see the fourth quarter of 2011 wrapping up and I know my corporate customers are doing the same. I can tell because I’m getting the calls from IT administrators and office managers letting me know that they have unspent budget left for their IT services. After tooting my own horn with them about how they must have extra money remaining due to my efficient management of their networks, we settle down to discuss where the surplus can go.
Generally, if they are pretty stable when it comes to hardware, I start to talk about services. Are there any services they can renew or extend with their extra funds?
If you’re a business owner, here are some services you can probably extend with this year’s remaining budget, freeing up a little more of next year’s budget to buy that new piece of hardware your company desperately needs.
You may be paying annual subscriptions for updates and new versions of software. Talk to your IT provider about extending those service contracts now. In most cases, you will not only spend this year’s remaining budget to cover service for the next year or two, but actually save money in the long term due to multi-year discounts.
Backup / Online Backup Service
The need for backup will never go away, so these are items that you can safely ramp up and pay in advance. Why pay month-to-month when annual contracts are usually cheaper in the long run? Now is your opportunity to either purchase additional media (tapes/drives) if you are on a traditional backup plan or to switch over to an annual plan for your online backup.
While you’re at it, it you are on a traditional backup plan (meaning you backup to tape or other local media), discuss the options of moving this service to the cloud. You won’t have to purchase additional media and your backups will be more reliable in the long run. Your vendor will be able to show you how you can save money by having reliable offsite backup without the need for additional hardware or expensive software.
Equipment Service Contracts
Your IT person supports your infrastructure like your routers and switches, but you need to keep the service contracts with the manufacturers current. If there is a Cisco router having an issue in your network, I can usually fix it significantly faster if I can call Cisco for assistance. If there’s a hardware failure, they won’t even talk to me if there isn’t a maintenance contract in place.
Ask your IT provider if you can add another year to your service contract for devices that you don’t plan to replace in 2012.
Congratulations on having budget left over at the end of the year. If only Congress could do the same!
— The Backup Master