IT is the lifeblood of modern businesses, but it sure gets expensive. Those expenses come in a number of shapes and sizes, and many of them can sneak up on business owners and operators. One cost that often leads to wide eyes and sore pocketbooks is the raw expense of running cables. The technology doesn’t work without them, but no one enjoys paying for them. These five tips can help you get these costs under control and free up some of your budget.
Keep It Organized
All too often, poor cable management is the culprit that brings a premature end to networking cables. Even industrial cables are no match for an unintended kink or poorly ventilated heat trap. Using proper tools and techniques can eliminate those kinks and vent the heat and help equipment last as long as intended. It’s an obvious source of savings.
Less obvious is how much money IT departments waste on labor that ties to cable management. When cords are difficult to track or devilishly tangled, technicians have to sort it out by hand. Meticulous labeling and general cable management can save hundreds of labor hours over the course of a year. Too many businesses fail to realize that cables cost money beyond their initial purchase.
Make an Investment
Obsolescence might be the bogey man of the IT world. It’s an inevitable threat to all technology, and improper planning has cost too many companies large sums. While it’s impossible to perfectly predict how technology will change over time, the general rule of thumb is to invest in equipment that will be able to handle growing performance demands.
Sometimes, money is tight and emergencies happen. Getting any cable that functions is more important than sticking to optimized purchase plans. When that isn’t the case, understanding how to spend money efficiently can easily cut expenses on a quarterly and annual basis.
This works doubly well when you follow the first tip. Cables that last longer against regular wear and tear are more likely to survive into obsolescence. You simply get more mileage out of your cabling budget when the equipment can keep up for as long as it physically lasts.
Modular design escapes the notice of even veteran IT professionals. It’s easy to think about in terms of a single device, but infrastructure can also benefit from the general philosophy. The most cost-effective networks can easily accommodate rapid changes in need and function.
Consider making the initial switch to fiber optics. Costs typically prohibit a single, massive infrastructure switch. Instead, the standard practice is to upgrade systems in a piecemeal function. The process of such an upgrade will force you to incorporate hybrid equipment that can connect to your newer and older systems.
The modular design enables network designers to use swap-able parts that can more fluidly adapt to changing business demands, and it allows older cables to keep working much longer.
Cut Dead Weight
While this lesson will help with cable costs, it has a general reach. Any investment in new technology is for the purpose of improving a business. Maybe it’s supposed to help productivity, or perhaps it is geared for solving a specific problem. Regardless, some investments simply don’t work as intended. It’s a classic story. Managers pull the trigger, and when it doesn’t go well, they double down.
One of the most difficult things to do in a situation like this is to simply cut loose bait. In IT, this typically manifests in additional equipment that costs more to maintain than is justified in its use. When you do abandon the unfortunate failure, the cabling can usually be re-purposed.
Go Beyond Cables
All of these lessons can apply to more than just the cables you have to buy. When you organize all of your equipment and the purchasing itself, you can streamline expenses on all of your technology. That’s an obvious point of savings, but it comes back in additional ways. Cable demands are dictated by the devices you use. Streamlining device purchasing inevitably leads to saving on cabling costs as well. The positive feedback loop often surpasses expectations and frees up more money than you may suspect.
All of these tips come back to the same point. Planning and organization are the key to saving money. When it comes to managing IT costs in particular, technology expense management is an entire field of expertise that can help any business. It’s worth taking the time to learn a little more and enjoy the savings that come with it.
About the Author: Jeff Poirior
Jeff brings 25 years of telecommunications and information technology management experience in voice and data networking, server support, and telephony and security; with a significant emphasis on customer service. Prior to joining Valicom, he was chief of the infrastructure support section for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Jeff was the vice president of operations for CC&N, overseeing telecommunications, help desk, data and desk side support services. Prior to that, he served as the associate director of technical resources for Covance, responsible for managing systems and network operations supporting 1700 users in Wisconsin and Virginia. He has also led data center operations at Magnetek Electric, supporting mainframe systems, client/server applications, telephony systems, and computer-aided design. Jeff holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Cardinal Stritch University and a master’s degree in business administration from University of Phoenix. In addition, Jeff is a past board member of the Wisconsin Telecommunication Association.