By Adrian Booth

Keeping an iron grip on business expenditure is a priority at the best of times. In this challenging commercial environment it’s an absolute business imperative.

But increasing competitiveness and driving up efficiency, often means harnessing the benefits of information driven technology.

So all we need is a way of doing that without breaking the bank, and while we’re at it, avoid shelling-out for endless upgrades too.

Sole traders might manage with little more than a laptop and phone, but companies of ten or more need servers for central file storage, security and email management.... or do they?

Hosted solutions, aka cloud computing, offer the secure advantages of a server over the internet for a fixed monthly fee, including the software. Cloud based solutions avoid licensing and maintenance fees, you ‘rent’ only what you need, usually by the desk. If you add more staff, you can just add new licence.

There are lots hosted options but Productivity Online Standard Suite, otherwise known as BPOS, is well worth looking at. It bundles together hosted services at discounted rates, including Microsoft’s Office SharePoint Server, Live Meeting and Microsoft Communications.

Another route is to look at is credit. Here again Microsoft is a good example because it offers many installations on credit, which can include all the hardware and software, plus support services you may need like training and development of line of business applications.

Whatever else you do, get good advice. This in itself is a simple but effective piece of good advice ! All too often companies find themselves fire fighting IT problems caused by a lack of wider understanding. Look for a supplier you trust to put your needs ahead of their desire to sell.

Here are a few things to think about:

• Buy technology which solves specific business problems

• Avoid buying IT in a rush, try to think ahead

• Buy services which match your current state of business development

• Look for the flexibility to meet tomorrow’s demand, not just today’s need

• Deploy with users in mind, assess their needs and abilities

• Look for services which work together to build solutions which exceeds the value of the separate parts combined

• Use all free security tools at your disposal
And finally, make maintaining IT security the individual responsibility of everyone who works with you.

For useful advice on making technology work for your business visit here

Watch the video below featuring Gill Le Fevre, IW Online Services Product Marketing Manager at Microsoft UK, explaining how Office 365 addresses the challenges that small businesses face.

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