IT Cost Reduction Strategies Part 4: IT Standardization

Controlling IT Costs Strategies for 2020: Part 4

Thank you for joining us for the final installment of our series on controlling IT costs. We hope it has been helpful to you. Remember to check out the other parts already living on our blog page

Our last strategy focuses on dealing with business operation maturity. One of the better long-term planning efforts you can put into place now is to start to standardize your IT framework. Your IT team can work faster and will face fewer problems when devices, software, access, and other elements are the same. Your business will also be more scalable, mobile and secure.

To get a better understanding of this standardization, let’s look at a few distinct aspects of it specific to IT:

Specific default hardware. Reduce training, support, and customization costs when every employee gets the same computer or laptop and other devices. That can feel like a big lift, but you don’t need to make the move immediately. Start your savings journey by defining the standard equipment people will get and then slowly start replacing workstations and equipment. It’ll be a continuous process but one that saves you significantly over the long term.

Same operating systems. You want your team using the same devices and to have those devices powered by the same OS. This covers not only the general OS, like Windows 10, but also the specific version. Maintaining the same OS means getting everyone to update at the same time. However, it prevents your IT team from needing to determine workarounds and older fixes across a broad set of machines and systems. That’s a huge win for your security, too. Standardizing OS across devices protects you by limiting vulnerabilities related to an outdated OS. Your teams gets to focus on specific protections and reduce threat variables with common equipment and platforms.

Standard infrastructure hardware. For your teams that are staying in-house, it’s just as essential to give them the same additional hardware. Keeping printers, servers, switches, and firewalls the same makes maintenance and service easy, too.

Common applications. Minimize the training your entire team needs and the burden on IT by getting everyone on the same applications from email and file sharing to business management, password managers, and communication tools. Plus, when all of these are the same, people can ask more coworkers for support — so sending a direct message in Microsoft Teams is something to ask the general channel instead of creating a helpdesk ticket.

Standardize advanced policies. If you’re implementing policies to protect people, equipment, and data, get them as standard as possible. Standardization covers both the written policies for your teams to follow and the system configurations that allow you to implement them. This is especially important for all things cybersecurity and risk management.
Examples of areas where you should focus policy standardization include:

  • Business continuity and disaster recovery
  • Data access and security
  • Identity protection such as passwords and two-factor authentication
  • Cyberattack prevention, detection and response

Standardization is designed to save you money. That is achieved by reducing the amount that you’re spending on IT hardware while also reducing the time your team needs to tackle issues. Standardization makes it easy to troubleshoot common problems quickly, leaving more time for advanced issues. Known problems can be monitored for and proactively addressed, too.

Some business owners also find standardization will deliver faster equipment provisioning and replacement. This is ideal when for managing and securing a remote workforce, where procurement often has additional shipping challenges or delays. The same holds true for getting the right equipment in disaster recovery scenarios where every second counts.

The best safeguard from our perspective is the reduction of cybersecurity vulnerabilities. By knowing devices, platforms, and usage, your IT team can work to limit attacks and threats. They know what devices should be on the network and can tackle known vulnerabilities. It’s significantly easier to solve one zero-day exploit than trying to track and address dozens of vulnerabilities across your network.

3 IT standardization best practices

Depending on your company, standardization can be relatively straightforward or immensely complex. There’s a lot of reviewing, negotiating, and management you’ll need to do to move things forward. So, we’re sharing three best practices we’ve seen work repeatedly for companies of all sizes. They’re designed to get you in the right mindset for the effort:

1. Work with your managed IT provider or in-house team to establish company standards. You want to cover, at a minimum, employee workstations (hardware, software, operating system, and configurations), networking equipment, servers (cloud or otherwise), and backup and disaster recovery.

2. Put cybersecurity at the forefront. When it comes to security best practices, we recommend using CIS-20 controls as guidance. It’s what we at Envision do for our own efforts.

3. Create or revisit your IT investment plan. Review your needs and rely on it to establish a reasonable timeline to implement standards and best practices. Lean into project management and change management tools to help keep you on track.

When in doubt, ask

Those are just four cost-saving suggestions for companies like yours. For a more detailed plan and to learn other opportunities available to you, we invite you to join us for a free evaluation. We’ll help you understand if Envision can help or point you in the right direction if something else is best for your business.

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Envision Consulting

Envision Consulting

We started Envision Consulting for businesses that share our passion for building long- term and healthy relationships. While we might be technology experts, we’ve always known that trust, reliability and looking after a client’s best interest are paramount to succeeding in business. But in 2001 and to this day, there were few managed IT providers available that embodied our customer-centric values. There were countless support companies more interested in reacting to issues than paving the road forward for clients, making it far too difficult to build long-term relationships. We felt a strong pull to make something different, and we did.