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By Russell Morgan


Affordability and Staffing
A good solution provider spells out the costs and benefits for a project implementation before work begins and stays focused on helping a client achieve those business results. Any price for technology is too expensive if you donít understand and canít identify the business benefits youíll get from its implementation.

Remember, a good solution provider should talk to you in terms of business benefits Ė return on investment (ROI), cycle times, defect rates, unit costs, etc. They should do so in ways to which you can easily relate. You should also ask your solution provider to create a cost/benefit analysis before you really invest. This means if the solution doesnít work for a particular problem, your small business is not on the hook for a massive expenditure that it canít really afford and may not want.

Solution providers also do a great deal of their work on a project-specific basis. Most small businesses have insufficient IT staff, because they donít have enough tasks to warrant investing in a full-time position. Solution providers can step in to develop affordable technology roadmaps and then work with the customer to match project timelines to available resources.

Small businesses arenít typically up to speed on the latest and greatest from a technology perspective. What you read about is what you are concerned about Ė issues such as security, mobility and cost reduction. When a solution provider gets involved, you can lean on him or her to provide intelligent perspective on current technology solutions and inform you if theyíre right for your business.

Wallet Watching

Small businesses with 20 to 99 employees surveyed spend about $70,000 per year on IT, according to Yankee Group. Hardware is the biggest expense, followed by infrastructure software, with 38 percent and 18 percent of the budget respectively. Organizations with 2 to 19 employees devote a mean of $16,000 for their annual IT budgets, allocating 46 percent to hardware and 15 percent to infrastructure software.

With so much invested, we at ITSPA urge managers of even the smallest companies to seek outside experts for help maximizing efficiency and productivity, and determining how technology can improve the quality of the products and services they offer to customers.

Small business managers recognize that stand-alone systems inhibit productivity. A company may need to integrate its Web site with its accounting program, for instance, but implementation is daunting without the expertise. Independent technology consultants are readily available, trained to evaluate and implement solutions that minimize disruption, reduce system fragility, and deliver systems that streamline operations and improve productivity.

We continue to look for creative ways to let you know that integrated technology can help you solve business problems, and that the best source for integrated technology is a qualified local solution provider. Nothing is free, but technology, properly integrated and implemented, is a lot less expensive than many people realize.

Russell Morgan is the president of the Information Technology Solution Providers Alliance
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