The credit crunch, escalating inflation and long term economic gloom have left many SMEs struggling to manage their overheads, however, proactively addressing the problem can lead to long term improvements in budget management and productivity that will remain in place.
Despite the doom and gloom, developments in technology, combined with the ubiquitous nature of broadband and mobile phones, have changed the way that we do business.
This, along with increased flexibility, mobility and cost savings, can be used as an advantage when it comes to beating the economic conditions, or at the very least, keeping up with them.
Encourage flexible working
The logistical nightmare associated with flexible working is now a thing of the past. As property prices are soaring you can get rid of your entire office, or simply reduce the rent with less space, by allowing employees to work from home.
Staff will appreciate the flexibility and it couldn’t be easier for them to setup their own broadband access, PCs and web-based phone systems.
Hot desking and mobility
Put systems in place that enable employees to work at any desk, whether that’s having virtual desktops or laptops and switchboards that direct calls straight to employee mobiles. However, beware of solutions that charge for diverting calls to mobiles. Your savings on office space could be entirely eradicated by extortionate call divert charges.
Don’t hesitate to hire and fire
Flexibility is key in uncertain times and surplus resources are an unaffordable luxury. Each business is different so it may be the time to hire, and get good staff at more affordable prices, or to reduce the size of your team. But hiring and firing is only as effective as your contracts are.
If you do need to downscale, make sure you’re not tied in to paying for excess office space, software licenses and phone system or IT hardware.
Get rid of hardware you don’t need
Do you really need a fax machine? And why have email servers in the office, when you can use hosted email that runs over the internet and doesn’t need to be setup. The more hardware you own, the more technical expertise you’ll require to manage it, so it’s time to get clever and use web-based services. Expensive CRM systems and software can be replaced with web-based alternatives, offering the same functionality at much lower prices. And just as answering machines have been replaced by service based voicemail, phone system hardware can now be replaced by more flexible, easy to use web-based services where you only pay for what you use.
Even after the credit crunch these few cost saving initiatives will have relevance. In the age of the internet, PDAs, portable laptops, mobile phones and email, people are connected to their working lives no matter where they are. Beating the crunch is about saving money and learning how to use the resources you already have such as the internet, mobiles and email. Simple cost cutting initiatives won’t just save you now, they are the way of the future if any company is to expand beyond 2008.
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