WOOF! Newsletter

September 03, 2014

16 Ways to Reduce Your Desktop Support Costs

IT Support is necessary, for computers and for network operations. But that doesn't meanyou have to pay high support costs. In fact, there's a lot of ways to reduce your support costs with simple practices. Here are 16 examples, direct from our own Support Team.
Keeping IT support costs low seems to be the goal of nearly every PlanetMagpie customer. Most would prefer to use their IT budget for new software installations and hardware upgrades that will make their companies more competitive, efficient, and secure.

This month we called on PlanetMagpie’s Network Support Team to give us their top recommended ways to reduce support costs. Not 10, not 15, but 16 cost-saving measures came back. Here they are, straight from the PlanetMagpie support trenches!

Reduce Costs for Network and Desktop Support with These Action Steps

1. Install antivirus & anti-malware protection on all computers.

Example: Malwarebytes, BitDefender, Microsoft Security Essentials, NOD32

How This Helps: Keeps computers running fast and protects them from users who just have to watch cat videos or download gimmicky free toolbars and emoticons. Typically we can install malware protection for a small office in a few hours and the licensing cost is very reasonable. Plus, it pays for itself in lower support costs and a lower risk of infection/crash.

2. Install spam & virus protection at the server level.

Example: Websense, Vircom WebQuarantine, Microsoft Forefront, Barracuda Spam Firewall

How This Helps: Blocks work-disrupting viruses and malware from entering your network. If employees visiting social media sites during work hours is causing productivity issues, this is one solution to that problem.

3. Is it plugged in? Might seem silly, but always check power cords.

How This Helps: Sometimes cables can be knocked or wiggled loose while moving things around. This can cause components like keyboards or mice to slowly stop responding (until you plug it back in).

4. Remove Local Administrator Rights for employees.

How This Helps: Giving employees local administrator rights to their computers allows malware and viruses to spawn processes which can seriously damage the operating system and data.

5. Replace desktop computers every 5 years.

How This Helps: A 5-year life cycle helps you keep up-to-date on secure computers, and keeps everyone at the fastest possible working speed. When you add a new computer to your office, set a calendar reminder 5 years out to replace it, or put a sticker on it with the date it was put into service.

6. Buy small form-factor (SFF) computers and put them on users’ desks.

How This Helps: Big clunky Desktop Towers sitting on the floor will suck in dust and carpet fibers over time. These clog the computer’s fans and ruin its hardware. Small on-desk computers avoid this.

7. Standardize on PC configurations.

How This Helps: If all office PCs are identical, they can be managed centrally & exchanged quickly if there’s a problem.

8. Use the latest version of your operating system & applications, and apply all updates.

How This Helps: Staying up-to-date on security updates “patches” your computer against any holes that might allow hackers in.

9. Allow Remote Support.

How This Helps: Saves support time by allowing a support engineer to immediately reach your computer & troubleshoot, with no drive-time costs for on-site support.

10. Outsource your desktop support – to a LOCAL support provider.

How This Helps: Outsourcing support saves on cost – an entire Support team with a wide range of skills is available for less than the cost of one full-time IT employee, and only bills for the time they are actually working on your support issue. “Going local” means you always have a real person nearby for difficult support issues that require an on-site visit.

11. Change your password regularly.

How This Helps: Regular password changes – every 4 to 6 months – help prevent hackers from capturing or guessing your password & breaking in.

12. Don't give in to the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend.

If you absolutely need to have flexibility in this area, create a CYOD policy (Choose Your Own Device) and setup a company-owned device of the employee’s choice with the same policies and server-based safeguards that all company devices have.

How This Helps: Decreases risk of data theft, and protects against malware introduced to your network via an infected BYOD device not maintained by the company.

(See our previous WOOF article for more: 10 Ways BYOD Threatens Network Security AND Your Private Data)

13. Educate your users about protecting their files, proper computer usage, and email safety.

How This Helps: An educated workforce is much less likely to run into trouble. This kind of training is easy to implement, and pays off in the form of fewer work-disrupting IT problems.

14. Perform regular maintenance (regularly!).

How This Helps: Regular IT maintenance takes little time, and can catch computer problems before they slow or crash your systems. Make sure your in-house or outsourced IT team makes monthly visits to perform computer updates.

15. Use a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) or other type of power surge protector.

How This Helps: If each computer (and server) has a UPS connected to it, power surges or outages don’t hurt the computer. Sudden crashes due to loss of power (or too much power) can short out the computer’s internal hardware. Then it’s time to buy a new computer!

16. Designate a Support Manager (or if outsourcing, an internal Support Contact).

How This Helps: It determines a go-to person for management tasks, maintenance scheduling, and working with outsourced IT support. Everyone knows exactly to whom they should speak regarding IT.

Lower Support Costs Mean a More Productive Workforce

By reducing the costs of supporting IT, you increase your company’s day-to-day productivity and the budget saved can be used for better servers, faster network/Internet access, or more storage space.

Believe it or not, PlanetMagpie would rather your support costs stay low! That means you can focus on your work, and we can focus on improving your IT.