Unless you’re a super small business, the chances are you’re running all sorts of software systems, varying in price from tens, to hundreds, to potentially even thousands per month worth of spending.
With the cost of living going up, inflation, and a recession looming, any saving is worth investigating.
Software providers also have sneaky ways of coaxing you into taking more premium plans, adding on more users, taking the next level of support etc, and you might not have an internal IT team to support you.
And even if you do there’s a chance they don’t care about the costs as much as you do…
The below covers 5 ways you can look to reduce your systems spend, which are not only quick-to-action, but they’re also low risk.
Perhaps the most simple is ensuring that the number of licenses you have actually matches up with the number of people that need to use the system.
Software suppliers don’t tend to keep up to date with who is/isn’t using the system, so it’s not uncommon to have a mismatch.
Using the example of Microsoft 365, it’s very easy to go into your Admin portal, find your licensing, and see have many assigned seats you have.
If the number of assigned users is less than your total number of licenses, this gives you the opportunity to reduce.
When you originally procured the solution, it may have also seemed like a good idea for John and Susie to have licenses to ‘see what’s going on’.
A year down the line turns out they’ve logged in once, so what’s the point in paying for a license for them?
Most software providers should have a means of tracking usage history, and it won't hurt for you to get in touch and ask who’s using the system and who isn’t.
Some software solutions will split up license types. It’s not uncommon to have ‘Admin’ users or ‘Read-only’ or ‘Limited’ user types.
In theory, when you originally procured the solution, the software vendor should have recommended the right types of licenses based on what the different members of your team needed to do.
But until you start using the system, it’s remarkably hard to say for certain that your team members are matched to the correct user types.
There’s no point in having 3 admin users when only 1 person needs to make changes in the system.
There may be no point in giving more senior members of the business any access past ‘read-only’ within the system if all they need to do is generate reports.
There may not be much of a cost saving moving a ’Limited‘ user to ‘Read-only’ but if you have ‘Admin’ users that only need to be ‘Read-only’ there could be further savings to be made.
[Note - I’ve used generic terms for license types here, it varies from system to system, so again, speak to the team and your provider to understand their specific terminology.]
This is a slightly higher risk than some of the other strategies, and I wouldn’t generally advocate getting rid of support, especially if it’s a complex system that’s had bespoke development work done.
Even so, there may be scope to get rid of the ’frilly’ add-ons the team may have never used.
The type of support you receive also depends on whether you’re procuring the software directly from the software author, or whether you’re supported by a re-seller, who provides value-added support on top of your software licensing.
If you’re procuring directly from the software author, it’s often simpler to find out what sort of support plan you’re on.
It could be something like bronze, silver or gold. It could be offered based on the type of service e.g e-mail/web only, phone helpdesk, dedicated account manager, again it varies from system to system.
Either way, you need to determine you’re on the correct support plan for your needs.
There’s no point in paying for a dedicated account manager if you’ve never spoken to them.
There’s no point in paying for phone support if you’ve only ever logged web tickets.
If you’ve procured from a re-seller, you will often pay for their support services on top of the basic support you’re likely to get just from owning the software.
The reason behind this is re-sellers don’t generally make a massive amount of margin from licensing alone, they make it from associated services.
This could be a fixed amount, it could be a percentage of to total license amount, again, depending on the supplier.
Their support is probably essential for the first year or two, as they are the solutions expert, but if you’ve been using a system for a few years, it’s likely that your team will be expert users on the system as well.
Combine this with the fact that most software authors will provide basic ‘break-fix’ support free of charge if you go to them directly, and there may be scope to review whether you still need support from a re-seller or not.
Ask your team how frequently they request support, gauge the level of service, and take corrective action from there.
It’s easy to be dazzled by the ‘new and improved' version of whatever solution you’re using, especially if the software provider is dangling a carrot, incentivising you to move on to the ‘premium‘ version at an introductory rate for the first 12 months.
Do you actually need all of that premium capability though?
If you regularly hear from your team, ‘We don’t use that’ or ‘The system is capable of more than we’re using it for‘ there may be the scope to downgrade.
Most software providers Are pretty transparent when it comes to the plans that they offer, and you can Often Find this information on their websites.
Sometimes you may need to ask your account manager, but either way, definitely worth asking the question “Are we on the correct plan for our needs”?
This also has the added benefit of allowing you to simplify Where possible. Your team are more likely to use a solution if it’s as simple to use as possible.
If you have a complicated plan, with complicated features, you can’t always guarantee a good level of end-user adoption.
Check your plan, and downgrade If necessary.
This is one of my favourites, as it'll give you the opportunity to review other solutions, providing they're not solutions that require lots of effort to change.
Let's say you're procuring software from a market leader, and paying a premium as a result. There may be scope to switch the solution for something that does exactly the same thing at a lower cost.
Think about it. Have you ever switched items from your grocery shop that are branded with the supermarket's own brand?
You may have found that the ingredients are exactly the same, and sometimes because the own brand stuff can sometimes have fewer additives it's sometimes better for you!
Slightly bizarre comparing software to a grocery shop but you get the idea.
A couple of examples using systems that your sales & marketing team might use.
Let's say that your team uses a web tracking tool that allows you to see what companies have visited your website and not enquired.
If you can track an IP, then you can find a company, so in theory, every piece of software that can track an IP address should do the same thing.
Let's say that your team uses a data service to find company data. Is there scope to switch to a lesser known provider, providing that they can provide the same quality of data?
Have a think about the systems you use day to day.
For the less complex systems, is there anywhere you might make a saving from a strategic switch?
So there you go. 5 Low-Risk and Quick-to-Action Ways to Reduce Reduce Your Systems Spend.
Wanting some one-to-one guidance on how to leverage technology to support your ambitions, or just want help demystifying the complex world of software and systems?