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CitySmart Blog

Thursday, August 27, 2015
Nathan Eisner, COO

Nathan EisnerIn Part 1, we talked about the capital expenses of hardware and software such as purchasing, licenses, procurement, asset management, maintenance, and repair. In this post, we look more at some of the ongoing operational expenses related to aging technology.

Operational expenses can sneak up on cities because they are less apparent and often involve reactive, unplanned expenses. Like a leech, aging technology operationally eats away at your city’s money and time in a few areas.

  1. Building space and utilities. Maintaining a lot of hardware first requires a lot of building space. Freeing that space up can be a small boon, giving your employees more room without having to buy or rent additional space. Also, hardware maintenance requires a lot of electricity, heating, and cooling. Those utility costs add up over a year, so reducing those expenses by using less hardware can lower your energy bills.
  2. Reactive IT support. Aging technology is often accompanied by reactive IT support. We often encounter cities that think it’s cheaper to call a vendor who serves more like a repairperson, repairing old hardware similar to maintaining an old car. Not only does aging technology break down more often but reactive IT support also merely puts out fires without addressing the root cause. Because you never know when or how many fires will crop up again, this situation leads to unpredictable IT support costs that gets expensive quickly.
  3. Cybersecurity. When you haven’t modernized your technology, you drastically increase your city’s risk of a data breach or a hacker stealing information. Older hardware and software often lacks modern security features that help prevent viruses and hacker exploits. And we find that some cities fail to regularly patch and upgrade software to keep up with increasing security threats. Cloud software often builds in security upgrades in a seamless, automatic fashion, taking that activity off your plate while keeping you more secure.
  4. Data backup and disaster recovery. Lack of effective data backup often accompanies aging technology. Sometimes, the data backup process is manual and untested, meaning that data backup either doesn’t happen or it fails to actually work when a city attempts to restore data. Modern data backup and disaster recovery ensures you have a combination of onsite and offsite data backup, with the offline component making sure that you can recover your data in case of severe disasters like a tornado or flood.
  5. IT staff and employee training. Do you have IT staff (or non-technical city staff) who simply put out technology fires every day? Or are they more strategic about using IT to help your city complete important projects? Do your employees need training to help them learn or keep up with complicated software? Modernizing your technology can both reduce city staff time spent battling fires (similar to reactive IT support) and reduce the learning curve that your city employees have with new software.

As part of lowering your operational costs, it helps to consider using an IT vendor that costs less than adding a full time employee and has an experienced team of engineers who can quickly and efficiently handle your ongoing technology needs. By investing in proactive IT support, you take care of many operational technology needs in one fell swoop from data backup to security. Staying on top of these operational technology areas helps keep your costs low and predictable.

Interested in addressing your operational IT costs and risks? Give us a shout to talk in more detail.