So how can an IT manager preserve the budget while under pressure for upgrades, maintenance and new projects? One of the easiest ways is to simply get more for the same expenditure, or pay less for the service you've planned. During boom times, that might seem a bit fanciful. When resources are in short supply, you'll have to take your place in line and pay whatever is asked or do without. But we're in the opposite part of the economic cycle now. Most companies are anxious to make any sale they can. Your requests to get more for less will be taken seriously this year.
Good strong purchasing negotiation always makes sense. But instead of just going through the motions, you now have an excellent chance of working every contract to your advantage. In some cases, new players hungry to build a significant market presence will fall all over themselves to wrench your business away from staid and unresponsive incumbents.
A perfect example is voice and data bandwidth. Not so long ago you had one carrier to deal with and pricing was pretty much take it or leave it. Not any more. You may be shocked to find that there could be a dozen or more competitive carriers anxious to vie for your business. You can pick the one that offers the most capacity for the least amount of money or negotiate for extras such as a free router.
Telecom carriers are more numerous due to deregulation and the mere presence of aggressive competitors has been driving down service pricing. There has also been something of a glut of excess capacity from the boom times of the late 90's that has needed to be worked off. But perhaps the biggest advantage to businesses has been the recent development of new search tools that can quickly locate a plethora of services that meet your exact criteria. These tools are a family of online search engines under the name "GeoQuote (tm)."
GeoQuote is the patented software that connects to carrier databases and calculates near-exact line prices within seconds. If you need T1 lines, ISDN PRI telephone trunks, or DS3 bandwidth, GeoQuote can return results to you in a matter of seconds for an online query. The Ethernet GeoQuote will show you maps of where nearby "lit" facilities are for fiber optic bandwidth services such as 10 Mbps Ethernet, 100 Mbps Fast Ethernet, and Gigabit Ethernet. There are also versions of GeoQuote specifically for SIP Trunking for enterprise VoIP and MPLS networks for connecting multiple business locations.
Beyond your WAN connectivity needs, there are plenty of opportunities to get better deals on your hardware purchases and installation and maintenance services. For that, there is another online tool called the VAR Network search engine. This free service lets you specify exactly the equipment and services you want. That request will go out to qualified VARs or Value Added Resellers in your area that wish to bid on your business. You can then negotiate your best pricing and perhaps save a significant percentage over your budgeted amounts.