Our photocopier has taken pride of place in the centre of our office – but not because it’s a state-of-the-art machine which makes our working lives easier.
It now serves as a constant reminder that every member of staff has a responsibility to keep a close eye on costs in the current economic climate.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s a fantastic machine and probably one of the best on the market and could easily service the needs of a company ten times our size.
But the person who was in charge of acquiring a photocopier lost sight of what our business actually needed and became fixated with all the bells and whistles.
The irony is not lost on me here because we advocate that our clients adopt sensible procurement strategies so they get exactly what they need when specifying and purchasing new equipment for IT systems and infrastructures.
But, as our own example shows only too clearly, it is so easy to be seduced by what’s possible rather than going for what’s realistic.
After all, we’re all human and the reality is, as we all know, that we seldom use all the functionality of any piece of electronic equipment.
The mobile phone is a great example.
Despite seismic advances in the functionality of phones, the vast majority of the population still primarily use them for making calls or sending text messages, in the same way there are only so many ways you can copy a document.
Having the discipline to stick to your guns and go for what’s realistic must be the mantra for 2009 – especially as being cost-conscious will be even more significant for most businesses if they are going to come out of this downturn relatively unscathed.
Our own white elephant stands like a beacon to prove that even the best of us get it wrong sometimes but in recognising the error the situation can still be rectified.
We were able to renegotiate terms with the company that supplied it and we have turned the situation to our advantage in reviewing all our costs and applying the three quote rule by enforcing guidelines which we did actually put in place a long time ago, but frankly lost sight of.
And although we’ve done the best we can, it doesn’t escape the fact that there’s a photocopier for sale if anyone’s interested.
n Andy Dent is MD of Innovit, a Midland-based provider of IT solutions for SMEs, professional services and education.