shutterstock_521309353The year 2017 is approaching fast. That means it is time to plan your business strategies and budget for the upcoming year. Besides developing strategies to improve profits, you can look for ways to reduce costs.

Here are five ways you can use technology to save money:

1. Upgrade Your Computers and Other IT Assets

It might seem contradictory, but spending money to upgrade your computers and other IT assets can actually help your bottom line. For example, having slow computers or computer screens so small they are hard to read hurts employees’ productivity and subsequently, your profitability. Plus, employees might become so frustrated that they start using their own personal computing devices for work, which poses a security risk.

Updating your computers does not necessarily mean that you have to replace them. Instead, you might be able to upgrade certain components in them. For instance, you could install additional random access memory (RAM) so that applications run faster. Or, you could replace small computer monitors with larger ones so that employees can easily view what is on their screens. Your IT service provider can help you determine your upgrade options.

2. Take IT to the Cloud

Thanks to virtualization technologies, high-speed networks, and highly capable web browsers, there are many different types of IT services now available through the cloud. You can go big (have your entire IT infrastructure in the cloud) or small (have a single application in the cloud). Depending on the type of cloud service you choose, you can reduce or eliminate capital expenses, licensing fees, maintenance costs, and more. Your IT service provider can help you determine how your business can best take advantage of the cloud.

3. Revisit Your Phone Service

If it has been a while since you reviewed how much you are spending on your business’s phone service, take a look. Phone technologies are constantly being improved, so you might be able to find a less expensive service that meets your business’s needs. For example, you might be able use Voice over IP (VoIP) instead of landlines for your phone service. VoIP is a technology that lets you make calls using a broadband Internet connection. Another option is to rely solely on mobile phones if you currently use both mobile and landline phone services.

4. Use Open Source Software

Using free open-source software can save you money, especially if you need to install the software on many computers. For example, instead of spending hundreds of dollars on programs like BigAnt, Microsoft Word, QuickBooks, and Photoshop, you could get Slack, OpenOffice, GnuCash, and GIMP for free.

5. Go Digital

Going digital is a catch phrase for a simple concept — using and storing digital files rather than paper copies when possible. For example, instead of printing and mailing paper copies of invoices, you can send them via email or a service such as PayPal.

Going digital has many benefits. You will save money on postage and business supplies (e.g., paper, printer ink). Having a paperless office will also save employees time since digital files are easier to organize and search. This will improve employee productivity, which in turn will increase your profitability. Plus, going digital helps save the environment, as you are using less paper and creating less garbage (e.g., printer cartridges). As a bonus, letting your customers and the community know that you are going green can boost your business’s reputation.