A lot of businesses treat their outsourced IT team the same way they do a doctor or dentist: as someone they know they should meet with more often, but frequently put off. That’s understandable, but it’s also a bad idea. As we have written in the past, waiting for problems to creep up with your technology isn’t going to do you any favors in the long run. Besides, good IT consulting – that is, meeting with a technology expert or virtual CIO before you need one – can save you thousands of dollars every year. Here are three quick ways:

By helping you to spot more cost-effective hardware and software. Business owners and executives are often surprised to find that, even though they paid top dollar for their company’s technology, they haven’t gotten the best tools for their business goals. Why? Because good IT isn’t just about having the “latest and greatest,” it’s also about having the right equipment that makes the most sense in a given situation, or is the most reliable choice. A good IT consultant can help you spot the difference quickly and easily.

By better integrating technology and your short – and long-term business goals. Outsourced IT help isn’t just about fixing problems as they pop up – it can also be about sensing opportunities as they arise. That’s important, because you want your company’s technology to help move you towards your most important business goals, not be an anchor that’s holding you back from them. For that to happen, however, you have to have someone on your team who understands technology well enough to know what’s possible, and how new products and ideas can be integrated into the rest of your company. That’s where the right IT consultant can come and save you a lot of money.

By preventing major IT problems later. This might be the part of outsourced IT that you’re most familiar with, but a good consultant can go beyond just looking at malfunctioning hardware, software and making repairs. It’s much more efficient, not to mention effective, to actually prevent these problems from happening in the first place. By auditing your current technology setup, looking out for potential problems or failures, and making sure you have the warning you need before critical systems go down, an IT consultant can easily save you thousands of dollars in just a few hours.

Nobody likes to go to the dentist, and few of you probably enjoy the idea of paying an IT consultant to fix a problem that you don’t even know you have. But, invest a few dollars and have a professional team take a look at your technology, and it might turn out to be the best investment you make all year.