10 ways to put your IT budget on a diet

In these recessionary times, CIOs are looking for ways to slim down on their IT budgets. While some steps are obvious and necessary, others can be like a diet you’ve been cheating on; you know what you should be doing, but you don’t always follow through. Here are 10 ways of doing more with less in tough economic times:

1. CUTTING HUMAN RESOURCES. We’re experiencing it in our offices and reading about it in the news. It’s painful, it affects our ability to meet service agreements, and it is not always the best choice. So although cutting human resources may achieve quick cost savings, C-level management believes access to and retention of key talent is the single most important issue for sustaining long-term growth.

2. STOP BUYING STORAGE. Storage has become so cheap we keep buying more and don’t trash anything. New approach: clean up your files, clean out your e-mail, let’s stop hoarding and clean house. And while we’re at it, let’s take a look at server capacity. Does every application really need its own server? The answer is no.

3. INCREASE IT EXPENDITURES. Done right, spending your money today can save you elsewhere now and in the future. Spending money on tools that will allow management to immediately cut certain expenses, such as travel, can result in a quick payoff. Investing in high-quality conferencing tools will facilitate workers to do more with less and collaborate efficiently.

4. IMPROVE IT GOVERNANCE. When asked to cut, don’t ask how low, ask what? We all know best practice is for IT to be in sync with the business. In order to prioritize for core business initiatives, CXOs are working together to rigorously scrutinize projects and priorities. This effort is resulting in monetary savings, better utilization of resources, and a better understanding of the strategic direction of the organization.

5. RENEGOTIATE WITH VENDORS. Everyone is trying to stay in the game, so it can pay to visit the table again and create a win-win scenario for all involved. Vendors are not necessarily substitutes for each other, so before cutting the number of vendors, try cutting with each individually. It may work best for both of you.

6. SMARTSOURCING AND BPO. Stop doing business that is not your business. What is your core business? Define it, stick to it and invest in it. Find an organization whose core business is one you could partner with, one that will reach economies of scale you may not be able to reach. Done right, organizations can save a great deal with this approach.

7. CONSOLIDATION OF SYSTEMS. Even before the pressure of the current economy, many organizations were addressing the sprawl of systems developed over time by consolidation. More consolidation is being considered across lines of business, as similarities between products become the focus instead of differentiation. These initiatives can be costly and it’s important to be aware that end-users and the technology team can become emotionally attached to their particular system, which can create a closed mindedness that may prevent the success of the initiatives.

8. EXTERNAL COLLABORATION. Share, share, share, just like your mother taught you. Share desktop support personnel with the unit across the hall, on another floor, the building across the street and even your competition. Share a network, a server room or a geothermal system. Share a printer, or share a relationship with a vendor for better pricing on volume.

9. OPEN SOURCE. Much of it is now prime time. Do your research, talk to people and companies employing the open source you are interested in, and move forward with these viable alternatives.

10. ARCHITECTURE – DO IT RIGHT. Yes, organizations are achieving savings, quicker time to market, scalability and redundancy with Service-Based Architecture (SBA) and Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA). No, it does not have to be a huge and costly initiative. The SBA/SOA approach has achieved savings done piecemeal, via small reusable components.

– Doris Brophy

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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