Ask yourself: Are you operating the most efficient and cost-effective infrastructure? Have you analyzed the efficacy of software-as-a-service for your key applications? Is managing your IT environment a core competency? In capital-constrained times, the upfront cash outlay and financial risk of on-premise solutions can prevent many new projects from being funded. IT executives have been stretching their budgets even before today’s weak economic conditions. Median IT spending per user this year fell to more than 7%, consistent with the fact that IT managers are supporting an increasing number of users without corresponding increases in IT spending.
Efficiency, patience and being open-minded to new ways of doing things is the approach to technology that will most benefit your organization in challenging times. This a a good time to ask some thought provoking questions about your technology management and be open to creative ways to maximize investment. How can you do more with less in IT? In this time of economic uncertainty, what strategies should you employ? A creative, cost-effective and out-of-the-box approach can set your company apart from those operating in head-down, panic mode.
1. Implement Cost Reducing Technologies
Selected technologies such as Software-as-a-Service and Virtualization can significantly reduce costs. SaaS can provide a lower total cost of ownership TCO) if you are paying high software maintenance fees and suffering expensive upgrade processes. SaaS enables organizations to eliminate costs associated with upgrading installed software, acquiring and managing hardware, staffing an IT help desk, and using internal IT staff to configure and code changing workflow or reporting requirements.
2. Take measures for green IT
The top motivation for pursuing green IT is to reduce costs — and in a down economy, every dollar helps. Becoming more environmentally friendly typically consists of making small changes over a period of time. Little by little, organizations can save money, operate IT more efficiently and reduce their overall carbon footprint by implementing some, if not all, of the suggested “green” IT methods below.
? Adopt virtualization. Virtualization decreases the number of servers required, thus saving on power and A/C . It fosters energy savings and lower capital expenses due to more efficient use of an organization’s resources, as well as better desktop management, increased security and improved disaster recovery processes. Learn more about Virtualization through our Resource Library:
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3. Invest in strategic initiatives that deliver competitive advantage.
Strategic initiatives can deliver competitive advantage. It may seem counterintuitive, but investing in strategic initiatives that give you competitive advantage can propel you ahead of the competition as the recession lifts. Amazon’s one-click ordering capability, for instance, really gave the company a leg up on the competition. An SMB which invests in supply-chain or other process automation solution may beat its competitors to market and enjoy increased revenue and profits as a result.
4. Train Your Employees.
Providing training to existing employees on existing systems is one overlooked, yet very effective way to maximize your current technology tools. The key is to make your company a place that employees feel that the technology enchances their experience and ability to do their job. There are four non-salary related areas that can help you maximize your investment both in technology and in your team members:
? Ongoing training. Organizations which invest in their employees by letting them grow and learn typically have higher retention rates. Employees not only need to continuously upgrade their technology skills to keep pace, but they also often want to improve non-technology, business-related skills such as project management, business writing, and communications.
? New technology. Employees are naturally curious and love to be challenged with new and exciting projects. An SMB that’s using cutting edge or emerging technologies and trainngs employees on how to get the maximum benefit has more potential to retain valued employees.
? IT-Business Alignment. The old days of the introverted, back-office IT professional are nearly gone. Have your IT staff or parnter engage with the rest of your team. Let team members provide feedback to IT staff and vice versa so everyone can contribute meaningfully to the business. The more they know about how technology can be used in the business, the more likely they can make strategic and tactical recommendations that benefit the business, and the more valued they feel.
? Open Communication. Communication is a two-way street. It’s important for organizations to listen to their employees and find out where their frustration are with the technology systems being used. Then, act on their feedback. Have all-employee meetings that communicate about how the company is doing and where it is going and how it can better use technology to get there.
5. Re-evaluate how you approach IT
Some organizations that previously never considered outsourcing have lowered, or at least contained, their overall IT costs by using a partner to manage some or all of their IT infrastructure – at a fixed monthly cost. Consider outsourcing your core operations. Not only can an IT partner which manages your core IT systems improve your operation’s uptime and stability, but in many cases, they will decrease your annual IT costs, too. Many organizations have found that managed services are a better alternative to spending money on capital expenditures, worrying about uptime for their critical infrastructure, and hiring internal or external experts to fill every IT role. When critical applications like email and Web environments are managed by an IT services firm, the end result is better uptime at a significantly lower total cost of ownership (TCO). If you personally take fresh stock of the company’s financial situation, and make sure IT spending and projects are adding value to the business, then you and your IT department will be in a good position to weather the current economic storm and rapidly adapt to fast-changing economic realities.
A good starting point is a Managed Technology Assessment which is provided at no cost my The Launch Pad’s expert Client Solutions Team.