Barney's Rubble

The Great Recession?

Inaction is no way to make it through an economic downturn. Here are some tips to stay afloat.

I can't remember the last time IT budgets were truly loose. It's been a least a decade, I reckon.

And now, it could get even tighter. Retailers are spending more time filling out Chapter 11 paperwork than pitching wares, stocks are falling down more than Dudley Moore, unemployment is dangerously up, and this recession has yet to really kick in.

Ignoring the situation is not an option. If you want to be a leader in your shop -- and hang on to your job -- take bold steps now.

First, be proactive. Waiting to be told to slash costs is not leadership. Sit on your hands, and your salary may be the first thing to go.

Reassess everything. Is your shop too complex? Can you simplify your servers by getting rid of unneeded software, and cut down on boxes by virtualizing? Is the network one big tangle? Straighten it out.

Spending too much on software? A good asset-management system can figure out what software you have and what you've paid for. You're probably sitting on unused licenses that can support new systems or help in negotiations.

Play hardball. Gone are the days when salespeople could demand a price that stuck. Threaten to move to open source, to the competition -- or to just not upgrade. Then demand a killer deal.

Scrutinize all upgrades and new tools. What does new software really cost when you add in licenses, training and hardware? What's the real benefit? Don't blindly trust a vendor ROI analysis, but run your own numbers -- and never assume a best-case scenario. Look for a short payback window; payback within a year used to be a bargain. You might have to cut that in half.

Manage what you have. A great deal of payback comes from good management. Tools that are proven to save IT time -- hopefully a lot of it -- could be a wise investment.

Is the answer in the cloud? Cloud services are fast emerging. Look at the real costs. Is it cheaper to run operations in the cloud? What about storage? Can a storage-service provider save some serious cash?

Go green. Green technologies are worth a look, and not just because they can save the planet. Going green also saves money.

There is some good news. Some analysts predict IT spending will actually increase next year; after all, our businesses still need to run. But you should be ready in case it doesn't. That's leadership.

What's your economic plan? Facts and figures, plans and schemes welcome at [email protected].

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.

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