Yesterday I wrote a post about eliminating waste in IT operations, noting that while cutting fat should always be something IT shops aspire to do, it becomes an imperative in budget-constrained times like these. I discussed five ways IT departments waste money, culled from a TechRepublic article, and promised to follow up with the remaining five items from the article. I keep my promises, so here they are:
Making unnecessary upgrades. While there are plenty of good reasons to upgrade hardware and/or software, the article makes the point that too many IT shops don't base upgrade paths on actual need and instead adhere to a schedule in which systems are automatically replaced at predetermined intervals. You can obviously save money -- and likely some user angst as well, the article points out -- by hanging onto gear that'll suit present and short-term future needs. For a quickie take on determining whether an upgrade is merited, I like IT Business Edge VP Ken-Hardin's post on Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7.
On the flip side, failing to upgrade old, inefficient equipment. Delaying upgrades too long can result in unacceptable downtime, inflated repair and maintenance costs and just plain inefficient operations. I like TechRepublic's pragmatic tip that It's OK to upgrade some, but not all, departments or individuals while letting others keep what they have. For those who really need upgrades and are having trouble getting the funds for them, IT Business Edge's Paul Mah offers some good tips.
Overspending on hardware. The article gets in a plug for virtualization, and with good reason. Adoption rates for virtualization have grown quickly, and the opportunity for cost savings is one of the reasons why. Virtualization is one of three trends discussed in IT Business Edge contributor Art Cole's article about the future of the data center. TechRepublic also suggests making use of a on-demand infrastructure like Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) for projects that require temporary bursts of computing power. Jonathan Bryce, co-founder of Mosso, the cloud computing division of Rackspace, told me the same thing when I interviewed him for a story on cloud computing. With the cloud, he said, "You have access to the infrastructure if you need it, but you don't have to buy it upfront. If you're uncertain about usage, you'll probably end up buying the wrong amount of infrastructure."
Not using the training budget effectively. Among the good TechRepublic suggestions: Instead of sending multiple employees to training, send one person who can then instruct his or her colleagues. Consider forgoing certifications. E-learning can be a good option, as detailed in this post.
Wasting money on travel expenses. You can take Cisco's lead and employ videoconferencing and other emerging communications tools, which helped the company double its sales calls while cutting its travel budget in half, according to a presentation given by CEO John Chambers last year. While there are some really pricey solutions, much more economical options are available. IT Business Edge's Lora Bentley wrote about one called Dimdim (the whimsical name is a tip-off that it's open source), and ITBE's Carl Weinschenk mentions several others in this post. When travel is truly necessary, employ such tried-and-true cost savings measures as driving rather than flying and staying in reasonably priced hotels.