Want to Improve IT's Rep? Try Reducing Waste


Next to keeping their jobs, one of the things that most IT folks want to do is save their employers money. And yes, maybe the latter can help with the former. When companies are forced to eliminate staff or even (gulp) entire divisions, most will look at those that have trouble controlling their costs as likely candidates for cuts.


Realizing this, I felt compelled to share a TechRepublic piece titled 10 ways IT departments waste money. While IT organizations should always keep an eye on these line items and adhere to practices that save their companies money, thrift is often neglected in flush times. None of these items are as "sexy" as, say, installing new software. But they can yield savings.

Here are the first five money-wasters, with ideas for reducing costs from TechRepublic, our site and other sources. I'll follow up with a second post listing the other five money-wasters.


Wasting energy. Let's face it, many of us are guilty of this at home too. And IT is hardly the only offender at the office. This article reminds us of the importance of turning off workstations when not in use, taking advantage of power-saving features in operating systems, using more energy-efficient lighting in server rooms (and turning lights off when no one is in there), and buying gear with good Energy Star ratings. Those tips are fine, but IT organizations may also want to come up with a full-fledged PC management program, a step just 13 percent of IT managers have taken, according to Forrester Research numbers cited by IT Business Edge's Art Cole in a recent post.


Need more incentive? Gartner says a third of enterprise power is consumed by PCs and peripherals. Uptime Institute Executive Director Kenneth Brill offers more numbers for inspiration in a Forbes piece that suggests many organizations would benefit from appointing their own "energy czar."


Overspending on mobile technology. This is easy to do, because mobile devices are much in demand. And smartphone manufacturers like Palm are eagerly wooing the enterprise. But as TechRepublic points out, a recent survey showed that many employees never use some of the services and minutes on their company mobile plans. There's lot of low-hanging fruit ripe for the picking to yield telecommunications savings, wrote IT Business Edge's Paul Mah. The potential for savings is also discussed in ITBE contributor Carl Weinschenk's recent interview with Joe Basili, the managing director of the Telecom Expense Management Industry Association.


Not allowing employees to work from home. We at IT Business Edge are fans of telecommuting for a number of reasons, some of which are included in this story about successful telecommuting programs. They include reducing real-estate costs, boosting productivity and improving disaster-recovery plans. Some companies are even eliminating their expensive call center infrastructures in favor of equipping agents to work at home.


Using consultants when the job could be done by staff. As TechRepublic points out, internal employees enjoy a big advantage over consultants because they won't need to spend as much time learning about the inner workings of your company. Considering that most consultants bill by the hour, this can be a costly proposition when hiring an outsider. When I interviewed a City of Tacoma, Wash., executive about his IT organization's use of project portfolio management software, he told me that he'd be able to demonstrate its value by showing it reduced IT's dependence on outside consultants.


Hiring full-time employees when contractors would be more cost-effective. This is the inverse of the above item. You don't want employees on the payroll that don't have enough to keep them busy. It's preferable to bring in outsiders who may possess an expertise that won't be needed in the long term or to supplement staff ranks to get a particular project done. You save by not providing vacation, sick time and other benefits. According to SurePayroll, a growing number of small businesses are employing independent contractors.