Hard times and tightening budgets…

Money is tight, redundancies are possible and projects postponed.  Whilst budget cuts by some degree are inevitable, careful planning for the downturn will impact your business in a positive way.

Being forced to ‘do more with less’, forces you to look at problems in new ways and take an approach that you may not have looked at, wielding innovative results.

Often regarded as an area with high running costs, IT is likely to be one of those areas where businesses will look at in order to try and shave a few zeros off their overheads.

Faced with the prospect of reduced resources it can be daunting to cut back on IT, an area that integrates with the business on so many levels, but it is possible to cut back without cutting out.

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Spend a little money to save a lot of money.

Look at any dated systems and analyse the cost of maintaining them versus implementing a more up to date one.

You may even have dedicated staff just to support those systems and the chances are that they are being underutilised. Would replacing the legacy system with a new system free-up their time for other projects?

Implement a helpdesk.

Having a centralised area where you can manage requests for help makes the IT department slicker and more productive, as well as improving end user satisfaction.  This would enable you to prioritise and handle a greater volume of requests for each of the support staff.

If you have had to let some staff go, this is a great way to establish some order and help the remaining IT staff deal with the increase in requests.

There are many low cost options available with many offering free trials, such as Service Desk Plus (www.manageengine.com) and the completely free Spiceworks (www.spiceworks.com).

Stop pushing for cutting edge technology and products.

Yes, it may look like the next best thing since the internet but why waste resources investing in technology which could potentially die out just as quickly as it appeared?

The ‘latest and greatest’ technology often comes with a hefty price tag and limited suppliers. Take a look at the Apple iPhone for example, when it was first released in the UK it came with a £300 price tag.  Now, a little over 18 months later it is available for free.

When resources are limited, the newest kit is not always the best option. Why not wait until the new product has settled into the market and support is more widespread? Cheaper and more developed alternatives may even emerge.

De-Centralising your skills.

By cross training your staff in different areas, you can maximise your coverage and support. Splitting up your team’s duties, for example, 60% primary role and 40% secondary role means that your staff will have a greater understanding of each other’s roles.

More importantly, you are not left in the lurch if the network goes down when the ‘network guy’ is on holiday.

Drop some Projects

Take a leaf out of Hewlett Packard’s book and re-evaluate your projects.

In March 2008, HP reduced their portfolio of 150 projects down to just 20-30 at the most. Their goal was simple, rather than spreading resources thin trying to maintain many projects, they concentrated resources on selective projects with a bigger payoff.

You can apply the same principles to the projects that you are working on.

Compare them to the business plan – are they still relevant and will they deliver real business value? If you drop them now, it may seem like a waste of money but think about the amount you will consume maintaining and supporting that project in the future with little return on investment.

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