Six Tips for Stretching IT Budgets in 2009

Get “more for less” with managed services: Managed services can help IT departments get ‘more for less’ by allowing internal IT staff to focus on their company’s unique strategic business initiatives and eliminating the need to invest in new technologies. “CIOs and their staffs can’t do it all, especially when globalization is a top priority,” said Bill Dodds, VP of Sales and Marketing at Virtela. “Trying to coordinate contracts with multiple vendors, in multiple languages and multiple currencies to build a best in class infrastructure puts an enormous strain on IT that’s not sustainable in a recession.”

Analysts at firms like IDC and Gartner are predicting that demand for managed services will increase in the recession, and Dodds said Virtela has seen that growth firsthand. “For example, when it comes to communications infrastructure, companies need multiple technologies, seamlessly integrated around the globe, but they can’t afford to spread themselves thin,” he explains. “Managed network service providers can give businesses a single source for the technologies and expertise they require even as their needs evolve, in an on demand, scalable site-by-site basis.”

Virtela suggests companies leverage managed service providers (MSP) for their telecom and networking services. By investing in MSPs, IT departments can still benefit from new and innovative technologies without spending money on hardware, infrastructure or internal management and monitoring, allowing them to keep pace with technological innovation even on a tight budget.

Automate enterprise-wide processes: “Many people don’t realize that 50% of all application processes are still run as batch jobs,” said Ken Jackson, president of the Americas division at UC4 Software “This means that IT is spending a lot of time and money kicking off, monitoring, and handling failures of routine jobs.”

By automating batch processing with workload automation solutions, CIOs will save staff time and improve services by speeding up processes and reducing application downtime due to human errors and conflicting jobs. For example, Jackson cites a large energy provider that used UC4’s workload automation solution to reduce their total invoice processing time by four hours. As a result of being able to send customer invoices a full day earlier, they received the payments faster, and saved almost $30,000 in one year alone, he said.

“IT can’t afford to slow down. A workload automation solution will not just enable IT to survive current budget and staff cuts, but actually improve their services and alignment to the business in spite of them,” said Jackson.

Leverage your existing reports for BI: “In today’s economic crisis, one of the fastest ways to save resources and make smarter business decisions is to leverage your existing reports for BI,” said John Kitchen, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Datawatch Corp.

Datawatch recommends taking an inventory of your existing resources—such as reports and other business documents—to see if the information you need to make better business decisions is actually hidden in plain sight. “Many IT professionals mistakenly believe that they have to implement complex and costly BI tools, when in reality they can easily get the business intelligence they’re seeking from existing reports,” said Kitchen. “In a nutshell, we’re helping companies weather the recession by addressing the immediate need for BI at a fraction of the time, cost and complexity of traditional BI solutions.”