Five outside-the-box ways to cut IT costs

Five outside-the-box ways to cut IT costs

Tough choices lie ahead for IT departments. Get ahead of the curve with five cost-cutting tactics designed to hurt less

The cost avoidance of not having to train people on new technologies is just one of the areas in which companies can save. "Although the ROI of using consumer technologies is not always clear on an individual basis, when taken as an aggregate, the savings can add up," says Sean Rhody, a principal in Capgemini's technology transformation practice.

2. Get the business side to scope projects

IT shops all too often shoulder much of the responsibility for investigating technology projects, and even though the proposals come from the business, the cost of scoping projects, conducting research, reviewing architectures, evaluating the requisite technologies, and other information gathering inevitably fall on the IT shop, constituting a significant burden that can eat up weeks of work for each potential initiative, Rhody says.

"When the cost for evaluating a proposal falls on IT, the business side tends to swamp the demand function with excessive requests," Rhody adds. He cites as an example one IT shop that averaged a four- to six-week turnaround for such activities and, ultimately, had to limit how many proposals it would accept -- which led to dissatisfaction with the IT department.

"Pass that back to the lines of business," Rhody advises. "There's immediate savings. When the cost of proposals is born by the business side of the house, frivolous proposals are stopped, proposals are better prioritized, and what is proposed is more likely to have a true ROI to the business, reducing waste and abandoned projects."

Bob Lewis, president of IT Catalysts, takes it one step further in suggesting that enterprises should "give the rest of the business a direct stake in the health of the IT organization and the company's technical architecture." It's not easy, Lewis explains, but IT treating the rest of the business as a customer and charging back for its services doesn't really work, either, he contends in a Keep the Joint Running post.

3. Use open source networking

Open source is a well-known approach for reducing software spend, but if there's one largely enterprise infrastructure area that's ripe for reaping cost-savings by tapping open source, it's the network itself.

Paul Venezia first put forth that possibility this spring in the article "Open source on the wire: It's already on your servers, why not running your network?." He points out that modern operating systems offer routing and firewalls, not only performing better than their dedicated cousins but, particularly when using open source software, doing so at considerably less expense. Linux, indeed, boasts fast, kernel-level packet forwarding, routing, firewall, and NAT capabilities.

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