Five tips for controlling your IT budget

For many IT organizations, the question these days is not whether to trim the budget, but how to do it so that it's least painful. Jack Wallen offers several suggestions.

In our ever-fluctuating economy, one of the easy targets for a company is the IT budget. The computers are all running well, so why do we need to spend money to buy more? These are easy cuts to justify, and they seem inevitable. So the best thing for an IT department to do is to control their budget and keep it from getting out of hand. That is, of course, easier said than done. But not impossible. Here are a few things that may help. Will they all work for you? Probably not. But more than likely, at least one will help keep your budget off the radar of those with the axes.

1: Add some open source

I realize for some this is not an option. But if you can entertain the possibility, injecting a bit of open source into the mix will enable you to retain more of your budget for other important needs. This approach could mean a Linux server or desktop here and there, an open source server or two, trading off a few Microsoft Office licenses for OpenOffice... you get the picture. And those who say the Linux TCO doesn't actually end up saving you money haven't used Linux in a while.

2: Implement virtualization

Virtualization has been a highly effective means of saving money for a long time now. Instead of purchasing more and more costly hardware, just add a virtual server or desktop. If your VM server is powerful enough, you can get away with serving up a number of virtual machines from this one location. Instant savings.

3: Migrate to Google Apps

Instead of investing time and money for a terminal server or an Exchange server, why not employ Google Apps for the same purpose? If your company is small enough, you can easily get by with this solution. The Calendar, Email, and Docs applications are all just as business-friendly as the Microsoft equivalent, Web Apps. Another instant win.

4: Outsource some of your IT needs

I should preface this by saying that I have a vested interest in this strategy. But we are seeing a number of companies scaling back their IT staff and taking advantage of consulting firms to handle some of the tasks. Although the initial cost might not seem to be a savings, in the end you won't be paying for benefits, vacation, and resources when a portion of the IT work is done by a third-party firm.

5: Document, document, document

When you deploy a machine, make sure you document the deploy date, what was installed, who the user is, and so on. By keeping good records, you take much of the guesswork out of the picture. When you know, to the day, the deploy date of a machine, you have a much better idea of its end of life. In the same vein, have an end-of-life policy. Don't just assume a machine is fine because it is running. As machines age, they become either money pits or time bombs waiting to explode. In the long run, the loss of work an employee will suffer will hurt the IT budget much more than purchasing a new piece of hardware at an informed date.

Other strategies?

That was simple. And at least one of these tips should apply to your situation. What other steps have you taken to keep your budget from getting out of hand? Share your thoughts, tips, and advice with your fellow TechRepublic readers.

posted by Jack Wallen
September 17, 2010 @ 1:46 pm
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