Overcoming IT Budget Challenges

By Peter Wilson

Australian IT spending will finally increase in 2012 after declining the previous two years, according to Gartner. The rise is modest – 1.9 per cent, which likely means your IT department will still be asked to do more with less while continuing to drive innovation. A department seeking to become more strategic can’t risk using IT budget challenges as an excuse to delay key projects and investments that could bring big wins to the enterprise.

Target indirect funding streams

Remember, the rest of the business doesn’t easily see the value of the lights-on functions the IT department supports. That’s why funding will come from IT management delivering original, revenue-producing technologies that support other business units and add competitive advantage. One way to stay innovative on a tight IT budget is through tapping into the other departments at your organisation to leverage their parked funds; the Gartner research indicates more CIOs plan to help other business units like sales retain and gain customers in 2012 by developing technology-enabled solutions. How much time are you investing here?

Implementing technology solutions through other departments means IT can set itself up for more funding down the line through these business units. At this point, you’ve most likely already initiated the discussion with senior management at your enterprise regarding aligning the IT department with business goals. If you’ve been a part of this strategic dialogue and continued consistently delivering on your aims, you should be better positioned to gain access to these other funding steams. Put it this way: if IT doesn’t leverage these other funds with trends like the consumerisation of IT taking hold, then other departments will, and before you know it, your efforts will not be required.

Dive into the deep end to reduce expenditures

We know capital is hard to come by in Australia, but there are ways to shift some of your expenditures into the operational realm. For instance, moving infrastructure to managed cloud services can cut large capital costs by ending the need to obtain new hardware and additional software licences. But many CIOs put off these cost-saving shifts because they’re scared of the riskthe integration challenges or the service management requirements.

These fears really come down to how these projects are planned, allocated resources and overseen. Approaching these large, transformative projects with a detailed plan aligned with your overall IT-business strategy can make them less overwhelming. As you would do with other projects, put risk mitigation and management processes in place and implement a design, test and build approach to develop and deliver these solutions. These IT management processes can cut down the risk of having to make major changes or undo most of the work down the line.

Leverage managed services

Did you know 100 per cent of the top 300 companies in Australia are currently using outsourcing in some area of the business? Even if IT budgets decrease or remain flat, organisations are expected to continue investing in managed services, such as systems management and service desks. Several of Datacom’s managed services are available on a pay-as-you-go model so IT departments can scale resources as project needs change. Many of these services are also offered through flexible contracts so your department need not commit to six months or a full year when budgets and business needs don’t require it.

We’re all feeling the budget squeeze. It doesn’t mean the IT department should stop being agile, innovative and efficient. Look at budget challenges as something to work around instead of something that prevents you from continuing to meet business demands.

Peter Wilson is Datacom’s Managing Director of Systems for Australia and Asia. He helps ensure Datacom offers and fulfils technology solutions globally.

Peter strives to drive the success of the business across locations by strategically directing Datacom’s future. His vision ensures every Datacom location is equipped with the world-class knowledge and capabilities necessary to help enterprises transform their IT department.

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