Making the Most of Your IT Budget in an Uncertain Economy

By Lauren Fritsky

Whether you look at the bright side (Australia’s economy posted an annual growth rate of 4.3 per cent) or the bad side (the ASX and dollar are playing tricks on us), economic uncertainty will likely continue to hover as the new financial year dawns. Organisations are still treading lightly, and budgets now face new hurdles such as extra energy costs brought on by the carbon tax.

What’s an IT department to do? Take inventory of your technology and make the right investments to help your organisation grow and save costs in the long-term.

Check what you already have

Simple advice, but how many organisations actually take stock of software and hardware sitting idle that they could be using or that they no longer need? Conducting a software asset management programme can help organisations get a better handle on software needs. You likely have multiple versions of the same software at your organisation, which could be increasing costs and adding a support burden to the IT department. A SAM programme also helps you track software licensing investments to ensure they are cost-efficient. On the hardware front, there could be buy-back and trade-in options for hardware and special savings through your vendors over the course of the year.

Streamline your outsourcing

Outsourcing certain IT functions can save your organisation up to 30 per cent and allow greater flexibility during peak and off-peak times. Opting for a pay-as-you-go model and amenable contract ensures you can match the level of service to your budget and business needs; there’s no need to commit to a year-long agreement that you might no longer need three months in.

Choosing one provider that supplies a variety of services such as help desk support can help streamline the IT environment and offer lower costs than might be accomplished through using multiple providers. One government agency in New Zealand was able to achieve significant cost savings by reducing the amount of IT partners to one provider that could supply a pay-as-you-go model, which allowed the organisation to ramp up during times of peak demand. Cutting the IT fat also enabled the agency to gain better consistency in IT operations and avoid duplicating certain functions.

Clear up extra costs with server consolidation and cloud

Gartner found that 60 per cent of the Australian IT budget goes toward operations and infrastructure. Consolidating servers is one way to cut down this spending by as much as 20 per cent; cloud is another. Organisations can diminish infrastructure costs and increase efficiency of operations through cloud investment. Research has shown businesses can save up to 25 per cent on IT costs over the first three years by outsourcing data storage, critical business applications and email to the cloud. Businesses facing heat from the carbon tax can also decrease their footprint by 30 to 90 per cent using cloud for business applications thanks to the drop in data centre heating and cooling costs and reduced hardware use.

Opting for a cloud services provider with pay-as-you-go models, flexible contracts and colocation services allows businesses to slowly transition into the cloud while retaining the ability to scale up or down and shorten or extend their agreement depending on fluctuating business needs.

How is your IT department saving money?

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