Linux

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.


About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

11 comments
jharna32
jharna32

http://www.whatisguide.net/0311-ways-to-save-money.html - Therefore, they must set goals. Goals can motivate so much of your budget. The financial statements can help all aspects of economic life, if you try to pay more money for a mortgage, the payment of debts or simply a strong financial position. It also allows you to reward achievements that have reached the goal you set for yourself, you can be proud of our success and you should be rewarded. This makes it easier. However, it is important to stay motivated and realistic budget, the keys to a good budget.

andytech79
andytech79

My 2 cents..Virtualization, public cloud, IT automation and any intiative that makes IT as a service will help to control the IT Budget. Did anyone try the IT Budget tool from http://www.infrasage.com ? Looks like a useful tool.

Nancyth
Nancyth

http://www.financemetrics.com/tips-on-budgeting/ - It can be hard to stay motivated when you start the budget, because you feel you do a lot of sacrifices for little benefit. A key to budgeting is to have a long term plan and not be canceled observed in their goals. Being goal oriented, you may find it easier to stick to your budget. Therefore, they must set goals. Goals can motivate that much of your budget. Budget can help with all aspects of your financial life if you try to pay more money on your mortgage, pay off debt or just have a strong financial position. It also allows you to reward your achievements, which have reached a goal you set for yourself you can be proud of your success and you should be rewarded. This makes the process easier. However, it is important to stay motivated and realistic with your budget, what are the keys to a good budget.

aricbandy
aricbandy

Great article! I linked to it in a recent budgeting blog entry on IT budgeting tips for the SMB market. http://agostoinc.squarespace.com/general/2010/9/22/it-budgeting-tips-for-the-smb-market.html I especially agree with the point about migrating to Google Apps. I'd take it one step further though and migrate to Google Sites (away from SharePoint). I've seen so many expensive and poorly executed SharePoint migrations. You can get Google Sites performing most of the same functions in a fraction of the time. Moreover, it's included with Google Apps vs. buying another license and hardware. - Aric Bandy

alistair.k
alistair.k

This goes oposite to what a lot of people are saying right now, but thats because they are selling managed services, contracts, leased support, etc. We've saved a lot by cutting maintenance and support contracts. They are very expensive and just serve to deskill your teams. We have had some training expense but otherwise its a massive win. Also people massively overcook the TCO thing. I saw some figures as to the "true cost of a desktop PC" claiming the TCO figures per year of an office desktop and multiplied that up by the number of desktops we have and came out with a figure three times the whole company IT Budget... [and that includes salaries, travel etc.] Don't fall for this BS. We went with the managed print service thing, which was the soup du jour for vendors about a year, 18 months ago. We are 2 years into it and we did a real financial review and its saved us nothing. In fact, we would probably have been able to save by keeping the damn thing in house. We have some pretty old desktops out there, plenty of people will tell you they are costing you money but this is not true. We have reduced our support cost by getting the build right, getting our patching and remote management strategy right, and guess what, we have some 5 year old desktops and they are as easy and cheap to manage as the brand new ones. If one pops, we have a few hot spares. We image it and swap it out. But guess what, they don't pop. HP and others now ship their kit with a 4 year warranty. Why would I replace after 2 or 3 years? The kit doesn't cost, its how you manage it that does. Spec it right when you buy it. Don't cheap out and you'll thank yourself 3 or 4 years later. Manage your people, give them a rewarding, varied job. Listen to them and act on what they tell you where appropriate. Reward as you can. Your guys will stay with you. You will save a fortune in recruitment costs, contractors to back fill roles or worse, the productivity canyon which opens up when someone leaves and the top table won't authorise a replacement and leave the post open. Get your processes right, get on top of images, patching, inventory management, remote deployment and thats where we saw our biggest returns.

jairo.jr
jairo.jr

Another good the look @, it is the telecom costs. Every 6 month we review all telecom costs and you know what..always someone do a lower price..! My 2cents

BaruchAtta
BaruchAtta

My pc workstation was just replaced because it suffered from the "Swolen Caps" debakle. Google the phrase, and look at the Wikipedia entry. Even though I am into electronics (ham license) I had never heard of the issue. It is a hardware/motherboard killer.

alistair.k
alistair.k

SharePoint Services is free. Google charge a subscription per user, per year. If you can get by without the functionality of SharePoint Server product (the one they charge for) then SharePoint services may be just the job. I'm coming round to the FOSS thing. Some of these open source products are getting pretty fit for market now. I've looked at the Google stuff and it all seems clanky and I'm not sure how far I trust Google. Any company which thinks that Wi-Fi data harvesting excercise was acceptable has an approach to data which I am not happy with for my business.

bkindle
bkindle

What's that saying again? "An ounce of prevention saves a ......." I completely agree with you on this. I have seen a lot of companies do the same thing and not save any money. Computers run great as long as you maintain them properly (including keeping them cleaned out). People have to remember that the more and more you demand from the CPU, the slower it be. Some folks just don't understand that part, they thing it should just work.

bkindle
bkindle

1. Power Surges (equipment not hooked up to a REAL surge suppressor or battery backup) 2. Over heating. Open your computer up if it's sitting on the floor, it's disgusting what falls out (you will swear that your computer ate a cat or something). As a previous poster mentioned, doing things yourself does save a lot of money. I agree with the whole maintenance aspect of IT. If you don't patch/manage/maintain your equipment, then yeah, you will be replacing equipment every 2-3 years and still never realizing any TCO benefit.