Do you have a small pocket of IT budget money that you may lose as the calendar year ends? Take a look at these 10 tips for ideas on how to use your remaining funds in ways you may not have thought of. You might be able to make small improvements with a broad reach for the coming year and beyond.

Note: This information is also available as a PDF download.

#1: Pay for obsolete equipment recycling

It may not always make sense to pay to get rid of a piece of equipment, but this may be an opportunity to finally remove those obsolete servers, monitors, workstations, or printers from your storage space. You’ll get back some of your space and it will help make your area more organized.

#2: Replace UPS batteries or entire units

UPS batteries do lose their performance over time, and this might be your chance to perform some small upgrades in this critical part of the infrastructure. There is additional risk in having a battery that will not perform if needed, and you may be posed with an interesting decision to replace an entire unit if a battery is not available or becomes cost prohibitive by the age of the model.

#3: Purchase power management

Many new power management devices are available now that can be a good replacement for your limited power distribution units (PDUs). These PDUs can add management layers to individual power sockets for power consumption, naming, grouping, and power control. The new devices can also add more ports should you need to power more computer systems in your racks. For more on advanced power issues, see 10 Things you should know about Advanced Power Management.

#4: Purchase support agreements for less important titles

You probably have a number of applications or systems that are not mission-critical, yet carry a medium level of importance. It may also be possible that you don’t have vendor support agreements for these systems. Spending excess budget monies for support agreements, incident responses, or block-hour arrangements may be a good idea to protect the system. Pre-paying incident and block-hour services can be especially beneficial should there be any unforeseen turnover of staff who may be the ones with expertise in those products.

#5: Purchase evaluation equipment or software

If you have any concept projects or other long-term directions, investing in some tools, software, or hardware to facilitate your projects can be a wise decision. Such a purchase may be to bring your group’s competency up in a certain area or simply to perform a customized proof of concept for the solution you’re considering.

Just be sure you don’t trap yourself in underfunding your larger projects by slipping these types of purchases into the mix. If a project is pressed upon you, and there are tools or software titles needed to succeed, the project should fund those requests.

#6: Get a few rolls of Velcro

This may sound silly, but recently I have become a fan of using the fabric adhesive strips for cable management in lieu of wire ties. A full-scale replacement of all existing strain relief applications isn’t necessary, but I have started using the loop-and-hook fabric for all situations and am very satisfied with it. Unfortunately, the stuff is quite expensive for a large roll, so stock up while you can.

#7: Purchase small stopgap upgrades

If you have systems to which you can add some memory or drive space, this is a good opportunity for minor upgrades. They can be especially helpful if you don’t foresee capital monies for a new project, yet the business demands expanded functionality.

But be cautious here: If you accommodate unfunded requests, you may be setting a poor precedent for the business. This is a better strategy for systems used entirely by your department.

#8: Book training for the next year

If you have training needs for next year, you may be able to pay for it before the end of the current year. This can work best when you have an implementation scheduled yet no monies available in the project for training, or for only a limited number of your staff. Booking the training now can help make your project implementation more effective by ensuring that more of your staff will have increased competence.

#9: Buy core spare parts

Although it’s generally not a good idea to stash parts, you might consider building a small local inventory of the ones you most frequently replace. Items might include power supplies, hard drives, or RAM for critical servers. If you can get away with it, it might also be handy to have a network switch or module that you’ve had fail before.

#10: Replace any data center CRTs with LCDs

Of course, LCDs are easier on the eyes, but removing older CRT monitors from the data center offers other advantages as well. LCD unit costs have come down in recent years, and the benefits of their use include:

  • Reduced heat output. With data centers being pushed more and more to capacity, cooling management is a big issue. Anything that can be done to reduce heat exhaust is very welcome.
  • Reduced power consumption. As with cooling, reducing the power needs is always a good idea in the computer room.
  • Smaller space footprint. The LCD screens require less space, allowing more workspace in the computer room.

Most LCDs also offer mounting capabilities, so you might construct panels or dashboards for general once-over looks from the outside or from a distance, should you have any displays that remain on at all times.

Share-your-tricks time!

Have you creatively used up remaining monies to get your group in better shape for the coming year? Share your ideas here.