How to Recession-Proof Your IT Department

In the face of turbulent economic times and calls for belt tightening, IT departments need to take steps to reduce costs, while ensuring that their network meets business needs. Here, Knowledge Center contributor Charles Thompson outlines some immediate and long-term steps IT departments can take to better their network efficiency and reduce IT costs.


During the current recession, IT departments need to take steps to reduce costs and improve their network's efficiency. There are nine specific steps that IT departments can take to accomplish this, including understanding network demand and application behavior, eliminating unauthorized application and device use, and saving money using PC power management.

Let's explore these and other steps in more detail:

Step No. 1: Understand network demand and application behavior

It's been said that you can't know where you're going, if you don't know where you've been. The same holds true for network management and capacity planning. Unless you have an idea of normal application behavior in the past, it will be difficult to gauge acceptable performance in the future. Establishing benchmarks and understanding long-term network utilization is key to ensuring effective infrastructure changes.
Step No. 2: Eliminate unauthorized application and device use

Unauthorized applications and network devices can consume significant bandwidth and resources, as well as constitute a security threat. Daily network monitoring and asset tracking allows your IT staff to quickly identify unauthorized application and device use.

Step No. 3: Save money using PC power management

Save the environment and your bottom line. Going green can save your company green. PC power management software monitors computer activities and powers them down when not in use. You can also implement policies with software that place the computers into standby mode after closing.

Step No. 4: Harness the power of virtualization

Use virtualization to consolidate network servers for more efficient use of resources. Relying upon virtual servers reduces the need to purchase physical machines, saves money by reducing power consumption, shortens disaster recovery time, and allows you to easily establish server and resource redundancy.

Step No. 5: Align IT with business

Managing IT costs is part technical and part personal relationships. In the current cost-cutting environment, it can be hard to avoid the knife-even when your department is contributing positively to the company's bottom line. In early times, IT departments faced cuts due to a lack of understanding of how they contributed to business revenues.

Although understanding has improved, the CIO can now take two steps to minimize the chance of having the budget slashed. First, the CIO should organize IT costs around services and processes visible to the business. And second, the CIO should establish strong relationships and clear communication with the CFO, explaining the risks of postponing infrastructure investments or reducing services.

Step No. 6: Automate business processes

With layoffs plaguing many companies, now is the time to improve business efficiency with automation. For example, improving your company's capabilities to hold meetings online can reduce the need for travel. Also, are there any customer care services that can be delivered online rather than over the phone?

Step No. 7: Prioritize projects

Faced with more project requests than dollars available, now is the time to prioritize projects in the queue. At the least, determine which projects are necessities versus nice-to-haves. Taking it further, conduct in-depth, cost-benefit analyses of each project to determine what value it offers, both in the short term and long term. Keep company annual growth targets in mind, and determine what IT investments are necessary to achieve them.

Step No. 8: Deploy VOIP

In tight times, save money in the long term by spending some time now deploying IP telephony. You could take this as far as eliminating standard phones and replacing them with software-based phones, or collaboration programs to save you money and facilitate greater teamwork.

Step No. 9: Create human resource policies for Web 2.0 applications

While Web 2.0 applications can boost company productivity, they also increase exposure to security and compliance threats. Adopting policies that appropriately restrict use and educate users about potential risks can reduce bandwidth demand, security threats and liability exposures.

Charles Thompson is a product manager at Network Instruments, LLC. He has been working in the networking technology and security sector for more than 10 years. Having been with the Network Instruments since 2000, Charles has in-depth experience helping network teams tackle virtually every facet of network monitoring and performance management, from application and technology rollouts to daily monitoring and problem solving. Charles works closely with customers to ensure the company's products meet their future network management needs.