The To-Do List for This Year

No priority should come ahead of security.

Those of us who use to-do lists to prioritize business tasks know there is no better way to stay focused on whats important and keep moving ahead.

As you sit down to your desk to begin this year, here are the items you should put on your list:

No priority should come ahead of security. But not all vendors are making security their No. 1 priority. Critically assess which vendors are meeting their promises and obligations to fix security problems. Weed out those that arent.

Cutting costs is still a major corporate priority, and IT must continue to do its part. A close audit of licensing and service contracts can reveal appalling waste. Take a look at the fine print with an eye toward renegotiations. Its still a buyers market.

Consolidate, consolidate. While youre cutting costs, check opportunities to merge servers beyond what you have already done. Consolidate as much as possible—but no more than that. Remember to preserve a failover capability.

You can never be too rich, too thin or have too many certifications. Look for any gaps in your educational background that you might fill this year. Then look for gaps in your staffers background and help them get trained. Investing in employees generates corporate loyalty, which is back in vogue as erstwhile dot-com profiteers line up outside employment offices.

Throw out stuff you dont need. Comb through your IT infrastructure to ensure whats already deployed is really essential. Now is a good time to dump what isnt and make sure whats left is properly maintained and secured.

You thought some technologies were static, such as office suites and Web browsers? Maybe theyre not anymore. Take a look at StarOffice for desktop productivity and at Mozilla and Opera for navigating the Web. Both could deliver savings.

Give new technologies their due this year. Review the status of wireless LANs, XML-based Web services, grid computing environments, Tablet PCs and other emerging areas. The economy may swing up or down, but IT will never lose its role as a strategic tool for business advantage. More often than not, new technologies will provide that edge.