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Top IT Priorities for 2009

The New Year is upon us, and 2009 will most likely be more challenging than 2008. The CIO must have the right strategy in place to make the most of this crisis. Operating with tighter budgets and fewer resources, it is important to have clear IT priorities, and a focus on cost reduction. Here are several new year resolutions an IT Director should consider, adopt if applicable, and execute on in 2009.

Reduce Expensive Licensing Costs
During the economic crunch, CIO's can afford to be bold and take drastic action across the IT landscape. Maybe 2009 is the year that companies will switch from Microsoft Office to Open Office, swap out Microsoft Exchange for Open X-change, or replace Oracle Databases with MYSQL. These established technologies are difficult to get rid of, as the expectations of the user community would be the biggest hurdle for the CIO to overcome. If a CIO is to successfully implement open source applications, organisations must accept reduced feature sets and higher risk as there may be less support available. Other leadership team members will put IT under pressure to stick with existing systems, but remember to sell the benefits of a new application model. Open source approaches can reduce total cost by as much as 90 percent over traditional offerings. Internal IT teams will also appreciate the exposure to new technologies.

Employ Stronger Sourcing Policies
Do not be afraid of your supplier - ask them for more competitive quotes in 2009. IT rates across the industry are becoming more competitive as supply increases, so consider shorter contracts. Bid out work to at least three vendors to ensure competitive quotes even if you know who you want to work with. Introducing competition tells your service provider that they cannot take your business for granted, and will help you attain lower prices, faster delivery and/or higher quality. Effective, lightweight governance strategies will help you keep the cost and quality of your IT services in control, and allow you to move quickly to remediate problems.

Eliminate Projects With No Short-Term Benefits
Now is the time for IT managers to eliminate projects with little business benefits for 2009, unless it is necessary for compliance or security. Every project is about improving how the business operates, and there should be no IT projects operating where this is not the mantra. It's a business improvement project if it includes redefinition of how the business is supposed to run, and the project isn't complete until the business is operating better. After a decade of discretionary technology projects, its time to take a tough stance and invest only in projects supporting a well defined business impact.

The IT director has an opportunity to lead change in the business this year, as in many industries IT is often the biggest expense. This provides CIO's an ideal opportunity to reduce costs, implement new delivery models, and get more value out of a smaller budget. Suppliers will become increasingly competitive, so do not hesitate to work with your existing service providers to lower costs.  

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