Virtually every IT organisation is feeling the impact of the global downturn. But there is a silver lining. It provides an opportunity to challenge the status quo, eliminate ineffective systems and services, and make changes that management has previously refused to consider.
During a recession, management demands maximum efficiency and is more open to new ideas. Most companies have at least a few business practices (and supporting applications) that have been unexamined for years. Although the original justification may no longer be valid, the practice or application persists.
The recession is your chance to kill those dinosaurs
Take courage from IT pioneer, Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, who said that the most dangerous words are “We’ve always done it that way”. Instead of accepting the status quo, ask how things would be handled if the company were just starting out today.
Develop multiple budgets
Many corporations are developing “contingent budgets” describing multiple levels of spending cuts that will be made if revenues are down by certain amounts relative to last year. Those budgets also identify investments that can be made if revenues unexpectedly increase. You should do the same. Determine what you will do in various scenarios before you’re forced to react. Create several plans in case there are multiple rounds of budget cuts.
The management dictum “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” is good advice for IT execs. In the absence of accurate data, IT services may be seen as being too expensive, prompting discussions about outsourcing. A good system of accounting for costs and IT time is critical. Know unit costs and service levels for all IT services – including supplier performance – and compare them to industry norms.
Criticism of long IT delivery schedules is more severe in times of rapid business change. Agile development, with deliverables every one or two months, is required during such times. Adopt rapid development techniques, and plan incremental functionality releases.
The difficult global economy makes it particularly important to communicate frequently and honestly with all stakeholders. Honest communication builds loyalty and allows managers to make appropriate business plans. Remember to keep your staff informed of both good and bad news.