Finance Slideshow: 10 Ways CIOs Can Better Control Costs

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 07-26-2010

10 Ways CIOs Can Better Control Costs

Say Goodbye to Outdated Legacy ProductsOne of the biggest mistakes CIOs make is that they hold on to outdated legacy products. In some cases, they simply don't know that those legacy products are still being used. In others, they believe they are more important than they really are. Your employees might prefer the old stuff, but over the long-term, future-proofing the office should be the first goal.

10 Ways CIOs Can Better Control Costs

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Intelligent OutsourcingOutsourcing can be a boon, or it can be one of the biggest mistakes you'll ever make. In the outsourcing world, value means the difference between a good decision and a bad decision. According to a report published in June 2010 by accounting firm, KPMG, 81 percent of IT workers believe value in outsourcing is central to the success or failure of such an arrangement. In addition, 90 percent of respondents say finding good people to do work is the top priority. If you find the right, skilled person for the job, it will yield a generous ROI. If, instead, you settle for the cheapest alternative, regardless of skills, trouble will ensue.

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Remember Windows 7's Windows XP ModeAs virtualization becomes an increasingly important aspect of the CIO's life, Windows 7 could be one of the most value-packed operating systems Microsoft has ever released. Why? Windows XP Mode. The operating system will work with current applications and hardware, and work with mission-critical legacy apps that need Windows XP. Your employees can simply boot up the Windows XP mode and install any legacy product. In essence, you are getting two operating systems for the price of one, and all your current peripherals and applications will still work. Sometimes, you have to spend money to save money.

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Think More About GoogleGoogle offers a Microsoft Office alternative, called Google Docs. While not as capable as Office, the software is available for free online. If you want to swap out your company's e-mail provider, Google provides e-mail services to companies for $50 per user per year. That's substantially cheaper than most alternatives, and thanks to Google's administrative features, you can enjoy just as much control over Gmail business solutions as current e-mail services.

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Communicate Via FacebookThe social network now claims more than 500 million active users. Think about allowing employees to communicate over Facebook or other free online services. As long as proper policies are in place to govern what employees can and cannot do or say, a free alternative is far superior to team-based communication solutions that will cost your company hefty fees each year. Even Google Docs is a worthwhile communication platform, thanks to its real-time collaboration.

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There Is Value In the CloudYou may be weary of this buzzword, but the cloud is the next frontier in business. Several cloud-based solutions are much cheaper than their desktop counterparts. And, since they're available from anywhere, you can increase employee productivity and utilization by allowing them to work wherever an Internet connection is available. Admittedly, there aren't as many cloud solutions as most would like, but they are coming, and they're getting better each year. Examine your current applications and see if there are cloud alternatives that make more sense. Chances are, programs can be replaced.

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Utilization Through MobilityThink about this: in today's corporate environment, desktops are still ever-present. Employees drive to the office, boot up their desktop, and get to work. At the end of the day, they shut down that desktop and leave. You're paying the immense cost of supporting that desktop, plus the incidentals involved with running the office for all those employees. By giving employees a notebook computer, work can be done from anywhere. Encourage telecommuting for those who don't need to work in the office every day. You'll make your company energy efficient, cut down on real estate costs, and keep employees productive.

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Netbooks Aren't A Bad ChoiceAlthough these lightweight computers are substantially less powerful than notebooks, they work quite well for those employees who don't need the best and biggest computer on the market. Plus, they're cheap. Employees who are not using resource-intensive applications don't need a full-fledged computer. Save hundreds of dollars per employee, give them a netbook, and use the cost savings elsewhere.

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Duplicate Services Are CostlyStrictly evaluate all the various products and services your employees are using to avoid overlap. For example, some products will have a specific function, but also deliver separate features that work quite well. If any of those features overlap with current products, it's best to simply cut your losses and go with the program that does both (as long as productivity and revenue won't be hurt). Duplication costs add up. It's best to limit them wherever possible.

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Don't Overlook AutomationAutomation can be an extremely powerful tool to save your company cash. For example, setting up an online service that allows customers to input data instead of your employees having to do so makes for a far more efficient operation. Those employees can be freed up for other, potentially more important tasks. CIOs should remind top management that simply because people have been performing specific tasks all these years, it doesn't mean that it should stay that way. Automation could be central to your cost-savings efforts.

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