Most of us rarely have to build or manage budgets in our organizations, but almost all of us are affected by the budget process. It’s tempting to ignore budgets and just do your job, but sooner or later you might find yourself arguing for more funding for a project, training, or even hardware.
I ran across a short piece on 10 ways to shrink your IT budget and found it a bit scary. I would bet that many of you have had conversations, or been affected by decisions, that follow some of the advice in the piece. The push for open source, virtualization, hosted (or cloud) migrations, or more can cause stress and anxiety when your job is making sure the servers run without complaints from end users.
I don’t expect that all of these would be followed in a specific organization, but some of these might be proposed to you. What I would recommend is you understand the reasons why, or why not, you might adopt any of these ideas. Certainly the time lost from retraining people or rewriting code can overwhelm the savings for many years, but even seemingly smaller changes, like changing priorities can affect the way your clients and customers view IT. It seems that sometimes budgets get changed to provide a short term view that technology spending is being managed efficiently, only to find out later we will remove all our savings by undoing a poor decision.
I’d suggest that you approach budget issues with transparency and honesty. Take a hard look at your costs and determine what items are really needed, and what items aren’t. However, I’d also urge you to carefully consider whether it’s really valuable to save money by not taking care of your staff. While labor is an expensive part of your IT cost, good staff are worth much more than they cost, often by an order of magnitude.