With the growing need for organizations to cut costs, those not adopting strategic procurement practices and/or looking more deeply into their spend will find themselves at a disadvantage. The actual "how to" for those organizations wishing to implement procurement strategies in previously off-limits categories, however, are not always so clear. In an effort to help, here are five steps to finding savings in one such formerly off-limits category: IT

Step 1: Go and Be Green

Going green is about eliminating waste and reducing energy consumption. Cost savings can be achieved through consolidation, virtualization and equipment upgrades, which will require less IT resources and hopefully reduce the electricity needed to maintain them. Going green can also simply mean turning off lights when it's not in use or turning the thermostat a few degrees up or down to accommodate the temperature when it's not in use.

Step 2: Upgrade

As technology improves across generations, products typically become more efficient and easier to maintain (look at the efficiency gains from CPU processors across generations). Outdated technology and equipment require more energy and upkeep, making it more costly. To piggy back off of the previous step, motion sensor lights and hi-tech thermostats can be implemented to reduce wasted electricity from lights being on but unused, and from inefficient climate control settings. The new technology is more energy efficient and requires little to minimal set up time. A final example of savings through updating technology is more specific than the previous two: printing.  Printing technology continues to improve vastly across generations, and typical black & white copies now cost at least two cents less than they did just a generation or two ago. Keeping equipment and IT infrastructure up to date increases productivity, reduces down time, and cuts costs.

Step 3: Outsource Strategic Tasks

There are companies that can manage IT operations, provide the latest applications, and offer 24/7 support, all at similar quality levels as your in-house resources but at a lower cost. Managed services can consolidate your IT infrastructure and reduce your organization's overall investment, allowing existing in-house resources to focus on those services and issues critical to your organization.

Step 4: Implement a Disaster Recovery Plan

Data breaches and disasters are common occurrences, and it's costly for organizations to deal with the aftermath from lawsuits, loss of customers, and/or damage to their data and IT infrastructure. Data breaches and disaster can affect any business regardless of their size. According to Barbara Goldberg, owner of Back On Track Solutions, more than 25% of small business that close after a disaster will not reopen. Rest assured, affordable disaster recovery solutions are available and it can save your organization when you least expect it.

Step 5: Train Employees

As simple as it may sound, well trained employees get more done and in less time. Employees will not reach their full potential and achieve higher levels of productivity if they are not well trained. Training employees impacts organizational competitiveness, revenue, and affects performance.
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