The IT Efficiency Phase Model

Another basic but beneficial framework used to evaluate an organization’s potential for material reductions in IT spending is the IT Efficiency Phase Model (IT-EPM). The IT-EPM illustrates the required levels of organizational change and disruption relative to the expected achievement of efficiency in IT service delivery.

The level of change required to achieve a desired efficiency represents a critical concept for organizations wishing to cut costs. In many organizations, the scale of change acts as the single biggest obstacle for realizing savings. Whether from overcoming simple inertia or addressing real fears of job loss, change management needs often impede progress significantly greater than simply not knowing which efficiency levers to pull.

Don’t Forget Organizational Change Management For MGT Act Efforts

In both the media and trade press, much has been written about the impact of the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act.  Entire trade conferences were created and executed based on this singular topic.  Many of the articles and discussions have focused on the unique mechanics regarding how funding provided by the Act will be disbursed to qualified projects, in addition to how the fund itself will be run.  Others have emphasized the importance of transitioning off legacy technology and onto the latest available technologies, which in many cases, happens to be a subtle marketing pitch by vendors for their own technology offerings (just read the small print at the bottom of trade press articles about who the author is).  However, in all these discussions about leaving old technology behind, there is a key topic that almost no one is covering: organizational change management.

Using Web Content Management Software

Organizations typically realize significant benefits from using a web content management platform in lieu of the traditional webmaster-driven single file per page approach. The advantages are frequently so substantial to an organization that it represents one of the key levers an IT organization can pull that almost always increases the effectiveness of the function and reduces its cost.

Traditional approaches to managing web content frequently rely on a cadre of web editors, typically residing in the IT organization, to individually edit web pages and the styles these pages rely upon for look and feel. The approach, based on legacy technical approaches for delivering web content, often possesses significant drawbacks for an organization. First, because the web editors are required for additions or changes, they in essence represent a bottleneck which can materially reduce how dynamic a site’s content is. Because most organization’s web presence is now a strategic enabler, anything that effectively inhibits the flow of content to various audiences inside and outside an organization is a potentially serious weakness. 

Standardizing System Lifecycle Processes

The acquisition, planning, implementation, support, and retirement of IT applications, referred to collectively as the system lifecycle, is often one of the largest areas of IT spending for an organization. The standardization of system lifecycle processes as an efficiency lever focuses on achieving enterprise-level delivery consistency across all phases of the lifecycle. In addition to providing a framework for efficiently managing individual systems-related work, a standard system lifecycle management approach can provide organization-wide visibility into system-related resource utilization as well as financial and project status.

Consolidating and Standardizing the Printer Fleet

Due to unmanaged growth in print resources stemming from few policy or acquisition controls, many organization’s printer fleets consist of a diverse set of dedicated and networked printers representing a wide variety of makes and models.  The result is unnecessary printing related costs stemming from: 

  • An inability to leverage volume pricing discounts in printers, supplies, and vendor support. 

  • A need to stock a larger variety and quantities of consumables and related printing supplies. 

  • Increased costs for support and maintenance due to a lack of standards as well as an inability to leverage a common network printer management framework. 

A Simple IT Spending Maturity Model

Traditional approaches for measuring organizational or project performance typically focus on the identification and collection of metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs). Improvements are then measured as changes in these metrics. While this approach is better than not identifying any performance measures, it typically falls significantly short in terms of measuring progress associated with IT spending reduction efforts.

Consolidating Infrastructure

In many organizations, technical infrastructure, defined generally as server, storage, and networking capability and capacity is deployed on an as-needed basis in response to additional requirements such as the deployment of services, applications or web sites. The frequent result of this organic approach to infrastructure is a data center environment comprised of a wide variety of makes, models, and configurations located in a variety of locations.

Using a Multi-Tier Thin Client Desktop Strategy

When many organizations refresh their desktop systems, they often use what is essentially a single tier strategy, deploying the same desktop system to all individuals.  The resulting homogenous environment often improves the efficiency of support and enables improved discounts based on volume.  The single-model strategy is frequently unfeasible in many environments however, where there are large populations of ‘standard’ and ‘power user’ populations. In these instances, a multi-tier strategy is often used to address the diverse needs of users.

Evaluating Savings Opportunities

When evaluating potential opportunities to cut IT costs, there are a number of factors to consider. Of obvious concern is whether the level of time and money required to realize savings is worth the investment. This straightforward evaluation is based simply on whether the savings will exceed the required investment as well as any other opportunities that compete for the same time and money.

Using Enterprise-Wide Architectures

Another major lever of IT efficiency is the use of standardized enterprise-wide architectures for a broad range of components related to an organization’s IT investments. The standardization of an organization’s approach to various aspects of technology typically enables significant re-use of existing capability and a material reduction in resource requirements. Regardless of industry or organization type, the fundamental components of IT systems and the components used to support them are, for the most part, identical.