While Green may be pie in the sky for the time being, recycling is an excellent option. I am not referring to separating your green glass from the clear glass, rather the fact that you probably have reams of opportunities to deliver economic results with minimal investment based on systems and process you already have in place. Every project leaves behind a list of items that were great ideas but could not be implemented due to time constraints. There are also likely systems that were implemented for one department that could be extended throughout the company for minimal cost with compelling financial impact. You might not be able to justify a new system or major upgrade, but if you seek out these freebies you can deliver results merely by completing the last 10% of work that has largely been done.
Vendors and Partners
You might wonder if vendors and partners are the same thing. After all, everyone that walks into your office with a pitch talks about being your trusted partner or some variation of the same theme (as if the word vendor has some inherently negative connotation). At the end of the day, vendors provide a defined service. That service may be as simple as keeping the copier full of paper, or as complex as a multi-year international ERP deployment, but in both extremes and everywhere in between, you want vendors who are competent, capable and provide the service at a competitive rate.
Partners on the other hand provide advice and guidance; essentially the thinkers rather than the doers. Rarely can the two roles be played by the same party without an inherent conflict of interest. When all your vendor wants to do is talk about being a partner and all the wonderful ideas that he has, all of which can be implemented (by him of course) for a low hourly rate, you have a problem. If your vendor has really great, kind people and a marquee brand name to back them up, but they are just not delivering, it is time to see who else is out there. Similarly, when your partners are trying to sell you implementations, hardware or software, you have a problem.
In tough times, ensure that your vendors are doing what they should be doing: providing exceptional service at the right cost. Your thinkers should be providing actionable strategies and plans that you can successfully execute. If one is not delivering what you need them to deliver, or attempting to stray too far outside their territory, seek another vendor or partner. The great thing about a recession is there will likely be lines of people waiting to fill the failing vendor or partners shoes at a competitive price point.
While most prefer a sunny day to a deluge, the storm of economic uncertainly does not mean there are no opportunities to deliver strategically important, high-return results from IT. The CIO that not only weathers a recession, but thrives when times are at their toughest will be seen as a valuable asset; putting to rest any questions about whether the CIO and IT are trusted partners, aligned with the business, or whatever other questions might arise about ITs capability.
Patrick Gray is the founder and president of Prevoyance Group, and author of Breakthrough IT: Supercharging Organizational Value through Technology. Prevoyance Group provides strategic IT consulting services to Fortune 500 and 1000 companies. Patrick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.