IT Funding

Top 10 Cost Savings IT Management Practices

Educause Center for Applied Research (ECAR) embarked on a study of Educause members to gain a deeper understanding of the impact of the economic crisis on higher education technology budgets and practices

In response to the Great Recession of recent years, the Educause Center for Applied Research (ECAR) embarked on a study of Educause members to gain a deeper understanding of the impact of the economic crisis on higher education technology budgets and practices.

Conducted in November-December 2009 via a web-based poll of 319 higher ed CIOs (or equivalent positions), the study reveals that 84 percent of respondents’ central IT organizations had, since the onset of the financial crisis (FY 2007-2008), “been engaged in efforts to reduce IT costs.”

Respondents reported that their cost-saving efforts included changes in personnel management (hiring freezes, travel reduction); financial management (renegotiating vendor contracts, university-wide purchase agreements); project portfolio management (focusing on projects with higher ROI); support services (automated support tools, consolidating support departments); and IT management.

To document the top cost-saving IT management practices, the study asked respondents to choose from a list of 14 options. Of those 14 practices, 10 were chosen by about half or more of respondents:

1) Increased use of virtual servers (84 percent)

2) Standardizing hardware (76 percent)

3) Extending hardware replacement cycles (73 percent)

4) Consolidating storage to enterprise service (59 percent)

5) Retiring infrequently used technology (58 percent)

6) Consolidating duplicate platforms or applications (58 percent)

7) Reducing modifications in enterprise software (53 percent)

8) Increased use of open source software (50 percent)

9) Increased use of enterprise server hosting (46 percent)

10) Deferred maintenance on major systems/infrastructure (46 percent)

In addition, almost one-third of respondents (30 percent) said they were relaxing or deferring their institutions’ disaster recovery plans.

The study’s author, Philip Goldstein, an ECAR fellow, writes that some institutions were engaged in practices that “could be at the vanguard of changing how IT is managed in the future, such as the adoption of cloud services and the expansion of enterprise solutions for areas that benefit from scale economies. However,” he adds, “a significant portion of respondents had also taken actions that arguably can produce only one-time savings.” The study suggests that many short-term actions “may place their institutions’ technology at greater risk, including deferring hardware replacement cycles, deferring maintenance on systems, and relaxing or deferring disaster recovery plans.”

Source: Goldstein, Philip J. “Responding to Recession: IT Funding and Cost Management in Higher Education” (Research Study 4, 2010). Boulder, CO: Educause Center for Applied Research, 2010, available from educause.edu/ecar.

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