Top tips to tighten your belt in a recession

Experts offer easy tips on how firms should be planning to survive the pinch of the economic downturn.

"Often it becomes challenging to keep the organisation focused on the important things when the pressure of the global economy is on the minds of individuals. To prevent the morale from slipping, I issue frequent communications across the ranks of IT with straight talk and a view of the future. We happily discuss the challenges and brainstorm in teams to find creative, cost-effective ways to overcome them. Humour and down-time are therapeutic and must be applied liberally," she says.

Clive Longbottom, service director and business process analyst at Quocirca, said that a good way to involve staff would be to educate them about what they can do to help make small economies. These small savings, when taken across the company, can lead to significant cost reduction, according to the analyst.

"The main way [to economise] is through education - getting people to put PCs into sleep or hibernate mode when not using them, turning off monitors and so on."

Another way to involve staff, according to Longbottom, is to encourage them to work from home. "Home working is great," he says. "Firms should get as many people to work from home, paying for their own energy, and shut down the offices. That is green and cost effective all in one go."

"Hot desking too can cut down on office space, so you can get as many people to work from home as possible, and then share the remaining desks and equipment as efficiently as possible."

Longbottom said that some activities can seen extreme, and costly to start with, but will lead to cost-savings going forward, and thus should not be ignored. "You could take a leaf out of the Co-operative's book and clad the outside of your building with photo-voltaics, cutting down on on-going energy bills and being very green. Or you could build your next data centre in a cheap geography where energy is also cheap. Iceland springs to mind."

"The problem with most cost saving exercises is that they tend to have an up-front cost, and in bad times, who wants to spend, even if it is to save? Education is cheap, and savings can be made," he adds.

"Firms and their staff should take a holistic view, ensuring that lights are turned off, that if they are using a departmental kettle, they make more than one cup of coffee at a time, that windows are used for cooling rather than air con, and that jumpers and cardigans are used for heating...."

Top tips for cost cutting:

1 - Educate staff on potential cost-savings

2 - Consider outsourcing 'day to day' operations overseas

3 - Consider alternative sources for hardware

4 - Work with software vendors with a flexible approach to budgets

5 - Assess your current financial commitments, is there room for change?

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