To succeed, government leaders must think outside the box, taking lessons from other governments and from the commercial sector. What does this mean in practical terms, and how can agencies continue to fulfill their missions in light of tight of shrinking budgets?
First, I think this is a time to reassess priorities and cut spending on projects that don't serve the core goals of your agency. Many state and local governments can find $1 million or more in information technology funding that can be saved. For instance:
- Use it or lose it. Computer hardware and software don't usually improve with age. If you bought something that has not been put in the hands of users in twelve months, you are not getting value from your technology upgrades. Buy hardware as late as possible to get the most bang for the buck. A deadline can really help IT professionals and vendors alike to focus.
- Skip a generation. While I'm loathe to recommend agencies to sit on the sidelines while technology marches on, you must be realistic about your upgrade schedule for hardware and software. If you're only now getting around to Office 2003 upgrades, you should skip that generation and head straight to Office 2007.
- You may already own it. Be sure to check on whether you already own software before you rush out and buy it. Take advantage of your volume licensing with vendors such as Microsoft and use what you already own. There are so many products covered under these agreements that you may overlook something and then purchase another product with the same features. Build a SharePoint portal to keep track of your volume licensing agreement.
- Stop waiting for the bus. When you have a failed project, you know it. Don't wait until you have spent the last budgeted penny when you are concerned a project is not leading to a delivery. A stop work order will get attention fast.
- Improve requirements. Nothing wastes money more quickly than projects running amok without strong requirements. Bad requirements doom projects to failure and invite vendors to overbid in order to compensate for weaknesses in the solicitation.