5 IT essentials: A recession-proof priority list

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Training "Even in a recession, technology and innovation move at a very fast pace," says Nicolas Dubus. "In the IT department, we need to keep up with and understand any new technologies that emerge, as well as implement the right solutions for the business."

More things IT pros would happily do without

- Building maintenance. Changing lightbulbs, etc. - Policing internet browsing. - Explaining why email was undeliverable. - Explaining why my spam filter won't accept a message that looks like spam -- even if it's a joke from your buddy. - Anything dealing with a dialup modem or a fax machine. Seriously....can we drop these things off in 1987 where they belong. Rick Wiggins, Spiceworks community

- Writing irrelevant and non-reusable documentation. - Re-inventing the wheel. - Unnecessary, menial manual tasks such as building and patching. - Spreading ourselves so thin! Ryan Wallace, Avanade

- Overnight "firefighting": wading through a multi-vendor network of interconnected devices to find the cause of an outage - Inadvertent network errors, such as people in dorms plugging routers in backwards - Needle-in-a-haystack device misconfigurations that lead to number 1… Tod Isaacson, Loyola Marymount University

"Providing ongoing learning opportunities for the IT staff is crucial to the growth and flexibility of the organization," agrees Lou Trebino, SVP and CIO, at The Harry Fox Agency. But since training budgets go out the window in hard times, IT managers get creative. "Training can be formal classroom or self-paced instruction, as well as job sharing, 'brown bag lunch' sessions, and shadowing," says Trebino.

The right person for the job A Network and System Administrator is Nicolas Dubus's number 1 must-have. "It is very important to have someone in-house who is able to solve daily issues, help the users, replace hardware when needed, contact vendors, apply the latest security patches, and stay late when we need to upgrade the network," says Dubus.

Eddie Jenkins and Lou Trebino take a less tactical approach, saying innovation is their most valued skill. "In tough times we need to support innovation. We need to make sure we continue to reward innovative ideas and invest in people who have these innovative ideas," says Jenkins.

IT-business alignment For Lou Trebino, a supportive executive team is essential to the success of IT. "They need to see the value proposition of IT and not view IT as merely a cost of doing business," says Trebino.

Nicolas Dubus recommends having IT engineers join forces with marketing strategists. "It is important that different teams within the company spend time together in order to brainstorm, prioritize tasks, follow up, test, and make the final push for various projects," says Dubus. "This will help ensure that the projects we spend time and money on are those that will improve our competitive advantage and bring in the most revenue."

"It's more important than ever to develop a strategy and not stray," adds Eddie Jenkins. "We are working with the leadership team to make sure that each and every project we currently are working on will support the company's overall strategic goals."

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