5 IT essentials: A recession-proof priority list

Seven out of 10 CIOs interviewed by Robert Half Technology said their companies will invest in information technology initiatives in the next 12 months, with security topping the list of budget priorities. Virtualization, data center efficiency, VoIP, and SaaS rounded out the top 5.

But ask an IT manager what 5 things their IT departments must do -- no matter how bad the economy gets -- and a somewhat different picture emerges. Sure, security still sits at the top of the priority list, but innovation, aligning IT with business, and training are top-of-mind for some.

[ See also: Five CIOs talk about managing IT costs in a weakened economy and Report: Security Tops IT Budget Priorities ]

Amidst all the talk about managing costs, doing more with less, layoffs, and cutbacks, IT managers find themselves paring things down to the essentials. Here, IT managers share the things their departments can't do without. (And IT professionals share the things they'd be happy to stop doing ... now!)

[ What are your 5 must-dos? Share them in the comments. ]

Things IT pros would happily do without

- Meeting for meetings sake - Inflexible methodologies - Pet projects - Having multiple #1 priorities - Overextending your resources Doug Shank, HFA

- Shuffling licenses around instead of buying enough - Buying cheap printers - Downgrading from Vista to XP. I just want XP! - Dealing with spyware - Tedious data backup routines Andre Preoteasa, Castle Brands

- Office politics - Doing anything with phones and/or security cameras - Dealing with level 1 techs on support lines - Dealing with dead hard drives - Finding someplace to take old junk Christopher Owens, Spiceworks community

- Writing 5 year network rollout / IT strategy plans. These are generally shots in the dark as it is, but more so today. Cut out the extreme long term plan and focus on executing rapid market response iterations James J. DeLuccia IV, Intellection Strategies, Inc.

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Security is job 1 For MEDEX, provider of global travel medical and security evacuation and assistance, risk mitigation is mission critical, not only because it's what they do for over 20 million travelers each year but for the security and privacy of the customer data they maintain. And it's why security and disaster recovery are top priorities for Eddie Jenkins, MEDEX's Director of IT. "We urge our international clients to be 'prepared for the unexpected,' and we have to be prepared as well," says Jenkins.

Disaster preparedness is also key for CableOrganizer.com, an e-commerce company headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where the hurricane season begins in June and lasts until November. "We have to be ready, which is why we've created a disaster recovery plan, and were more than willing to spend money on it," says Nicolas Dubus, CableOrganizer's IT Director.

Bill Bolt, VP of IT for the Phoenix Suns puts an even finer point on it: "The ability to recover through redundancy and backup procedures is everything."

By phone or by Web Telecommunications tops Scott Whitney's must-have list. "A 24x7 dial tone is paramount to us," says Whitney, IT manager at Journyx, a provider of Web-based time tracking, project accounting and resource management solutions. "Calling prospects and providing support to customers happens 99% over the phone."

Coming in a close second on Whitney's list is Internet bandwidth: "Even in a recession, for a tech company to be bottle-necked in their office causes enormous headaches for the entire team," says Whitney. Bill Bolt picks up this thread, adding "Today a company can't do without e-mail, calendar and contact loss of service."

For Andre Preoteasa, Director of IT at Castle Brands, the communications must-have can be summed up in one word: BlackBerry.

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