The best way to achieve efficiencies and save money is to get support from the top
It’s important that IT departments have support from the Board for the projects that they undertake. I’ve written before about the governance responsibilities that IT teams have, and this, of course, includes finding efficiencies and saving money.
We’re currently running a printer rationalisation project; this work is quite common and I imagine that many other organisations are doing a similar thing – replacing many smaller printers with a smaller number of multi-function devices. On the face of it, it’s an easy way to cut costs and reduce carbon footprint.
What we’ve found however (and it wasn’t a complete surprise) is that people are very attached to their personal printers. The IT engineer undertaking the audit was offered all sorts of bribes and inducements to “accidently omit” particular printers from the list. Luckily, we chose someone with a high level of integrity & moral fibre for this project, so we’re pretty sure that we’ve managed to record every printer in the organisation.
We’ve also had threats; “You take this printer away over my dead body” and “If I lose my printer I shall resign”. The strength of feeling is extraordinary.
We’re very fortunate that this project has had the buy-in from the Executive Team. All the communications relating to the project have come from the Finance Director, who wrote to all staff explaining that this was a Finance-led project to identify cost savings, not a technology project.
This made it easy for the IT Team to deflect some of the strong feelings. Many people behaved as though it was the IT staff who were doing this work out of personal vindictiveness, so it was important that we could refer to the email from the FD and explain that they were working on his behalf. (Not surprisingly, nobody has taken up our suggestion that they speak directly to the FD!)
We also set up an email address – firstname.lastname@example.org – rather than use the normal IT Service Desk email, to further distance ourselves from the project.
I suspect that in the coming months there will be many more efficiency programmes like this one, and some of them may involve minor inconveniences (such as walking 6 yards to a shared printer)
Wherever possible in future, we’ll try to arrange the communications through one of the Executive Directors since this gives a very clear message that we have the support of senior management. If you have that backing, it’s a lot easier to do the front line work.