Gartner recommends 20 ways to cut IT costs

October 20, 2008

In tough economic times, all enterprise departments are required to tighten their belts. To help IT execs navigate through the cost-cutting maze, Gartner analysts Wednesday presented a list of 20 ways that IT execs can slash expenses.

The most obvious place to start is people costs. Gartner estimates that 37% of the average IT budget is dedicated to personnel, so this represents a major opportunity to save money. Gartner recommends a blend of hiring freezes, reducing or eliminating special bonuses, cutting back on outside contractors. Also, global companies that have opened offices in remote areas should consider bringing those workers back home

Flatten the organization. Instead of having one person manage six or seven employees, trim some of that middle management and have your IT execs manage more like 20 people. A flat organization not only saves money but also can lead to more efficiency.

3. Move to shared services. In other words, consolidate things like help desk into one group that services the entire company.

4. Even if you have to borrow somebody from another part of the company, bring a finance person into your leadership team so that person can analyze your budget and find ways to help you trim costs.

5. Don’t ignore “unmanaged” costs like printers or data center power.

6. Go back and check your invoices to make sure your vendors are charging you what your contract specifies. An example would be if your wireless vendor agreed to give you free shipping when it sends new cell phones to remote workers. A few months later, shipping charges might start appearing on your cell phone bill, and if you don’t check, you’ll never know.

7. Eliminate unused software and modules.

8. Get tougher with vendors when it comes to negotiating contracts. Don’t be afraid to switch vendors, or at least go the first step of determining what it would cost to switch.

9. Buy a telecom expense-management service. It pays for itself and more.

10. Deploy a corporate wide plan for buying cell phones. Then, buy a cell phone plan that optimizes expenses. This will be cheaper than letting employees buy phones and plans and then expense them.

11. If there are places where you don’t need five nines of availability, settle for three nines. It will save you money when you negotiate with your vendor.

12. Consider buying a videoconferencing unit rather than constantly renting.

13. Where possible, use the Internet as a replacement for expensive WAN transport services.

14. Defer moving to Vista. If your PC hardware is holding up, consider sticking with it another year.

15. Use commodity products wherever possible, and skip best of breed in cases where “best of need” will suffice.

16. Consolidate and virtualize servers.

17. Reduce storage costs via data deduplication and other methods.

18. Use better processes and policy to make better use of existing tools.

19. Deploy IP telephony and VoIP as a way of cutting costs for moves, adds and changes.

20. Harvest unused software licenses and reuse them when a new employee makes a request.


10 tips to survive a layoff, financially

October 17, 2008

Tough people last, tough times don’t, right?

In times of recession companies do pare their staff strength to improve their profits. They are accountable to their shareholders and stakeholders.

Similarly, if you are a sacked employee or fear that you may get a pink slip in times to come, isn’t it time you become accountable to yourself and think what next instead of cribbing about the fate that has befallen upon you?

Here’s what you can do to survive your layoff / expected layoff, financially.

1. Negotiate with your employer to get a good severance package.

In the case of the Jet Airways employees it is reported that the company is willing to pay them a year’s salary. This can indeed be good news if it is true.

If you too are laid off negotiate aggressively with your employer. After all, you are already sacked and they can do you no more harm. But remember to keep your aggression polite for the same employer may want to hire you when wheels of fortune turn. Never slap an opportunity, ever!

Getting to hard numbers let’s assume that a company A sacks 10 per cent of its employees and promises to pay 12-months’ salary in advance. Also, let’s assume that on an average these employees earn Rs 20,000 per month. This will help them get Rs 2,40,000 in advance. This amount if planned and spent productively can help them cope financially till the time they get another job.

2. If you have a debt of any kind – home loan, personal loan, credit card payment etc – make provision for that first from the money that you can squeeze out from your ex-employer. There is no point in defaulting on your debt as it may come to hound you later — via your credit rating — when your financial condition improves.

For those who fear a layoff in the near future it would be a wise decision to payoff their dues when the going is good rather than waiting till the last moment. Also, postpone your decisions to buy a home or borrow money for some other purpose.

3. In the meanwhile, try to search for job, even if on a temporary basis, matching your skills and profile. Don’t hesitate to compromise on salary as your topmost priority should be keeping the engine well-oiled so when the real opportunity knocks you can race ahead of the others.

There are Web sites like Jobs On Temp that list a number of temporary jobs available in various sectors. You can also look out for India’s best cities for ‘temp’ jobs in case you are open to moving out from where you last worked or are working right now.

4. Your next priority should be your grocery expenses. You have to eat to survive and be shipshape to go out in search of another job. Visit your nearest discount stores and check who sells your items of daily need cheaper. This exercise may help you save some dimes but if you are laid off or fear a layoff every penny should count.

5. There is no need to tell you that when you are laid off or are expecting the same you should come down heavily on your socialising expenses including outings to hotels, multiplexes, vacations et al.

6. Try asking your parents and friends for some money in case your severance package amount fails to meet your monthly expenses. After all, a friend in need is a friend indeed. Of course, your parents, if they are financially sound, wouldn’t think twice about helping you with money. Make it a point to ask your parents first for money. For borrowing money from your friends can sometimes spoil a friendship.

7. If your severance package is good make sure that you keep at least 20 per cent of this money into an emergency fund. Put this amount in a fixed deposit that will earn you at least 7 to 8 per cent post tax. Due to rising interest rates most banks are offering attractive fixed deposit rates. Also, this amount will come in handy in case of any medical emergency. Of course, you will have to forego the interest amount if you withdraw your fixed deposit before the tenure is over.

8. If charity begins at home, cost cutting too should begin from home. Ask your maid to take a break for three months or till the time you find a new job. It is better you start doing your own laundry, utensils and ironing. You may feel a bit odd in the beginning but the amount you will save every month will come as a huge relief.

9. Spend most of your time fine tuning your resume, preparing for interviews, adding new skill sets related to your job profile (at lower cost if possible, but without any compromise) and networking with people (both online and offline). This will not only help you find a new job but also keep you busy and away from any mischief.

10. Finally, don’t forget to make a plan about your future as you will have enough time to ponder over your finances and career. Take a hard look at what you would want to do in life and how your career is shaping up. Make sure that such an eventuality should not ever befall you and if at all it does then you should not struggle as much as you struggled during your first layoff.

Source: Rediff

5 things you must know about your MF statement

October 16, 2008

Your work doesn’t stop at investing in mutual funds. Keeping track of them is as important as deciding where to invest. The account statement helps you do just that.

Once you invest in a mutual fund (MF) scheme, your MF sends you a statement within seven working days that gives details of the investments. Your MF account statement is just like a bank passbook, and gives information on all recent transactions done within a particular folio.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India mandates that in addition to sending account statements to unitholders as and when there is some action in the account (redemption, additional investment or dividend declaration, for instance), MFs also have to send an account statement, at least once a year, for every folio a unitholder has.

What to check

1. Current cost and value

Current cost is the amount you invested in a scheme while current value is the latest market value of your investments as on the date the statement is generated. Also, the price of one unit will be the net asset value (NAV) plus entry load or minus exit load.

2. Folio and account numbers

Make a note of folio and account numbers. Most MFs offer one folio number and several account numbers in the same folio for all investments under the same unitholder combination. This makes for easier tracking all your investments with same MF.

3. Bank details

Check your account number and bank name. If you want to change your bank mandate, fill out the slip at the bottom of your account statement and submit to your fund or agent.

4. PAN details

It is mandatory for you to give the correct Permanent Account Number (PAN), irrespective of the amount invested. Check your PAN mentioned in the account statement and ensure there are no discrepancies.

5. Advisor name

If you have invested through an agent, your agent’s name and code will appear on the statement. However, if you have invested directly, these parts should be left blank on your account statement. Ensure that this has happened.

Source: Rediff

2003 to 2007, there were 10 bank failures in the U.S

October 16, 2008

From 2003 to 2007, there were 10 bank failures in the U.S. Already in 2008, 13 banks have failed, with the lowlight being the collapse of Washington Mutual on September 25–the biggest bank failure in American history.

Check here

IT spend growth may slow to 2.3%, says Gartner

October 16, 2008

Global economic problems are impacting IT budgets. However, the IT industry will not see the dramatic reductions that were seen during the bust, says Gartner. At that time, budgets were slashed from mid double-digit growth to low single-digit growth.

“In a worst case scenario, our research indicates an IT spending increase of 2.3 per cent in 2009, down from our earlier projection of 5.8 per cent,” said Peter Sondergaard, senior vice president at Gartner and global head of research.

“Developed economies, especially the United States and Western Europe, will be the worst affected, but emerging regions will not be immune. Europe will experience negative growth in 2009, the United States and Japan will be flat,” he further added.

Gartner said the events of the past two weeks will have an impact on IT budgets in the fourth quarter, but it will not change 2008 substantially. The IT industry went through more dramatic reductions during, and after, the recession of 2001.

Source: Rediff

In recession time, Jet cuts the fat; 1000 lose jobs

October 15, 2008

As aviation CEOs meet in Hyderabad to sort out the crisis that has hit their industry, 1000 Jet Airways employees have been sacked.  They include mostly cabin crew and engineers.

Jet says the sacked employees were probationers who will be given 30 days pay.
This is part of a major cost-cutting exercise citing the company’s poor financial health. The move comes a day after Jet tied up with Kingfisher Airlines.
Jet Airways chairman Naresh Goyal has said that only those whose jobs were not confirmed have been laid off. He went onto say that the process will allow them to allocate resources to existing employees.

Source: NDTV

What is the “Red Flags Rule?”

October 15, 2008

Before looking at its impact on security controls, we need a thorough understanding of what the Red Flags Rule actually covers. According to an article posted at the American Hospital Association News site, the rule consists of three parts:

  1. Debit and credit card issuers must develop policies and procedures to assess the validity of a request for a change of address that is followed closely by a request for an additional or replacement card.
  2. Users of consumer reports must develop reasonable policies and procedures to respond to any notice of an address discrepancy they receive from a consumer reporting agency
  3. Financial institutions and creditors holding consumer or other “covered accounts” must develop and implement a written identity theft prevention program that covers both new and existing accounts.

Click here to read more

FACTA “Red Flags Rule”: Concern for security managers?

October 15, 2008

November 1, 2008 is the deadline for compliance with the “Red Flags Rule” of the U.S. Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act of 2003 (FACTA). The purpose of the FACTA is placement of an identity theft identification and response requirement on U.S. businesses. Although most of the Red Flag requirements apply to hiring and credit processing practices as well as those related to health facility admissions, PII and ePHI protection are also included. So what does this mean to security managers? It depends.


Kingfisher, Jet in cost-saving alliance

October 14, 2008

Rival private airlines Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines, with a collective market share of over 58 per cent, announced a strategic alliance to help them reduce cost and enhance efficiency.

The alliance, announced in a late night press conference, will involve code-sharing on domestic and international flights, an interline agreement, joint fuel management, common ground-handling services and cross-selling flights through the global ticketing system.

The two have also agreed to cross-utilise crew on similar aircraft types and use common training facilities. Passengers can also use frequent flyer programmes by flying in either of the airlines.

The two companies, however, clarified that there will be no equity investment in each other’s company. A formal merger of the two airlines would not have been possible because the country’s competition laws mandate that airline companies cannot have a market share of over 40 per cent after they merge. Jet Airways shares jumped by 10 per cent and Kingfisher 28 per cent today, ahead of news of the impending alliance.

Source: Business Standard

Sourav Ganguly to retire from International cricket

October 7, 2008

Sourav Ganguly to retire from International cricket

Source: NDTV