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Corporate Executive Board

The Pitfalls of IT Cost Cutting


The statistics are depressing—2009 budgets are only growing ~1.5% (in nominal terms), 47% of companies surveyed have introduced hiring freezes and 24% have increased hurdle rates for new projects. In addition, 55% of CIOs indicate plans to make cost-cuts of 10% or more, with 25% indicating cuts will top 20% according to a survey conducted by the CIO Executive Board of more than 50 CIOs at leading organizations throughout the U.S.

Most CIOs intuitively understand when cuts begin to undermine performance, but are unclear about exactly when that happens, how much risk it entails, and how to communicate that to business partners and CFOs.

For example, CEB analysis shows that companies looking to cut $50 million from a $200 million IT budget might actually experience "blow-back costs" of ~$35 million and realize a total savings of just $15 million. Within this $35 million are risks including a loss of $12 million in potential business value in reduced project delivery and speed to market, possibly $6 million or more in fines and $3 million in lost business productivity just to name a few. Even cuts that are below 25% of the original budget are unlikely to realize the full cost savings, so any cut must be done with care in order to fully maximize the savings.

CIOs need to quickly understand, quantify and communicate these risks with those funding IT, so that the enterprise can benefit from an informed conversation about the choices they are making. Otherwise the organization may end up realizing only a fraction of the savings they desire and will hamper the IT department's ability to deliver on important business objectives.

Provided by Corporate Executive Board —What the Best Companies Do™

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CEB specializes in helping companies drive corporate performance by identifying and building on best practices. The organization offers data analysis, research, and advisory services relevant to business leadership. CEB's client and member network includes 85 percent of the Fortune 500, 50 percent of the Dow Jones Asian Titans, 70 percent of the FTSE 100, and 80 percent of the DAX-30. CEB membership encompasses 50 countries, 5,300 individual organizations, and 225,000 business professionals.

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