"No department has enabled more change and dynamism than the IT department over the past 40 years, and yet it rarely gets the credit it deserves. Remember that project to improve the cash collection cycle in accounts receivable … 'Good job, Accounting!' Oh, and how about that system that provides customers with faster response and better service … 'Marketing, you really outdid yourself on that one!' That reminds me … we need a system that can better track the flow of goods from our suppliers so we can reduce waste and slash inventory costs … 'IT, get me ROI on that project that will pay us back in six months.'

As these scenarios showcase, IT is seen as a necessary burden for making the rest of the business work better. But when the company is focused on weathering the storm of a depressed economy rather than expanding and enhancing operations, large IT budgets and expenditures are no longer viewed as necessary. Instead, they are prime candidates for the proverbial paring knife.

But while IT faces the prospect of cutbacks, its core responsibilities are not going away. The legacy technology infrastructure put in place over a period of decades must be maintained and supported, and in many cases, modified so other departments can accomplish more with less."

"To make matters even worse, a certain moodiness can pervade the workplace that makes users even more demanding and less patient when the server is down, or their data isn't ready, or the network isn't up, or they can't send an email. People are naturally on edge in downtimes, especially when the whiff of layoffs is in the air, so anything that gets in their way or prevents them from doing their job – ahem, IT \[cough\] – will take the brunt of their frustration.

So what is a CIO or IT Manager to do? The obvious answer is to do more with less."

As these excerpts show, doing more with less is the topic of Network Automation's white paper "IT Strategies in a Tough Economy." This white paper is designed to give CIOs and IT managers food for thought on how to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of business processes.

Author Joe Kosco, the COO of Network Automation, recommends that you start by taking the time to understand your company's business processes and not just the IT processes. "While the IT department isn't usually responsible for order entry, it is responsible for accelerating the timeliness and flow of information," states Kosco. "How information is received from outside corporate walls, to how it is transferred within via files or databases, is the domain of IT."

"Understanding your business processes isn't just busy work," states Kosco. "It is an essential step in identifying what is inefficient, broken, or even wrong with the process." Finding process delays, errors, and other problems provides opportunities for improvement.

Kosco makes a case for using automation strategies where appropriate, such as in processes that simply require facts and rote logic (e.g., restarting an important computer service that has stopped working, extracting data from a file) or that involve repetitive, manual tasks. "The key here is to let the humans do what they do best, and let the machines do what they do best," states Kosco.

The white paper also provides a 11-point checklist to help select an automation software package. To download this free white paper, go to the Network Automation website.

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