Boards will keep a close eye on 2004 IT budgets

Many IT directors are still struggling to convince their organisations' boards to boost IT budgets over the next 12 months,...

Many IT directors are still struggling to convince their organisations' boards to boost IT budgets over the next 12 months, despite signs of an upturn in the market shown in research by Goldman Sachs and the Computer Weekly IT Expenditure Survey.

Jonathan Mitchell, chairman of user group the Corporate IT Forum, Tif, said, "IT investments are being scrutinised more than I have seen in the past.

"If a proposal says a system is going to reduce inventory or product cycles by a certain amount, that is being thoroughly analysed before a project is embarked on. IT has to live down its reputation for not delivering the benefits it promises."

Colin Mitchell, group director of management information systems at engineering consultancy Halcrow, said his budget was already fixed for the next three years, but he plans to make a virtue out of necessity.

"I will guarantee [to the board] to hold my budget and give more for less," he said.

"This in turn will put pressure on suppliers to offer lower prices. So it is probably a good time to buy." He recommended that IT directors who want to save money should standardise their desktop policies.

"If your company does not have one, put one in now," he said. "In three years time, your firm will be getting the benefit of reduced support and maintenance costs."

At Tif, Mitchell reported that multinational companies are consolidating their IT systems in a bid to cut costs.

"Instead of implementing an enterprise resource planning system by factory or by country, now there is a tendency to manage and control things such as inventory on a global system," Mitchell said.

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