Whether you read this probably depends on your opinion of 2008. If 2008 was the best year of your life, one that you'd like Groundhog Day until the mortician shoves a 50 mm needle into your descending aorta, then the title alone would be enough for you to click through to pictures of Jennifer Aniston at the beach. (But you should read. Never repeat a year; you'll be way older than all the other kids at graduation.)
If you're like 99.7 percent of the people who work in the free world, then 2009 is your opportunity to make a break from 30 years of bad business management enforced by really bad government mandates and regulations that resulted in doubling the national debt in six weeks.
So here's how you make 2009 better than 2008:
Use Tools Built By Geniuses.
For four years I've watched a company flail, choke, stumble, and vomit trying to organize its collective work. For four years I've told them, "Pick a cheap, quality, online project management system, train the people, and move on." For four years they've said, "No--we can't afford that. Instead we'll put five of our best developers into making do with something crappy and create draconian punishments for anyone complains about the never-finished product." By careful examination, that homegrown, half-assed system has cost over $1.3 million in productivity loss, alone. Not to mention the $300,000 in development.
For $149 a month, this company could have signed up for Basecamp. Instead of a $1.3 million productivity loss, they'd have realized about $200,000 productivity gain. The $300,000 would have gone into brainstorming and sharing meetings to get the most out of the tool. And the company might not have lost major clients.
If you're not in the business of writing product management and collaboration software, then don't build it yourself, don't assume you're an expert, don't rely on in-house experts. Go with the pros. These days, the pros are not $300 an hour HP consultants--they're great systems like 37signals.
Close Your Data Center
Quite honestly, anyone who buys from a company that boasts its own data centers is stupid, irresponsible, and subject to lawsuits from shareholder. Why? Because there is no company on earth that can run a better data center less expensively than Google, Amazon, Microsoft, or Salesforce. I know you think you can, but you're wrong and irresponsible for thinking that way. You're not doing your job. You're stealing money from your company by refusing to grow up and learn the realities of your condition.
Cloud computing is the only computing companies can now afford. General Motors is going into bankruptcy because it maintains massive data centers and buys from vendors who run their own data centers. Same for Chrysler, all of the banks that failed, all of the financial services firms that failed.
Here are the numbers: The most efficient in-house data center total cost for a GB of data, including development, inspection, storing, analyzing, and presenting: $7.00 a month. The cost for the exact same activity on Amazon's cloud: $.85 a month.
If you can't cut your IT costs by 90 percent or more, you're going out of business before 2012. Period.
Move to Google Apps for Enterprise Messaging and Collaboration
If you are the CIO of a company with 3,000 employees, you should be fired if you don't switch to Google Apps in 2009.
Google Apps for Business at $50 per user per year is better than Microsoft Office + Exchange Server + Sharepoint. There is no debate.
The average cost of running a company on Microsoft's business platforms for messaging, collaboration, and documents is about $2,500 per year per employee. This includes hardware and software licensing. There is some economy of scale, so organizations of over 10,000 pay slightly less per employee while smaller organization pay slightly more.
If you're an organization of 3,000 employees, you could save $7.35 million a year by making the switch. Don't let your ego get you fired. Spending almost $10 million extra in order to keep a high headcount is irresponsible, verging on criminal.