IT rationalization: Nine questions to guide your tech spring cleaning

Spring cleaning isn’t just for households. As organizations plan digital transformation projects to reduce costs and improve productivity, it’s time to examine which legacy technologies and practices you need to retire.

ARTICLE | 5m read
April 27, 2021
By: Kurt Roemer

Gartner predicts global IT spending will reach $3.9 trillion this year, an increase of more than six percent from 2020. The easy explanation for this growing IT spend is that many organizations are planning digital transformation projects, such as adopting hybrid work models. But even as many companies look to the future, too many organizations have IT budgets that are weighed down by supporting legacy hardware, applications, and processes.

It’s time for IT spring cleaning—taking a closer look at your existing technology infrastructure investments to see what needs to be modernized, what needs to be replaced, and what needs to be retired altogether. Done right, the benefits of IT spring cleaning go beyond simply saving costs to include improved productivity, more defensible security, and an optimized employee experience. In this article, we will show how asking the right questions about the past, present, and future of your technology infrastructure can help make the most of your IT rationalization.

3 questions to ask about past investments in your IT infrastructure

The ideal starting place for IT spring cleaning is examining the age of your technology infrastructure. Look at the hardware, applications, and processes that have been around the longest, and you can usually find technology that made sense in the past but is no longer serving your needs. Here are three questions about your past technology decisions to guide you right now:

  1. What technology are you still paying for that you’re not (or barely) using?
    This is an easy place to begin. If you’re still being charged for a monthly application subscription that you rarely use, that app is an ideal service to retire during IT consolidation. In the same vein, if you’re relying on lots of expensive-to-run physical servers, moving toward a cloud computing model can better control costs by only paying for the resources you actually use.
  2. What do you have in your digital environment that feels like technical debt or is preventing digital transformation?
    Look at past decisions that are hindering your future. If you’re relying on aging laptops, smartphones, or printers that are no longer supported by their manufacturers, you will likely get better performance and cost efficiency from newer hardware. Even if you feel attached to these older tools, the security risk of relying on unsupported hardware is reason alone to upgrade.
  3. Where have you adopted siloed point products that could be integrated into a single platform?
    Most organizations adopt specific applications to meet a specific need at a specific time. But today, more and more apps are integrated into a unified workspace—a platform to streamline and automate everyday work. For example, if you’re relying on multiple apps for content collaboration, adopting a single platform for handling feedback and workflows can save you a lot of time and prevent mistakes.

3 questions to ask about your present IT infrastructure investments

Once you’ve examined your past technology decisions, the next step to a successful IT spring cleaning is taking stock of your present technology situation. Here are three questions about your existing tech infrastructure’s performance to help prioritize your path for IT rationalization:

  1. What technology in your organization creates the most IT support tickets and help desk calls?
    If employees need constant help to properly use—or fix—one of your business applications, that’s a clue it needs replacement. Buggy or difficult to operate software not only costs you the price of the application, but also the lost productive time of both the employees using it and the IT staff who must drop what they’re doing to constantly support it.
  2. What tools are slowing down work, impeding productivity, or increasing risk?
    After the rapid expansion of remote work last year, many employees are still relying on home office hardware that isn’t keeping pace with their work needs. One example is home networking, where older routers can lead to degraded cloud app performance and poor video conferencing quality. By replacing legacy routers, employees can improve their network performance and work more securely.
  3. Which technology policies are increasing security risks?
    IT spring cleaning isn’t just for hardware and software—outdated policies can also be a problem. For example, many organizations still rely on passwords as the cornerstone of their access security even after
    80 percent of hacking-related breaches involved stolen or weak credentials. There’s never been a better time to update your access security to password-less FIDO authentication, which is both optimized for security and easier for employees to use. Also, caution employees against revealing personal information (including phone numbers) on social media profiles, as these details can help bad actors gain access to sensitive data.

3 questions to prepare for the future of work

Ultimately, IT spring cleaning is about preparing your organization to succeed in the days, months and years to come. As you look forward, consider how changing work trends will require new IT strategies—and in the long term, how you can empower your employees to thrive in the future of work. These three questions can help you better visualize your ideal IT future:

  1. What new initiatives are you rolling out that will require new IT policies?
    Change is a constant in business, and it’s always important for your IT policies to evolve with your work model. For instance, if you’re adopting
    flexible work policies for your office reopening, you should revisit your security and privacy rules for accessing company data on personal devices. This can improve your employee experience by letting workers use the devices they are most productive with, and strengthen your security by enabling IT to immediately cut off access to lost or stolen equipment.
  2. Would a startup bent on disrupting our industry use these tools?
    CEO of Kornferry Gary Burnison says, “We can’t think of ourselves as a 52-year-old firm. We need to think like a 5-month-old startup.” Use this thinking to embrace a fresh perspective on your technology choices—how can you become leaner, faster, and bolder with your technology?  For example, if you’re still relying on VPNs for remote work security, it’s time to embrace a zero trust solution that will better secure your remote workforce.
  3. What is your process for recognizing future opportunities for IT rationalization?
    After you’ve answered these IT spring cleaning questions, take time to establish your game plan for future IT decision making. Think about how you want to weigh costs, risks, and opportunities going forward. Practice performing a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis for hypothetical decisions. It’s much better to develop this process now rather than waiting for an urgent need to arise that could force you to make lasting choices under duress.