How to balance maintenance and IT innovation

Many IT leaders admit their spending is too heavily weighted toward keep-the-lights-on projects. Here's how to tip the balance.

By staying relentlessly on message, Forte gave both the business and his IT group a good grasp of the priorities and what still needed to be done. "I was giving a talk at a local college about business-IT alignment," he says. "I said, 'You can walk up to anyone who works in IT at Analog Devices, ask them what the three most important initiatives are for IT, and you'll get the same answer.'" One student happened to have a friend working at Analog, so she called her friend to test Forte's assertion. Sure enough, when asked for the top priorities, the student's friend answered, "Shrink, shift, optimize."

Still, though you may have a grand vision for bringing down keep-the-lights-on expenses, Leeper advises starting out with small steps. "You'll never get anywhere if you try to do it all at once," he says. But it's important to start somewhere. "Pretty soon, you begin accomplishing little upgrades with little payoffs," he says. "And then one day you'll look around and think: 'Hey, I did it all.'"

Zetlin is a technology writer and co-author of The Geek Gap: Why Business And Technology Professionals Don't Understand Each Other And Why They Need Each Other to Survive. Contact her at

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This story, "How to balance maintenance and IT innovation" was originally published by Computerworld.

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