''In the past we had to acquire servers and install the clients' software on them," he says. "Now, I can spin up a virtual server from GoDaddy for less than $40 a month, or pay less than a dollar an hour for a full Microsoft SQL Server on Amazon's EC2. That's huge. The ability to do that and pay only for the time you need it is definitely something people can take advantage of right away.
"Do I expect Citigroup or Starbucks to throw away their enterprise infrastructure and move into the cloud over the next two or three years? Probably not," Schwan adds. "But I do think large organizations will start making investments in the cloud via their test environments."
11. Cover your SaaS
As with cloud computing, using software as a service to replace enterprise apps can help you reduce your fixed costs, giving you more flexibility when budgets are squeezed.
But SaaS is usually a better call for smaller organizations that haven't already made significant infrastructure investments in apps like those being delivered by SaaS providers, says Apptio's Gupta.
"If you're looking at a new category of app where you don't already have the people or the expertise, why would you want to build an internal organization with a fixed cost structure when you can keep it variable?" he asks. "It's much easier to scale down using SaaS."
But some SaaS applications -- such as CRM and sales force automation -- are more mature than others, notes Schwan. He advises IT managers start with SaaS apps that integrate well with what the organization is already using so that they can get comfortable with the environment.
12. Slash your development cycles
Rapid software development methodologies such as agile can get you faster results with less cost and effort, says Ryan Martens, CTO of Rally Software, an agile lifecycle management provider.
"By adopting agile software development approaches, companies have increased their collaboration and productivity, sped up their time to market, and better aligned with their overall business needs when compared with traditional waterfall projects," he says.
Agile eschews milestones and long-term planning for daily huddles with business stakeholders, focusing on producing a shippable product each month, if not sooner. A survey commissioned by Rally Software and conducted by QSM Associates found that teams using agile practices delivered software to market 37 percent faster with the same level of defects as more traditional development methods.
But rapid development has its drawbacks, particularly in heavily regulated industries, notes Technisource's Baschab. Whether to go agile depends on the risks involved and the compliance required.
"Agile works better for some companies than others," he notes. "You need to make sure you fulfill all your compliance requirements first. I wouldn't want NASA or a financial services company using it."
13. Curb your e-mail addiction
Wring more productivity out of your staff by weaning them off e-mail. According to Osterman Research, the average office worker spends 847 hours a year -- or over 40 percent of a typical work year -- just managing e-mail.
The problem isn't merely that employees spend too much time using e-mail; it's that they use it for the wrong tasks, says Krishen Kota, president of AdminiTrack.com, which provides an online-based issue- and defect-tracking application.