One complicating factor: Ranking employees in order of who you can least afford to lose isn't the same as ranking them in order of performance or value. This is your list of who you need most to keep the joint running (to turn a phrase).
If the economic outlook doesn't get too bad, you'll be able to keep your high-value employees, too. But if the bottom falls out, many of them may have to go.
The question to ask yourself: How do you know which is which? Here's what the answer probably isn't: Your management team will tell you.
Oh, they'll have valuable insights on the subject, and if they're truly a team, their insights will mesh instead of becoming a source of conflict. But they all suffer the same, insurmountable handicap: They're managers, which means their view of how work actually gets done is obstructed by all of the employees who, for one reason or another, want to block that view.
If you want to know which members of the IT staff must be kept -- and, for that matter, which ones are the most valuable to the organization -- you need to talk with staff-level employees both inside and outside IT.
Just ask. "Other than yourself," you might phrase the query, "who in IT is most important when it comes to keeping the lights on?"
If you really want to have fun, compare your managers' list to the one you develop by asking employees.
IT survival tip No. 3: Manuever the budget
There's a set of numbers every CIO should have at his or her fingertips. That's the breakdown of the IT budget between discretionary and nondiscretionary spending.
Nondiscretionary spending is everything you can't stop paying for if the business is going to continue to operate. It includes the data center, networks, and everything required to run them. It includes software maintenance. It includes recurring license fees. It includes whatever you spend to be compliant with all applicable regulations.
And it includes the cost of the skeleton crew you need to handle these commitments.
Discretionary spending is just about everything else: what you spend for moves/adds/changes (in TECAP land, business managers will have to hold off moving employees around), small software enhancements, most major application-related projects (while there are no IT projects, there are lots of endeavors that need information technology), build-outs of branch offices (if the business can afford to open a branch office, the Crash hasn't affected it enough for you to haul out your TECAP), and probably a good chunk of information security.