How to save money in IT, bright ideas edition

At this financial institution, it's OK for IT to spend money -- as long as it's somebody else's money, says a pilot fish on the inside.

Case in point: "Several years ago, the IT bigwigs contracted with a company to dispose of old computers and electronic office equipment," fish says. "The deal was based on the disposal company's expectation that there would be computer equipment they could refurbish and sell in order to offset their costs and make a little profit.

"We were just then switching from one PC vendor to another, so there was plenty of usable equipment to dispose of and the disposal company was happy."

Fast-forward to the end of the multi-year upgrade cycle: Those same IT bigwigs decide that they can save money by delaying out-of-warranty replacement for the first PCs deployed after the switchout, so the PCs remain in use until they break for good.

It's a sensible idea, but fish and his cohorts point out there could be problems with the disposal contract. They're told it's not their problem.

But maintaining the equipment inventory is is their job description, so they keep collecting any unused equipment for disposal. With the old-PC pipeline slowing to a trickle, fish has enough time to root out old computers and office equipment that should have been disposed of long before.

Over the course of several weeks, he fills the storage area with equipment to be disposed of -- mostly things he knows the disposal company can't convert to cash, but will have to take because of the contract.

Fish is away on vacation when the disposal company comes to collect the equipment, so he only finds out afterwards that the terms of the disposal contract had been changed: Fish's company is now going to be charged a not-insubstantial fee for each piece of zero-value equipment.

"Our first bill was well into five figures," says fish, "which is chump change compared to what we were told we were saving by not upgrading in the first place.

"But since this is basically an expenditure with nothing to show for it except some reclaimed storage space, IT brass has decided that we're going back on the upgrade cycle bandwagon again sooner than they wanted.

"At least until someone gets the bright idea that we can save money by not upgrading again."

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