Making the Most of Technology You Already Have

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Go Green to Save the Green

Have you considered the amount of energy saved just by powering down equipment not in use? The IT department can do simple things for users like configuring monitors to turn off after a predetermined amount of inactivity.  Additionally, at Central Methodist University, we implemented a solution where PCs in various academic areas are automatically shut down on predetermined schedules. This resulted in less wear and tear on systems, less heat generation, and, of course, less energy usage.

Garner Support for Green Savings

Don’t underestimate the difference simple steps can make on the monthly utility bill. Do an Internet search on “computer energy calculator” and run some numbers, then show these to the CFO, who will be happily surprised. Don’t forget to share the results with users to maintain their enthusiasm. Colorful posters and a publicity campaign aligned with campus sustainability initiatives can add momentum and garner your community’s support. And, if you can, replace those CRT monitors with LCD monitors for further savings.

Reduce Paper Use

Hold a 30-minute brainstorming session with various constituent groups on how your institution can reduce the amount of paper used. Reducing paper use rather than simply recycling is both cost-effective and “green” in that paper production and recycling both use resources; think before you print. Print management software is an easy place to start. Publicizing paper savings in terms not just of cost but also resources can align with your campus sustainability initiatives and keep the community involved.

Reverse Printer Proliferation

Practice management by walking around — print management, that is! Do a number of users have “personal” printers attached to their computers? If so, institutional budgets may be spending an inordinate amount of money for ink and toner, not to mention the fact that IT might be expected to maintain these devices. Consider consolidating the number of printers across campus and meet with departments to establish an area for a shared printer. This simple step results in less equipment, lower maintenance costs, and fewer headaches.

Revisit Phone Use and Renegotiate

When did your telephone provider last conduct a “busy study” on your institution’s phone-line usage? Data are typically gathered over a predefined date range, broken down by time of day, and include statistics on number of times a phone is picked up, number of busy signals received on incoming calls, and amount of time a line is tied up. A reduction in the number of phone lines that service your institution may be in order, with resulting drops in campus land-line costs.

Customize Your Enterprise Resource Planning System

The maintenance cost of an institution’s ERP system generally represents a major line item in most university budgets. Is there functionality or a process that could be implemented in-house to help in the areas of recruitment and retention? Not sure? Talk with the executive team, members of the staff and faculty, as well as students, and compile a list of ideas, set some goals, prioritize, and execute. Targeted adjustments can increase income and reduce costs, including student and staff time.

Document Your Key Processes

Set up a standard template and challenge all administrative areas to document at least three key processes in the next 12 months. Specifically target the processes where “the boss” is getting routinely called into duty for daily operations. When finished, make sure employees fully understand the process and cross-train where possible. Remember, Good Documentation + Less Decision Making = Greater Efficiency.

Educate Your Community

Find areas where professional development training would benefit users and hold some 30- to 45-minute training sessions. Consider sending regular e-mails to faculty and staff to tell them about a neat feature or process that might benefit them in their daily activities. Focus your efforts on specific groups, such as faculty or staff, through brown-bag sessions, mentoring opportunities pairing junior members with more experienced senior members, and invitations to outside experts to talk to your community about topics of interest to them.

Collaborate with the Neighbors

Schedule a two-hour lunch meeting with area institutions and review purchasing practices that might yield cost savings, such as bulk PC purchases or sharing storage facilities. Discuss common policy issues and identify mutual initiatives where staff expertise and knowledge could be shared. For example, consider cross-training opportunities, such as a seminar where expertise in programming, networking, or security could be shared across multiple campuses.

Include Users to Get Buy-In

The IT department might drive these efforts, but buy-in and involvement from your users on what you want to accomplish is what will make this effort a true success. Your users can also help you identify targets — they know their processes and daily technology use better than anyone else. Be sure to “celebrate the wins” and recognize individuals and areas for their assistance and hard work. It’s an ongoing process that can not just save your institution time and money but involves your campus community in meeting shared goals.