In the context of process improvement, waste refers to any expenditure of time, effort, or money that does not result in a corresponding increase in value in the eyes of the company's external paying customers. Process improvement reduces costs by improving the following areas of waste typically found in IT organizations:
  • Repeatedly fixing the same incidents; duplication of effort
  • Reworking failed changes, cost of errors
  • Reinventing the wheel; solving problems and writing software that already exists elsewhere
  • Maintaining data in multiple places
  • Maintaining assets (e.g., software, applications, network lines) that are not used by the business
  • Late detection of errors leading to an excessive expenditure of time, effort, and money in remediation
  • Misallocation of resources or confused employees, resulting in time spent on less important work
  • Customer outages impacting customer satisfaction or revenue
  • Unreliable, inconsistent service, business disruptions, poor system availability and performance, or missed project delivery dates resulting in lost revenue, lost opportunity, or lost productivity in the business
  • Missing project budgets resulting in additional costs to deliver
  • Misusing investments or assets, or perhaps not using them to their full potential
  • Lost time dealing with preventable problems and firefighting
  • Demotivated employees not achieving full productivity
  • Completing tasks that can be done through automation, such as physically printing and delivering reports
  • Penalties and fines


Data Center Consolidation

Whenever possible, consolidate data centers. Data centers are most cost-effective and efficient when running at a high capacity. A newer highly efficient consolidated data center has much lower total costs (per square foot or per delivered watt) than many smaller data centers. Every data center costs money in space, power, cooling, bandwidth, administration, maintenance, and support. You may be able to save a building, floor, or room by consolidating data centers. The cost savings in consolidating data centers might not be short term, but it has a significant long-term impact. Several large companies are consolidating worldwide data centers into a few super data centers that service their facilities. One company estimated savings up to $2,000 per square foot of consolidated data center space.

Automation and Remote Management

New tools and utilities are being continually developed to automate support of the data center, improve efficiencies, provide remote management, and improve availability of your infrastructure. These tools save a considerable amount of labor costs and reduces costs of outages. They move from reactive maintenance to proactive and preventive support services, which significantly improves the efficiency of the IT support staff. Remote diagnostic tools reduce IT support costs and enables consolidation of data centers and cost reduction.

Power Usage and Green IT

Companies spend a lot of money on wasted energy including servers or desktops that sit idle at night. Each minute that a computer uses less power translates to reduced electricity costs. One company estimated that powering and cooling one server cost them an estimated $3,000. Managing power usage results in cost savings. One company saved millions of dollars by implementing a power management tool, while another estimated cost reductions of around 20 percent. By turning off unused desktops, laptops, and servers, they saved $40 per machine per year and received utility company rebates of over $10 per computer. They also improved security as turned-off machines cannot be infected or compromised. Synchronize power management with maintenance and update schedules.
Top Tip: Power usage

"We significantly reduced power usage through data center improvements and replacing old equipment with newer, more efficient equipment. We implemented best practices with hot and cold aisles, raising the temperature in the data center, shutting down computers, and making people more power conscious. We found out that the cost of cooling machines can be more than the cost of buying a machine."
—Anne Agee
University of Massachusetts,

Another company saved cooling costs by raising operating temperatures in the data center from 75 to 77 degrees, using variable-speed fans in the computer room air-conditioning units, optimizing the airflow under floors, and implementing cold-containment techniques. Consider implementing more energy-efficient servers, disk, and other hardware. Audit and review energy bills to find overcharges. One company estimated a 60 percent savings in energy costs with consolidation, virtualization, installing newer and more efficient equipment, and implementing tools providing power management.
Industry averages show that servers account for the most of data center energy costs (31 percent), followed by heating, ventilation, and air conditioning at 17 percent, storage devices at 14 percent, and network equipment at 13 percent. Virtualization and consolidation are two of the most popular and beneficial green initiatives with companies estimating approximately 15 percent savings each.