Economy Gives IT a Sword for Slashing Software Costs

Similarly, you could look at dumping on-premises software for Web-hosted software-as-a-service offerings, he suggested. And third-party support vendors might be able to help lower your maintenance costs.

Manhattan Home Finance faced a different kind of choice. It was locked into Lotus Notes for e-mail but desperately wanted to adopt Microsoft's SharePoint Server software for document storage and collaboration, said Nader Chahine, branch manager at the JPMorgan Chase affiliate.

Chahine found a product from Mainsoft that links SharePoint and Notes for US$125 per user, enabling Manhattan Home Finance to adopt the former while avoiding a lengthy and expensive migration to an all-Microsoft software stack.

7. Look to smaller vendors, which may be more flexible -- but also more risky

Fauscette noted that start-ups may face a slew of competitors or need cash, often making them a good source of bargains. On the other hand, overeagerness may be a warning sign. Fauscette said he would be leery of doing business with a vendor that "is willing to cut his price to almost nothing."

MarketShare's Geisman, meanwhile, cautioned that driving such a hard bargain could contribute to a vendor's demise or sour a business relationship. A wiser course of action, he said, is to strike a deal that is fair to both sides and then "make it clear to your vendor that you are choosing not to hammer them because you realize that we are all in this together."

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