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In pictures: 11 clean up tips for CIOs

Here are tips from four CIOs and CTOs for cleaning up your IT environment.

  • You probably have lots of good housekeeping tasks filed away in your "someday" folder, like rationalizing your applications or getting your power costs under control. Now is as good a time as any for a clean up. Here are 11 tips from CIOs for tasks you should undertake to clean up your IT department and organization.

  • Prioritize Power Management The time is right to make sure that you're wasting as little energy as possible. If you're not monitoring your energy use closely, you're probably paying for a lot more than the business actually needs. "Monitor your power management and make it a priority to understand just how much money you're spending on wasted energy," says Mark Blackburn, CIO of 1E, a firm that specializes in helping organizations identify and remove unused software and servers and reduce network bandwidth constraints. "Use techniques like PC power management to cut back.

  • Get Serious About Rationalizing Applications The complexity of today's IT environment is enough to make any CIO's head spin. And maintaining that complex environment is eating up the lion's share of your team's time. Getting rid of unused apps may also free up a surprising amount of your budget. "Rationalize your apps as insane amounts of money are spent on outdated or unused apps in the enterprise," Blackburn says. "It's time to understand what your organization is really using and get rid of the rest. On average, organizations have more than $400 of unused software sitting on every PC — money that could be used elsewhere in an IT budget."

  • Make Peace with BYOD Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) is here. Trying to stop it is like trying to fight the tide. It's time to put a plan and policy in place. "Now is the time to embrace and optimize your BYOD policy," Blackburn says. "There are plenty of mobile/tablet options out there, so use this time to add them into your BYOD plan. Make sure you have a thorough understanding of which devices will be most efficient for employee needs but will also fit within your compliance standards."

  • IT Automation Is the Name of the Game Manual processes create bottlenecks and can slow both IT and the business to a crawl. They're also next to impossible to scale efficiently. Identify manual processes in your IT environment and find ways to automate them. "Automate as much as possible, given 2014 is the year of IT automation," Blackburn says. "Identify inconsistencies that result in less agility and flexibility for the organization, such as incompatible software that don't allow business units to talk to each other."

  • Implement Security Best Practices as the Business Shifts to SaaS If business units and back office functions at your organization haven't started using cloud applications already (with or without your knowledge), they will soon. CIOs need to ensure that Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications conform to your security policies. "As SaaS applications like Dropbox, Google Apps and Salesforce infiltrate the enterprise, don't forget that on-premises best practices still apply, says Matt Conway, CTO of Backupify a provider of backup and recovery solutions for SaaS applications. "Security and backup in the cloud, for example, must be best-of-breed, especially when dealing with SaaS applications. Don't lose control of your data! If a cloud app goes down, you want your CEO to have access to the critical information he or she needs."

  • Embrace Self-Service IT Empowering your users can free up your IT team to spend more of their time on innovation, making IT indispensable to the business. It may be time to implement that enterprise app store you've been thinking about. "Empower your employees whenever possible," Blackburn says. "With timely migrations like the end of Microsoft XP and SCCM, use this opportunity to transition to a self-service model where you allow employees to migrate as they need to, on their time. Enterprise app stores are also an opportunity to have employees focus on what they need, rather than have your IT team spend time on individual requests."

  • Review Offboarding Procedures in Light of the Cloud If you haven't already, take a look at your offboarding procedures to make sure they account for data and documents that may be stored in a cloud service or a personal device. "Review the procedures and technologies you currently have in place for dealing with departing employees," Conway says. "This transition should be a smooth one. If someone leaves your company, business shouldn't be disrupted, so it's definitely worth reviewing and potentially cleaning up!"

  • Archive Email, Don't Delete It's important not to go overboard in your spring IT cleaning, warns Greg Arnette, founder and CTO of Sonian, a provider of cloud email archiving solutions. "Thinking of giving your inbox a little spring cleaning? Well don't," Arnette says. "I encourage you to resist the urge to delete, and archive instead. Who are you to decide what is not important to the business. A court may have a different opinion, and your decision to delete may cost you and your company."

  • Clean Up Your Mail Servers You may not want to delete all that email, but it doesn't have to clog up your mail servers either, especially if no one is accessing it frequently. "While I'm not a fan of deleting mail, I always encourage spring cleaning of mail servers," Arnette says. "If you, like millions of others, have stuffed your servers with millions of messages, moving some of the less-frequently accessed data to the cloud can significantly improve server performance, reduce the time required to back up the server and maybe avoid the cost of additional drives — all while preserving the IP that is email."

  • Revisit Governance for Cloud-Based Storage Abundant, cheap storage in the cloud is a powerful draw, but you need to make sure your cloud-based repositories have effective governance. "CIOs should ensure that corporate records that are stored in cloud-based repositories are being governed (classified, retained and disposed of) in the same manner as on-premises records," says Bassam Zarkout, CTO of RSD, a provider of information governance solutions.

  • Create Data Policies and Perform Audits Take time to review your data policies, update them and perform audits at least once a year. "Create policies for your data (e.g., ownership, retention, data loss prevention, security or sensitivity classification)," Zarkout says. "Having audits yearly or more frequently is also very important in making sure your data policies are being implemented."

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