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Prepare Now For Economic Recovery: Gartner

Since no one knows when business growth will actually resume, Gartner is advising organizations to file away completed return-to-business plans by July.

Despite the current recession, businesses should prepare their IT operations now for the inevitable recovery, a market research firm said this week.

Organizations should aim to have plans for new IT projects completed by July 1, particularly in nations that went into recession first, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, Gartner said.

The advice may seem odd, given that many countries, including the United States, are still seeing increasing levels of unemployment, rising home mortgage payment delinquencies, and business bankruptcies. Nevertheless, many organizations are reporting that staff is working at near- or full-capacity levels, which means demands on IT will increase quickly when businesses detect a resurgence in demand from customers as the economic climate stabilizes and access to credit improves.

"As these improvements translate into new IT project demands to help businesses identify new revenue and profit opportunities, companies will need a way to manage the already high project load with a new wave of projects," Gartner fellow Ken McGee said in a statement. "However, waiting until that new demand arrives will be far too late to appropriately meet it, and we are recommending that companies start preparing for business growth now with a view to having these plans completed by July 1, 2009."

Gartner chose July 1 as the deadline in order to place new IT projects and related expenses in the 2010 budget, which for many organizations is prepared between August and the end of 2009. The analyst firm believes "modest business growth" could occur next year.

"We're not trying to predict when the end of the recession will take place, nor are we trying to speculate when credit market stability will occur, or when we will see consistent investment appreciation return to the world's equity markets," Mark Raskino, another Gartner fellow, said. "What we are saying is that due to the lag in time between the point at which the economy begins to grow again and when it's officially declared to be growing again, companies simply can't wait for an 'official' declaration before they begin planning for better times."

Since no one knows when business growth will actually resume, Gartner is advising organizations to file away completed return-to-business plans, reviewing and revising them on a monthly basis according to changes in the business climate. "Having a completed plan will enable the near-immediate allocation of funding and staffing for IT projects, thus avoiding the need to take weeks to devise a plan after senior executives mandate the need to support business growth initiatives," McGee said.

Additional information on Gartner's business-recovery advice is available in a report entitled "It's Time To Prepare For A Return To Business Growth." The report is available on Gartner's Web site.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on the current state of IT salaries. Download the report here (registration required).

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