Right now, while other companies are cutting IT budgets and initiatives, it\u2019s the perfect time for companies to establish the innovative products and processes that will carry them into the future.\n\n FIRST, FIND THE MONEY The CIOs at 3M, Dollar Rent A Car, FedEx and TruServ have all cut back on user services?including maintenance, upgrades and new applications for internal customers?in order to continue to innovate with flat budgets.\n"If we reduce the amount of time we spend on maintenance, that will give us more resources for development," says TruServ Senior Vice President and CIO Neil Hastie.\nAnother way to find the cash is to improve your processes. Companies can get cocky in good times and let important processes, such as application maintenance and involving the business side in software development, slide. When the financial belt tightens, so should internal processes.\n\n THEN, GET CEO BUY-IN Senior-level buy-in is critical, especially if a CIO has to cut basic services such as user support in order to remain innovative. If that buy-in isn\u2019t part of the corporate culture, a CIO must fight for it.\nChris Curran, managing director for technology innovation at Chicago-based consultancy DiamondCluster International, says CIOs might have to work through layers of management to get the chance to bend a CEO\u2019s ear. "If the CEO isn\u2019t providing support, the next best thing is to get his direct reports to tell him how wonderful [new technology] is," Curran says. "CIOs should dialogue with business lieutenants in the company."\nCIOs don\u2019t need to hit a home run their first time at bat, either. Singles and doubles will work fine when the goal is to win the attention of department managers and vice presidents. Curran suggests setting up prototypes for small projects. Detailing a long, expensive project?no matter how innovative?might scare off lower-level business leaders and CEOs alike.\n\n FINALLY, PRIORITIZE The most important step a company can take in a downturn is to separate necessary projects from those that were just hanging around because once upon a time there was money to fund them. Whether it\u2019s trimming user support or buying less hardware, cutting the fat from an IT department is the best way to survive a downturn while still being able to innovate. Without exception, that\u2019s the message from this year\u2019s CIO-100 honorees.\n"I\u2019d rather live in good times and have a big budget," says 3M Vice President of IT David P. Drew. "But a lot of times we make the most progress when things are tighter. It forces you to focus. It forces you to eliminate things you probably shouldn\u2019t be doing. I don\u2019t wish for these times, but it isn\u2019t all a bad experience."