Before companies make any cuts during a downturn, using IT to help strategize which reductions will be effective is one way \n\nCIOs can prove their worth.\n\nRELATED LINKS\nCIOs make headway into operations\n\nPlant Closings and Layoffs Mean Heavy Lifting for IT Departments\n\n"Make a direct effort to drive your company out of the recession," says Anna Frazzetto, vice president of technology \n\nsolutions at professional services firm Harvey Nash. "It can really turn around the perception of a CIO within an \n\norganization." \n\nGood business intelligence systems can determine the impact of varied scenarios, says Steve Phillips, CIO at Avnet, an $18 billion global \n\ntechnology distributor. \n\nIn the past year, Avnet has watched sales and profits waver each quarter as the market for enterprise IT equipment and \n\nelectronic components got jumpy. When the mandate came down to lop off $150 million from the business, one area the company \n\nwanted to explore for potential cuts was automobile expenses, including mileage reimbursements for its road-warrior sales \n\nteam.\n\nUsing SAP's Business Warehouse and Business Objects tools, human resources and accounting worked with IT to create reports \n\nthat helped them understand travel expenses by employee, geographic region, month and type of expenditure. Analyzing this \n\ninformation led to adjustments in Avnet policies that so far have saved 30 percent from mileage and other auto \n\nreimbursements, Phillips says.\n\nFor example, car allowance levels are now based on usage and job categories, he explains. The company got "an appreciation \n\nfor how our business intelligence systems can be used to help create actionable plans with bottom-line savings."