For some small- and medium-sized business (SMBs) owners, IT budgeting induces panic attacks. Technology is constantly evolving, and business and consumer practices are constantly adapting to that evolution — not to mention the parallel arms race between cybersecurity tools and the increasingly sophisticated hackers trying to maneuver around those tools.
But, with just a few deep breaths and some good information, it’s not so hard. Good budgeting helps you align your IT with your investments elsewhere, making sure your business is efficient and your bottom line is at its best.
What follows are some tips, tricks, tools, and ideas for putting together your own IT budget.
You already have a baseline
Unless you’re a brand new company, you already have some numbers to start with. Begin by taking a look at last year’s budget and your company’s spending over that period, and look for variances. Understand how that budget was put together and critique it. This is a process you ought to begin a few months before this year’s budget is due. Having a head start and an in-depth understanding of current spending and budgeting will do wonders for reducing the stressfulness of the task. You shouldn’t be trying to simply copy it over to the next year, but find out where improvements could be made.
You have a team of experts you can talk to
Ask your team questions. Learn how they use existing IT resources to do the work they do. Are there investments that are underutilized or aren’t making their work more efficient? Are there tools available in the market that would help them work more efficiently? Checking in with the people that actually use the services and equipment your budgeting for is essential.
Visit the C suite if you’ve got one
For companies large enough to have them, the higher-ups are probably going to have to okay whatever IT budget you come up with — the CEO, the CFO, the COO. It’s always a good idea to check in with them beforehand, while you’re making your budget, rather than waiting until you have something to present them with. They make import guidelines to be aware of — staying within a certain percentage of last year’s budget, for example.
How well defined is your company’s IT strategy? While it is essential to make sure your budget facilitates the strategy you’ve already set out, the budgeting process can also be a great tool for helping you shape future investments and strategies. As TechRepublic notes, “every line on the budget should tell a story that maps back to your IT strategy.”
Take advantage of the plethora of online tools
There are loads of tools online that anyone can take advantage of. ZDNet writer Keith Faigin offers up the spreadsheets he uses to compile his budget every year for anyone to use for free. "There are tabs for the detailed line items and liberal use of pivot tables to show different views of the information, including a calendar of spending,” Faigin writes. He’s even included a sample spreadsheet with filled-in values for use as a reference. For even more features, for those willing to spend some coin, Forbes finance writer Rob Berger calls You Need A Budget “the best budgeting tool (he’s) ever used.”
Get started now
A TechRadar study has found that two-thirds of American companies have increased their IT spending in the last year — a quarter of them by 10 percent or more. More than half of those increases were focused on cybersecurity, followed by hardware upgrades, cloud transitions, and software. Your priorities will depend on your IT strategy, but budgeting doesn’t have to be the obstacle we often make it out to be. The important thing is to get started sooner rather than later; avoidance and procrastination do not sit well with the current rate of technological change.
For help tailoring an IT budget to your goals, contact an ITS technologist today. Our consultants will identify your company’s pain points and recommend cutting-edge solutions that don’t break the bank.