Technology simplifies our lives, and can have a profound impact on reducing workloads, simplifying tasks, and boosting productivity, and thus profitability. The tricky part is knowing what types of technology will work for your business, where to focus your budgeted spend, how to determine effectiveness, and how to keep it from becoming a liability. This knowledge is not easily obtained, and it isn't easy to know where to begin. We want to show you the starting point and equip you with the knowledge necessary to assemble a strategic IT plan and budget for 2021.
The Four IT Budget Categories
When evaluating your current IT budget, you should categorize your expenditures into four main categories- infrastructure, support, security, and strategy. Depending on your goals, you should be appropriately prioritizing your spending in the categories that are most relevant to achieving them, without sacrificing the necessary maintenance required to keep your system healthy. In our subsequent episodes of The Budget Breakdown series, we will be digging deeper into each of these four categories. Keep an eye on our blog for updates. If you would like assistance defining, reviewing, or enacting your plan and budget, don’t hesitate to book a call with us.
What to include: Your IT infrastructure is an intertwined network of both hardware and software. In addition to your current hardware and software; assign to this category new device or computer purchases, upgrades to your CRM or line of business software, additional storage space in the cloud or additional hardware to increase your server capacity, and extra tools to increase productivity such as Calendly, or Zoom, and any other device or software purchase or subscription expense.
When to prioritize: If you are anticipating having to accommodate for the growth of your business, you should prioritize this category. Try to anticipate additional software licenses or devices you will need to purchase for new employees, or improvements to your software tools to increase efficiency and manage increased workloads.
What to include: IT support is the utilization of a technical expert to handle the configuration and implementation of any infrastructure, the troubleshooting and resolution of any technical difficulties, and regular maintenance of your system. Any utilization of an IT partner or internal resource for support or implementation will fall under this category.
When to prioritize: Support and infrastructure go hand in hand. Understanding the appropriate support resource level needed for current and future needs is critical to successful budgeting. If you are anticipating adding additional infrastructure, you will need increased support in implementing it and mitigating any hiccups you may encounter. However, support costs should always be minimal if your IT provider is taking the correct steps in setting up and maintaining your infrastructure.
What to include: Security costs include all expenses related to evaluating and securing your infrastructure. This could consist of security and compliance auditing, the installation of anti-virus or anti-malware software, employee cybersecurity training, or the monitoring of your system for suspicious activity. Often security costs are grouped under infrastructure or support as they both encompass security measures. The reason we suggest segmenting it out is due to the varying degrees to which you can secure your business and the understanding that certain industries have higher security demands.
When to prioritize: Security should always be prioritized. However, if your business is in an industry that requires compliance standards are met or handles sensitive client or business information, you should be enacting higher security measures first, then considering what would be the best business practice. Working with an IT provider can help you assess what level of risk is allowable and how to ensure any gaps you have are filled.
What to include: Strategy costs include the services of an IT consultant or virtual Chief Information Officer (vCIO). These services help your business define a strategic plan for your IT and advise you on how to best leverage technology to improve your business.
When to prioritize: Investments in your IT without a clear plan or strategy could end up wasted. Therefore, you should always prioritize obtaining professional advice. In order to effectively leverage IT systems seeking out professional advice can help you maximize your spending, give you more visibility into your IT systems, and help you make better-informed decisions for your business.
Budgeting can be daunting, but hopefully, with this advice, you feel more confident in your budget decisions. As always, if you need any help we would love to lend a hand. Book a call with us anytime.