As we approach the end of 2019, budgeting for the year ahead will come into focus. No matter the size of your organization, a highly detailed IT budget can help to protect your operations and growth.
Considering some key questions from a high level will help to guide your budget. It’s imperative that you ask the right questions so that you can make informed decisions that will benefit you in the coming year.
Before you finalize your budget for the new year, raise the following questions within your leadership team. Your answers will provide insights into your needs, helping you to create a budget that is perfectly suited to your current business and plans for growth.
1: Is Your Current Technology Approaching End of Life?
Every piece of technology you use has a limited lifecycle. From your office productivity suite and CMS system, to your servers and desktop hardware, each element can potentially fail or be outpaced by your changing needs.
Taking inventory is the only way to fully understand the current state of your technology. Maintain a detailed database of your assets and include key information such as age, service history, and expected lifecycle.
Knowing exactly when your equipment needs to be maintained or replaced will help you to plan a budget without unexpected costs.
2: Are You Running Mission Critical Systems on Legacy Technology?
Your legacy systems may be serviceable but are they right for your business? Migrating IT systems can be a major task, but it’s one that every company must eventually undertake. The big question to ask is whether your legacy systems are holding you back. In some cases, you might not even know it. This is why it’s so important to identify and list legacy processes, software, and hardware that you are still using.
You might think that your legacy systems are fit for purpose, but have you researched the alternatives? Modern software and hardware could increase efficiency and even interconnectivity between the different platforms that you run. Deciding to invest in upgrades could turn out to be more effective in the long term.
3: Are You Impacted by the Talent Shortage in the Tech Industry?
There’s currently a talent deficit in the tech industry, particularly around coding and emerging technologies like automation, cloud services, and next generation networks.
If you maintain an in-house staff of IT professionals, you could find recruitment to be extremely difficult in the next year. The job market is competitive, and you will often find that you are competing with other companies to secure the best people for your available positions.
This is something that needs to be considered in your budget, and you should understand that there are alternatives. The cost of managing your own IT team could eventually become unjustifiable when you could instead leverage the resources of a managed IT firm.
4: Have You Planned for Business Continuity Around Ransomware?
Disaster recovery and business continuity need to be key talking points in your budget meetings. Your strategy needs to change yearly to keep up with threats like cybercrime, viruses, and data loss.
In May of this year, the Philadelphia Office of Innovation and Technology was forced to temporarily shut down essential court systems after detecting a virus. Court proceedings took place as scheduled although access was lost to various programs and the court’s websites. How would your business respond to a similar scenario?
Another incident occurred when the Souderton Area School District in Philadelphia was hit with a ransomware attack. It forced the disconnection of all internet services, widespread computer system shutdowns, and the recall of school-issued devices.
The school’s financial data was safe because it was kept off-site, but the disruption was still significant enough to warrant a Federal investigation. As with the previous case, you need to ask, could your business withstand an incident like this? Where is your data stored, and could you recover data from infected machines? How long would it take you to get back up and running?
Most importantly, do you need to invest in cloud-based solutions and managed services so that your business can still function if local devices are compromised?
5: Have You Researched the Technology That Could Help You Grow?
Your budget needs to be more than reactive. You need to look ahead and decide how you will allocate funds for technology that could help you grow.
If you aren’t continuously exploring new technology options, then you risk being left behind with outdated solutions. Your yearly budget planning meetings are the perfect opportunities to compare your technology with newer alternatives.
Even if you don’t end up committing new items to budget for 2020, you at least need to be aware of the technologies that could drive future growth.
6: Have You Researched the Cost of Moving to the Cloud?
Cloud services are now feasible for businesses of all sizes. By taking some of your business functions to the cloud, you will decentralize, reduce costs, and improve agility. Cloud solutions can allow for remote capabilities so that you will always have continuity, no matter what happens at your physical sites.
However, moving to the cloud comes with a cost, and that cost needs to be evaluated alongside the benefits. If your business is yet to transition, then your 2020 IT budget planning will be an opportunity to consider your options.
7: Is 5G Wireless Relevant to Your Business?
5G is going to become compelling for many businesses within the next two years, thanks to faster mobile network speeds and minimal latency. 5G is an important area for you to research if you employ remote field workers who rely on mobile internet for daily tasks. 5G is offered in select U.S. cities but the rollout is ongoing. If you need faster wireless speeds off site, you’ll need to determine network availability and the cost of 5G capable devices.
8: Have You Consulted with a Managed IT Company in The Last Six Months?
Keeping up to date with advances, trends, and even security threats in IT can be time consuming. You may not even have the expertise within your organization to make informed decisions about your strategy and budget.
Seeking advice from a managed IT company can keep your business focused. Insights delivered by professionals will ensure that you can create the best budget for your needs, while improving productivity, disaster preparedness, security, and future scalability.
On top of every other question, you need to ask whether your business has the right resources to maintain and evolve your IT systems. If the answer is no, then consulting with a managed IT service will be the best way to move forward.