Whether your company does its budget on an annual basis or more frequently, it is always recommended to take a cyclical approach to the process. An organization should assess its IT, develop a strategy, create the actual budget, track its progress, and then repeat.
Assess Your IT
Before you can actually create an IT budget, you must dig into the current state of your organization’s IT. Here are a few critical next steps in the process:
Set Organizational IT Goals for the Year
Before allocating any funds, it is important to first establish specific goals for your IT budget. Doing so will ensure that the money is spent in a way that aligns with the needs and priorities of your business. Once you have determined what you hope to achieve with your IT budget, you can begin to assess which areas of your IT infrastructure need the most attention. For example, if you are hoping to improve customer service, you may want to invest in new CRM software or hire additional customer support staff. Alternatively, if you are looking to increase efficiency, you may want to invest in automation tools or upgrading your server. By taking the time to establish clear goals, you can ensure that your IT budget is being used in a way that will benefit your business the most.
Assess Your Needs
When it comes to budgeting for IT, it is important to take a needs-based approach. The first step is to assess your company’s current and future IT needs. What type of hardware and software do you require? How often will you need to upgrade or replace your equipment? Do you have the internal staff to support your IT infrastructure? Do our IT needs fluctuate based on the time of year? Once you have a clear understanding of your needs, you can begin to develop a budget that meets those needs. It is also important to keep in mind that your IT needs will change over time, so it is important to review your budget regularly and make adjustments as necessary. By taking a needs-based approach to budget planning, you can ensure that your company has the resources it needs to support its growth.
Identify Roles & Personnel
When planning your IT budget, it is important to take into account the various roles and personnel involved in your organization’s IT infrastructure. The most obvious role is that of the IT administrator, who is responsible for managing and maintaining the network, servers, and other hardware. However, other personnel play important roles in ensuring that your IT infrastructure runs smoothly. These include system analysts, who help to design and implement new systems; database administrators, who manage and maintain the organization’s data; and software developers, who create and maintain the various applications that run on your network. By taking into consideration the roles and personnel involved in your IT infrastructure, you can ensure that your budget is sufficient to meet your organization’s needs.
Evaluate Your IT Infrastructure
When it comes to budgeting for IT, it’s important to take a needs-based approach. After all, there’s no point in spending money on tech upgrades that your company doesn’t need. To assess your company’s IT needs, start by taking a close look at your existing infrastructure. Are your systems outdated and in need of replacement? Do you have enough storage capacity to meet your current and future needs? Once you have a good understanding of your company’s current IT situation, you can start to develop a plan for upgrading or expanding your system. Ultimately, by taking the time to assess your company’s specific needs, you can ensure that your IT budget is well-spent.
Review and Audit Previous Budgets
When it comes to budgeting for your IT needs, it is always important to audit previous budgets to get a clear picture of where your money has been allocated. This will help you to identify any past patterns of overspending, and will also give you a better idea of the possible return on investment you can expect from your new budget. Additionally, auditing previous budgets will help you to anticipate any future changes in your IT needs and will allow you to adjust your budget accordingly. Ultimately, auditing previous budgets is an essential part of creating a well-informed and responsible IT budget for the future.
Is it Time to Outsource?
Once you have a better understanding of whether your organizational goals realistically align with your IT needs, personnel, and infrastructure, it is always recommended to consider outsourcing pieces of your IT to a service provider. First, think through what parts of your IT you need to run your business effectively. Then, research providers and get quotes for the services you need. Be sure to compare the cost of outsourcing with the cost of maintaining your own infrastructure. Finally, weigh the pros and cons of outsourcing versus keeping an in-house IT team. If it makes sense to outsource pieces of your IT to a provider, then plan on making adjustments to your budget.
Molding Your Strategy
Once you have a better understanding of the current state of the organization’s IT, you can begin to shape the strategic plan for this year’s budget.
With a limited amount of money to work with, you need to be very careful about where you allocate funds — which is why it’s so important to triage your priorities. That means identifying which budget items are most important and urgent and administering resources accordingly. Are there any immediate problems that need to be fixed? Are there any areas that are particularly vulnerable and need to be strengthened? These are the areas that should take precedence in your budget. For example, if you have a limited budget but need to purchase new software licenses, you may need to prioritize the licenses that are most essential for business operations. The same is true for maintenance and repairs – if your server is down, that will take priority over upgrading your office computers. They are both important, but you have to draw the line somewhere. By taking a triage approach to budgeting, you can ensure that your IT needs are met in a timely and efficient manner.
Align Expenses with Goals.
Once you have addressed the most critical areas needing attention, you can turn your focus toward aligning strategic expenses with organizational goals. Otherwise, you risk wasting money on unnecessary or ineffective tools and services. Dissect proposed initiatives for the upcoming year, and ask your team to help identify various solutions that closely connect the IT budget with the company’s vision. Once you have compiled a list of potential solutions, compare their costs and benefits to determine which ones are the best match for your organization. By taking the time to align your expenses with your business goals, you can ensure that you are making the best possible use of your resources.
Flexibility is Key
When preparing your IT budget, it is important to add a layer of flexibility to your planning as unexpected problems can arise at any time. For example, if a server unexpectedly goes down, it may be necessary to purchase a new one to get the system up and running again. Or, if a software update is released that is not compatible with the current system, it may need to invest in an upgrade to keep the system running smoothly. These upgrades, repairs, or replacements can be costly and it is important to have a pre-planned contingency fund in place to cover unforeseen surprises. Not only will this help the financial health of your company, but it will alleviate frustration and minimize delays that can be even more destructive to the overall health of a company.
Think About the Future
When developing an IT budget, it is important to think beyond the upcoming year. By looking further ahead, companies can make more informed decisions about long-term investments in IT infrastructure and technology. Additionally, with a longer-term view, organizations can avoid making short-sighted cuts that could have negative consequences down the road. Of course, forecasting is never an exact science, but by making considerations for the future, organizations can give themselves a better chance of making sound budgeting decisions that can positively impact the business for years to come.
IT Budget Execution
Evaluating your business needs and developing a budget strategy are critical first steps toward sound financial management. Once you have completed these essential tasks, you can begin to create the budget itself. Make sure to be thoughtful, forward-thinking, detailed, and realistic. Here are a few recommended areas of focus:
The information technology personnel section of the budget includes the salaries and benefits of all employees who work in IT, as well as the costs of any outside contractors that are hired to provide IT services. This section of the budget must also include the costs of training and development for IT staff, as well as any other expenses related to maintaining and expanding the IT workforce. To ensure that the IT personnel budget is adequate, businesses should regularly compare their staffing needs to their current IT staff and make adjustments where appropriate. By carefully managing the IT personnel component of the budget, businesses can ensure that they have the right mix of skills and experience on hand to meet their changing needs.
IT Infrastructure Expenses
The IT infrastructure section of the IT budget typically includes expenses related to hardware, software, services, networking, and data storage. This can include items such as computers, laptops, mobile devices, printers, scanners, routers, and switches. In addition, it may also include the cost of licenses for operating systems and applications, as well as subscription fees for cloud-based services, cybersecurity, networking, CRM systems, Microsoft 365, Adobe products, and more. The goal of the IT infrastructure budget is to ensure that an organization has the resources necessary to support its IT needs.
IT Expenditure Categories
When creating an IT budget, it is important to understand the different expense types and categories that will be included. IT expenses can generally be divided into three categories: capital expenditures (CapEx), operational expenditures (OpEx), and project expenditures (Projects).
- Capital expenditures refer to expenses related to the purchase or upgrade of hardware or software.
- Operational expenditures encompass the operating expenses associated with running and maintaining the IT infrastructure.
- Project expenditures include one-time costs associated with specific initiatives, such as the implementation of a new system.
By including all of these expense types and categories in the budget, businesses can ensure that they have a clear picture of their IT costs and can make informed decisions about where to allocate their resources.
Implement Your Budget and Track its Progress
Once you have implemented your budget, the final step of the completed cycle is to track its progress over time. This will help you to identify any areas where you are overspending, or where you may need to make adjustments to optimize the bottom line. There are several software programs available that can help you to track your IT budget, and it is worth taking the time to find one that suits your specific needs. By tracking your budget carefully, you can ensure that your business is making the most efficient use of its resources.