As your company prepares for 2014, and the daunting task of budgeting begins to close-in, there are a few worthwhile considerations to be made around next year’s IT budget. Here are some of the points we think might make the process a little easier:
- Start Early: It is important to begin thinking about your IT budget sooner than the end of the year. Starting 6 months before budget is due with a basic outline of your objectives is key to developing a well thought out approach to resource allocation.
- Long-Term Needs: Taking into consideration the big picture is vital. Rather than addressing only the immediate and obvious needs of the IT department, take a look at the company as a whole and how IT might improve or benefit each department and project.
- Diverse Involvement: Include input from all departments, especially senior management and department heads. Again, incorporating ideas from every perspective will ensure a full and applicable analysis. For example: the management team may suggest finding a more intuitive CRM system while the accounting department might want a better accounts payable software to work with.
- Outsourcing: Employing an external IT company not only strengthens your overall IT condition but is typically more financially feasible than relying solely on in-house support. An external IT company is more capable of providing deeper insights and benefits than the needs that a small in-house team is able to address. However, (and this should go without saying,) input on IT budgets should be included by both in-house and any external IT support your company may have.
- Use Last Year’s Budget: Assess the successes and failures of last year’s IT budget and make improvements. While it is important to understand that IT budgets fluctuate from year to year and to avoid exact emulation, using a previously implemented budget as a foundation is the perfect place to start your planning.
- Areas to Consider: Successful budget planning asses each and every area of IT needs. You should create a list similar to this and conduct thorough research and analysis on every topic:
vendor costs, internal training, IT salaries, outsourced service costs
computers, firewalls, licenses, cabling, routers, etc.
anti-virus, backups, renewals, server, laptop, etc.
backups, disaster recovery, and business continuity
planning, equipment etc.
cost of previous unforeseen events, problem areas, aftermath plans etc.
Remember: Budgets are never a sure thing. Even with all the planning and careful analytics, budgets in any department are unpredictable. It is important to provide flexibility throughout the company budget to account for sudden dire situations, especially when it comes to the technology that supports your entire business.