It’s tricky enough trying to budget for predictable IT expenses, but fine-tuning your spending plan to account for unpredictable expenses can be trickier. Setting an IT budget can be even more challenging now that the pandemic has accelerated business trends like hybrid work and digital transformation.
But while it can be difficult to forecast technology trends, the most crucial elements typically fall into six categories for which funds must also be allocated while creating your IT budget.
Automation isn't new, but today, the need to invest in, acquire, and implement automated systems is greater than ever. This is because automation can minimize business risks and disruptions, and automated systems require only minimal maintenance and human intervention in general.
Because automation simplifies routine processes and workflows, your employees can stop juggling menial tasks and instead focus on high-value projects. With powerful automation software, your teams can also complete tasks easier and quicker, allowing you to optimize your business and eventually increase your bottom line. In fact, large organizations have started automating routine day-to-day tasks wherever possible, and businesses will certainly continue to adopt automation technologies going forward.
Related reading: 7 Key tech your hybrid workers need
It’s important to keep your hardware and systems fully up to date and patched, and replace equipment that is nearing its end of life or end of service life. Outdated hardware may make it impossible for your business to utilize the latest technologies — like the Internet of Things (IoT) and Wi-Fi — as well as put the security of your data at risk.
Conducting a periodical hardware assessment can help you determine which devices and equipment are running well and which need to be upgraded or replaced. When assessing your business’s inventory and needs, don’t forget to check if new hardware and upgrades integrate well with your existing infrastructure.
When creating an IT budget, it’s easy to hone in on software and hardware expenses because these investments tend to make up the bulk of your spending and come with bigger risks if mishandled. However, it’s equally important to consider the small purchases that add up fast. IT and computer consumables like printer ink and toner, cabling, and even paper have seemingly insignificant price tags, but these items can easily add up to big expenditures every month.
Considering the significant impacts of cyberattacks on small businesses, it’s imperative that you allocate a reasonable amount of your budget for managing, protecting, and securing your network and critical business data. Some key security technologies to invest in are:
- Next-generation firewalls
- Anti-malware programs
- Identity and access management (IAM) software
- Cloud technologies with advanced encryption
- Fully managed company-owned devices (for highly sensitive business data or processes)
Also, bear in mind that a fair share of breaches is caused by insider attacks. This makes physical security crucial, too, so you may want to consider on-site safety and security features like closed-circuit television or CCTV camera surveillance and fire protection systems.
Related reading: Your business’s cybersecurity needs an MSP
5. User training
Implementing new technologies and systems can be a big change for many employees. Often, new or upgraded solutions come with unfamiliar features and processes that some users may take time or find difficult to learn on their own. This can impede the efficiency of the upgraded solutions and even hurt future productivity.
If you plan to use new software and hardware, you must consider the cost of teaching your employees how to use these technologies properly. Appropriate user training gives them a chance to get used to new processes and work out any doubts, misunderstandings, and other issues they may encounter while using the new technologies.
6. Maintenance and support
Regularly looking after your software and hardware reduces the risk of them breaking down and helps improve the performance of your systems. A well-maintained IT environment should ensure your business has no technology roadblocks that hamper productivity, so don’t forget to include in your IT budget the costs of implementing updates, patches, routine upkeep, and the like. It’s also prudent to leave some room in the budget for extra support, especially if you encounter problems that go beyond the capabilities of your IT staff and therefore require professional help.
Say goodbye to all your IT budgeting woes with Kortek Solutions’ all-inclusive, all-you-can-use, flat-rate IT services. We’ll make sure that your business has the resources and support it needs, so your operations run smoothly. Call us today to get started!