It’s that time of year again. IT leaders are juggling competing demands and dollars, trying to make big plans fit into a rather more modest budget. Before heading down that well-worn path of replacing old technology with new, how about testing the status quo, and checking if that is really the best fit? Here’s our guide to creating an IT budget that will help you to do more in the coming financial year.
1. Review what you already have
Many organisations do not have a true register of the technology equipment they own. While once, this was a matter of listing hardware, times have changed, and in our IT audits, we also register subscriptions. Why? If you are paying the bills, you will know that software is commonly more costly than the hardware it runs on. $20 per user, per month does not sound much, but when you multiply that by, say, 50 users, you are looking at $12,000 per year. That’s great if it offers you the right value, but we are finding that most organisations still pay for subscriptions they no longer use, or where there is a better option for their business and their budget. Rather than just list items, we like to include the cost, likely lifecycle, and risk rating, so we understand at a glance the likely cost if something just stopped working. That register can be easily broken into years, or quarters, and fed into your plan. Then, you could work around when your business has most cashflow available, or align with finances so that you can secure a more favourable interest rate by buying the higher value items at once.
2. Understand the many options available
The temptation is to just replace one desktop with another, but the COVID-19 experience has highlighted the value of assessing each employee’s technology needs when budgeting for equipment. The same applies to software – is the subscription they are using helping them to be productive, are there features they could use better, and is there a new option included in another licence you already have? Given the number of new features being rolled out with core packages like Microsoft 365, you may find you no longer need other subscriptions. A little industry knowledge goes a long way here – for example, Microsoft recently brought out Microsoft 365, which includes some add-ons. Where previously, some users may have had three different products, they are now available in a single product code. We have saved some customers $20 per user, per month by making this simple adjustment.
3. Obtain feedback from your team
Establish whether they are happy with the technology they use. Scrutinise manual processes, and consider whether there is an easier option. For example, we know that if someone spends a lot of time printing documents, getting them signed and scanned back in, a touchscreen and a pen can save a lot of time (and probably a lot of trees). Your organisation changes over time, so this review is a worthwhile exercise – you may have new people who work in different ways to their predecessors, and meeting their needs is a worthwhile exercise.
4. Review your business and technology alignment
We recommend that our customers invest in a formal review every two years, to get a second opinion about how to best make technology choices work for the business. We perform reviews across all technologies, and factor in the current and desired business state, so that we can identify which technologies can help you to get there. This external advice, at a fixed cost, gives you access to senior expertise in many technologies, and gives you a report that outlines a detailed technology roadmap, making budgeting much easier. We include the Business and Technology Alignment as a component of our managed services contracts for no extra cost, because we consider that it is a key part of our role as a technology partner. Adding extra value and taking an innovative approach, instead of just shuffling along keeping the lights on, means the businesses we work with are getting tech that supports their future. If you’re not getting this level of attention, perhaps reviewing your technology partner should be top of your IT budget agenda.