The leaves are turning red and gold. Farmers’ markets are filled with crisp apples and festive pumpkins. The days are cooling off, and there is a smell of wood smoke in the air. These are all signs that fall has come to the Northeast. They are also signs that it is time for companies to start planning for next year’s IT budget.
Budgeting for IT requires a lot of advanced planning. Goals need to be set early so solutions and vendors can be evaluated before purchasing decisions are made.
The Spiceworks 2017 State of IT Report found that IT spending remained flat in 2016 and predicted that it would remain stagnant into 2017. With limited resources available, IT leaders need to be resourceful in their budget planning.
Troubleshooting Your IT Budget
Before you create a new budget, evaluate any shortfall in your current budget. You want to avoid making the same issues moving forward into next year. Reducing waste enables you to afford new initiatives.
If you are hanging onto legacy hardware or software, you may be spending more on maintenance and upgrades than necessary. The right move may be to invest in newer solutions, which also allows you to take advantage of the latest technological advancements. Skyrocketing infrastructure costs may be a sign that you should consider moving resources to the cloud or a colocation.
If you are spending too much on third-party services, you might consider hiring someone in-house who can cover a range of needs. The opposite might also be true. Investing in managed services for specialized monitoring and maintenance tasks may be an economical way to gain expertise.
Expressing a Vision
Instead of looking at your budget as a wish list, make your long-term goals part of your overall IT strategy. Strategic initiatives, like developing a formal disaster recovery plan, should be part of your budget. Migrating to the cloud or strengthening your network can also be prioritized. Developing a roadmap for larger initiatives will ensure that you include any required resources in your budget.
Your budget shouldn’t be a laundry list, either. Much of your budget may go into routine hardware provisioning and software updates and licenses. Keeping an eye on the lifecycle of your data center is important, but it shouldn’t be the entire focus of your budget. If large parts of your infrastructure are reaching end-of-life, it might be an opportunity to rethink your approach to data center architecture.
Making Your Case Before the CFO
Budget requests typically need to reviewed and approved by your organization's CFO. CFOs tend to pressure IT leaders to do more with less. The CFO always has the bottom line in mind, so how your inititives result in cost savings or generate a return on investment should be highlighted.
Keep in mind that the CFO wants the IT department to be successful so demonstrating how your IT inititiaves help the organization to achieve its goals will make it easier to gain the resources you need. For instance, stressing that business collaboration produces more profitable innovations may persuade your CFO to approve plans to acquire a unified communications system.
A strong argument for cloud migration can be made by pointing out how that line item can be shifted from capital to operating expenses. The predictable monthly cost for cloud services is also a good argument for making the change.
Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow
Planning your budget months ahead will increase the chances of meeting your company’s IT goals. Even long-term goals can be set for years into the future so your company continues to grow and innovate.
Working with the right partner can help your business plan for major initiatives, making them a reality without breaking the bank. FirstLight has expertise in IT infrastructure solutions that will contribute to your company’s future success. We can help you plan for initiatives related to connectivity, communications, the cloud, backup, and disaster recovery.
Does your business need help planning for cloud or unified communications initiatives? Register to attend the Cloud Connect Summit on Nov. 9 in Amherst, N.H. to help inform your budget decisions. Use code "Techtalk" and save the $150 registration fee!