Practical IT Budget Tips for Making Your Work Life Easier
“There’s got to be an easier way” may be a worn out cliché, but it’s seldom heard more often than in an IT department at budgeting time.
Some people might enjoy it, but for most, the annual department budget is a real chore—yet so necessary. Believe me when I say that for IT departments, the annual budget can be a double-chore.
It’s not just that Information Technology is more technical, with its evolving systems, hardware and software to account for. It’s the nature of our industry that unexpected “surprises” and events require frequent revisions, reviews and emergency upgrades during our budget periods.
Plus we have no control over how often our system vendors provide software and driver updates, vulnerability patches, and bug-fixes that are becoming more frequent as the hacking world gets more dangerous and complex.
So here they are, our 9 Truly Practical [Year-Round] IT Budget Tips that will make your work life easier…
(Editor’s note: Our thanks to Tech Pro Research who originally published much of our inspiration here in their annual CIO’s Guide)
The annual IT Budget may be a once-a-year exercise, but our tips here are easy things you can do throughout the year that will make your annual chore seem almost painless.
While Keith Faigin from ZDNet may call this building “a foundation for all-year budgeting”, we think of these tip items as something every IT leader should know and do.
1. Look at budgeting from the owner’s perspective.
Every dollar spent eats into ROI and someone’s profit. Ask yourself if that line item is absolutely necessary for you to maintain your systems at an acceptable level; or if it’s enough to safeguard and protect what might be your company’s most valuable assets.
2. Know your costs to set up new hires.
You should know up front what is needed to set up every new employee, including tech time, training and all seat licenses. Even more, track costs for new hires “by department” if there are significant differences between them.
3. Keep your purchase records up to date.
This sounds obvious, but seriously, how many of you have had to dig through a year’s worth of emails to figure out what something cost you last year? And avoid those “catch-all” buckets as much as possible, unless you do like digging…
4. Track recurring costs separately.
Annual licenses and support fees, monthly subscriptions and maintenance and other vendor contracts all need to be accounted for. Summarize somewhere in another spreadsheet folder the key information you need to easily manage, and quickly insert into the appropriate budget lines when needed.
5. Track contract payment and end dates.
Not all recurring costs start and end at the same time. If you want to save A LOT OF TIME, record on a spreadsheet when each payment is due on each contract. Then you can easily see at a glance all your recurring costs for the upcoming month, quarter and year.
6. Go further: Track lead time for contract and subscription renewals and vendor assessments.
On the same spreadsheet as #5, enter the number of days prior to the contract end date that you need to renew, re-evaluate or re-tender. This could be 30, 60, 90 days or more depending on your contract type or renewal/cancellation clause.
7. Indicate Priority Purchases
Budgets are often considered flexible, but annual amounts are generally fixed. Planned purchases need to be prioritized to make better decisions on where your budget is spent.
8. Create a calendar of upcoming purchases.
By showing your purchase requirements in upcoming monthly or quarterly views, you gain more visibility and control over your department’s spending—and budget.
9. Record anticipated annual increases into your budgets.
You don’t need a crystal ball to know that your vendors will generally increase their pricing each year. Beyond that, keep a budgeting record of new technology purchases or upgrades being planned for. Add to that additional cost increases you might expect if your company sales are growing, expanding offices or planning new hires? These can significantly impact a budget if not planned for ahead of time.
10. Bonus Tip: Consider Hiring Managed IT Services
Hiring a Managed IT Services company could be the smartest budget change you’ll ever make. For most companies, saving a ton of time and annual budget money is all the convincing it takes, plus someone else is doing all the work. But the real benefit might just be getting a more secure network and data system that’s always up to date. After all, what’s more important?
Who knows, you might never have to do another IT Budget again!