Budgeting your IT for 2011
As we close out another year many businesses are in the process of preparing their budgets for 2011. This article lists a few Information Technology items you may want to consider including in your budgeting plans for next year.
Did your company grow or shrink last year? How many computers are being used? Do any employees work from a home office? Did your organization stop using a specific product? These are some general questions you should ask to determine the status of your software and support licenses. Make sure you only pay for what you are using (and ensure you’re compliant as well).
Desktops / Laptops
In this economy, many businesses are holding off on computer upgrades (‘if it ain’t broke, don’t replace it’). However, the cost of owning a PC rises dramatically after three years. Look at your inventory and count how many computers you have over four years old. Multiple that by $600 for a ballpark estimate on the cost to replace them for your budget. Identify your most productive employees and pick them for an upgrade first. Productivity increases (and happy employees) make for a more profitable business.
What is your IT budget? How much of that goes towards payroll? Depending on your situation you may be able to lower your costs for support by up to 40% by outsourcing. Wireguided would be more than happy to provide you with a evaluation of your current situation.
When is the last time you examined the back end of your infrastructure? Your servers keep everything running so it is always good to budget for upgrades (software and/or hardware). Ask your IT staff if there will be a need for more memory or disk space. Are any of your service warranty’s expiring? Are there new versions of software that can make your business run smoother? If your servers are more than five years old, it may also be time to think about upgrading them.
Is accessing your files or the internet slow? Is your wireless network upgraded for the new wireless standard (802.11n)? Speak with your IT department to see what upgrades are needed. Also, review your contracts with your Internet provider to make sure their are not any better deals out there.
Was 2010 full of spam and virus/spyware outbreaks? If so, you may want to budget for some more effective software. When was the last time you had a security audit? Is your business compliant with 201 CMR 17 (MA only)? Budgeting for audits and compliance may save you downtime and legal headaches down the road.
If your phone system is showing its age a new one might be worth considering. Recent technology will make this cost much less than just a few years ago. Hosted or local VoIP systems are now the preferred way to do this. There are many vendors out there so first evaluate your requirements and your existing IT infrastructure. Then get quotes from multiple sources.
Mobility / Remote Access
Can your employees work from home or receive email on their phone? Mobility can not only improve productivity it can also lower your long terms costs (no need to get more office space if your employees can work remotely). Now is the time to speak with your employees and your management team to see if your current solution (if any) is cutting it and to then budget for what is needed. Do not forget the cost of smart phones and their associated data plans.
Save the planet and your bottom line. Green IT can be the answer. By implementing some upgrades in 2011, your 2012 will look much better. Some examples of items to budget for are server virtualization (less physical space needed, less electrical usage), desktop power management software, environmental monitoring, and more efficient designs for data centers.
Some other items to consider for your budget are upgrades to Windows 7, migrating to hosted services (offsite backups, email, etc.), desktop upgrades (memory and software), and an emergency fund for when bad things happen.
Every business is different and the above list is not all encompassing. If your organization needs a little guidance on preparing their IT budgets for next year, please contact Wireguided.