Coming up with (and using) an IT budget that will fit the tech support needs of a growing business and allow for investments in innovation can be fraught with complications. The CTO needs to be able to divide out resources in proportion to the requirements and ultimate benefits for the business, and must do so in line with the company’s strategic aims and in a way that keeps the CFO happy. However, there are ways to get creative around that IT budget in order to ensure you have the resources you need. Here’s how to go about it.
More Money, More Problems
Following a period of stagnation in 2016 following the Brexit vote, when businesses faced a decline in revenue and thus lower investments in tech, we are now seeing a renewed optimism and increased spending on IT, according to the latest State of IT Report from Spiceworks. Investment in the cloud is seeing a major increase, but across all areas of IT, spend is stabilising or growing, which means there is more money available for the tech team.
That same report forecasts a 31% increase in spend on hardware, 26% on software, 21% on hosted and cloud-based services and 15% on managed services, including outsourced IT service desks. More than half of respondents reported end-of-life and growth/additional needs (followed by upgrade/refresh cycles) as the strongest forces driving them on the voyage to new tech.
However, while having a bigger IT budget is good news for the IT team, spreading resources over an increasing number of areas means having to take a tactical approach to ensure priorities are met, there is still room for innovation and growth, and that the right investments can bring value and ROI for the business. Here are four key considerations:
1 - Prioritisation
While it may be tempting to throw a good portion of the IT budget into new technologies you would love the company to implement, the most sensible thing to do is to assess the priorities of the business - what are the ‘must haves’, as opposed to the ‘would like to haves’ – and to make sure there are adequate resources to meet these needs. Ongoing maintenance, essential upgrades to hardware and software assets, your outsourced IT service desk, etc, all need to be accounted for, before you consider bigger investments such as an IT asset overhaul or a move to a bigger data centre to enable the growth you forecast for three years from now.
If you are planning to invest in new technology or IT support, consider what will help to serve the company more effectively now, and align your plans with the company’s IT roadmap to allow for the addition of further capabilities later.
2 - Finding and Shifting Resources
If extra resources are needed for a particular IT upgrade project, it can pay to be a little creative and to assess where you can redeploy funds from one area to another. Frequent IT audits can help you identify where you are overspending – for example, if the number of software licences far outweigh the number of people using that software – so that you can cut down on those costs and provide the funds for those components that need them more.
Similarly, partnering with an outsourced IT consulting service means that you can probably avail of their volume licensing and leasing, and benefit from the cost savings they can pass on to you.
A good CTO or IT Manager should also be aware of any external funding opportunities from software suppliers such as Microsoft, who can offer funding for new technology investments.
3 - Implementing Cost-Effective IT Solutions
Additional IT resources such as extra staff to handle an increased workload due to short-term projects or general business expansion can be a strain on the budget, but there are ways to find the tech support you need without breaking the bank.
Rather than hiring new personnel with specific expertise, who then represent a permanent overhead, it is worth considering outsourcing your IT support. As well as providing the expertise you need, they can also work on an ‘as you need them’ basis, acting as a virtual CTO to oversee any and all tech services the business requires, and will have the flexibility to scale back or increase their support as needed, and to suit your budget.
They can take on the role of overseeing vital IT projects or upgrades, including training staff, while you can focus internal resources on business-critical functions.
It is also worth considering moving from a CapEx to an OpEx model for IT solutions to help free up resources that can be better used elsewhere.
4 - Spending Money to Make Money
Investing wisely in IT is good for business, but what’s better is being able to secure a return on that investment in order to increase the success of the business and avail of a bigger piece of the pie when the next budget comes around. This is why it is important for the IT team to look at areas where they can monetise the IT assets and services they are able to provide, and to show the board their value.
If, for example, you have invested in software or expertise that provides new IT solutions, look at the possibility of offering those same solutions to clients. The outsourced IT support service you hired, for instance, could in turn be leased out to other companies as part of a more lucrative package, bring in more money that can be put into further IT investments without busting the budget.
In summary, while IT budgets may be stabilising or even increasing, every business is now even more reliant on technology across a growing number of areas, so a creative approach to portioning out resources is needed. By prioritising the IT solutions needed to run operations today (while keeping in mind where opportunities for future innovation exist), identifying and redeploying wasteful resources, implementing the most cost-efficient IT options, and finding ways to secure ROI on your tech investments, you can make sure the IT team can put the right resources into the right areas to ensure your business has the IT support it needs to remain competitive.
As an expert IT consulting service, the team at Optimity can provide the know-how and technical support you need, from advising on an efficient IT budget to implementing the tech solutions you need. Get in touch to find out how we can help, and get started by booking an IT audit with us.