While some small businesses do not bother with budgets, they can be quite useful. Besides helping you manage costs, a budget can highlight areas where you might need to invest more resources. It can also keep you on track in meeting your financial goals.
Here are eight tips that can help you prepare an effective IT budget for 2016:
An IT budget is not something you can throw together in a day. It takes time and thought to create one that will help your company grow. It also requires input from your management team, as your IT systems are likely being used in many different areas of your business.
Further, an IT budget is not something you should file away and forget about once it is created. You should take time each month to check and update your budget as needed.
A good way to begin your 2016 IT budget is to create a baseline budget that shows your IT expenses and income for the current year. You can then adjust it to account for anticipated changes in 2016. Examining your IT budgets from previous years can give you an idea of how variable revenue and costs have fluctuated from month to month, quarter to quarter, and year to year.
IT budgets are designed to only estimate where money will be coming in and going out. They are not accounting ledgers, so you do not need to account for every last cent.
Because you are just estimating your IT expenses and revenue, do not be surprised if your projections are wrong. You can adjust them as needed when you review your budget each month.
IT systems can help or hinder a company's efforts to meet its strategic goals. For example, meeting the goal of improving customer retention is more easily achievable with a fast, reliable web ordering system than a slow, quirky one. Budgeting IT improvements in areas that support your company's strategic goals will help turn IT into a profit center rather than a cost center.
Many companies have outdated hardware and software because they do not keep track of when these resources should be updated or replaced. As a result, employees often use them until they fail. These failures can lead to many other problems, including lost productivity, security risks, and even system downtime.
A better approach is to use an asset management system to track when hardware and software need updates or are approaching the end of their life. That way, you can budget for upgrades and replacements. This will help you avoid the additional costs and hassles of dealing with failed hardware and software.
Cybercrime is on the rise, as studies by Symantec and ThreatMetrix show. However, many companies do not adequately invest in IT security.
A Spiceworks study found that 59 percent of IT professionals feel their organisations do not adequately invest in IT security. This is corroborated by the finding that those organizations plan to spend only 9 percent of their software budget, or 6 percent of their total budget, on security measures in 2016. Given the prevalence of cybercrime, spending more on security measures is a wise investment.
A Computer Economics study found that 56 percent of organisations plan to increase spending on cloud applications. In budgets, companies often list cloud costs as operational expenses so that they can increase or decrease them as needed. This gives companies more flexibility to meet financial goals. However, if you plan to use a cloud application for many years, it might be cheaper in the long run to treat the cloud costs as a fixed amortisation expense.
Training is a discretionary expense in budgets, so companies often schedule IT training later in the year. That way, if they need to reduce costs, they can simply delay or cancel the training and remove that cost from the budget. However, delaying or cancelling IT training can lead to more problems down the road, especially if it is security-related training for employees.
Remember, if you have the right IT partner, they will already include budgeting assistance and technology planning as part of their IT support agreement. We call this The Sensible Way to IT Management.
Call on 1300-SENSIBLE (736-742) or email : firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like some help with this process.
Making a smooth presentation is not just about knowing the material. You also need to familiarize yourself with the technology that will be available to you.
The first step in the preparation process should be to check with the venue about their setup. Will there be a permanently connected computer or should you bring your laptop? Is their system connected to the Internet? Knowing these details will cut down on the chances of a setup problem on the day of the presentation.
The most common means of setting up a presentation involves connecting a computer to a projector or TV. Typically, the venue will have the right equipment for making the connection, but it's best to ask beforehand. You might need to invest in some cables and adapters specific to your computer.
If you're asked to bring your own laptop, your presentation should be saved to the hard drive and ready-to-go. However, if the venue has a permanently connected computer, you'll need to move your files onto it.
No matter what you're told, make sure to bring your presentation with you in various formats. You'll want a copy saved on a portable storage device, such as a flash drive or external hard drive, as well as accessible online. It's also a good idea to email a copy to yourself or store one in the cloud by using a service like Dropbox, Google Drive, or Microsoft Onedrive.
In most cases, the venue will provide a remote so that you don't have to physically stand next to the computer or TV. However, your smartphone can be used in a pinch as well. With the right app, your phone can become a remote control by utilizing either Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Popular remote control apps include PPT Remote and Gmote for Android, and Keynote Remote for the iPhone.
For those of you that know me, you will know that I am a massive football (soccer) fan.
So, when we were approached last year by their Chief Executive, Lyall Gorman, to assist the new Western Sydney Wanderers A-League club with their IT, I was chuffed.
This was a brand new business with no office location, no staff and no football team with the season kicking off in a matter of a few months.
Now look what s happened the impossible!
In their fairy-tale maiden season they finished as premiers of the league and have a fan base that is the envy of any sporting team.
Lyall s executive assistant, Fiona Gibson takes up the story:
It was in October last year that we gave our information technology requirements to Sensible Business Solutions. We were a brand new business in a competitive market and we just need our technology to work. Sensible understood our brief, took control and did everything, amidst the whirlwind of moving and fitting out a brand new office in Blacktown.
Kevin Spanner and his team at Sensible Business Solutions designed a full technology solution and undertook the project management of our new infrastructure.
The Sensible Project Team assisted the architects with office design, then set up our internet, network, all our servers, computers, photocopiers, messaging systems, membership photo ID system and scanning equipment. They managed contract negotiations for our phone and internet services, organised third party partners and liaised with site contacts.
We saved time because Kevin and the team were in the background sorting out any IT concerns and it was reassuring to know the expert team were in control. Sensible were given an up & running date and the team worked to enable the smooth operation of the set up so that we could continue business as usual and concentrate on our football operations. It was comforting to know that Kevin and the team were only a phone call away and always contactable.
The Sensible Team facilitated the smooth migration from our temporary office systems to our new environment which included all our email, files, settings and internet connectivity.
Sensible effortlessly co-ordinated this medium size enterprise environment with the extra challenges of a mobile workforce that need to connect to key systems internationally. Kevin and the team conducted our site relocation after hours so that we were able to finish work one afternoon and were up and running the next business day in the new environment.
The Sensible team have also been asked to provide an ongoing IT support service for our business, providing help desk and ongoing maintenance functions to keep our systems running optimally. This means that we can concentrate on running a football club and let someone who knows IT the best do the rest.
Sensible made our business their priority, making sure the project ran smoothly. We are glad they are the single point of contact for our entire IT and communications systems.
We like to think, that in a small way, we have helped the Western Sydney Wanderers achieve their amazing success.
Imagine what you could achieve with your business if you could focus on what you do best and have an experienced, full-service IT team with proven systems manage all of your IT operations?
If you would like us to take an obligation free look at your systems, call Sensible on 1300-SENSIBLE.
CEO Sensible Business Solutions