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Many companies have outdated hardware and software because they do not keep track of when these resources should be updated or replaced.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.
Microsoft Office 2016, the latest Windows-based version of the major technology company's application suite, is scheduled for an Australian release either in late 2015 or early 2016 . However, we already know quite a bit about the product, thanks to a preview and testing program that Microsoft has been running.
Here are 6 details to look forward to, ahead of the product's mainstream release:
Microsoft Office 2016 will emphasise the value of better security parameters. In addition to a file-level encryption functionality, new data loss protection tools inside of Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft PowerPoint will warn users when they attempt to save confidential files to unsafe locations. Microsoft Outlook will also be more secure, thanks to a multi-factor authentication feature.
Similarly, the application suite will have stronger information rights management tools that let you limit what people can do with your documents or emails after you've shared access with them. For example, you can allow access to a certain document to expire after a set period of time, and prevent it from being forwarded. These tools will also stop people from copying and pasting information out of Microsoft Office 2016 applications.
Microsoft Excel lives up to its name in Microsoft Office 2016. The latest version of this application features a built-in business intelligence tool called Power Query. This tool can dramatically change the way that you approach your data.
Using it, you can quickly combine your own numbers with figures from public databases like the Microsoft Azure Marketplace and Data.gov. After doing this, the application has another tool that lets you create detailed visualisations of the combined data.
The data analysis tool "Power Pivot" has got an upgrade and will now be capable of analysing millions of rows of data. The application will also be able to automatically find trends within your data and extrapolate them out into charts and tables.
The Tell Me feature makes Microsoft Office 2016 even easier to use. If you are ever lost or confused while working with a particular application, you can use this feature — found in the title bar of each program — to search for help. Just tell the application what you are looking for and it will offer a few options for you.
The Smart Lookup feature allows you to search the Internet for something without leaving your application. After highlighting a word and then selecting Smart Lookup, a panel will open up on the side of the screen with Bing search results for the highlighted word. The application will also scan the document so that it can provide the right information for the word based on the context.
Microsoft Office 2016 will expand on the real-time co-authoring capabilities of Microsoft Office Online. The additions will make it easier to collaborate with colleagues remotely. Microsoft has already added the co-authoring feature to Microsoft Word, and experts expect that other applications will soon have it as well.
The tech giant has also added features that let you create and manage groups from within Microsoft Outlook. Thanks to these features, you can monitor activity within your groups, read through the groups' conversation logs, and keep track of files and notes stored in OneDrive.
Microsoft has also improved the way that attachments work in Microsoft Outlook by adding a sleeker drop-down menu filled with recent opened files. After choosing a file, the application will ask you if you want to share a link to the file stored through Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft OneDrive, or Microsoft OneDrive for Business.
A new feature called Clutter will improve the way that you manage your inbox in Microsoft Outlook. This feature will analyse your inbox, looking for the low-priority email messages that you are most likely to ignore. It will then send these messages to its Clutter folder. By moving these messages out of your inbox, the Clutter tool will let you focus on more important things.