Without a doubt discussions regarding the adoption of technology and the use of IT have risen in priority and are very much at the forefront of future budget planning considerations in most organisations. In part, this is due to the fact that there are many businesses that would not have made it through the Covid-19 pandemic had technology not been available to help us carry on working.
As a result, many organisations are now taking a strategic approach to planning their IT expenditure to ensure their long-term IT budget reflects immediate and future needs. This includes ensuring their annual spending provides the resources needed to enable hybrid working, efficient use of technology, and maximum productivity levels.
An IT budget is similar to a road map of where you want the technology and IT infrastructure of the organisation to lead. It should demonstrate your organisation’s direction in digital transformation.
To help organisations in establishing their own IT budget, Link ICT, Managing Director, Mark Fryers shares his top five tips for planning an IT budget:
- IT can be one of the best investments for all organisations but as with many companies, it can be hard to affordably budget for the long term. A strategically planned, well-thought-out, and effectively presented IT budget, should be the numeric manifestation of your IT strategy that will be sustainable for the year ahead. A planned approach is also more likely to help you ensure expenditure stays within the set budget and will include room for contingent spending on any unplanned emergency requirements.
- Many of the schools and businesses we advise are unaware that there are ways to extend the life of IT equipment. For example, it can be more cost effective to refurbish and restore IT equipment rather than to scrap it and replace it. New devices could be purchased for those who need high-spec equipment and these devices could then be passed down to end-users who may be able to do their work using a refurbished device. To make these devices last longer, upgrading units like laptops and PCs to an enhanced RAM or SSD can strengthen their capability. Laptops are also able to have screen, battery, and keyboard replacements too. By rotating devices in this way, users are able to do their work productively, budgets are managed and the lifespan of all equipment is maximised.
- Leading on from this, it should be understood that IT equipment and software will not last forever and can sometimes slow business growth. With this in mind, whilst it can be tempting to give older equipment to other users, this can be also a false economy, as all you have done is increase costs by expanding the number of users and laptops that have to be maintained and eventually replaced. Our recommendation is that businesses prepare their IT budget mindful of the fact that devices will need to be replaced at the following intervals:
- Laptops – 3 Years
- Desktops – 5 Years
- Monitors – 5 Years
- Android/iOS Tablets – 3 Years
- Servers – 5 Years
- Sometimes, when planning an IT budget, the person preparing the budget can have very little knowledge of who uses the IT equipment and what they need to carry out their role effectively. Each user will have different requirements for the technology they use. By carrying out an IT audit and a user needs analysis, the IT equipment required by each job function can be clearly defined and these factual assessments will help to prove the business case for ongoing investment and aid budgeting decisions. It can help to gain clarity on the specification of IT equipment so that money is not wasted on higher specification equipment if a lower spec, and a less expensive model will suffice. During this audit process, we also recommend incorporating the opinions of users at all levels of seniority as younger staff will have recently trained in their profession and may have more up-to-date knowledge of new technologies used as part of their education as well as experience from working in other organisations.
- Also, similarly to the above point, but more specifically to the education sector, it is essential to be knowledgeable of their IT curriculum and what the IT syllabus entails. Some schools may specialise in certain aspects of IT and the procurement team should make sure the IT budget incorporates what is required in order to fulfil the curriculum.
Whilst it can be frustrating that technology advances so quickly and we fully understand that it can appear that even a new laptop becomes quickly out of date, we should also recognise that without these updates and modernisations, we would all still be carrying around corded phones and using typewriters!
By utilising these top tips your organisation should be able to plan a rolling five-year IT investment strategy that makes the most of your available budget, provides longevity for your IT equipment and software, and optimises the progression of your digital transformation.
Link ICT has over 15 years of experience in installing, maintaining, and procuring IT equipment and has knowledge of best practices across a range of organisations. Our team of experts welcomes inquiries from new and existing customers who would like to improve their IT budgeting process. Please get in touch today if you would like help.