2020 is almost here! Is your budget ready??
2020 is almost here! Is your budget ready?? Let us help you budget for your IT.
As 2019 winds down and we look forward to 2020, one of the items we always try and help our clients with is budgeting for the new year.
Many larger companies ask us for our recommendations; they have been through the process many times. They know that budgeting is a key way to make sure their companies stay up to date with hardware and software. Doing this helps their company perform better because they are not using old out of date and potential security risk-laden systems.
So as a smaller company, what should you be budgeting for? Here are the 5 things you need to consider.
For many years your antivirus and router could handle the bulk of issues, but over this last year, we see more and more attacks from ransomware, malware, and phishing, and those attacks are only going to increase and become more complex. With the change in the security environment, it is vital that you add the latest security features to your network and computers. For more on what this includes, talk to your IT provider. See what and how they are going to protect you and your network from these new attacks.
How old are your PC’s, laptops, servers, routers, and switches? Yes, this seems like a long list of items, but if you consider that PCs and laptops' lifespan is 4.6 years! That surprises a lot of people, and many will say, “I’ve had these PC’s for over 6 years!” These people have been lucky, and we never recommend luck as a business policy. We try and have our clients swap out computers every 4 years.
Servers last longer, but you also have to consider they are running 24x7x365. And if you are running them past their warranty, you are asking for problems.
Switches and routers can last even longer. Still, older switches and routers may not have the technology built into newer models, including things like speed, port management, VLAN capabilities, security features, etc. so it is essential to have your IT checkout these items as well.
Software is continually being updated and upgraded. Some, like the Windows operating system, do constant patching, but even these have an end of life like Windows 7 does this year. It is important to budget for new software for just these situations. But also remember newer, better software is continuously being created as well. You may want to consider a cloud-based client management system or billing system for your company. Most of these are billed on a monthly basis, which may make moving to them easier, but it still needs to be budgeted.
Along with software, new ways of doing business are continually developing and changing, and some of these systems can save thousands of dollars over old ways of doing things. Each industry is going to have specific systems and softwares that can help. Reviewing your trade publications is probably the best way to find out about these systems and improvements to the way you run your company.
Investing in the training of your employees can, in the long run, save you money. But the upfront cost of training again needs to be looked at in your budgeting process. We offer our employees a set amount per year we will pay for their training needs. This works out well as they can then choose the training they want (as long as it is related to their job) and we get the benefit of better-trained employees.
Another way to look at your budget is; how can you save money. Outsourcing some of what your company does may just do that. When you outsource a job or task, it no longer needs to be done by an employee, freeing up that employee to do other more specific things and perhaps even reducing the amount of staff you need to complete the work that needs to be done. While outsourcing can lead to less personal interaction with your clients, we choose to outsource areas that our clients will never see, thus retaining the client relationship and reducing some of our costs.
I hope this has helped you to view the importance of budgeting as well as shown some areas you should look at on an annual basis to help your company throughout the next year.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, please send them to me.
Greg Durnan is the Owner/President of AcaciaIT and very active in the business community of Southern Arizona. One of the founding members of the Greater Vail Area Chamber of Commerce and Chairman of the Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce he is very concerned about the needs of businesses in Arizona. He also strives to educate clients on Computer and Network Security through Lunch and Learns, articles, and webinars.
On the weekends he enjoys spending time with his wife and son at their ranch in Vail and working with horses.