Tech Tips, Food For Thought

IT budgeting to stay competitive

The typical Boston-area nonprofit and small business approach to IT budgeting used to be pretty straightforward. Keep it lean. Keep it simple. Avoid change as much as possible. Fix what’s broken, and upgrade when only necessary.

Getting buy-in from company stakeholders is hard when trying to invest in an IT project that will be disruptive, even if beneficial in the long run.

Disruptive stays ahead of competition

Moving to the cloud will disrupt your current operations and require training in most cases, but it will keep you competitive and increase operational efficiency. IT is now looked upon to streamline processes and guard your precious data. Organizations are now beginning to realize IT spending is a necessity.

IT strategic assessments can kick-start your budgeting process and give you a framework for your needs, benefits and costs. This assessment will support your plea for IT spending and areas that could use funding.

How much should you budget?

Ask a few key questions to determine what you should be spending:

* What are the neighbors doing?  Look to new or trending technology initiatives that support small businesses to give you an idea of where you need to invest. Examples are the moves toward hosted applications or a mobile-enabled workforce.

* How do you expect technology to support your business objectives? Technology can help your organization serve, scale and innovate to meet your goals. Your IT department and the technological tools play a central role in hitting company performance targets. Take full account of that role and spend accordingly.

* Are you thinking about costs or benefits first? Sure, nobody likes making significant capital expenditures. But, an exclusive focus on cost-cutting or lean operations can be fatal to competitive capability where technology is concerned. The benefits of maintaining an optimal business technology environment are tangible and can have a decisive effect on business results.

What are others spending on IT?

Look to reports to see how much companies are spending, and how large their IT workforce is. Outsourcing your IT and using integrated services can save you money towards your budget, and consultants can offer you strategic IT guidance. Whether you’re working with outsourced or in-house IT, you get what you pay for. The same spend-and-receive principle holds true for investment in development, applications, cloud services and other IT functions.

Developing a well-considered IT budget might seem like a difficult task if you haven’t tackled it head-on before. The rewards of IT budgeting are matched by the risks of failing to.


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