Somehow, it’s December. Can you believe it?
2023 is practically upon us, and hopefully by now you’ve started to put some thought into how your business will maneuver through the next 12 months. It’s important to establish an IT plan and budget, so that your technology can actually be a value center as opposed to an expense.
IT is an Investment
It’s easy to look at IT in sort of the same way you would look at car insurance—as a necessary evil. You’ve got to have it, it comes in handy when you need it, and you even like doing business with the folks that offer it, but you only rarely see the value.
Technology could (and should) be more than that though. The problem is, as business owners we’re so used to only having the “money” conversation when it comes to IT. How much is it going to cost? Oh, the prices are going up? Oh, I need to upgrade?
Before long, it’s easy to feel like you are just signing checks without really seeing the value.
We get that! For the clients we completely manage and maintain, it’s pretty rare that some of the people in the company even see us throughout the year, simply because we’re able to prevent issues remotely. This leads to fewer onsite visits and fewer support calls, but at the end of the day, that’s way more productivity.
If you want a more drastic example, think about what your business could be doing without ANY computers. It’s almost a silly thought experiment today, but it just shows you how critical IT really is for most organizations. The entire point of utilizing technology is to improve productivity, increase performance, reduce problems, and get more done. There are likely plenty of inefficiencies in your organization right now that technology can improve for you, it’s just a matter of ironing them out with an IT consultant who understands your business.
What Should Be Included in a Yearly IT Budget?
You can break down your IT budget into three categories.
- One-time expenses
- Ongoing expenses
- Support/Emergency expenses
One-time expenses are exactly what they sound like. When you need to purchase new hardware or software, or pay for a consulting fee, that will fall under a one-time expense. Sometimes, hardware can be leased, and software often falls under a subscription model, but usually there are still some upfront costs.
The biggest one-time expense most business owners miss is going to be your regular upgrades. You can usually expect to get about 3-to-4 years of life out of your typical workstation or laptop. Proper maintenance and support can usually add an additional year or two, but consider that a bonus. Servers tend to have a longer lifespan of about 5-to-8 years, and proper maintenance and a clean, controlled environment will keep them operational towards the higher end of that range.
If you have hardware that is reaching the end of its lifecycle, you need to budget the replacement of that hardware.
Ongoing expenses range from your software and subscriptions, to cloud hosting, support contracts, and any other costs. For businesses that have their own internal IT department, you’ll want to include the salaries, promotions, and benefits of your IT staff, as well as any costs you might need to have for recruiting.
This should cover the upkeep of everything on your network. Expect that you’ll need to allot time to keep your devices updated, ensure that antivirus is ran, and backups are checked. This can be a pretty significant part of your IT budget, and when this type of work isn’t done properly, the next category (support/emergency expenses) is going to dry up very quickly.
Fortunately, that’s where Wolk9IT comes in. New Jersey businesses can outsource their IT management to us, and it’s usually much more effective than hiring your own staff. That’s because we utilize extremely high-end enterprise-level tools and processes that you’d typically expect some of the largest organizations in the world to have access to, and we use them to manage the IT of smaller businesses. On top of that, we provide a lot of other technology-related services that can help your business, far beyond just maintaining your computers and servers.
Support and emergency expenses cover the surprises. Provided that you are covering your basic maintenance tasks, this portion of the budget shouldn’t need to be very high, but it helps to have funds tucked away to cover unexpected issues.
This can include having a spare workstation or two on hand so that when a user’s computer does malfunction, they can get back to work on the spare right away.
You’ll also be glad you had a little budget allocated for things like ransomware and other cybersecurity attacks. We don’t advise paying when ransomware strikes, but if a threat causes extended downtime for multiple users, having a budget put aside to cover the gap will make a bad situation just a little easier. Of course, you should be taking precautions to minimize risk, but it’s still nice to be prepared.
Set Up a Consultation to Discuss Your 2023 IT Budget
You don’t have to do this alone. Let’s make 2023 a year where technology drives your business forward, and doesn’t feel like another expense. Give us a call at (646) 741-1166 to set up a meeting to go over your business goals and lay out how IT can help get you there.