New Year, New IT Budget: Are You Prepared?

Now we’ve entered into 2019, IT managers will be strategising and budgeting for the year ahead. 

These plans will need to align with wider business objectives and goals for growth, while also ensuring that IT infrastructures and systems are fit for purpose.

 From ongoing maintenance such as updating software and devices to deploying new technologies like automation and AI, budgets need to be carefully considered.

Here’s what to take into account when mapping out your 2019 IT budget:

First things first, you need to gain a clear understanding of the business and the direction it wants to take over the coming 12 months.

In most cases, this will be underpinned and driven by IT and may require additional software and hardware, as well as employee training in any new technologies and processes used.

Another key consideration is whether any of your business applications or part of your IT infrastructure will reach end of life during the next 12 months.

Microsoft will soon no longer support Windows Server 2008, Office 2010 and Windows 7, for example. 

If running these systems, you will not receive any updates or patches, and this may leave you exposed to cyber security threats.

Lessons from the past 12 months:

You should also look back at the past year to identify any ongoing factors that may impact your budget moving forwards.

Although the implementation of GDPR has come and gone, compliance should be an ongoing consideration for all businesses operating within the EU.

There is no official checklist for what GDPR compliance should look like, so it’s almost impossible to say you have achieved it. What can be said however is that data security must be part of every discussion.

With this in mind, IT departments should regularly check and monitor their processes and procedures to ensure they are meeting requirements.

They should also look into additional ways of improving compliance and data security, and allow budget for any new technologies that may be needed to achieve this.

Of course, cyber security should remain a key consideration for IT departments as well as at the board level. Always allow plenty of budget for this.  

New trends to consider when budgeting for 2019:

The new year will see the evolution of current IT trends with businesses developing their experience, knowledge and understanding of these technologies to enable growth in 2019. 

Data and business intelligence took a quantum leap this year with organisations able to gather, segment, analyse and action more information than ever before.

We have also seen a growing number of organisations embrace automation and artificial intelligence, with these technologies being augmented into human roles.

This, in turn, is allowing businesses to work smarter, faster and more efficiently.

Finally, organisations of all shapes and sizes are migrating their systems, infrastructures and processes to the cloud, and this will certainly continue in 2019.

If your business is looking to implement any of these technologies throughout the year, ensure you have budgeted for this.  

Finding efficiencies and reducing costs:

In reality, reducing your IT budget is unlikely in the current climate. That said, there are ways of shifting spend from capital expenditure to ongoing monthly and yearly costs.

Moving your infrastructure to the cloud is one way of doing this; businesses usually pay for resources they consume on a monthly basis rather than having to front the cost of servers, etc. 

Key areas to allocate spend:

Of course, while new technologies such as AI and the cloud are interesting and exciting, it’s important to allocate budget for more standard IT expenditure.

This includes:

  • Cyber security: ensure the systems and protocols you have in place are up to date and working as they should. You also need to train users in cyber security best practice – human error is the number one cause of data breaches.
  • Hardware: allocate budget for updating hardware and devices, particularly those that are reaching their end of life.
  • Software support agreements: make sure contracts and agreements are in place as without them you will not receive updates, patches and vendor support.

The Christmas holidays may be approaching quickly, but it is important to take a considered and strategic approach to your 2019 IT budget.

By doing so, you can start the new year safe in the knowledge that your IT infrastructure can support wider business plans for growth and success. 

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