Q4 is right around the corner, bringing with it revised company goals to achieve and plenty of planning to reach them. One of the most important things a business can do during this quarter is to set a comprehensive business technology budget for the following year. IT budgeting is an extremely important duty of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) and will have a major effect on the future success and overall performance of a business.
In the 2019 State of IT, most businesses reported that the need to upgrade outdated IT infrastructure was the biggest driver of IT budget increases. Other major factors leading to IT budget increases included employee growth, security concerns, regulation changes, and increased business revenue. 89% of business expected their IT budgets to grow or stay the same, with 56% of large businesses expecting their technology budgets to grow. Small businesses reported a need to increase their hardware budgets, with large and enterprise businesses looking to increase their cloud budgets.
Effective IT budgeting is often a balancing act between seeking solutions that will add value to the business and improve its processes, while at the same time not exceeding technology spending targets. Cost-cutting wherever possible without sacrificing value or performance is another important aspect of setting your budget - you’ll want to look for opportunities to trim costs by eliminating redundancies. Establishing your business tech budget can be a long and involved process, so doing it in advance is highly recommended - especially since it means that your organization’s technology needs can be purchased well in advance and be ready for Q1 of the next fiscal year.
Look at your spending in previous years
Looking to the past is one of the first steps to take. It’ll help you determine what worked, what didn’t work, and what lessons you can learn from these successes and failures of past budgets. Did you spend too much on hardware? Skimp on software solutions? Is the business due for a security overhaul?
Looking at previous budgets will help you answer these questions and develop more that will go a long way in setting your IT budget for next year. It’ll also give you a good baseline to work with, providing you with information about how much you spent in the past, and how far those expenses went for your organization. Consider which departments got the most mileage out of past budgets, and determine whether you could apply those same general principles to other departments within your business.
Examine tech expenditures for all departments
One of the most important ways to set a comprehensive business technology budget is to involve all departments in decision making. Discuss the needs and wants of your organization with all department heads, having them speak to their teams to develop and submit tech expenditures, as well as any requests they have for tech upgrades or service terminations. This will give you an accurate picture of what departments are spending most heavily on IT needs, helping you better prioritize your budget so that funds are allocated efficiently.
Speaking with department heads about their needs and wants will also help you determine where to focus your budget, whether it be on hardware, software, security, or infrastructure. Some departments may report redundancies, which will help you to cut costs by eliminating technology that no longer serves an important purpose, or that has become irrelevant to the operation of your business. Once you have this information, you can easily begin to explore investing in technology solutions that will work across various departments, such as cloud-based productivity solutions, business intelligence software, and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions.
Assess company needs and goals
Once you’ve spoken to department heads about their technological expenditures, needs, and wants, you’ll be in a much better position to assess the goals of your business going into the next year. When assessing organizational goals, determine what you want to achieve in the coming year, and how business technology will help you reach these goals. Having company goals in mind lets you make better informed decisions about what the organization’s needs. Be sure to ensure accuracy during this step, because it’ll force you to make some tough decisions regarding budget allocation.
If you feel that your organization can meet its goals and continue to thrive without it, you probably don’t need it - even if certain departments feel that they need it. Focus on what is going to help your business maintain growth and maximize profits by allowing employees to work faster and smarter, and by creating a seamless customer experience.
With your goals in mind, consider whether you need to give your teams the ability to work faster, smarter, and more productively, or if your departments in dire need of hardware and infrastructure? Most importantly, consider how these things will help your organization meet goals. If your goal in the next year is to increase annual revenue and cut costs, then an integrated productivity and CRM solution might be what helps you reach it. If your goals are to expand the level of services offered to clients, then you may want to focus on improving infrastructure to handle increased amounts of traffic and meet demand.
When looking into how much to allocate to hardware, software, infrastructure, and security, it’s always a good idea to look into how other similar-sized companies have budgeted - it may give additional perspective to the needs and wants suggested by department heads and other team members. The 2019 State of IT report showed that organizations allocate their budget with these things in mind. In terms of software, an average of 10% of IT budgets are allocated towards productivity solutions, as well as to virtualization solutions and security software, with 12% going towards upgrading operating systems. Managed services and cloud/hosted services also make up a large portion of IT budgets, with funds being allocated for online backup and recovery, email hosting, online productivity, managed hosting, and security.
Consider the benefits of integration
With the needs of departments known and company goals established, you’ll finally be able to begin exploring your options in regards to investing in new workplace technology. Be sure to go into setting your budget with the goal of reducing or eliminating your company’s dependence on legacy software and tools, as these technologies have become irrelevant compared to today’s cloud-based technology.
Not only do they not function with the ease and agility that cloud-based solutions do, but in many cases, they’re working to slow your team significantly and interrupt their productivity. Look to the future and end your company’s reliance on the past - not only will your employees benefit from the upgrades, but it may also be more affordable for the company.
The best way to maximize your budget is to invest in solutions that not only work across multiple departments, but that can be integrated to work with other commonly used tools. This helps you eliminate redundant tools, and focus on integrated solutions that can be used by a wide variety of team members for many different purposes. A unified workflow containing cloud-based productivity solutions like G Suite, CRM solutions, Telephony systems, and business intelligence tools will allow team members to become stronger and more productive through increased collaboration and improved processes. A perfect combination of these solutions will see them fully integrated, working as one unified solution that lets your teamwork as efficiently as possible without interruptions or time-consuming processes getting in the way.
Unified workflow that works for your entire business
Cloud-based productivity suites like G Suite put a heavy emphasis on collaboration, encouraging your teams to work together within documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and more, making real-time communication and teamwork seamless. G Suite puts everything your team needs to get the job done in the cloud, letting team members access files from anywhere, on any trusted device they choose. Having instant access to workplace files from anywhere means being able to take advantage of the benefits of remote work teams, increasing employee satisfaction and saving office costs for your business.
Productivity suites can be integrated with powerful cloud-based CRM solutions to bring valuable customer information into a single hub to build stronger, more meaningful customer relationships, increase leads, and gain access to in-depth business analytics. Salespeople can log customer information directly from their inbox without having to switch windows, making it easier than ever to access and update customer files. Cloud-based CRM solutions can be integrated with other solutions including accounting software to give your team a better understanding of which customers are paying on time and which are in arrears, helping you make better-informed decisions based on this information.
Once your two most important tools have been integrated, you can upgrade your business phone system to a Telephony system, integrating it with G Suite and your CRM solution. This will allow your team members to launch and receive calls directly from their inbox, instantly logging calls in your CRM solution to help you improve and learn from your processes in the future.
For business owners who are skeptical about the true return on investment of these tools, they can be complemented with a business intelligence solution like Prodoscore. Prodoscore integrates with G Suite, CRM solutions, Telephony systems, and other solutions to measure productivity in real-time, assigning each team member with a productivity score. These scores help to measure employee productivity and engagement, helping employers identify opportunities and employees who require additional training or attention. Tools like Prodoscre help decision makers in your organization see in real-time the difference that a unified workflow makes, and will come in handy when setting future IT budgets.
To find out how UpCurve Cloud can help you get the most out of your business technology budget by implementing and integrating cloud-based workplace solutions like G Suite, CRM solutions, Telephony systems, and Prodoscore, contact us today.