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Planning IT Budgets for 2017

It’s that time of the year we’ve all been looking forward to: planning our IT budgets for the New Year. 

Now, many of us would rather sacrifice our pinky finger or a toe than plan out the budget, but it has to be done—and it has to be done right. 

An effective IT budget takes time.

You need to get input from your management team and strive to create a budget that will help your company grow, not just cover costs and make ends meet. 

To help you out make this process a little easier, here are 5 critical steps to building your budget for next year.

1. Look at your budget from the owner’s perspective

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While you may work for an enterprise company that has a board of directors, try to think of it as having one person who’s responsible for paying for your budget.

If you think about someone having to open up their wallet to give you the money you need, it can help put future purchases in context.

Start thinking in categories.

What is essential?

What will be helpful?

What’s just on the wish list?

Carefully analyze each item per category. 

At first glance, you may think something is on the wish list.

But if you consider the long term, that item may actually be essential to your business. Similarly, something that sticks out now as an emergency may be obsolete in a few months. 

Lastly, write up your budget in plain English.

Avoid tech jargon, as some who read your budget may get lost in a cloud of words.

For major purchases, explain their importance to the company and their ROI. It will likely make the approval process a lot less painful for everyone.

[Download our eBook, A Winning Project Proposal Blueprint for IT Professionals — Click here.]

2. Invest in measures that will improve security

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Cybercrime isn’t going anywhere. Look at how big it’s grown since the Target attack in 2013.

Just this October, we had the massive DDoOS attacks that disrupted PayPal, Twitter, Netflix, and other key services on the East Coast.

The US intelligence community has even implicated the Russian government’s involvement in security breaches. Attacks are not only growing, they’re also getting bigger and bolder. 

A Symantec Intelligence Report found that the number of new malware variants reached 45.5 million this past July.

As big data keeps growing and as we continue to advance rapidly into the age of the Internet of Things, security is paramount to the health of your company.

Investing in improved security is a wise move year over year. 

3. Double down on your disaster recovery plan 

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You never know when disaster will strike, and unfortunately, very few companies plan for emergencies.

As a CIO in charge of your company’s security, you should allocate the funds for an actionable and specific disaster recovery plan.

A good idea is to align your goals with recommendations from the Department of Homeland Security, namely: 

  • Minimizing product or service disruption.
  • Protecting your facilities, electronic information, and physical assets.
  • Protecting your company’s reputation.

In addition, you know of at least one person in your company who is using an easy password, like “12345” or “password.”

No matter how many reminders are sent out about the importance of strong passwords, they just won’t pay attention.

The budget for your disaster recovery plan should also take into account the additional security needed to cover the types of problems that stem from these employee errors.

4. Don’t forget about software updates and replacements

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Unfortunately, many companies don’t keep up their investments up to date.

Their hardware and software resources need to be replaced. If there’s a hardware of software failure, it can lead to more than just downtime.

You may rack up losses in productivity and increase your exposure to security risks.

A good approach for next year’s budget is to use an asset management system to gain this information.

This way, you can better budget for needed upgrades and replacements, and avoid unnecessary hits to your company’s bottom line.

5. Track what you spend as you go 

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It’s the fun surprises that wreck most budgets.

Just like with your home, something will break or stop working for some unknown reason.

These are our unplanned purchases, and if you don’t have the padding for this, it can cause financial stress in other areas of your budget.

Invest now in data management software.

Many CIOs and companies still rely on Excel, but there are two main problems with this.

First, all the information still has to be entered manually. Second, Excel is a low-tech solution that doesn’t account for human error.

When you’re tracking day-to-day expenditures with the right tools, you will create a yearly picture of these unaccounted costs.

And while you won’t have an accurate figure for the start of 2017, by 2018, you’ll be in much better shape.

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Written by IBM BP Network