Budgeting IT for SMB (small medium businesses) can be difficult. After all, how do you budget for something that you don’t really see? It is the #1 reason that small business are the victims of so many cyber attacks; they don’t have the budget to protect themselves unlike large corporations. Today, technology is essential for every business, and as a small business owner you will almost certainly come across some unexpected tech needs. Instead of scrambling and having to pull funds from other sections of your budget (which will likely leave you with increased downtime and productivity, and increased stress), plan your budget accordingly. Something to remember while doing this is that your IT budget will not be the same every year. As the amount of cybersecurity threats, which are constantly evolving and advancing, grow, so should your budget.
Before you breakout the calculator and spreadsheets, dedicate some time to figure out where your technology is at right now. This will help you figure out where you should begin with your budgeting, and where the critical areas are.
Audit your tech
What does your organization need in terms of routine IT services, IT projects, technology refreshes and IT-related accident or incident support? A technology audit can let you know where you stand and where you need to continue to improve.
Create a tech wish list
Partner with an IT service provider to map the cost of achieving all your technological goals for the year, and then right-size your budget based on what is practical for your company.
Ask your employees
When determining how to prioritize IT investments and refreshes, conducting employee surveys can be a smart move. Your workforce can provide insights into how their technology is working for them.
Map out a contingency plan
In the event of an incident, cyber insurance can act as an emergency fund and financially protect your business. An IT service provider can help you figure out which insurance is best for your company and ensure that you qualify for it and comply with policy requirements.
What to budget for
Think of your IT budget like owning a vehicle. There are the known costs (monthly car payments and insurance), the hidden costs (gas, general maintenance, parking), and then the treacherous unexpected costs (your alternator failing). Your budget will look very similar to this, but with the purchasing of services, maintaining those services, and handling of accidents and incidents.
Do you have a certain budget set aside for hiring internal staff members or collaborating with IT service providers? Your annual IT budget should accommodate salaries, bonuses, and benefits paid to IT staff, as well as hiring new resources and providing IT training.
Cybersecurity should be your top priority when preparing your IT budget, especially as a small business. What if you could catch new vulnerabilities on your IT network before cybercriminals could exploit them? Imagine having a solution that can notify you in real time if sensitive company data goes up for sale on the dark web? A comprehensive solution that provides best-in-class security is a must.
You don’t just need protection from the online bad guys. Make sure that you allocate funds for access-control systems, insurance, surveillance devices and commercial door locks as part of your security budget.
Failure to comply with industry regulations may lead to severe fines, work stoppages, legal action or even the closure of your company. Before you invest in any tool, assess your current compliance needs and create a roadmap of your long-term needs.
Knowing how much money you’ll need to invest to keep your business operating in the event of a disaster is one of the most crucial components of your data backup strategy. Depending on your company’s unique needs, the price of the systems and solutions that support backup, disaster recovery and business continuity may vary.
Keeping employees up to date about how to protect themselves and your organization from threats is a crucial component of a healthy security strategy. Your staff should receive regular cybersecurity training so they are aware of good cyber hygiene, the security risks associated with their actions and how to spot cyberattacks they could come across via email and the web. An IT service provider can help with security awareness training services if your organization lacks internal security resources and expertise.
Ways to reduce your IT budget
We all want to spend less money, but how? Taking some steps to ensure that your technology will help to save you from pricey incidents down the road.
Refresh old tech
Planning a budget using a roadmap allows for a set technology refresh. Technology that is frequently used should be replaced every three to five years through refreshes. This can include desktops, laptops, and servers.
Prevent end-of-life security vulnerabilities
Hardware and software that is no longer supported by the manufacturer and no longer receives security patches are considered “end-of-life.” To protect older, out-of-date hardware and software from malicious actors, it is essential to refresh, upgrade or migrate services to the cloud.
Move to the cloud
Cloud-based services are becoming more popular than conventional services, which charge a flat-rate monthly subscription fee. When you offer these services, your customers can avoid the burden of hosting their own hardware, maintaining its security, and performing routine maintenance. Here are a few services you can explore:
Internal, external, or hybrid IT support?
The most common type of support is through an internal IT department or IT team. Usually, businesses with a committed IT team are enterprises, while small businesses may only have one IT staff member. A crucial factor to remember if opting for an internal IT department is the bandwidth that your business requires. An external IT service provider can support your business in multiple ways, such as assessing your IT infrastructure, assist with budgeting decisions, provide advice on IT solutions, and assist with implementation, setup, and upkeep. Having more than one IT team on your side can only be a benefit to your business. If you have an existing internal IT team, you could outsource specific areas to an external specialist. Opting for hybrid support alongside your internal IT team can reduce a great deal of stress, as specialists can help lighten the load and show you the right way to prepare a budget.
Framewerx can assist your business with all these needs, and more. If you are feeling overwhelmed by your tech budget, contact us today and we can help to get you on the right path!