By now, it's abundantly clear: every business has to budget for technology. Save for a few unique or old fashioned business models, most companies today rely on technology for nearly everything. Technology accepts customer payment, it tracks hours, it keeps the payroll. It makes things easier for employees and customers alike. But, technology also moves (and changes) rapidly, making it exceedingly difficult to account for. There's high value attached to being able to budget accurately. If you find yourself asking, 'How do I budget for technology for my business?,' it's time you found some answers. Below are a few important aspects to keep in mind: flexibility, predictability, and scalability.
Here's why each of those aspects are important:
Because technology can be hard to predict, it's important to have flexibility in your tech support for budgeting purposes. Shorter contracts, around the clock availability, and a wide array of resources are all things you should look for in budget-friendly tech support.
Your business isn't static and neither is technology. When choosing a tech solution that will fit in your budget, look for a short-term contract. That way, if and when your needs change, you can opt out. Plus, if a company is offering short-term contracts, it's a strong sign that they're confident in their offering.
If you have an internal IT team, absences are something that has to be taken into account. In the event that an emergency happens and your internal team isn't available, you'll be reaching outside of the building and paying an unpredictable case-by-case fee each time. Look for an IT partner that will be available without the unknown cost.
Again, to avoid costs that you didn't budget for, it's important to find an IT solution that comes with a wide array of resources (hardware, security knowledge, etc). Buying something off the shelf whenever something breaks is a budget-buster.
Accurate budgeting requires predictable line items. Make sure that your technology budget is predictable. It's easier said than done. As covered above, unless you have an agreement in place, handling tech emergencies outside of the building can lead to costs that are all over the place.
Consider finding a technology partner that can offer full services at a known monthly cost. That would allow you to plan for what your technology will cost reliably. A partner could also be instrumental in helping you forecast future tech needs for your business, taking even more guesswork out of the equation.
Another benefit of looking to a third party partner as an IT support solution is the lack of overhead. With internal employees, overhead has to be factored into your technology budget. This can include more than just salary and benefits. It can also include a desk, hardware, advanced training, and more. If possible, avoid those costs.
An internal IT team, or a business trying to handle technology on its own, can run into hidden costs. Because technology changes so quickly, continuing education and training will almost certainly be necessary. Plus, as your tech needs grow, so will expensive adjustments to your network (hardware and software).
When your business is ready to grow, your technology needs to grow to. How can you budget to include the possibility of growth? Look for scalability in your IT support solution. This is another instance where a technology partner would help. Instead of going in blind, you'll have help determining how to grow technology alongside your business.
As mentioned above, scaling is going to take training. But, with a technology partner, that training happens on their end and you don't incur the cost. Avoiding that cost can help technology fit much more comfortably into your budget.
When your business grows, it stands to reason that your staff will grow too. That's going to balloon your technology costs. But, again, if you opt for a technology partner, you instantly grow your technology team without any of the associated costs. That helps eliminate a variable from your technology budget.
It's hard to predict what scaling will call for technology-wise. Going it alone can lead to investing in the wrong things or choosing solutions through trial and error. With a partner, you'll have the insight and relevant experience you need to scale successfully - and in budget.