Business owners deal with budgets. A lot. They’re nothing new. But planning and budgeting for your company’s IT needs and support? That can make even the best budgeters look for a crystal ball.
There are emergencies and the unexpected to plan for in IT budgeting. How in the world are you supposed to foresee (much less budget for) computer, network and server crashes? What about the occasional virus that brings business and productivity to a screeching halt?
Then there is the long range IT investments for which to plan. How do you afford to replace computers and equipment when existing ones age to the point where employees waste 15 minutes doing something that should take two?
Smart business owners approach IT support and equipment budgeting by planning for both. If you look at IT as the heart of your business, then it’ll make sense to treat it as such. Plan on investing some money into preventative care along the way. Then be prepared should an emergency strike.
Preventing Emergencies is Critical for Smarter IT Spending
The best way to avoid overspending on emergency IT tech support costs is to include regular IT preventative maintenance in your budget. Like plumbing, ER hospital visits and anything “rush,” emergency IT support is more expensive. An IT maintenance program can identify looming issues before they turn into big (costly) problems.
Invision, Kansas City’s small business IT support company, follows a comprehensive Net Serve Checklist. We search for issues that could turn into costly emergency repairs and fix them before they get serious.
Plan for the Future Because It’ll be Here Quicker than You Know
Business owners have good and bad years – personally and financially. They are often dependent on each other. Nothing ruins a good year like spending extra money on what should have been planned and budgeted for, like IT investments.
A great IT support company will tell you how long you can expect to keep your workstations. Don’t replace all workstations in the same year. Instead, replace a few each year. In general, workstations last five to six years. Laptops last three to five years. Printers and other equipment last indefinitely.
Server upgrades should occur every five to seven years and pad the budget for installation and set up. Server replacement and installation require additional expertise and time. Also, keep in mind that computer costs won’t be the same in the future as they are today.
Smartie tip: Don’t wait too long to replace your IT equipment.
Finding parts to fix older systems isn’t easy. Even if the parts are found, it takes longer for them to arrive because suppliers usually don’t keep them in stock. Since they’re not likely coming from a local source, expensive overnight shipping fees come into play. Sometimes new parts aren’t available and used becomes the only option, which aren’t always in the best shape and delays repair.
Regularly scheduled IT maintenance cannot and will not prevent all emergencies. IT equipment is machinery and users are human. Things are bound to wear out and break.
Keep Your Security Software Up-to-Date – Always
People are prone to clicking on links they shouldn’t, which unleashes the occasional virus. Never let a virus sit, hoping it will cure itself. It won’t. And the longer it festers, the harder it will be to quarantine and destroy, which costs more in staff productivity and IT expenses.
Installing security software isn’t enough. You have to continually update it in order for it to be effective and cost efficient. When a computer virus cannot be fixed, it can take one to three days and twice as much in labor costs to get the system operating again. Sometimes reimaging is the only solution, which formats the system back to its original condition. Additional time is necessary to restore software and files.
Smartie tip: Just by keeping security software updated, you can avoid employees losing half to a full days work due to a virus.
Don’t Cut Corners on Your IT Budget
Include IT support in the cost of doing business. Be prepared for the occasional IT hiccup. Have a relationship in place with an IT solutions company that really understands how important your systems are to your success. Outsourced IT providers can save you some serious coin in the long run!
Given the impact IT has on your company’s sales and productivity, the IT budget isn’t the place to cut corner. However, smart business owners know how to plan and budget for the short and the long term as well as a few emergencies along the way.