Half of small businesses did not create an official, formally documented IT support budget last year - meaning they were essentially flying blind. Our budgets are our barometer, it shows us how our business is performing. It’s a guide for expected income and expenses, and it enables us to compare our goals with actual numbers. It can also tell us if our business goals align with our values. Those values are the “why” that make the most difference in our success.
I know, it can be difficult to view a budget as important or necessary - especially in times of economic uncertainty like we have been experiencing. However, a strategically planned budget is the best tool to ensure your team is working towards the same goal. It can help predict when and how your business experiences growth, even when things are fluctuating – much like the COVID-19 situation.
With our workforce straddling remote work and hybrid options, it’s time to consider planning for your operating expenses to cover the technology needed to adapt to this new way of working.
Operating Expenses vs Capital Expenses for IT Support
There is still a good case for investing in IT hardware as a capital expense. You have more control over those assets and certain software might still require traditional perpetual licensing. However, the Operating Expense spending model is a little simpler and more flexible. Many technology services have subscription options that make it easier to increase or decrease users as you need, allowing your business to be more agile and lower upfront costs.
A fully remote or hybrid workforce inherently allows us a little more flexibility for growth. We don’t have to worry about the costs of adding desk space, purchasing more chairs or the added costs of more coffee in the break room. But it does open the door for security threats and can make providing your team the tools they need, more complicated. There are a few things you can budget for to help make things easier and more secure.
Tools for Getting Reliable IT Support
It can feel overwhelming to commit to new tools that help your remote or hybrid teams stay productive, especially when so many items are experiencing shipping delays or back-order shortages. The good news is that there are some tools you can add that will improve productivity and add an extra layer of security without adding to your hardware costs.
Mobile Device Management
No matter where they are located, there is a good chance your teams are using at least one mobile device to do their work. Smartphones, tablets, and laptops can all be managed in a consistent and scalable way with Mobile Device Management (MDM). MDM uses a combination of on-device applications, your network infrastructure and company policies to securely monitor, update and track your business technology assets.
VOIP Phone Systems
Eliminate the need for expensive and complex office hardware by using a cloud-based communications system. Wherever your team has an internet connection, they have a phone that works on their smartphone, tablet, or laptop.
Many of these systems easily integrate with your favorite applications like Outlook, Salesforce, and Google Drive. A cloud communications platform also offers things like team messaging, video web meetings, and conference calls. Some even include digital engagement tools to help strengthen the relationship between you and your clients. Most companies offer a per-user subscription-based plan that allows you to be flexible as your team and your business grow.
As IT security threats increase and newer threats become more sophisticated and disruptive, businesses should assume a data breach isn’t a matter of “if” – it’s a matter of “when.” Multifactor Authentication (MFA) is an easy way to provide an extra layer to your security. With more employees working from home and connecting remotely into your network, it is even more important to be sure you know it is your employee – and not a hacker - connecting to your network. And just like VOIP, MFA typically offers per-user pricing.
IT Services Provide 24/7 IT Support
When considering the cost of support for your remote and hybrid team, it’s true that you get what you pay for. Beyond the services they provide your business, an IT service provider that is worth budgeting for will be able to demonstrate their day-to-day impact. Their solutions portfolio should be well-rounded with great customer service.
An IT service provider should offer per-user or per device pricing that is indicative of their layer of security solutions and the breadth of services they offer. Your IT service provider should also offer proactive service to help you stay ahead of the ever-changing technology landscape. Most importantly, they should understand what is essential to your business and demonstrate a commitment to not just meeting but exceeding your expectations.
Need Help Predicting and Budgeting for IT Support?
Including technology in your annual budgeting entails a variety of considerations. To budget the right amount for your technology needs and IT services, you'll need to carefully balance business priorities, operational functions, and your vision. Join us on September 30th, 2021, at 9:00 AM as we chat about how to review ways in which budgeting for your business has changed.