7 Smart Ideas For Your IT Budget Surplus
We all understand how organizational budgets work, right? You either spend the money allocated or next year’s budget is smaller. I’m kidding (kind of).
That may not be exactly how the process works, but we’ve all confronted budget shortfalls and surpluses (professionally and, in some cases, personally). As much as we try to be accurate, budgeting is not an exact science. Often, the things that skew the budget are out of our control.
While most business leaders track their budgets faithfully, the trouble is that sometimes things don’t go exactly as you thought they would when you were planning your budget. With IT, this often happens because a project falls through or equipment is delayed. Even staffing issues can come into play.
If you find yourself with an IT budget surplus, I can help. As a service delivery manager at Kelser, a managed IT support provider, I’ve seen it all. Some people take a very strategic approach to IT budget surpluses, while others are just interested in spending the money with no regard for the return on their investment.
That being said, most people I’ve worked with want to be good stewards of their organization’s money.
In this article, I’ll provide 7 smart ways to spend an IT budget surplus (and, you might be surprised to know that one of them does not include working with Kelser). While I’d love to welcome you into the Kelser family, the fact is that managed IT support is not the right solution for every organization. We know that.
Instead of telling you how great our solution is, we write articles like this that provide the information you need to make the best IT decision for your organization. Partnering with an IT provider that isn’t the right fit for your organization isn’t good for anyone.
So, instead of a sales pitch, read this article for some smart and creative ways to spend your IT budget wisely and position your organization for success.
7 Smart Ways To Invest An IT Budget Surplus
We’ve already talked about the reasons you might have a budget surplus. Now let’s talk about what to do with it. If you think about the expense as an investment, you’ll use your money wisely and invest in the future health of your IT environment.
These ideas range in size and scope and will depend on the amount of your surplus.
If you have a modest amount of money to spend, consider refreshing your devices.
If you have aging, general-use laptops and desktop computers (more than 3.5 years old), it may be time for a refresh anyway, and if you spend the money this year that will leave funds in next year’s budget for other projects.
Workstations used for larger-scale computing (engineering for example), usually are due to be refreshed every three years.
As a special bonus, vendors typically offer incentives in the third and fourth quarters, Just like car dealers, they need to make room for next year’s models.
If you have devices that are on the brink of needing a refresh, buy them this year and roll them into your regular refresh cycle.
With more resources, you can think about replacing servers or other infrastructure elements like switches and access points.
Before replacing, see if these elements are under warranty or if you can purchase extended warranties or service contracts from the vendor. This can be a cost-effective way to extend the life of your equipment.
Moving storage to the cloud is another good investment.
The cost of transitioning to cloud services is different for each business, but it is generally more cost-effective and requires less hands-on maintenance than an on-premise solution.
When you use an off-site cloud service provider, maintenance and updates are handled automatically for you, eliminating the time and expense of having your on-site staff do it.
The cloud also offers file-sharing, reliability, security, performance and speed, and customization advantages (among other things).
Cloud computing is a subscription-based option that offers advantages in that updates can be pushed directly to your devices by the provider. Maybe some of your surplus can be used to prepay for your cloud subscription service.
4. Vulnerability Scan
If you have about $10,000 left in your budget, that can cover the cost of a vulnerability scan. This automated tool identifies everything that is running on your network and looks for vulnerabilities that cyber criminals might be able to exploit.
This scan is performed at a high level often without login credentials just to see what open information can be accessed.
There are commercially available software options or you can hire a professional team to perform the scan for your organization.
If you are using older versions of software, consider using some of your budget surplus to upgrade to more current versions. This can be an easy and relatively inexpensive way to improve the performance of your systems and infrastructure.
In today’s “just-in-time” world, nobody wants to become a storage warehouse. But, if there are consumable supplies that you can purchase in bulk at a discounted price, it might be worth stocking up.
Simple things like toner, ink, mice, keyboards, network cables, and power cords, while not a huge expense, can add up when you are buying several at a premium price.
Software licenses come up for renewal regularly. Maybe you can prepay some of these at a discount, especially if you know you will be adding staff in the near term. It can seem counter-intuitive, but it can save you money to buy now.
How Can I Avoid An IT Budget Surplus Next Year?
After reading this article, you now have 7 smart ways to invest your IT budget surplus. Devices, infrastructure, virtualization, vulnerability scans, software, supplies, and licensing can all be wise investments.
As we said before, budgeting is not an exact science.
This can be especially true when you rely on the services of a break/fix provider that services your equipment after something breaks. While you may pay a retainer for their services, the true cost of the fix is often unknown until you receive the actual bill, making it difficult to manage your budget.
While we know managed IT support isn’t right for everyone, it does offer a proactive, strategy-based service model and predictable costs.
Thinking about managed IT support as an option? This article explains how it compares to break/fix service and more: What Is Managed IT Support? (Essential & Premium Services)
To find out how the services of a virtual chief information officer can help ensure that your technology is aligned with your business goals, read this article: What Is A vCIO, And Why Should Your Company Have One?
Wondering what managed IT costs? We tackle that question (and more) head on in this article: How Much Does Managed IT Cost? What’s Usually Included?