Your Small Business IT Budget: Do More With Less
With year-end just around the corner, companies are thinking about their business strategy, marketing strategy and IT budget for the coming year.
- Where should you be spending your IT budget?
- Do you need new computers or servers?
- Should you move to the cloud and/or small business SaaS solutions?
- Is it time to integrate software systems or develop a mobile app to service customers better?
Your IT budget should reflect your priorities, and align with your overarching business strategy – and that means you need to have an IT strategy! Not having an IT Strategy can create chaos – and cost you significantly more in the long run – often in hidden inefficiencies, like:
- Manual workarounds and duplication of effort
- Losing customers due to poor customer experience
- Continually “putting out fires” and reacting to the latest crisis
How Do You Stretch Your Small Business IT Budget?
1. Review Your Current Situation
Where are you wasting time or working inefficiently? Are there areas of your business that are continually causing frustration?
Many of us are guilty of hitting the proverbial “snooze alarm,” promising ourselves we’ll find a long-term solution later. For example, we’ve had clients who spent years manually re-entering website sales orders into their accounting system for processing and shipping. By creating an integration between their eCommerce platform and accounting platform, they were able to save hundreds of hours each year and re-allocate those resources to work on more valuable projects. Use a project management software to keep on top of your priorities.
2. Develop a 2-5 Year Business Plan
Before you can develop your IT strategy, you must first develop your business strategy. It doesn’t have to be written in stone, but you should have a good idea of key decisions like:
- Do you plan on adding employees or hiring contractors? Will they work remotely or in an office?
- Do you plan on adding new locations or recruiting distributors?
- Will you expand your product or service offerings?
Your business goals should drive your IT strategy. For example, if you are planning to add virtual staff who will work from their home offices, you’ll want to leverage SaaS solutions and perhaps have a virtual VOIP phone line and other communication tools to keep the team in sync.
3. Simplify Decisions with an IT Roadmap
Make your decisions once. Continue to execute. We continually advise our clients to “pick a lane.” If you go (almost) all Microsoft, your systems are virtually guaranteed to work well together. By contrast, if you have a smattering of Google, Apple, Linux and Microsoft solutions that each serve difference purposes, you have a higher risk that your integration points will fail.
An IT roadmap will save you money in the long run because you have clarity about what you need today – and in the future. If you plan to move to the cloud in a year, and your main business server fails, you may decide to accelerate your cloud migration rather than replace the server.
An IT roadmap will also help you mitigate cyber security and data security risks. Your IT team will ensure you have proper protections in place.
4. Ask Your Accountant About 2018 Capital Expenditure Spending
At the end of every year, your accountant should be able to tell you if it’s advantageous to your taxes to make big capital expenditures this year – or wait for 2019. Timing your capital expenditures correctly can sometimes save you big money.
5. Seek Expert IT Advice
Our favorite tip for stretching your small business IT budget is to seek expert IT advice. We don’t say this to be self-serving, but… our experience repeatedly shows us that many small business owners and managers don’t understand their options. Many of our clients didn’t grow up with computers. They started out old-school. Sometimes the CRM system is an Excel spreadsheet with notes. The calendaring system is a whiteboard with the current jobs written on it.
There is often a faster, easier, more efficient way to accomplish your daily tasks. We would love to help you explore those possibilities! You can schedule a FREE session online or call us at 586.263.1775. We are an experienced Metro Detroit Michigan IT Services firm– with clients locally and across the country. We’re known for our dedication to small and growing businesses.