The new year is quickly approaching. That's right, it’s already time to start strategically planning to hit next year’s IT goals. Our rule of advice is that your team should sit down and map out your technical environment for the next 18 to 24 months, and set a 3-year budget that goes hand-in-hand with your strategic planning. You won’t know what you’ll need to spend until you do your homework, so here’s what matters when it comes to building a successful IT plan for the upcoming year!
1. Identify what equipment is currently performing well versus what may need to be replaced.
This process is known as “IT asset management” and it typically involves gathering all of your company’s hardware and software inventory information and completing an audit. Your team will need to identify what needs to be replaced, what can be potentially reused, and where the gaps are in your technology equipment. Your IT services provider can also help with an audit. You want to take note of how your equipment is currently performing, the age of the hardware, and inventory all hardware or anything that has a renewal date such as a warranty, domain, or SSL certificate so you can budget for those costs as well.
2. Stay aware of end-of-life and end-of-support dates for your technology.
Your IT services provider should be alerting you about when these dates are fast approaching. To learn more about the difference between the two, you can read our previous post here. Essentially, end-of-support means that the product provider you work with has decided to no longer provide a support line. And, end-of-life date is a term used to describe when a product is no longer for sale. You should plan for both of these scenarios as businesses can experience compromised data security, decreased productivity, higher maintenance costs, non-compliance, and problems with scalability.
3. Complete a risk assessment with your team.
Create a series of questions that assess your standards, guidelines, and best practices, and use the assessment on an annual basis to understand where the gaps are. Was there a data breach you weren’t technologically prepared for in the past? Did you run into complications with equipment you’re currently using that cost you man-hours? Your team should look at what was effective and ineffective in your IT infrastructure. And, you can use cybersecurity standards such as NIST or ISO to understand what may be a priority to protect your business in the future.
4. Consider if you have the right tech talent on your team.
Whether it’s an IT services partner or an internal hire, decide who you need on your team to execute the strategy you’ve developed for your business. If you’re needing to bring in an external partner or new hire, you’ll want to include this cost in your overall budget and consider what the return on the investment may be.
5. Prepare a budget that prioritizes your company’s needs.
Your IT services team can be a resource to rely on when deciding where you want to allocate your dollars. As we said, map out a 3-year budget to go with your strategic plan. Consider what the top priorities are, what you have coming up in your IT pipeline (new projects where IT may be key), pay increases for your IT talent and all of the equipment and renewals that may need to be replaced. Even getting vendor proposals and recommendations ahead of time can help you better estimate what you'll likely need to spend on initiatives. Your team should look at your overall business structure and make budgetary decisions based on how IT can sustain, protect or considerably decrease your bottom line.
While we know this process of IT strategic planning can take time and energy, it's worth it to eliminate future headaches that may come from lack of preparation. If you’d like to better understand how to plan for IT in the future, we are here to help. Contact us today.