Generally, we like to say that nothing about your small business is too small. We do it a lot in relation to cybersecurity - no size of business is immune to threats. Yet, there is a sizable chance your IT budget is too small; especially with the changes in the IT landscape over the course of the last 18 months.
Today, we're going to look at a few indicators that you might need to invest more in your IT. We recommend keeping these indicators in mind as you prep for your 2022 business plan.
Every business wants to be cost-conscious. Saving money in one area can make funds available to expand, develop new products, or pay people more. One of the most common areas to look for cost-saving cuts is IT. In fact, IT is often looked at similarly to things like building maintenance, or the cleaning crew.
But in reality, technology is the lifeblood of business success today. When you have the right tools available, and the right processes in place, you gain productivity, efficiency, and transparency. Your people are likely to be happier, which helps retention, too. At the same time, with cyberthreats on the rise globally, skimping on IT can substantially increase risk to you, your company, and everyone in it.
So how do you tell if it's time to bump the IT budget line? Look for these warning signs.
The right hardware and software makes employees' jobs easier. Process automation can improve workflow to avoid effort spent on mundane tasks. But if people struggling with slow, outdated technology, that's wasting valuable time.
Likewise, if employees are having to find workarounds to get projects done on deadline, that's a red flag. It is frustrating for them, which impacts morale and possibly retention. Plus, this band-aid style approach to getting the job done can backfire in the long run both from a security and efficiency standpoint.
You're Using The "It's Fine" Excuse
This is one of the most common things we hear, even among our own clients sometimes: "I don't really want to spend the money on *insert upgrade/tool/security enhancement here*. Things are fine right now aren't they?"
The reality is, things are always fine until they're not. Skimping on important upgrades just because things are currently "working" is just setting yourself up for issues down the road. It's always better to spend a bit of money upfront to avoid major headaches further down the road.
Of course, if you're working with true IT partner, they should be able to help you understand all avenues and options available. Maybe instead of shelling out $10k for a new server, a better option is to just do away with it entirely and migrate things to the cloud.
At the end of the day however, if you find yourself saying "things are fine right now" a lot when it comes to IT, but especially IT, it's a red flag.
Customer Experience Is Suffering
You may not immediately connect IT budget and customer satisfaction, yet consumers today want convenience and personal attention. These can be difficult for the overworked human employee to do. Providing improved data and analytics makes it easier to offer individual attention. Plus, chatbots and mobile apps can transform the customer experience, because they save time and effort.
You're Struggling to Meet Industry Standards
Businesses face different industry standards to manage and protect personal and proprietary data. There can be requirements for backup practices, infrastructure testing, monitoring threats, and more. This can make the job of IT more complicated, but not spending to safeguard data or intellectual property risks a financial hit.
Improving operational efficiencies is a priority, of course, yet security spend needs to part of the IT budget, too. Especially in today's cybersecurity environment. Address risk exposure with recurring risk assessments and a strategic security framework.
Better Budgeting for IT
Many businesses looking to bounce back from the pandemic are struggling with tight budgets. Still, technology can improve remote work, increase productivity, and enhance customer satisfaction. And again, technology is the core to every modern business. Don't look at IT like you do your landscaping company, look at IT like you do your accountant or lawyer, all three are crucial to the success of your business, treat them as such.