How Do Businesses Allocate Their IT Support Budgets?

How Do Businesses Allocate Their IT Support Budgets?

It’s not just the size of your IT budget — it’s how you distribute your resources that really makes a difference.

Even with a smaller budget for your Atlanta based business, you can set yourself up for success — and shore up protection against threats and challenges — by allocating your IT spend the right way.

But what’s “the right way?” The answer is different for every business — there’s no specific number that will work for everyone.

However, there are some guidelines to consider when deciding how to allocate your budget for IT managed services and support.

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Know What You Need from Your Technology

Before setting an IT budget, it’s crucial to know what exactly you need to get out of your technology. This is an area where every industry — and every company — will have different needs.

Generally, most companies need the following things from their IT department:

  • Keep crucial systems and platforms online, with as little downtime as possible
  • Boost efficiency of operating processes and functions
  • Protect against cyber-threats
  • Keep confidential business and customer information secure
  • Enable streamlined communications
  • Monitor and compile business-critical data

The specifics and priorities will vary widely depending on your business and industry, however.

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Evaluate Your Recurring Costs

Some aspects of your budget can fluctuate, but other IT costs generally stay the same. If you’re just starting to build an IT infrastructure, consider how much you can afford to allocate toward expenses such as software licensing and subscription fees and cloud-based storage.

While there may be a number of options for different size budgets, the costs of these services are generally predictable and can provide a baseline for establishing a budget.

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Plan for Evolving Risks

When planning an IT budget, it’s essential to consider not just what you need in place to facilitate your baseline operations, but how you’ll address ever-evolving risks and cyber-threats.

Some things to consider include:

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Business Continuity and Disaster Planning

Even run-of-the-mill power outages can spell disaster for businesses. But with fires, hurricanes, and other natural disasters in the news more frequently, how prepared are you if something more serious strikes your community?

Natural disasters can be devastating for small businesses, which often don’t have the budget to recover and rebuild after having their data and infrastructure wiped out.

You can mitigate that risk with a solid data storage and disaster recovery plan that may include a robust data center, cloud-based storage, or a hybrid solution.

The right option for you will depend on the likely threats in your area, your budget, and the specific needs of your business and industry. But it’s worth it to take the time and allocate some of your budget to determining what those needs are and finding a solution that’s both cost-efficient and effective.

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Cybersecurity

Natural disasters are one thing — but cybersecurity threats require a different kind of response entirely. And these threats are continually evolving and changing.

Even small businesses have to be vigilant against cyber-attacks — because hackers don’t just target large companies. Smaller businesses often don’t have the resources to employ serious protections against cyber threats, so they can be particularly vulnerable and hackers know that.

Ransomware in particular can be absolutely devastating to a business or organization of any size. This is a type of malware that holds your crucial data hostage — blocking you from accessing it unless you pay a ransom. Some types of ransomware attacks threaten to publish sensitive data unless the price is paid.

Many ransomware attacks involve a method called cryptoviral extortion — in which your files are encrypted in a way that makes them virtually impossible to decrypt without the key. These attacks are insidious and require a very specialized kind of defense.

If you’re not taking threats like these into account with your IT budget plan, you may be courting unnecessary risk.

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Cloud-Based Disaster Recovery

Transitioning to a cloud-based data storage and recovery system can be a smart move, no matter the size of your business.

Many companies opt for third-party solutions that aren’t tied to their internal business network, providing an effective shield against many types of cybersecurity threats and enabling faster data recovery. This is called “Disaster-recovery-as-a-Service,” or DraaS.

This option comes with its own expenses including migration of your data to the cloud, setting up an ongoing backup strategy, and a monthly subscription fee. However, these solutions can save you money in the long run—and they can be invaluable if you’re targeted by a ransomware attack or find your business in the path of a natural disaster.

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Establishing a Strong Foundation for Future Growth

Your IT budget will naturally expand as your business does. But even a good change in your company’s finances can be a vulnerable time for your IT, as you’ll need to properly allocate your budget to fit and anticipate your company’s growing needs.

It’s crucial to strategically plan for expansion, so that you’re not just buying into recent trends that may not be suitable to your needs. Ideally, your plan should be based on sound data analysis and a realistic evaluation of what those needs will be.

But the most effective strategy is often to implement scalable solutions from the beginning that can be expanded seamlessly as your business grows, rather than introducing entirely new solutions that may come with a learning curve.

Physical infrastructure should be factored into your long-range planning as well. This can include computers, laptops, and mobile devices as well as networks, servers, routers, telephone equipment, printers and peripherals, and any other equipment that forms the foundation of your IT.

When planning these purchases to support your company’s future growth, it’s essential to consider present cost, the equipment’s predicted lifecycle, manufacturer support and warranties, and the possibility of this technology being outpaced by advances in the field before it needs to be replaced.

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How Managed IT Services Can Help

Managed IT Services are third-party services that function as an IT department for a company of any size, mitigating the need to hire full-time IT staff or build your own department.

These services have grown prevalent in the past decade or so, especially within the tech industry and are now becoming more popular across many different sectors.

Managed Service Providers can offer a full suite of IT services and management options, spanning core maintenance and updates, data center management, telecommunications, infrastructure, security, disaster planning and data recovery, and more.

Here’s how a knowledgeable Managed Services Provider can help you plan and allocate your IT budget going forward.

  1. Making your budget predictable
  2. Helping you determine what you need
  3. Staying on top of emerging threats

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By Making Your Budget Predictable

While every Managed Service Provider is different, most operate on a monthly subscription basis that makes full-service IT management more affordable and accessible to companies with smaller budgets.

This means you’re not paying separately for extra services such as ongoing disaster recovery or cloud storage, and you’re not seeing your IT provider only when something goes wrong with the resulting spike in costs.

With a Managed Service Provider, everything is rolled into your monthly subscription from ongoing maintenance to disaster recovery, cyber security, and tech support. This makes your budget easy to predict and manage.

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By Helping You Determine What You Need

A good Managed Service Provider should be able to assess your business, understand your specific needs, and offer solutions that suit those needs.

This includes evaluating the current trends, understanding your competitors’ capabilities, and identifying which emerging technologies best suit your business goals and which ones aren’t the best investment, even if they’re widely used.

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By Staying On Top of Emerging Threats

With a Managed Services Provider on your side, you don’t have to face cybersecurity threats alone.

It’s a tall order to expect small business owners to monitor and implement solutions to protect against constantly-changing security threats if that isn’t already your area of expertise—all while doing everything else required to run your business.

An expert Managed Service Provider monitors current trends, keeps an eye on the horizon, and constantly updates and strengthens your cybersecurity measures as new threats emerge.

And if you are the target of a cyber attack, your Managed Service Provider can ensure your business-critical data is shielded and quickly recovered.

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Questions About Your IT Budget? Ask an Expert.

If you’re struggling with how to implement an IT budget for your Atlanta business, a knowledgeable Managed Service provider can help.

We can evaluate your needs, discuss the gaps in performance between your company goals and your current technical infrastructure and systems, and suggest real, measurable improvements that will strengthen your company’s competitive edge.

Call TeamLogic IT today at 770-847-9611 for a free, confidential consultation and recommendations that can help you plan effectively and confidently for the future.

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