It’s widely believed that the more you know, the more successful you’ll be. It’s also pretty good advice when it comes to budgeting for IT, because knowing how much is available to invest in your IT infrastructure and where best to spend it are crucial not just to providing effective and efficient support but also to bringing about well-planned change.
Sharing your budget
Budgets tend to be all-encompassing, so chances are the number you’re working with will include everything from systems and software to hardware and training. Keeping this figure front of mind and sharing it with your IT service partners is strongly recommended, as is any plans you have to curb your IT costs.
The best providers will want to develop a plan that matches a client’s short-term objectives and supports the business’s longer-term goals laid out in their IT roadmap. A clear understanding of budget constraints is one of the most important considerations for designing that plan, and affordable tools and software can be suggested accordingly. For instance, your IT service provider might suggest switching from a costly phone system to VoIP, saving you money that could be invested into another area of the business or IT strategy.
Every business is unique, budgets vary and service needs are never the same. So, if an IT service provider offers you a standard price with little explanation around how costs are sliced and diced, chances are you’ll get a bog-standard job too, with little strategic thought or collaboration. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions when it comes to choosing your service provider.
The ‘watch out’ goes both ways too. If you kick an outsourcing project off and get into the nitty gritty, without ever addressing the subject of budget, there’s a risk you could eat into whatever resources you do have, planning for change you could never realistically afford and have to start scaling back before you begin.
Even a ball-park figure and an honest conversation about your priorities will help your service provider develop the best possible plan for the business.
A good IT partner will steer you and make sure important things like budget are locked in, before anyone gets carried away. They’ll also be able to implement positive change or recommend improvements with pretty much any budget, but it’s fair to assume the scope and scale of change will largely be determined by how much you can invest in the process.
Collaboration is key
Budget is obviously important, but the figure itself isn’t everything. To ensure its spent well, there’s value in clients doing a bit of homework upfront and asking some big questions of the business. That way, you can be clear about business needs when you approach your IT provider.
If you think you’d benefit from some help managing that process, that’s okay too. You can get the experts from your IT consulting service involved early and ask them to be part of meetings that:
- Provide clarity on the process, timelines and responsibilities
- Offer everyone the opportunity to ask questions and
- Ensure agreed plans have full business buy-in
A little homework after the fact is also advantageous when it comes to deciding on how much should be spent next time around. Apart from operating an effective ticketing system that shows what support was given and how efficient it was, there are other factors to look at to decide whether your IT service provider has done the job required and has been worth it, which we discussed recently.
Sharing insights and information
It’s a good idea to share any research or information tracking you’ve commissioned in the past too - arming your IT partner with as much information as possible, so they don’t waste time covering old ground or exploring routes you’ve tried and tested before.
It’s worth saying that insights are valuable, full stop. For some, that’s more likely to be a spreadsheet that’s managed internally, keeping track of IT pain points, recurring issues, ideas for improvement or user-experience feedback.
It’s all good stuff and examples can go a long way to bring a brief alive, using everyday examples to help prioritise your budget and highlight the areas that need improvement most.
Preparation is key at the beginning of any plan to fund an IT project, so take time to really understand where you are, where you want to go and get the business on board.
We’ve some great tips to help you kick things off and prepare for your first meeting with any IT outsourcing provider.
Learn more about just how much strong IT support can help your business to grow by downloading our eBook on The Role of IT in Your Growing Agency: