Budgets... Budgeting... Generally speaking, no one likes the process. However, as I have risen up the ranks from conscientious employee, to manager, to C-level executive, I have found that many business owners view Information technology as simply an expense to be managed, rather than an investment to be leveraged.
- Look for ways to lower the costs of keeping the lights on.
- Reduce complexity. It is easier from both a cost and time perspective to manage a certain make and model of PC, server, printer than a hodge-podge of devices.
- Investigate how your organization might use hosted and/or cloud services to reduce long-term capital expenses.
- Consider how you are staffing your IT department. Is your staff efficient in the mundane so they can focus on the strategic.
- Review blogs and magazine articles that focus on the enterprise sized IT needs. These will often give you insight into what larger organizations are doing to manage non-strategic assets while allocating the savings for strategic initiatives. More than likely in 2-3 years those technologies will be available in the mid to small business space.
- Look for ways to get more out of what you already have. Search for experts in the software solutions you are leveraging, bring them in to help your user community be more efficient, learn new features, and help them integrate systems to make the data you already have more valuable.
- Fail to plan is planning to fail is so true in IT. Work with your IT department on yearly and then quarterly initiatives (that include budgets) that provide strategic business value and hold them accountable.
- Finally, work with your IT leaders to help them understand the key things in your business that drives costs, drives profit, and/or reduces risks. Including and allowing them to participate in working on rather than just working in the business has the potential to move your whole organization forward.
I am fully convinced that when IT assets are leveraged in the proper way, they have the ability to become strategic assets that provide a competitive advantage. Take the steps to move the money you spend on IT from a budget to be managed, to an investment to be leveraged.