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6 Questions to Ask When Planning Your IT Support Budget for 2021

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IT Support Questions

Executive Summary

  • IT support is becoming ever more critical as the world takes its first steps into 2021 alongside the ongoing pandemic. But how will this impact IT budgets?
  • In this article, we’ll share 6 key questions you should ask of your company before you finalise your IT support budget for 2021.
  • We’ll take into account factors like the pandemic, the continuation of work-from-home, an increased focus on cybersecurity, and more.

Introduction

Let’s face it: planning budgets for the upcoming year isn’t always the most thrilling of activities.

But when you’re following up an entirely unpredictable year like 2020? It can feel like even more of a chore.

That’s why the Get Support team has knocked our heads together to come up with a list of 6 essential questions we recommend you consider when working on your IT support budget for 2021.

Whether it’s the move to working from home or simply ensuring your software subscriptions are still worth keeping, we hope these questions help inform your IT support budget for this year.

Shall we?

#1: “How is the ongoing pandemic going to affect us?”

Much as we all hoped everything would have been back to blissfully boring normality by now, sadly the global pandemic continues to impact all of our lives.

While 2020 was a relentlessly tough year for many businesses, there’s no question that many were forced to try new things and perhaps even pivot their entire business model – and fast. This agility is a lesson in itself, but it should also help you when considering your IT support budget for the next 12 months.

  • Will the continued pressure of the pandemic mean adjustments to your overall IT budget are required?
  • How are your customers or clients being affected, and will you need to deploy IT-based solutions to help retain that business?
  • Is there expenditure in other areas of the business which is no longer required or suboptimal? And could it be redirected to better support your IT systems?

#2: “Does our existing IT hardware adequately support our team?”

You’ve probably already made several infrastructural changes to account for the move to working from home, but are these solutions sustainable?

As we head into 2021, it’s becoming clear that remote working is here to stay for at least a little while longer.

This raises an important question for business that may have deployed short-term or stop-gap IT support solutions last year which now need revisiting.

For example, you might have asked employees to “temporarily” work from their own personal laptops or PCs at home. Or you may not have enquired about desk space or proper seating for computer work at home. Whatever the case, building out your IT support budget is a great opportunity to take a fresh look at the measures you have in place to support your remote team.

It might sting at first blush, but it’s sometimes worth diverting some budget into new hardware if it’ll mean higher productivity from your remote teams.

#3: “Have we invested enough in cloud apps and services?”

Are you sensing a theme for 2021 just yet? It’s not necessarily about everyone working from home, but rather having the flexibility to work from home should they choose to do so.

In that spirit, the next question you should be asking as part of your IT support budget is about the software which makes your business tick.

There was a time, not so long ago, that most business software was installed only on your local machines, meaning the apps and files were only accessible from that one computer (unless you transferred them to a USB drive... but who has the time?).

Today, things look very different, and it’s thanks to cloud-based apps and services like those packaged with the Microsoft 365 suite. Cloud-based apps, (even if they still offer versions which can be installed locally, like Teams and Office), work seamlessly with your cloud data stored in places like OneDrive, meaning you can use your apps and access the same files from anywhere.

Why should you consider cloud apps and services as part of your IT support budget? It’s simple: when software is accessible anywhere, and on almost any device, your business suddenly unlocks all-new ways of working.

If you haven’t get discovered how transformative the experience of cloud-based software can be, be sure to check out our A-Z guide to Microsoft 365.

#4: “Would we save more time or money with a managed IT support solution?”

Here’s a question: what does your business do when you hit an IT roadblock you simply can’t overcome?

Most often, you’ve got two choices: you either hire a “break/fix” IT support provider to make the repairs as a one-off job, or you work with a Managed Service Provider (MSP) to take care of the problem as part of your overall service agreement.

Which is best for your business? Well, we cover this topic in-depth in a previous Plain English Guide, but the short version is that an MSP will generally be the most cost-effective way to deal with the problem.

This is even more true if your business is spending time or money inefficiently in other areas of your IT support strategy.

Wasting hours setting up new users? Taking too long to decide the best IT hardware to deploy? Spending days troubleshooting IT problems which could be solved more quickly by experts? If so, an IT support agreement – like those we deliver at Get Support – will practically pay for itself.

5: “Is every penny of our IT budget going to the right place?”

When you’re busy focusing on the day-to-day of running your business, it’s easy to let certain things fly under the radar, including your IT support spending.

As part of your planning for 2021, we recommend that you carry out a full audit of your complete IT budget and track every penny to its final destination. The reason is simple: it’ll help you identify areas where you’re overspending on IT support tools or tactics which just aren’t worth it anymore.

Perhaps you’re paying for an extended warranty on hardware you’ve since got rid of? Or maybe you’re paying out monthly subscriptions for software you don’t use anymore? Whatever the case, getting everything down in black and white will give you a much broader view of your IT support spend, and give you a more realistic view of what your IT support budget really looks like in 2021.

If longer term planning and optimal IT strategy is your thing, be sure to check out our unique IT Director service. It’s like having a dedicated IT Director on your team – without the big salary.

6: “Are our cybersecurity measures robust enough to support a more distributed workforce?”

We’ve spent a lot of time over the last few months here on the Get Support blog looking at the dangers of malware, especially for small businesses.

With your team potentially working out of the office for a good chunk of 2021, this is yet another good opportunity to revisit your cybersecurity measures as part of your IT support budget.

This might include:

  • Ensuring all team members have deployed adequate antivirus and firewall protection.
  • Providing education to remote team members about cybersecurity issues like phishing and trojan horse attacks.
  • Double-checking the security policies for your organisation (e.g. Microsoft Azure AD), including practicing good password hygiene.

If cybersecurity is a fairly new topic to you, and you haven’t already done so, we’d strongly recommend that you review our articles on the Cyber Essentials scheme. Checking off each of these steps, even just internally, is a great way to toughen up your cybersecurity quickly.

The bottom line? Invest in IT support you can rely on

If asking these questions – even of our own business – has taught us anything, it’s that having an IT support system that’s reliable is the most important thing.

With a trustworthy IT support team backing you up, you can be certain that you’ll have a stellar 2021 – no matter what it throws at you.

Want to take the conversation further and discover the Get Support approach to IT support? Call us today on 01865 59 4000 or just fill in the form below.

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