Now that fall is almost here, many are thinking about their annual budgeting process. For those in IT, it's time to consider the purchases, projects, and services that will be on next year's punch list.
Each project will come with its own set of possible solutions; cloud vs. on-premise, outsourced vs. insourced, converged vs. hyperconverged, etc. As we consider our 2018-and-beyond IT plans, let's take a minute and make sure to have the IT basics covered. For example, end-of-life support dates or manufacturer renewals; as we are planning our budgets, it is equally important to consider emerging technologies and how they might offer innovative ways to perform or secure our information better.
Cover Your IT Security Basics
Year-over-year, IT Security continues to be a priority for all businesses, small to enterprise. If you have made it to this point with the same credit card you started the year with, and your social security number has not been compromised, then you are doing quite well. Public data breaches have impacted tens of millions of people worldwide. 2018 is the year to strengthen both your network and educate your employees to keep cyberattackers and threats at bay.
Employee security training should be a small but critical part of the IT budget in the upcoming year. The days of treating security training as an annual box-checking exercise are behind us. Many of the largest breaches seen this year were the result of a compromised user, not a compromised system. The goal of every organization should be a culture of security awareness, which means much more than annual training. Training should be adaptive and continue to keep pace with the rapidly evolving threats. There are an increasing number of ongoing training and testing programs available to supplement or replace your annual training. These programs are relatively inexpensive and should be at the top of your ‘must-have’ budget list.
From time to time, SE comes across a network that is missing basic security technology. If your IT portfolio is absent of any of the technologies mentioned below, consider carving out a piece of your budget to ensure these are put in place:
- Intrusion Prevention System (IPS)
- Web Content Filtering
- Mobile Device Management solution (MDM)
- Server and Desktop Patching
- Managed Anti-Virus
Not sure what these technologies are? Take a look at this security article for a better understanding.
Enhancing IT Security with Policies
The heart of any well-structured IT security platform is a set of well developed security policies and plans. Ensuring that critical policies are documented, read, and understood enhances a company's ability to protect itself and its assets. During the IT Budgeting process, it's important to put a budget line item in place to have these policies developed or updated:
- Information Security Policy - defines the standards and processes your firm uses to secure your network and data.
- Technology Acceptable Use Agreement - articulates acceptable employee usage of your firm's technology in addition to the consequences of misuse.
- Business Continuity Plan - this demonstrates to your clients that your business is prepared for the worst.
Microsoft Office 365
If a company has not yet implemented Microsoft Office 365, it's just a matter of time. Not only does the tool allow users to connect to email and documents from any device, at any time, and from anywhere, it comes with a host of tools that provides organizational enhancement to daily, job-related tasks. In today's business world where remote work is becoming more of the "norm," it's important to have collaborative tools that allow remote interactions to take place as securely and efficiently as possible.
If your business is unsure on how to make the move, begin with a cloud assessment. The assessment helps organizations to review and discuss business drivers, applications, data, security, and network needs to ensure a successful and smart migration process.
One of the fastest technological growth areas is with video collaboration and communication tools. In particular, organizations that have more than one branch office or location tend to be more efficient when they invest in video collaboration instead of maintaining the slowly creeping expense of having employees commute to/from various locations.
When hosting a meeting with video collaboration, it's like hosting an in-person meeting - everyone is virtually in the same room, face-to-face. You are able to read body language and everyone is accountable to the meeting - no multi-tasking; efficient meetings can now be hosted remotely and without interruption.
The four top-of-mind 2018 priorities listed above are just some of the considerations organizations should evaluate when plotting out next year's IT budget.
In a recent webinar, titled Top 2018 Considerations for IT Budgeting & Planning, SE's Joe McIntyre and Brad Sprague discussed recommendations and best practices used when approaching IT budget planning and costs. To download the webinar video, click on the button below.