Is your business in the thick of budgeting for next financial year? Is technology one area you know you need to invest? Of course you want to invest wisely, so our Q&A will guide you towards the right purchase decision for your business.
1. What are your business goals next FY?
Your technology investments will be driven by your business goals. Start by planning where you want your business to be in a year’s time and work back to what systems, equipment, and resources you’ll need to get there.
2. Is your operating system currently supported?
This isn’t a case of “don’t fix if it ain’t broken”. You should have up-to-date operating systems for a host of reasons (including cyber security protection) so take a proactive approach to reviewing and budgeting for updated software.
3. Is your hardware still in warranty?
If the equipment is old, it can be difficult to find replacement parts. Or there’s confusion over who’s responsible for servicing the gear. And it can be expensive, both in terms of lost business and repairs.
We recommend you keep a register of your existing hardware with warranty expiration dates. You should budget to replace anything already out of warranty and due to expire next financial year. Keep the register up-to-date so you always know well ahead of time what you need to invest in.
4. Are you growing your business?
If so, do you have the required licenses active for users?
You should audit your software licenses to ensure you have enough for all your team members, or make sure you aren't paying for licenses you don’t need.
It’s good practice to have a register of all the licenses, and check in with each team member to make sure you haven’t missed any.
As you plan for headcount increases or new business lines requiring new software, budget for adequate licenses.
5. Are you phone systems still operating on ADSL copper rather than NBN?
Copper is so 2011! Admittedly not everyone had access to the NBN when rollout began, but 2023 is the year to upgrade your network connection if you haven’t already. Budget for it if applicable.
Bigger picture, you may also want to consider macro forces that may affect your operations and budget for them too.
Low inflation and wages growth has meant many businesses have been able to add staff to solve business problems. With inflation now ticking up and employment at record highs, finding and affording staff is becoming trickier. The reality right now is you may need to look at productivity gains from within the team you have if you can’t fill seats.
Technology can help.
This can be as simple as upgrading everyday tech tools to be faster and more reliable so your team isn’t stuck watching the spinning wheel of death on their computer screens or waiting for replacement parts for your printer.
At the more strategic end, it might be the perfect opportunity to completely reassess how you approach your technology infrastructure design, acquisition, and management.
So where do you start?
1. Audit the status quo
Sound out your team’s frustrations. They’ll tell you where they waste a lot of their time and/or what isn’t working as well as it could. Ask them for input about their needs and recommendations on how productivity could be improved.
2. Look across your business
Technology is like water – it seeps into every part of your business. Look across your business, from your team in the field (could they be using devices instead of paper?), customer service staff, to business support functions and map out a realistic plan to help them be more productive (and probably like their jobs more)
Map your teams needs to the business’s needs according to:
- Document handling
- Connectivity (internet, networks)
- Communications (PBX, email, chat, audio visual)
- Business products/ services delivery
- Applications (CRM, finance, marketing, customer service etc.)
- Cyber security
- Business resilience (backup, recover, continuity)
3. Keep, upgrade, acquire, outsource
Any business expense should be justifiable which means despite it’s age some technology that’s still performing well should be kept for another year. But for the technology that needs attention, you have three options: upgrade the existing tech, acquire new or outsource it.
Upgrading & acquiring are straight-forward, but outsourcing refers to managing the technology on your behalf. For example, rather than try and get your head around the best server infrastructure to buy, how to keep it updated, backed up, & the back-up power source needed etc., enlist a managed services provider (i.e. efex) to transition you to host it in the cloud. This concept of buying the function of the technology, rather than the technology itself, is applicable across communications, hardware, security, print and more.
4. Allow for fubar (fouled up beyond all recognition)
Inflation isn’t just impacting the cost of broccoli at the supermarket. Disruption to international supply chains, city-wide lockdowns, processor chip shortages and slow shipping times are affecting the costs and availability of equipment. Allow for the disruption and increased costs to ensure you aren’t left behind schedule and over budget.
Side note: In our previous article we summarized the ins and outs of the proposed Small Business Technology Investment Boost which would allow eligible businesses to claim an additional 20% on their tax returns. This could be handy.
The end of financial year will be upon us shortly so if you need guidance with setting yourself up for a successful 2023, we’d love to help. Call our team on 1300 376 347 or email us with your contact details so we can connect.