It’s that time of year for many organizations. “What are we going to do next year and what will cost?” Often, trying to determine where to allocate resources, particularly as it related to technology, can be a challenging ordeal. “Should I keep that device after it’s out of warranty? Do I really need additional storage based on current projections? Can my network accommodate the acquisition we’re planning?”
Every budget cycle, technology teams scramble to put together what they think they’ll need, and push for what they want based on ‘gut feel’ or the opinions of a few architects. If they’re good record keepers they may attempt to ‘copy/paste’ the previous year’s IT spend and apply it for the year to come, not factoring major 1-time initiatives that will not resurface on a budget for 3-5 years. They deliver this to the budgeting and planning committee, often without supporting data, and then hope for the best. The hope is “Maybe this year, the CFO will see why we really need this!” There’s a better way.
An APPLE a day (or at least a couple of times a year)…
We’re not talking about the giant OS and device maker. In our work, APPLE translates to Assess, Prioritize, Plan, Leverage, Execute.
As a trusted partner, our clients often come to us and ask “What SHOULD I be budgeting for?” The insight to ask that question is powerful, but we’ve moved beyond a simple discussion to provide full scale environment assessments based on the services we’re managing for them.
- Assess – Each of our internal technical teams have built an assessment process that targets critical components of our clients’ environment. For example, our team created scripts that mine data from Active Directory and Citrix Systems and reports it back within minutes. The data report is a valuable artifact in and of itself, but the interpretation of the data is the value add our teams provide. Running out of available DHCP addresses? We’ll flag that. Are there unsupported server operating systems in your environment? Could your organization benefit from an overhaul of GPO’s? We’ll let you know where they are and the risks they pose to your enterprise. By identifying areas for improvement (or areas of risk), we provide you the information to make informed decisions about where to focus resources.
- Prioritize – As you can imagine, once an assessment is complete, there are likely more items that COULD be worked on than available resources. Our engineering teams review the results of assessment and provide insight and recommendations. Perhaps a server should be decommissioned versus upgraded. Based on usage trends, you’ll likely need another 10TB of storage next year. Priority should also be weighed based on variables like ROI or IRR, visibility within the organizations and resource saturation. Understanding the implications of the assessment and the risks and benefits to your technology environment allows you to work on the right things at the right time.
- Plan – A budget usually covers an entire year. Now that we’ve worked to figure out what we should focus on, the next question is where does it fall in the budget cycle? Is this a Q1 or a Q3 initiative? Can this be broken up into smaller pieces so we distribute spend throughout the year? And are there dependencies between items? Does my purchase of this additional hardware need to coincide with bringing in our college new hires? Knowing, at a high level, how you plan to execute will ensure you stick with the plan during the budget cycle.
- Leverage – So we’ve budgeted for new work, hardware, etc. “Now that I have the budget approved for projects, what other benefits can I gain from the assessment data?” Should you be keeping server logs forever, or can you free up storage by removing them every 6 months? Can the systems notify me when a new user is added so it is easier for me to manage my licensing costs? Often, just thinking differently about a problem can reveal low or no cost solutions that move your environment to a better place.
- Execute – This is where the rubber meets the road. Procure and implement the resources in the plan, on budget, to deliver value to the environment. How accurate were your projections? Were there unexpected costs or issues? Organizations should always be measuring the execution to refine next year’s budgeting process. One great way to do this is to….Assess!
Clients of our Performance Services practice receive these regular assessments and plans consistently throughout their contract with us. We believe that proactive planning is the only way to ensure that IT services can consistently run well. Our clients appreciate the fact that we can help them control spend and address the areas that come with the great upside, or the most risk. As their partner in business, helping them plan for the future is a core value added service.