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Building better budgets for an IT enabled organisation

(Image credit: Image Credit: Stevepb / Pixabay)

As the number of people working remotely increases, organizations are relying more heavily on IT to manage day-to-day activities. This new demand placed on IT infrastructure, especially cloud technologies, brings with it a change. Instead of building a budget in the background, IT professionals need to evaluate how information is going to be consumed by the organization going forward.

In light of the current climate, business priorities are changing. To build a budget that’s agile and can react to changes in service consumption, it’s up to IT professionals to work with the wider organization to really understand what’s important going forward. Many organizations are starting to look to cloud-based technologies as a way to mobilize their workforce in the long term. This means as users continue to work remotely, they will consume more bandwidth and data at an increasingly exponential rate. This increase in consumption has a direct impact on the IT department and subsequently the budget. 

Introducing flexibility and managing change

For some organizations, the initial switch to remote working may prompt talk of cost savings. After all, without rent or an office to maintain it appears there are saving to be made. But it’s important for IT professionals to explain the implications of a move to cloud-based working and educate business leaders so they can understand the consequences of the change.

Looking back at the reliance on video conferencing platforms 18 months ago, they were often seen as low priority business applications. Today usage has dramatically increased, and the vast majority of employees utilize tools such as Skype, Zoom and Microsoft Teams.  Use of Zoom jumped 30-fold in April as the pandemic forced millions to work remotely– it’s almost become the new email.

If a long-term move to remote working is on the cards, then business leaders will need to invest a large portion of the IT budget on infrastructure for it to be successful. Factoring in aspects like increased bandwidth and storage provision is important for IT departments looking to empower employees to work anytime, anywhere. It’s up to the IT team to lead the charge, helping the organization weigh up the cost of cloud versus the demand and building flexibility into the budget to allow changes to happen.

The shifting landscape means that organizations need to move away from purely looking at IT provision and instead think about the ways IT enables the organization. A successful IT budget looks to minimize the misalignment between IT priorities and business priorities. The only way for IT professionals to do this, is through early and continual engagement with business leaders.

An IT enabled organization

With a greater reliance on technology to enable transformation, IT professionals must determine how services will be delivered and what IT will be consumed. Engagement with the leadership team to understand the business priorities is key.

A good example of how IT consumption may change is the intranet. Typically seen as a way to find out the latest company news, download a new lead form or access support – there’s an opportunity for it to play a key part in internal communications. While the office coffee break might have been put on hold for now, having a chat with colleagues is still an important part of the work life balance. For organizations looking to replicate the social aspects of office life, incorporating instant messaging or community groups into their intranet service can be a great way to boost employee engagement.

It’s important for IT professionals to understand how users will consume IT now that users are working remotely for the foreseeable future. Budget and planning considerations need to be made in light of this, not only from a provision of services point of view but also from a service demand perspective. The ability to spin up and dial down services is key to responding to unexpected challenges as they, as it allows IT departments to effectively meet the wider organizations service needs.

Defining the user experience

Another key consideration is understanding and defining what the user experience will look like for both employees and customers. We’re now in a position where many employees will find themselves at home, working in an isolated physical environment and away from the IT support desk.

The very remote nature in which we are currently working has led to a demand in IT support services. This presents the opportunity to move away from a ‘hand-holding’ style of service delivery to one that promotes self-service. This disparate way of working means that IT professionals must consider the needs of the mobile workforce and how they can empower them with knowledge, devices and technologies that meet their needs.

The pandemic has brought about a huge channel shift in the way we communicate and with this comes a need to educate users. IT professionals should budget and plan for the type of user experience they want to drive and the costs associated with it. The worst-case scenario is that employees don’t engage with new technologies and productivity takes a nose dive.

Understanding the type of user experience the organization is looking to create, will help IT professionals to pinpoint the applications and technologies that will help deliver and enable internal users to consume IT in the most effective way.

Sitting at the leadership table

Engagement with senior leadership will also help IT professionals to understand the challenges and priorities the business faces. This level of insight is key to provisioning IT that benefits and delivers against the objectives the organization wants to achieve.

Being connected to the business objectives, vision, people strategy and the user experience being cultivated, is vital to delivering an effective IT strategy. Engagement in business planning helps identify areas where potential budget sits and how IT can help to meet the evolving needs of the organization.

The change in the way we work has impacted the way IT budgets are planned. Now the challenge for IT professionals is looking at how they will go from looking after an organization with eight buildings and 10,000 people to maintaining 10,000 dwellings. What does that mean for security and will it change the way updates are deployed?

These are all new challenges and it’s important that IT professionals engage with leaders in the wider organization so that it can put user experience at the heart of the business vision. In a rapidly changing work landscape, you need to deliver a budget that meets the evolving needs of the organization – one that isn’t simply a repeat of years gone by.

Mark Scott, CEO, Cantium Business Solutions

Mark Scott is CEO at Cantium Business Solutions.