Four IT Strategies To Consider For Your 2017 Budget (Part 2 of 2)

September 2016: No one wants to end up with an IT budget that doesn’t match what your company needs to be successful. That’s why now’s the time to have meetings with your stakeholders and talk with them about what they want to accomplish next year and how IT can help. Doing this now gets everyone on the same page and gives your IT department enough time to get ready.

In this post, we’ll look at the second part of our four IT budgeting strategies to consider for 2017:

You can find the first two strategies — operating system strategy and application strategy + server strategy — here.

3. Security strategy

Looking at ways to adjust your IT security strategy to match your risks from external threats is something you need to do each year. The bad guys keep coming up with new ways to hack and attack, so you need to keep updating your security. Review each of these four cybersecurity areas so you can budget for any needed improvements:

  • Multifactor authentication. Any form of remote access to your network should be secured. This includes web access, Outlook, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), virtual private networks (VPNs) and other ways your team connects online or to each other. Your goal is to shut down password vulnerabilities by requiring a token (a physical device or an app) or biometric authentication everywhere your team logs in.
  • Better backups. We’re living in the ransomware era. It’s relentless. And it’s not going away until it’s no longer profitable. Your security strategy should include these two solutions to protect your company from being held hostage: 1) More frequent restore points throughout the day, and 2) offsite replication of your backups. If you didn’t back up all day and you get hit with ransomware at the close of business, you’ve lost that day.
  • Business continuity. Part of being secure is being prepared. At minimum, budget for a full-blown test of your business interruption strategy. You need to know that your plan works whether you suffer a power outage that lasts a few hours or a disaster that has you working out of a remote location for weeks or longer. It’s better to know that something doesn’t work right now than during an actual event.
  • Business risk assessment. If you haven’t done a third-party risk assessment in 2016 (or if you’ve never formally evaluated your company’s stance on security vs. convenience, budget it for 2017. A risk assessment will look at your business operations to determine which areas are vulnerable. If you have regulatory compliance requirements, this assessment is called an audit!

4. Network strategy

Your network is the backbone of your business — it needs to function at its very best so everything else can, too. Answer these questions to determine what changes you need to make to your network, if any, in 2017:

  • Will your business grow?
    Your network currently handles a certain amount of subscribers and traffic. Will it be able to handle more desktops, more traffic or more people working from home? Will your firewalls, anti-malware and antivirus software be able to keep up? Look at each stakeholder’s goals and pay special attention to major projects like launching a new app or adding video conferencing. If you’re growing, you’ll need to invest in your network, especially if you’re moving infrastructure to the cloud because you’ll need redundancy to keep everything fast and reliable.
  • Will you have enough bandwidth?
    You need enough internet capacity to handle your current needs and absorb extra demands like new cloud-based apps, staff and collaboration projects. Ask your carrier or IT team for reports on your existing bandwidth utilization. If your usage is heading up instead of staying flat, it’s time to add more bandwidth to make up the expected difference. Shoot for an abundance of bandwidth, if possible. If you do this by adding another carrier, you’ll get the added benefit of being able to switch from one carrier to another if one of the carriers is having a bad day.
  • Could you do better with a different (or additional) carrier?
    Review your current carrier contracts and get competitive pricing and plans to see if your carrier is still the best choice. Even if you had signed a multi-year contract to get a better deal, today’s pricing might be lower because connectivity is getting cheaper. Make sure you know when any auto-renew clauses kick in because they can lock you into something you no longer want. Negotiate any new contracts based on your projected bandwidth needs.
  • Will your platforms be sufficient?
    Review the different ways your company interfaces with people online. Is a website refresh in the works? Will you launch or upgrade your customer portal? Are you adding functionality like e-commerce, podcasts, online videos or distance learning tools? Make sure the 2017 budget covers your ability to manage all interactions securely and efficiently, including internal controls like web content filtering.

Completing your due diligence for the budgeting process can be hard work — but, oh, the rewards when you do it right! Your IT ecosystem can be the wind at your company’s back. Leapfrog works with clients throughout the process (and all year long) to help them flush out IT requirements and prioritize them based on business goals. If your company needs guidance developing a solid IT budget for 2017, feel free to contact the frogs.