IT Budget Blog Series: Know your client

Introduction

Establishing an IT Budget is not an easy process, and depending on the scope of your resource oversight, it can easily multiply in complexity.  Before we dive into the particulars of establishing the budget, we need to know our client, our client being the staff and infrastructure that makes the company run on a daily basis.

The Game Plan

The first step is to establish a game plan.  The game plan defines WHAT information you need and WHO has that information. The first question you need answering is what is the roles in the company. For example, in a software development company, we have the following roles:

Build Engineer IT Manager QC (Automation Engineer)
Chief Executive Officer Marketing (Manager) QC (Manager)
Engineer (Manager) Marketing (Non-Manager) QC (Non-Manager)
Engineer (Non-Manager) Mobile Staff Remote Sales
Head of BOC Onsite Staff ScrumMaster
Human Resources (Manager) PO (Manager) Solution Architect
Human Resources (Non-Manager) PO (Non-Manager) Workflow Engineer (Non-Manager)

You will notice that we do not go down to the specific roles, there is no huge benefit. For example, Engineer (Non-Manager) role is a collection of:

  • Backend Engineer
  • Front-End Engineer
  • Database Engineer

As they all will likely utilize same software and computer specifications to complete their jobs.

While establishing the role categories of the company, we need to identify current headcount and forecast for the year by quarter. Why do we need to know what quarter the headcount starts? This is important for budget related to subscription services as they are prorated whereas User CAL / Perpetual licensing and Hardware is upfront purchase.

Identification of company roles and headcount forecast is honestly the easy part. The more time-consuming effort comes next: Identification of hardware and software each role requires to complete their responsibilities. Before jumping to hardware decisions, establish what software each role requires to succeed.  This should be identified by working with the function manager of each role, or if it is a small company, work with the individuals directly.

It is also assumed that the primary method of company communication and productivity tools has already been identified and established.  This could be Microsoft, Google, or open source, but in the case of paid services, understand what components are needed for each role.  Many of the cloud service solutions offer various tiers, this could provide significant savings. Many companies are either offering subscription model as an alternative or replacing the perpetual module completely with subscriptions. I’ll dive in another article a collection of my discoveries related to Microsoft services. Additionally, at the end of this article, I’ll provide a list of software I identified for each role I mentioned above as a reference.

The last step is the identification of hardware for each role. Following questions will be answered:

  • Is it a company perk or an existing partnership with a specific brand?
  • What is minimum hardware requirements that cover all software of a given role?
  • Computer replacement cycle varies by role but you can plan on a 3-year cycle for laptop and 5-year cycle (with necessary upgrades) for Desktops. Will the employee receive new hardware or reissued from a previous employee?

We have now successfully collected necessary details to initiate our budget.

As promised, I attached (Excel file) a listing of all software and hardware I identified for previous software development company I worked with, who was developing add-on products for Microsoft SharePoint. This company also utilized Microsoft cloud subscription services for productivity and development.

Sample Software and Hardware by Role Category

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