It's time to think about budgeting for technology - and you need to start somewhere. I checked in with our Director of Technical Services, Linda Widdop, to get her insight to identify the top things to think about when budgeting for technology. Linda's advice is backed up by over a decade of working with nonprofits and technology and she recommends you include in your technology budget:
- Phone and Internet Contracts
- Hardware Replacements
- Service and Subscription Renewal
- IT Projects
- Phone and Internet Contracts
- Phone and Internet are 2 of the best places to look for cost savings AND improved services with IT.
- First understand when your contract ends and plan around that, if you can. Phone contracts are typically long term contracts (3-5 years) with clauses that automatically renew your contract at the same term and rate if you do not take action. Typically, contracts can be terminated with 30 or 60 days written notice to the vendor. This is important to avoid early termination charges you will face if you switch providers mid-contract. Tech Impact recommends that you put a reminder on your calendar to remind you to cancel your contract. IMPORTANT – DO NOT cancel the service, just the contract. Inform your provider that you want to remain with the service on a month-to-month basis until you decide what to do going forward.
- Then, shop around for better deals or renegotiate with your provider for better rates. Two things have happened since you signed the original contract: rates may have gone down due to competition, and features may have improved. In either case, you win. We typically see cost savings begin within the first 11 months of making the switch.
- If you do decide to switch providers, execute the contract with the new provider and then let the old provider know that you are terminating service to avoid service disruption. You can take your phone number with you. This is called “porting” your number. Providers have up to 35 days to release your number to the new company so allow that much time before you can begin to use the new service.
- Hardware Replacement
- Servers: Make sure you know your server’s warranty status – is it supported through the end of your budget year, how about your next three budget years? Unless you’re completely in the cloud your organization depends on that email or file server to do its daily work. If you foresee the need to replace your server – do not ignore it! Consider your options for a hardware replacement or moving that stored data to the cloud.
- Workstations: Work stations should be replaced on a rotations cycle replacing ¼ each year (4 year cycle). To start – take an inventory of the PCs you own that have less than 1 GB of RAM, 3 GB of free hard drive space and a 1 GHz processor. This can have a major impact on your budget and services. Make sure you involve your staff in the selection process. TechSoup wrote a really nice piece outlining actions to take when replacing and upgrading technology.
- Service & Subscriptions Renewal –
- Do you currently have an IT Managed Service provider? If you do, figure out when your contract ends. Your provider should work with you to help you outline any additional costs you may face and may recommend new tools and solutions appropriate for your organization.
- You should also consider subscription renewals, fees and licensing for cloud based software. This includes things like your Salesforce database, Office 365 licenses, event management platform, email marketing system – and probably much more. If your organization is poised for growth, make sure you include room for new employee licensing and access.
- IT Projects
- IT related projects come in many shapes and sizes – cloud migrations, data backup, database customization, staff training, etc. These projects will (in most cases) cost money and require a time commitment. Be sure to outline what projects you’d like to complete within the next year. To do this, think about your programs and services, your operations and your expected growth.
Nonprofit organizations' needs and budgets will differ, but all nonprofits should consider the four categories above before their budgets are finalized.Have additional questions? Need some no strings attached advice? Click the button below to set up some time to speak with us about your technology budget. It's our job to help you.