As a result of the rapid evolution of corporate computing and communications technology, many of the most popular and highly demanded types of tools and solutions have become far more affordable in the past few years. This includes cloud services, unified communication equipment and software, mobility tools and much more, and all of these items are combining to help small and medium-sized businesses acquire the most modernized IT capabilities possible.
However, entrepreneurs will still need to spend a healthy amount of time planning their technology budget, and should always work to have plenty of foresight in the strategy to ensure a smooth provisioning process over time. Many companies might begin to see that their budgets are going much further than they would have in the past, and can consider putting that excess cash into more progressive projects and strategies.
The first trick to avoid extraneous spending is to categorize each prospective purchase in accordance with necessity and desire, meaning that the small business owner should have a good idea of what should be implemented first, and which items can be left on the back burner for a while. Although there are many benefits to provisioning products with the entirety of the technology budget, a certain amount of cash should always be kept in the budget in case of sudden needs.
Considerations for extra purchases
If the small business owner and the company's managers complete the technology planning process and find that they have enough to put toward more abstract or conceptual purchases, here are 10 ways the firm can put leftover budget toward progressive purchases:
- Website re-design: Marketing and IT continue to become more intertwined in the average small business because of the mass transition into digital advertising and away from traditional channels. When the company has some extra technology budget, it might be a good idea to overhaul the website for SEO and branding purposes.
- Intranet: Many companies are starting to set up intranet capabilities to deliver information to and open lines of communication among staff members. The resources that need to go into an intranet are not vast, and creating this resource is a rather affordable way to build digital corporate culture in a short period of time, making it a great candidate for excess budget allocations.
- Extra training: The smarter IT staff and other employees are, the more effective forthcoming investments will be in the grand scheme of small business operations. Using some of that extra technology budget toward IT-related training for certain staff members can be highly advantageous and boost provisioning success in the long term.
- Tuition reimbursement: If one of these programs mentioned above is not in place yet and the SMB does not feel entirely comfortable with in-house training programs, tuition reimbursement can be a major plus for incoming and existing employees. By encouraging further, independent learning, businesses can bolster their staff engagement while increasing organizational knowledge in relevant topics.
- Wearable technology: Although BYOD is likely one of the top items that will demand some corporate budget, wearable technology has not quite caught on in the office yet. However, the applications of Google Glass, smartwatches and other items are vast. Using the excess budget to purchase some of this wearable technology can boost engagement and productivity.
- Social media marketing: Many companies will essentially only pay for the time of staff members who are tasked with social media marketing strategies. However, when there is some extra budget to go around, taking advantage of the promotional and paid aspects of social media can strengthen the overall branding process.
- Charity: There is no better press than being charitable, especially when a small business is trying to gain traction in local communities. Putting extra budget into a charitable giving program, including those that give local schools computers or tablets, can be an excellent way to spend technology dollars.
- Staff contest: Employee engagement is a critical aspect of SMB operations, especially since high retention rates and stronger morale lead directly to more progressive productivity. Small business owners should consider using the budget to purchase highly desirable items, then put on a staff contest to get employees more involved in certain projects.
- Research: Small business owners are often the least likely to conduct internal and external market research because their budgets are among the tightest. However, when there is some extra cash to be spent, starting up research-oriented projects can help inform decision making and drive efficiency over time.
- Savings: If the entrepreneur does not necessarily want to spend that extra budget immediately, there is nothing wrong with putting it into a savings account for future projects. This will help expedite purchases down the road that need to be made in a timely fashion.
Small business owners who do not fully understand how to plan their technology budgets and provisioning practices should consider discussing the matter with their IT and UC vendors for more ideas.