Staying on top of IT systems is vital to business success, but can be overwhelming to many business owners. Between phones, computers and other hardware and software, IT costs consume a significant portion of the annual budget in many organizations.
So as we reach the year’s end, it is essential to take an IT “snapshot” in planning for 2019. Your business’ year-end IT to-do list should include the following tasks:
- Keep budgets up to date: By this time of year, complete your 2019 IT budget, including expected capital and operational expenditures. Keep in mind your fleet refresh — aka the percentage of your fleet of laptops, printers, servers, etc. that you plan to replace or upgrade. Year-end is also a good time to consider equipment purchases to take advantage of tax deductions.
- Evaluate new products, services and vendors: This “wish list” should anticipate changes in staff size, functionality and vendor relationships. Also, assess emerging information technologies that might impact your efficiency, profitability or competitive posture.
- Look at renewals: This is also a good time to establish a tracking system (if you don’t have one already) for registration and renewal of your web site domain name and related privacy registration or certificates; software licenses; and service contracts with IT vendors. Include expected cost increases and negotiate as applicable.
- Follow year-end procedures: All systems have a year-end procedure. For some software functions, you will need to close out or archive data for the year, and clear the slate for next year’s data. Also, prepare to issue year-end 1099 and other tax forms. With respect to health care data, HIPAA regulations mandate a 7-year hold; older data should be purged from your system. Close out all other books like sales and commissions records, plant maintenance records and so on.
- Wise generosity: Donating IT equipment like desktops, laptops, printers or servers to nonprofits can generate valuable tax deductions. The equipment should be in good condition and usable, only obsolete for your own needs. Many companies follow strict replacement cycles for their IT equipment, making for a great way to give back to the community.
Year-end is a great time to take a broader view of the year’s IT activities. Did we achieve a reasonable value for our IT expenditures in meeting strategic business goals? Did we experience security breaches or loss of data?
If so, what role did user error play and how can we improve in this area? Are our staff members capable and comfortable with our IT systems? And are we keeping up to date with trends in networking, cloud computing or information processing?
Such a review can help remedy any existing weaknesses and inform next year’s budget and training activities.
Kelly Siegel is CEO of National Technology Management (NTM), 30400 Telegraph Road, Suite 116, in Bingham Farms. He has been in the IT consulting business for 21 years and saved businesses millions of dollars by streamlining their technology systems. NTM can be reached at 248-658-0829, and Siegel can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.