Tech is always changing. That was true in 2018. It’ll be true in 2019.

As a business leader, staying current isn’t your only challenge. You have to stay current and under budget. That can prove to be tough with a quickly as things change.

You need a budget. One that works for your bank account, but also one that assumes you’ll spend money on IT in 2019 to maintain a competitive advantage. Here are some of the most important things to keep in mind as you map out your 2019 IT budget.

Include planned upgrades

There are several reasons to upgrade your business tech. If you plan to do some upgrades in the coming year, you need to budget for them.

Well-planned upgrades can actually lower your overall operational costs while simultaneously increasing your productivity. That’s important to note because this isn’t a pure expense we’re talking about. There’s genuine return on this investment.

When allocating funds for this tech, consider the following:

  • Automation
  • Integration
  • Cloud solutions
  • Increased security
  • SaaS options

IT support staff needs

If you’re in the midst of a growth spurt, then updated systems and new hardware are almost certainly on your horizon. But not only do you need more equipment. You may need more personnel, too.

Keep in mind, there’s more than one way to staff for your IT team. After all, just one qualified in-house professional averages an annual cost of nearly $90,000.

Your other option is to partner with an outsourced IT support provider to meet your needs. Outsourced IT support can provide the same level of IT service (sometimes higher levels) without increasing your payroll expense. Plus, outsourced partners are often available at all hours.

You’ll literally have a whole team of professionals at your service instead of just one employee.

Contact vendors in early stages

If you’re planning any upgrades, be sure to contact potential vendors early in the process. And not just your preferred vendor or the salesperson you last did business with. Shop around. The more information you can gather, the better your chances of getting the best possible deal on the equipment and services that matter for your business.

You might also consider a vendor management service. Vendor management eliminates all the headaches of shopping around while ensuring you get the equipment you need at the right price.

Allow for business growth

Of course you want your business to grow. What business owner doesn’t want that? But with each new stage of growth come new challenges. In order to overcome those challenges, you’ll have no choice but to invest in better, more agile, more productive tools for your staff.

Or, said another way, as your business grows, your IT budget will increase.

A recent report showed that cyberattacks have increased by 32 percent. Even small businesses are vulnerable to cyberattack. As you grow, the stakes only get bigger.

When you’re creating an IT budget for 2019, make sure you take projected growth into account.

Always expect surprises

No matter how well we plan for the future, surprises are always going to pop up. Which is why your IT budget should always include a miscellaneous section. It’s just not possible to take every possible expense into account.

We recommend a miscellaneous budget for unexpected IT cost because it gives you the ability to be flexible, fluid and fast. If something goes wrong, you can address it quickly.

We also recommend a proactive approach to IT support. If you’re not already keeping an eye on your network for potential problems, you should be.