Budget Analysis and Forecast

Do you know what your organization’s IT budget is this year—and how it is segmented?

Does the budget take into account strategic business initiatives and contain the proper level of detail? Most importantly, will it be an effective, accurate, and reliable tool to safeguard against any surprise big-ticket IT expenses?

Robinson_20130411_0324As part of Optimal’s Strategic IT Consulting service, we can evaluate your organization’s IT budget for accuracy and compare it to others in your industry. We will make sure it contains the proper sections and that those sections contain the proper information for the coming year and looking forward for the next three years. We will evaluate support/maintenance costs, hardware and software costs, costs associated with cloud services and backup and disaster recovery, and project expenses.

After our analysis and forecast, your resulting budget will not only act as a guide for technology spending, but will also serve as a valuable planning and communications tool for your organization. Plus, if you are using Optimal for other IT services, we can even make sure your budget is on-track year after year.

The categories all IT budgets, across industries, should include are as follows:


This refers to all costs related to the support and maintenance of your IT environment—your network and infrastructure. These are the ongoing expenses required to maintain your current environment and provide adequate helpdesk and user support. For most organizations, this includes the following:

  • Salaries and benefits for all internal IT staff
  • Monthly support costs for external IT consultants
  • Annual support costs for any vendors of hardware and software you own
  • Training and education for internal IT staff to make sure they are kept informed about cutting edge IT for your industry
  • Data network including WAN connections, ISP links, VPN expenses
  • Outsourced services costs, including monitoring, patching, helpdesk, spam filtering, and any other managed services



This category includes all your current equipment costs plus any additional hardware you plan to purchase, and the cost of any routine hardware implementations (i.e., 4 hours of labor to install a new computer). Larger hardware implementations that require significant planning should be included in the project section of the budget. Note that an environment with standardized equipment (same year computer and laptop models running same versions of software) will be easier to manage and support. Industry standards suggest that computers and laptops should be replaced every three years and that servers should be replaced approximately every five years. The hardware category in your IT budget should include the following:

  • Computers
  • Laptops
  • Servers
  • Firewalls
  • Routers
  • Switches
  • Cabling
  • Warranties
  • Licenses
  • Renewals
  • New Purchases
  • New Warranties
  • New Licenses
  • Routine Hardware Implementation



All your current software costs, plus any software purchases you anticipate, and the cost of any routine software implementation (i.e., 2 hours of labor to install and test a piece of software on a user’s machine) are accounted for here. Larger software implementations that require significant planning should be included in the project section of the budget. The software category in your IT budget should include costs for the following:

  • Server Software
  • Laptop Software
  • Desktop Software
  • Antivirus
  • Anti-Spam
  • Backup Software
  • Licenses
  • Renewals
  • New Purchases
  • New Licenses
  • Routine Software Implementation


Cloud Services:

We consider any cloud services provision–including applications as a service, desktops as a service (hosted desktops), hosted email, and so forth—in this category. It should include costs associated with public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud models and implementation.

Backup, Disaster Recovery, and Business Continuity:

This includes all costs associated with your backup, disaster recovery, and business continuity systems and plans; it could include software, an ongoing monthly cost if you outsource this function, mirrored data and storage at a datacenter, or other solutions. When evaluating the costs associated with this category, be sure to consider:

  • Software
  • Hardware
  • Colocation
  • Outsourced Backup
  • Licenses
  • Renewals
  • New Solutions (new hardware, software and ongoing expenses if applicable)



Here you should consider any projects planned for the coming year including any infrastructure updates like a transition to a full or hybrid cloud model, full workstation or server replacements, and other adjustments to your environment that do not happen every year. It should also include new equipment and software that require significant time and planning to implement and integrate. This category should include costs for:

  • Project Planning
  • Project Implementation
  • New Equipment
  • New Software



Add this category to your IT budget to offset any IT emergencies or unforeseen events. It should total approximately one month’s worth of your organization’s IT support and maintenance cost.