Q4 means budgeting time for many companies. With the rapid pace of change in technology, it can be hard to figure out what to include in your budget—especially when you throw new regulations in the mix.
In addition to your standard technology budget items, there are a few things you need to make sure you include in your 2019 budget:
1. Upgrading old servers and desktops
If it’s been a few years since you’ve upgraded equipment, 2019 is the time to do it—particularly if you’re running Windows Server 2008 or have computers with Windows 7. Both products reach end of service in January 2020.
End of service (sometimes called end of life or end of support) means Microsoft will no longer support the product or release any security patches. Continuing to use them could leave massive security holes.
If you need to upgrade servers, you could potentially look at moving to a cloud-based option like Microsoft Azure. This will shift the cost from a large, upfront capital expense to a monthly operating expense.
If you need to upgrade operating systems, and you’re already using Office 365, this may be a good time to jump to Microsoft 365. Otherwise, look a for business grade Windows 10 license like Windows 10 Pro or Windows 10 Enterprise.
2. Multi factor authentication and other cybersecurity necessities
Ten years ago, you wouldn’t use the internet without an antivirus software. Most cybersecurity threats were viruses and other things meant to cause chaos. Cybersecurity threats these days tend to be more focused on getting access to your account and exploiting it for money.
The best way to protect your company is to implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) for your users—think of it as the antivirus of today. It helps to protect your account if someone gets your password.
If you don’t already have it, add multi-factor authentication to your 2019 budget and plan to get it turned on as soon as possible in 2019. If you have any budget leftover this year, go ahead and get it now—it’s that important.
We also recommend adding other cybersecurity necessities like Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection (scans links and attachments for malicious content in your email and cloud storage) and Conditional Access (won’t let a device log into an account unless it meets certain conditions).
3. Security training and testing
Your employees are often the first line of defense in your cybersecurity strategy—and the weakest link. Most people just don’t know what to look for, especially when the threats change so quickly.
To help, be sure to include cybersecurity training and testing in your 2019 budget. And every year after that, too. But be smart about the kind of training you’re doing: a one-time, hour-long training isn’t typically going to be enough. Look at ongoing training options that keep security top of mind without interrupting their day (PTG customers: ask your account manager about Advanced Cloud Security Education).
Cybersecurity testing, like sending your employees fake phishing emails, can help you get a better idea of which employees may need additional training and where you may need to implement more security measures. Like education, testing needs to be an ongoing activity: just because someone didn’t click on a potentially malicious email this time, doesn’t mean they won’t several months from now.
4. Productivity and teamwork tools
As the Cloud becomes more commonplace, tools to let your employees work together from any location and any device have become more affordable and easier to access.
If you’re company is still saving work to a physical server and communicating only by email, you could potentially increase productivity and efficiency. For example, replacing physical servers and VPNs with cloud file storage and cloud-based Office programs (like Word, PowerPoint, and Excel as part of Office 365) allow employees to work from anywhere and collaborate on files. Corporate chat programs like Microsoft Teams and Slack allow employees to quickly communicate on a one-to-one basis or in groups (there are free versions of both of these!)
Start looking now at what options may be a good fit for your company, so you can include the cost for migration and licenses in your 2019 budget. If you don’t know where to start, talk to a Cloud specialist (like a Microsoft partner).
If you are already using Cloud based tools, look at more ways to take advantage of the tools you already have or the next place you can increase productivity. For example, if your company has Office 365, you likely already have a lot of tools you aren’t using—you just need to budget the time to get them up and running.
5. Tools to get compliant with privacy laws
If you have any customers or contacts in the state of California, you’ll likely need to devote some resources to security and privacy in 2019. California’s Consumer Privacy Act goes into effect in January 2020 and you don’t have to be in the state to face serious consequences for violating it.
What you need to do to get compliant is going to vary widely by industry and how much information you keep about your customers. It could be anything from hiring a temp to help clean up and classify your data to implementing new security tools to protect your data.
Remember: This list isn’t comprehensive. You still need include your usual IT costs: things like equipment and IT support. If you’re a PTG customer, we’ll go over this is in your Q4 Quarterly Business Review (reach out to your account manager if you don’t have this schedule). If you aren’t a PTG customer (or just want some more information about budgeting), check out our budgeting guide.