It’s that time of year we all love! And no, I don’t mean Autumn, kids being back in school, or the holidays. For those credit unions on a calendar fiscal year, it’s time for them to complete their annual budgets.
If you wear the technology manager hat at your institution, proactive planning and communication with the business side of the house will help you get the things you want and need. A technology budget can have a lot of moving parts, so here are some things I advise credit unions to focus on:
1. Combining business and technology
Do the asks in your budget move forward the goals laid out in the institution’s business plan? Aligning technology investments with strategic objectives is a key component we often see overlooked. Engage your stakeholders. How many times has IT been the last one to find out or had capital investments omitted from the tech budget because they didn’t understand what was coming down the pike? Get informed during the budget process and you’ll look more prepared when plans move into action.
Has the organization addressed compliance related challenges? Are there outstanding examination or audit findings that require a solution that needed to be budgeted?
2. Learn from the past
What was your previous year’s budget? Did you accomplish all your goals? Review your priorities and determine what you want to carry forward and what you want to leave behind.
3. Identify the expenses you know are coming
Everything in technology has a lifespan, typically in the three- to five-year range. Having an inventory of your technology assets and identifying an expected lifespan is a great way to anticipate large expenses and to ensure you don’t end up stuck with unsupported or “end of life” equipment. In addition to money being spent during the lifespan of your technologies, track your subscriptions, including Software as a Service (SaaS) and things like Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates, warranties, support agreements, and hosting fees.
4. Think about the future
What new solutions are you recommending for your organization? Will they enhance the experience of your members? Will they help make your team members more effective? More secure?
5. Staffing considerations
Are you asking for additional resources, maybe a subject matter expert to assist in moving the technology department and organization forward? Can you do a cost benefit analysis to justify the hire? What training or education will keep technology practitioners up to speed on the latest tools, services and security related issues? What industry conferences will keep the team up to date with the rest of the financial services industry?
If you’re managing a large budget, a spreadsheet with dollar amounts may not be enough to fully explain and justify what you’re asking for. Consider creating a strategic technology plan to accompany your budget. A plan will likely include not only the costs, but the justification, the due diligence, the timing, and the details around project implementation.
Technology budgets and strategic technology plans can be a lot to bite off at once, especially if this is your first time through the process. If you need guidance in putting it all together, consider hiring a consultant that can help give you tactics and some perspective on how others are meeting the challenge.