Blog / It’s BUDGET Time

And it means that we spend a significant portion of our time in the fall helping to prepare budget information for new or replacement IT systems.  I thought I would pass on some helpful tips that might ease the work load when preparing for these budgets – and help avoid surprises:

Most clients separate their budgets into operational items and capital purchases. Operational items are subscription renewals, ongoing support costs, maintenance, and minor hardware and software purchases.  Capital items are larger expenditures for major equipment that has a life span of many years.  Typical capital items are servers, network equipment, workstations, laptops, and major software upgrades to critical applications.

Here are some operational budget items that you might want to account for:

  • Anti-Virus subscriptions
  • Office 365 subscriptions
  • Annual backup software support (a critical item)
  • Backup media (cartridges, portable hard drives – every 2 years)
  • Firewall subscriptions (for dynamic filtering or malware)
  • Replacement UPS batteries (every 2 years)
  • Replacement laptop batteries (every 2 years)
  • Domain registrations
  • SSL certificate for encrypted Exchange Email (1 to 3 year terms)
  • Managed Gateway hosting (or SPAM filtering)
  • Expiring server warranties (where the server still has serviceable life)
  • Hosted Exchange Email
  • IT Service Agreements

For capital Items, here is a list of the average life-span of major IT hardware:

  • Servers: 5 years
  • Network switches: 5 years
  • Firewalls: 3 years
  • Backup Hardware: 4 to 5 years
  • UPS: 5 to 7 years
  • WiFi Access Points: 3 years
  • Workstations: 3 to 5 years
  • Laptops: 3 to 4 years
  • Tablets: 1 to 3 years
  • Smartphones: 1 to 3 years
  • Printers: 4 to 5 years
  • Monitors: 5 years
  • Racks and power cabling: 10 years
  • Network cabling: 5 to 10 years

There are more than a a few reasons why equipment has reached end-of-life:

  • Expired manufacturer’s warranty or parts difficult to obtain (servers)
  • New technology replaces old (firewall, WiFi access points)
  • Operating system or applications require better hardware (workstations, laptops)
  • Equipment worn out (backup systems, monitors loose brightness)
  • New standards (tablets, smartphones)

When we prepare budget quotes for clients, we take the current selling price in the marketplace and then add 10%. The reason is that we can’t be sure where the market will be in 6 to 8 months when it comes time to purchase.  In 2016, the Canadian dollar dropped significantly at the beginning of the year, which forced prices up.  If we budgeted close to the current price, then there might not be sufficient room in the budget to afford the new cost – or even modest enhancements.  And as you know, technology advances quickly, and so models available today might be superseded in 8 months with more expensive options. We always mark the quote for BUDGET PURPOSES ONLY.

We’d welcome the opportunity to help you with your 2017 budget preparations.  Please feel free to contact Dave or Kevin ( if you would like some help with 2017 budgeting.

Which leaves more time for watching the leaves change colour …