IT budgets can be difficult to plan, because in addition to hardware and software, they should also include current IT maintenance, longer-term planning, and business development. Calculating your previous year’s IT costs will give you a good range to start, provided you aren’t planning a major change in your IT strategy. Next, create categories for IT maintenance and support, as well as for new technology expenditures. Your maintenance and support costs should remain relatively static. If you plan to purchase new systems or services, calculate those technology costs too, including installation and maintenance, testing, and possible downtime.
If you don’t know what new technology you’ll need, begin with a request for proposal that lays out your technology needs, project requirements, and desired deliverables. Continue by shopping your RFP around to various IT professionals, who will give you a budget and a timeline for the project. If this sounds like a lot of work, take heart; with practice the budgeting process will become both easier and more accurate.
For more on budgeting, be sure to read How to Plan Your IT Budget.