According to job search engine Indeed, the average salary for IT Security Specialists in the United States is now over $115,000. Build a small team of IT security specialists and you’ll easily spend millions just to keep pace with the market. Increasing IT salaries is just one challenge IT leaders face. They also have increasing demands from the business.
At the same time, business users want instant service. Patience with IT processes and controls is wearing thin. To deliver against these increasing expectations, you might request a budget increase. However, if you simply demand a budget increase, your request is likely to be met with silence, because, for most companies, the IT division is a cost center. Sure, it’s necessary to maintain productivity, but top-notch IT probably won’t help the CEO hit the company’s revenue goals.
The solution is to look for ways to deliver more value to your users with your current budget and staffing. There are short-term and long-term options to make this happen.
Identify IT Security Budget Optimization Opportunities
For this example, let’s assume you have an annual IT budget of $1 million. Here are four ideas to stretch your budget further.
1. Short-term Wins
These techniques will help to relieve budget pressure in the short term. It’s the corporate equivalent of a “juice fast.” They’ll help shave some pounds now, but you can’t assume it’ll be a permanent lifestyle.
2. Discuss Overtime Options with Your Team
In cases where there’s a significant amount of IT backlog, overtime pay may be a good option. In essence, you may be able to clear your backlog with a small amount of overtime instead of hiring additional staff. Avoid using this technique for more than a month, as you may risk burning out your staff.
3. Put Some Projects on Hold
Freezing IT project spending will help with your budget problems. However, there’s a significant trade-off to this approach. You’re gaining a short-term win in budget relief in exchange for the value the project could deliver. Slowing down the pace of IT projects (e.g., instead of upgrading 100 users per month, upgrade 50 users per month) is a modified way to use this approach.
4. Long-term Wins
These options will go a long way toward optimizing your budget, but they’ll take six months or longer to implement.
Negotiate IT Service Expectations
Your IT department may be under too much pressure to deliver changes and services. This problem often occurs when IT leaders decide that “fast service” and “saying yes” is the sole way to demonstrate value to the business. Instead, sit down with your business counterparts and propose a different solution. For example, recommend reducing service levels by 10%, so you have more capacity to invest in automation and self-serve options.
Invest in Innovative Technology
The 30% budget savings option comes from saving on staff expenses. The best way to do that lies in using automation, AI, and related technologies to save money. Take a closer look at how to bring automation to IT security next.
Leveraging Virtual Agents to Optimize Your IT Security Budget
Using virtual agents is an excellent medium-term win to drive increased efficiencies. In less than a year, you can start to eliminate the most common IT security requests (e.g., user access changes and password resets) from your plate. To make your case for implementing virtual agents, start with research.
Classify how your IT staff members spend their time, especially in the support group. If they respond that they spend more than 15% of their work time on repetitive requests, you have a good basis for exploring virtual agents.
Virtual agent technology (also known as “chatbots”) is an excellent way to provide more service to the business at a low cost. Instead of asking employees to wait in a phone queue, they can ask and answer a few questions in a chat session with your virtual agent. The employee’s profile is checked during the session to verify that requests are relevant to his or her role. Finally, the access requests are logged and retained for audit.
Now that you have more staff time available for other projects, look for ways to reduce IT risk further. Reducing IT security risk now will save you expensive spending on incident response services in the future.
● Update your password policy: If your password policy is more than a year old, you probably need to improve it.
● Implement an IT security scoring system: To find out the weak parts in your IT security processes and systems, you need to measure your results.
The more repetitive tasks you offload to virtual agents, the more value you can deliver to the business!