IT Budgeting for New Office Build Outs or Relocation: Timing is Everything

Strategizing IT Budgeting for Successful Office Relocations and Builds

Creating an IT budget early in the and construction process enables the Stakeholders to establish rough orders of magnitude on how much everything will cost. These costs are based on initial perceived guiding principles, decisions, and assumptions. When developing a budget, Netrix first has conversations with key Stakeholders to discover and understand your business, the technology leveraged within the workflow on a daily basis, adopted business recovery options, and future plans for the business. These discussions are less focused on business goals and more on what needs to change in order to better support the business operation while confirming the evolving guiding principles.

Why Do Organizations Relocate?

Certain themes have been observed to be common across relocations and new office build outs: the desire to attract new, often younger, talent, as one of a multi-prong growth tactic to support an organization’s growth strategy. For example, when a company has a large group of employees that are expected to be retiring in the next five to ten years, they find themselves needing to attract new talent. This younger demographic has grown up with technology, such as mobile devices like the iPhone®, firmly establishing expectations that technology should be easy to use, video conferencing is as easy as FaceTime®, and messaging each other is the initial default mode of communication rather than a call or face-to-face communication. This level of experience, as a result of the amazing advent of consumer level technology, is expected to be upheld in the office environment. As a result, the opportunity is upon the Stakeholders to consider how the organization will enable technology consumption within the new workplace. These discussions are distilled further to formulate what the technology design intent needs to be. Budgeting early enables Stakeholders to consider and debate over technology concepts, which help develop the initial guiding principles affecting the project, from the technology perspective.

The Gap Between Construction and Technology

Construction and architecture firms have long used a method of “Design with Intent” concept, which is constrained by the way projects are bid out. This concept uses a set(s) of drawings with written specifications and narratives that define the performance criteria of the solutions. The set of drawings substantiate construction specifics like locations, elevations, coordinated alignment of products, approved product sets, etc. The constraint is specific to the construction bidding process that enables multiple bidders to submit several solutions that do not have full responsibility for the success of the project, as a whole. While this long-standing method does have minimal impact with physical placement of devices such as bricks, glass, and wood – having multiple disparate systems by different installation contractors do not work well with technology. Integration of technology requires compatibility to integrate and it is highly common now to have fire systems to talk with the building automation system, an audiovisual system to interact with environmental lighting, sound masking, and electro-mechanical shading systems. The commonality with these systems is the converged network that supports this integration. As a result, the usual bidding method doesn’t permit truly getting the “right” solution, because you’re going to get a solution that works based on the performance specification, however, the specification is only as good as the person who wrote it. The usual bid specification never gets into the interaction between the various systems, and technology is so interdependent that you cannot say “I’m going to buy a Mercedes engine, and put it into a Chevy Volt,” for example. You can try to make it work, but it just doesn’t. We have seen multiple times, Stakeholders going way over budget just trying to make disparate systems integrate together. Teaming up with Netrix from the beginning of the design process prevents an organization from having to just accept a bid with generic specifications written by design firms. Such firms lack multiple manufacturer solution installations and managed services expertise, which Netrix has. In this case, Stakeholders can be assured that if integration is needed, all IT elements will be able to talk to each other, as designed.

Technical specifications have to be very specific, explicit to the products and parts that are used, and they have to be vetted and tested through some form of proof of concept or by the installed experience of the designer. Firms that do generic specifications, unfortunately, do not do installation work. Without knowing the installation side, they are going to assume that because the manufacturer says so – that it will work. What isn’t always considered are the incompatibilities that arise with different types of technology integration. Since Netrix is involved with the installation side, these incompatibilities are considered and accurately incorporated into the budget. We understand what level of integration is needed and the provided coverage needed in order to support the business function. Our process, using the guiding principles as the basis of the project, successfully incorporates system-specific requirements to define directions and assumptions, that permit us to develop detailed and accurate IT budgets at each stage of the project.

Who Owns IT Budgeting?

IT budgets come in a few forms. Capital, refresh, and business-as-usual may be owned by the CFO, CIO, and CFO, respectively, or in some combination thereof. It has been observed when the CFO owns the IT budget; the lack of tech-savviness requires the assignment of a technology lead to join the Stakeholders. This lead becomes a primary counterpart to the Netrix Lead IT Architect or Senior Principal Consultant. Netrix’s proposed options would funnel through the technology lead who in turn would provide recommendations to the organization’s project steering committee for decision-making and budget approvals, as defined within the organization’s hierarchy governance model. All decisions are recommended be documented in an Architect’s Log throughout the journey, maintained by Stakeholders. This is important because when changes are logged, Stakeholders may audit previous decisions as needed, should the approved guiding principles become challenged. It is important that decisions are made with the mindset and goals for the future, while under the constraints of where a project is at today.

We have seen how IT budgeting early in a real estate engagement has enabled our Clients the opportunity to leverage changes and the ability to establish technology roadmaps that affect two to three years beyond the real estate event. Netrix starts this process early in order to assist our Clients in obtaining an idea of where and how much the costs of a project are going to be. Should additional parties be added to the mix of consultants, as an example, such as a branding team, we are able to adjust the budget accordingly based on additional design ideas beyond those already defined, as an example those associated with collaboration spaces. It is important to include a technology expert such as Netrix, to lead the IT integration side of your office planning and budgeting. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist with your next relocation or build out IT budget.