IT Budgeting Made Easy

We know that budgeting can be a daunting task. That is why the Bryley Systems’ motto is “Dependable IT at a Predictable Cost”. Our fixed-price IT support programs make IT budgeting a breeze.

We understand that in order to have an accurate, working budget, the finance and IT teams need to come together to get an idea of the full picture.

Why does IT budgeting matter?

Without a budget, IT leaders will have to justify every IT expenditure as it arises, creating unnecessary bottlenecks.  Furthermore, “you may be forced to request and justify every IT expenditure as it arises, which makes for significant unnecessary overhead. Smaller organizations may find themselves willingly migrating into a periodic budgeting process, as IT expenditures that were once simply spent as incurred, or justified with a 30-second hallway conversation, blossom into significant IT spending that can be consolidated and made more transparent through a budgeting process.”1

IT budgeting affects more than just your department

When creating an IT budget, it’s important to think of how it will tie into other departments.  The budget will directly impact employees and initiatives that your organization has.  It’s easy to see the budget as a mere spreadsheet. But remember, there are real consequences for every number that is either increased or decreased.

Think of IT budgeting as financial planning

Consider IT spending as an investment for your organization’s future, much in the same way as you would with your personal financial planning. “Only after gaining an understanding of the organization’s short- and long-term goals can [business leaders] help ensure that the organization is aligning its IT strategy with its business strategy, resulting in the right IT investment decisions.”2 Consider, “What is the organization’s cash flow? How will IT spending impact the organization’s overall capital and operating budgets? Are any major projects on the horizon that might impact the IT infrastructure? Remember to consider both the financial and non-financial implications of IT-related initiatives.”2 Another aspect that should not be overlooked is the human component.  Does the organization plan on making any changes that could impact an employee’s ability to fully utilize new software? And, how will new initiatives impact employees’ work lives?

Creating budgets also helps to establish and understand priorities. “Instead of looking at the budget solely as an administrative process, regard it as a validation and support tool for your IT strategy. If you don’t have a formal or informal IT strategy in place, the budgeting process is as good a place as any to start investigating areas for improvement that will be cornerstones of your first attempts at more strategic IT management.”1

Align IT with organizational strategy

IT budgeting should not be performed in a bubble; but rather performed with the entire organization in mind.  Once the IT budget is prepared, compare it to the overall budget to ensure the goals are aligned.  Key questions to ask are “Do the selected IT initiatives align with and support the organization’s strategic objectives? Should any initiatives that weren’t selected for the budget be reconsidered? Would any of the organization’s strategic initiatives make one of the selected IT initiatives obsolete?”2 It is best to think of your IT budget in three sections:

  • Run – What it takes to keep the organization running. This should be the last place to trim as doing so could create unnecessary operational risk.  Items included in this group are considered mission-critical: server replacements, key software upgrades, personnel costs.
  • Grow – introduce new capabilities and improve existing ones. These are often more flexible and are easily added or trimmed depending on cash flow.  Items in this section include implementing new software for optimization, purchasing a firewall for additional protection, and upgrading the website to attract more customers.
  • Transform – This is more of a long-term project for research and development endeavors. Unless associated with key organizational initiatives, these are the first to be cut when budgets are trimmed.  These initiatives are ones in which the organization believes it will benefit from in the future.  Examples include new product offerings, , redundancy, , and the like.

Tips and best practices

When considering the impact the budget will have on the organization as a whole, it is imperative to put forth significant time and due diligence into its creation.  It’s too simple to see the budgeting exercise as just another painful administrative duty that one must accomplish. But it is really much more than that.  A budget “is the financial manifestation of the strategy and direction your department or organization will take over the coming year.”1

  • Use last year’s budget. This will give you a rough idea of what you want the upcoming budget to look like. It will also provident insight into areas to pad as well as those that can be reduced.
  • Spreadsheets are your friends. Excel spreadsheets will prove invaluable when it comes to updating and creating a budget. It is beneficial to have previous years’ budgets listed as it will indicate long-term trends and the ability to predict future expenses.
  • Factor in slack. Once a budget is set, it is generally difficult to go back for more funds.  Consider, carefully, the amounts requested to ensure they are sufficient to accomplish the objectives.
  • Seek expert advice. You can’t be expected to know everything about the realm of IT and budgeting, so don’t be afraid to seek out the advice of experts.  They will offer guidance and work with you to identify key initiatives and allocations for your future success.

Creating an IT budget can be a daunting task, but you are not alone.  Bryley Systems’ experts will work with you to determine your priorities and build a budget accordingly.  It’s easy with our fixed-price IT support programs.

We are your technology partner. Please contact us at 844.449.8770 or by email at

We’re here for you with “Dependable IT at a Predictable Cost.”




Bryley’s Prestigious Channel Partners 360° Award Celebrates Fall

After being honored as one of 25 recipients worldwide, our prestigious award is traveling the U.S. in celebration – being one of the most sought-after in the industry of technology solutions.  This month it stayed local to celebrate Fall in New England


Bryley is getting into the Fall spirit.  Stop by on Halloween
as we join several other businesses in Hudson to hand out
treats to the youth in our community.


Cathy Livingstone hands out candy to local residents.

All Aboard!

The cutest mouse trap we’ve ever seen!



“Bryley Systems works toward continuous improvement; we strive to manage, optimize, and secure our client’s information technology, which brings substantial business benefit and value to their organizations. Our team-focused, best-practices-oriented approach, coupled with high-value/low-risk service options, enables us to provide our clients with Dependable IT at a Predictable Cost™.  We thank Channel Partners for this prestigious Channel Partners 360° award!”                      

      – Gavin and Cathy Livingstone, Co-Owners, Bryley Systems, Hudson, MA

Bryley Basics: What happens when a home is smarter than its owner?

Today, if we forget to turn off the coffee pot, or shut the garage door, we can simply hit a button on our phones, or other devices. According to a study by Intel Corporation, 71% of the population is expected to have at least one smart-home device in every home by 2025.1

This is great news for those of us that are forgetful, but one has to be wary of how much access is granted through these devices. Just like you wouldn’t leave your house keys out for anyone to take, you must also be cognizant of the security of your smart devices.   Last year, hackers were able to bring down several sites by using home devices connected to the internet such as baby monitors, cameras, and home routers without the user’s knowledge.1

There are several steps users can put in place in order to take advantage of these smart devices while remaining protected:

Do your research. Not all smart devices were made equal. It is best to do some research prior to purchasing a device to see what security measures the manufacturers have implemented. Will the device automatically perform patch updates? Does it require a passcode? Will it prompt you to change your password? Knowing this ahead of time, will give added peace of mind.

Secure your devices. By default, many of these devices have a simple security plan in place, since historically they haven’t needed to worry about cyber threats. Prior to a few years ago, no one would have thought you could have your refrigerator tell you what items you would need to purchase on your next grocery trip! Make sure your device requires a passcode that you can regularly update.

Regularly update your Passwords. Make sure to change your password every 60-90 days with a complex password using a mixture of capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. A password does nothing if it remains at the default factory password.

Separate your Network. As an added layer of protection, put some separation between your devices and the rest of your data. Most of the time, these devices only need an internet connection, so putting them on a different network from the rest of your data protects both of them. “Newer WiFi routers have built-in guest network capabilities that can isolate untrusted devices from each other and from the rest of your network – a useful feature for most devices that only need internet access and don’t need to talk to other devices. Extra configuration may be required to properly secure devices that need to talk to each other (like automation controllers and security cameras), but it’s possible to limit that communication without laying bare the rest of your home’s network.”2

Perform Regular Updates. Some devices will automatically update while others you will have to check. Regardless, it is best to check every so often to ensure the updates are performed and you are protected.

Security of these smart devices is such a concern, Senators Mark Warner, Cory Gardner, Ron Wyden and Steve Daines introduced the “Internet of Things Cybersecurity Act” aimed at forcing tech companies “to ramp up security if they want to sell connected devices to the federal government.”3 This bill is the bare minimum and will block any “IoT devices with known security issues from government use and require device makers to patch any new flaws. Security researchers who hack IoT devices used by the federal government in order to find new flaws would be exempt from the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which has been used to charge hackers.”3 It is the hope that this bill will encourage companies to adopt these regulations as standard for commercial sectors as well.

At the end of the day, these devices will become more and more commonplace. As this occurs, security will also improve. There are sure to be growing pains, but like most evolutions, it will improve our lives.


  1. 1 Best Smart Home Devices and Hot IoT Is Changing The Way We Live. Forbes Technology Council. 6 Jun 2017
  2. How To Protect your Fancy New ‘Connected Home’ from Savvy Hackers. Best Buy
  3. 3 Congress to smart device makers: Your security sucks. Ng, Alfred. CNet. 2 August 2017.

Robin Powers Joins Bryley Systems!

Robin Powers is the newest member to join Bryley Systems’ Business Development team.  In her role as Sales Support, Robin will assist with proposals, presentations, and general business development functions.  She will work closely within the team to further enhance client support and relationships.

Prior to Bryley Systems, Robin was employed at Stratus Technologies for 25 years as an Administrative Professional in their IT Department.  Bryley Systems welcomes Robin as she brings years of expertise in the technology field.  Ms. Powers has a BS from UMass Amherst.

Bryley’s Prestigious Channel Partners 360° Award Travels the U.S.

After Being honored as one of 25 recipients worldwide, our prestigious award is traveling the U.S. in celebration – being one of the most sought-after in the industry of technology solutions.

About Red Canyon.  From the Native Americans who traveled the canyons, to people like J.W. Humphry who constructed the tunnels, Red Canyon on the Dixie National Forest has fascinated people for centuries. Unique vermilion-colored rock formation and stands of Ponderosa pines make the canyon exceptionally scenic.



“Bryley Systems works toward continuous improvement; we strive to manage, optimize, and secure our client’s information technology, which brings substantial business benefit and value to their organizations. Our team-focused, best-practices-oriented approach, coupled with high-value/low-risk service options, enables us to provide our clients with Dependable IT at a Predictable Cost™. We thank Channel Partners for this prestigious Channel Partners 360° award!”

– Gavin and Cathy Livingstone, Co-Owners, Bryley Systems, Hudson, MA

Bryley Basics: How to get the most life out of your computer

Have you noticed that you have been able to squeeze more life out of your technology devices than ever before? According to Intel’s CEO, Brian Krzanich, the cycle has expanded 20% from four years to five or six1. In our experience, upgrading an operating system on a Windows PC can often cost more than replacing the PC with a PC that has a newer OS. This is often because OS upgrades are not always reliable, particularly with legacy applications, or drivers that are no longer available for older hardware. For business users, we typically wipe the drive clean and then reinstall a new OS rather than upgrade.

Another way to extend the life of your device is to take care of the battery. Having the battery constantly plugged in actually does more harm than good and decreases the overall lifespan of the device. For long term battery life, it is recommended that you regularly allow your battery to drain.

You can further extend the life of your machine by completing incremental upgrades such as adding more memory, upgrading graphics cards, and replacing older hard drives with SSDs.

These tips are aimed at helping you extend the life of your devices and are not meant to keep them on “life support.” There will come a time when you have diminishing returns and will need to replace the devices.

Remember, we are here to help; please reach out to us at 978.562.6077 or email


  1. Computer World. 1 June 2016. “The PC upgrade cycle slows to every five or six years, Intel’s CEO says.”

Bryley Basics: How to Clean your computer to ensure optimal efficiency

Technology was designed to make our lives easier and more efficient, but it can only do that if it’s maintained. As the winter months approach, it’s a perfect time to ensure your computer is running efficiently.

What needs to be cleaned?

  • Keyboard. Do you eat on or near your computer? If so, crumbs may have inadvertently fallen underneath them and could be impeding their function. Once a month, turn the keyboard upside down and gently shake it to remove the bigger crumbs. If the keys are still sticking, use a can of compressed air to gently remove the dust and other debris that is out of reach. Don’t forget to disinfect the keys! This can be performed using a Q-Tip, or other cotton swab, and some rubbing alcohol. Make sure you do not saturate the Q-Tip as you only want the alcohol to go on the keyboard surface, not inside!1
  • Defrag your computer. If you notice a drop in speed, and you have a SETA drive (one that spins, not an SSD drive) it may be time to defrag your computer. Fragmentation occurs when there is not enough contiguous space to hold the complete file. An algorithm is then used to break that data so that it fits into the available space.2 The slowness is caused upon retrieval; the computer must search the entire hard drive to find all the pieces of the data or file. “When you defrag your computer you not only increase the speed of the computer but you also keep your hard drive healthy and extend its lifespan. The wear and tear of fragmentation will eventually shorten its life but with proper maintenance you keep it running smooth and steady.”3 The general rule of thumb is to defrag when your disk is more than 10% fragmented.4 The frequency of running a defrag depends upon the usage of the computer. If the machine’s main duties are for general use (web browsing, email, games, etc.), completing a defrag every month is recommended. If you use it more often (8 hours per day), it should be performed roughly every two weeks. It is important to know that a defrag may take a few hours to complete so it is best to perform this overnight. Just make sure energy-saving features such as a screen saver are temporarily turned off as this may cause the defragmentor to stop and restart the process.5 Make it easy and set up an automatic defrag schedule.
  • Cleanup your folders. Take regular stock of what is housed on your computer. If you have files that you haven’t touched in months or even years and are not necessary to keep, delete them from your computer. Having too many files will slow your machine as it needs to sort through them all when conducting a search.
  • Delete Programs you no longer use. Similar to files that you haven’t opened in a long time, go through your programs and delete ones that you have not used. Maybe this will give you the added push to learn that software you downloaded months ago, but never pursued.
  • Cleanup your desktop. While keeping files on the desktop can make files easier to find, but can quickly become overwhelming and inefficient. The last thing you want to do is to be rifling through icons looking for that one document. Instead, place them in subfolders within “My Documents.” By creating a file system, it will be easier to find the folders and will take up less space on your hard drive. Additionally, files on the desktop are not as protected as those in “My Documents” or “My Pictures. “For instance, if you use System Restore to return Windows to its state as of last Wednesday, the feature will remove any files added to the desktop since that date. The files in My Documents will be left untouched.”6
  • Cleanup your browser. Similar to cleaning your desktop, it is recommended that you regularly check your browswer applications to see if there’s any that can be removed. This will streamline your browser and lower the demands on the hard drive.
  • Install Updates. Just because your system appears to be running well, doesn’t mean you should ignore system updates. “Staying current on updates will not only keep your computer running well today, it will fend off unforeseen problems tomorrow.”7

By performing these tasks regularly, you will be able to extend the life of your hard drive, and be more efficient. There’s nothing worse than replacing a device far sooner than you expected because preventative care measures weren’t taken.

1 Maldarelli, Claire. Popular Science. 10 March 2017.








No Power? No Problem. Just Plan Ahead…

Natural disasters, severe weather and even cars that knock over electric poles, can all wipe out power sources and cause businesses to lose the ability to communicate through cellphones, landlines and email.  If you are a business owner, being forced to inconveniently and unproductively “wait it out” is usually not an option.  And, power outages can be much more than inconvenient; they can be costly.

A study by the University of Lincoln has concluded that “power cuts will become more regular around the globe as electrical supply becomes increasingly vulnerable and demand for technology continues to grow at an unprecedented rate.”1    And, The Washington Post reports that “the U.S. grid is aging and stretched to capacity. More often the victim of decrepitude than the forces of nature, it is beginning to falter.   Experts fear failures that caused blackouts in New York, Boston and San Diego may become more common as the voracious demand for power continues to grow. They say it will take a multibillion-dollar investment to avoid them.”2

Organizations need to be prepared for a power outage, regardless of the cause. That preparation should be focused on preserving data both inside the office as well as data located on servers stored in an offsite data center.  All of your digital assets, including software, are vulnerable to being wiped out during a power failure.  To protect your business and eliminate that vulnerability, you need to do some prep work to back up your data and implement basic hardware security measures.

Many business owners prefer not to think about this, but safeguarding your assets will allow your organization to at least partially function during an event vs. being at the mercy of the power grid.  The amount of time and money it takes to prepare for a potential power failure is fractional compared to the amount of time and money it would take you to rebuild your empire of digital assets from scratch.  Digital assets get wiped out all the time during power failures.

Back up your data and get your employees on board with performing regular backups of their work. This is the most basic of all requirements for being ready for a power outage, but many people don’t do it, either because they don’t know how or it can seem overwhelming. Not backing up your files is taking a huge risk that everything could be gone in the blink of an eye.

Organizations with larger networks should have backup servers that can continue to distribute data during, or, after an emergency.  Off-site data backup is recommended, and, data may also be saved to the cloud.

Even if you have multiple backup locations for your files and don’t have to worry about losing your digital assets, you still need to be aware of the potential for losing your physical devices like computer hard drives, power sources, and motherboards. It should be noted that solid state drives are not immune to being fried by a power surge.

It is not the power outage that causes damage to your hardware, it’s the power surge that does the damage. A surge protector is one way to prevent damage to computer hardware, but it’s not a guarantee – sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. How well it works will depend on how much power your particular unit is designed to withstand and if you’ve replaced it.

If your equipment is damaged, the most efficient and cost-effective fix is to replace the unit.  While the hardware may not be expensive, the labor costs alone will often outweigh the price of a new machine.

If you’ve got your data backed up, you probably don’t need to worry much about the cost of replacing your hard drive; most hard drives are fairly inexpensive. Even so, it’s a hassle to replace, so you should protect your hardware as much as possible.

The first line of defense against power outage issues that impact business continuity is on-site power protection. This is a proactive measure that requires planning and implementation before the power outage occurs. To protect data and servers, organizations should have uninterruptible power supplies, or UPS’s, and ideally, an on-site backup power supply, such as a generator. This can ensure that your business suffers no loss of data in the short term, while your continuity plan is being implemented.

In addition to backup power solutions, load-capping software and power distribution units should be considered. For short-term outages, battery backup may be sufficient for communications and VoIP systems. Planning should include identifying and outlining battery specifications and status as well as battery-replacement policies. Emergency battery-powered lighting should be available in multiple areas around your building if you do not have a backup-lighting system.

The cost of providing on-site power for a long period of time can be high, so for outages that last longer than an hour, organizations should have alternative options, such as an off-site location for protecting data and ensuring access.

Securing off-site data backup and disaster recovery solutions, such as Bryley’s Business Continuity, is something every business should have in place before a power outage occurs, and most organizations should take that a step further and move all critical IT infrastructure into the cloud. Data centers provide improved resiliency, reduced power and cooling expenses, and easier infrastructure management, in addition to ensuring continuity during power outages.

A few more tips…

  • Always plug computers and laptops into surge protectors instead of directly into the wall.
  • When your laptop or other digital device is done charging, unplug the charger immediately. This saves your battery from losing charge capacity, and it also makes sure your device won’t get fried if there’s a power surge.
  • Have an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) at every desk and make sure your employees know what to do after a power surge. The UPS may only give them enough power to properly shut their machine down, so they’ll need to act fast.
  • Always unplug your electrical devices during a storm, especially a lightning storm. There is no surge protector in the world that will protect your computer from a lightning strike.
  • Not every organization requires a dedicated generator for backup power because most businesses can tolerate the downtime of a short-term power outage.  Many office buildings have standby generators that companies can rely on.  Be sure to know if you are equipped with a standby generator if your organization requires one.

Remember, having a plan and being prepared is your first line of defense.  If you are concerned about the emergency power outage strategies your business has or some other network issue, please contact us at 844.449.8770 or by email at

We would be glad to help you assess and mitigate your risks.



Bryley is on the move!

Some of you may know, but Bryley has outgrown our current location in Hudson and will be moving to Clinton. Our new building is a historic 1937 post office that was completely renovated and modernized in 2004.  It has more than 10,000 square feet, the majority of which we will occupy, and comes with glass-walled offices, broad sweeping staircases, an elevator, two kitchens, and more.
We expect to move in mid to late Fall.