Monday, June 01, 2009

Technology Budget Planning and Redeployment

Continuing my discussion on technology budgeting... (much of what you read below was taught to me by other people - I take little credit for this wealth of information)

One of the concepts that I didn't fully understand when I moved into technology was budgeting. Now I think I am pretty good at it. Later I will share a tool that I use that allows me to really tweak thing out and test changes in my overall plan before I actually make them.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

When it comes to technology budget planning I start with one key philosophy:

Try to give everyone what exactly they will need for the next 3 years today.

Here are the fine points of that statement:

  1. What they need may not be what they want
  2. What they need may not exist today
  3. Needs always change
  4. You can't do this on your own
  5. You cannot accomplish this goal
So how do you achieve an impossible task? You don't. You just do your best to come as close as possible.

So, you have to start with communication. Talk to everyone that will share what they want from technology. Spend more time talking with people that have no clue about what technology can do for them. The only way you can set up point #1 above is to talk to people. This is also where redeployment comes in. Redeployment is moving your old tech junk around. I always have 2 goals here. Put resources where they are needed and never give someone a piece of equipment that is older than the one they have now. The computers that you buy for a high end lab today might not be able to run the software needed for that curriculum 3 years from now - but they might work just fine for a writing lab. So in 3 years replace the high-end lab and move those computers to the writing lab. They will do just fine there. You have now build a redeployment cycle 3 years high-end, 3 years writing lab, and then they leave your building.

Cycles like this are easy to plan for, look great on paper, and impress other administrators and board members because of your forward thinking. Take 4 cycles and you have planned 25 years into the future.

Always over budget for these cycles - then you will have enough $$ for items #2 and #3 above.

Finally - use a good tool for this planning. I started with a pretty good tool in 211. I really tweaked it out when I came here to 207. You can see the spreadsheet here (it is a Excel 2007 Macro enabled Spreadsheet). If you do use it you can build out 25 years of a technology budget in a couple of hours. You can change everything on the fly and use it to see how future changes will impact your budget.

If you really want to use it take a look and then contact me so I can walk you through it.


Reggie Ryan said...

Hey Henry-

Thanks for the post. As a Director just starting out- this kind of stuff helps a lot. Budgeting is not my strong suit, so guidance from the 'real' world helps. Sometime the more practical posts like yours and Miguel's down in TX are what is needed.

Henry Thiele said...

Thanks for the kind note. You can find other tech director folks here: