The New Year is upon us. Senior leaders at schools and multi-academy trusts (MATs) are already looking ahead, setting their budgets for the next academic year.
Planning the ICT spend for 2019/2020 will be particularly challenging. Technological advancements to support teaching & learning are developing at a fast pace, as are a range of innovative products designed to support whole school operations. Funds are always tight; decisions must be made wisely.
Forecasting the ICT budget is a potential minefield. As well as determining investment for future ICT needs, costs and projections should include hardware, software, staff training as well as any development projects. Compliance issues, such as cybersecurity, data protection and e-safety that may impact on safeguarding, will also have to be considered.
So with so many different factors to consider, how best can you control your ICT spend?
We'd recommend you take these THREE steps ...
- Draw up a clear ICT Strategy & Vision. Here, developing an ICT Strategy that complements your organisation's overall vision and objectives is key. You need to know what your strategic priorities are so you can focus wisely when setting any future ICT budget. An effective Strategic ICT Group with allow you to see the bigger picture and will stop 'buying ICT for ICT's sake', keep you focussed on what your trust, schools, teachers and students actually need.
- Carry out an ICT Audit and Current State Review (CSR). This will provide you with a clear insight into the present health of your MAT or school's ICT systems and operations.
Many schools and trusts choose to use an external advisor in order to provide an independent evaluation of their current ICT to senior leadership teams and governors, thereby ensuring correct governance with close scrutiny of school practices.
A CSR can be done at any time. If funds are available, it can be carried out immediately, or it can be planned for in advance, the cost being included in next year's budget.
- Close the Gap. Once you have done a CSR, you will be able to confidently determine 'where you are' against 'what you need to do next' allowing you to optimise your ICT budget. This will also ensure your MAT or schools' ICT is working most effectively to realise your short term goals.
As independent ICT advisors to UK Education we have a wealth of experience that we’d be happy to share. If you would like us to carry out a CS Review, the process starts with an ICT Audit where one of our Education ICT advisors will spend around three days at your school, with up to an additional day for any subsequent schools (in the case of MATs). The CS Review will provide you with a comprehensive action plan, identifying effective steps you can take to streamline and simplify your existing ICT.
To find out how you can get more from your ICT budget for 2019/2020 get in touch now. We offer an initial FREE 30 minute phone consultation - what have you got to lose?