Despite all the uncertainty facing schools right now, we must try to remain positive and keep an eye on the future and our plans beyond COVID-19.
The subject of ICT Budgets comes up frequently with our clients – and setting them never seems to be as easy as they, or us, hoped.
Budgets are an essential part of an ICT Strategy, so we’ve written a guide to help MATs and schools determine what needs to be included.
Know your spend limits
“If you don’t know your spend limit then you’re creating a wish list – not a budget," says Novatia ICT consultant Andy Waring, a former MAT ICT Director.
So make sure the Finance Director/Chief Finance Officer (CFO) gives the ICT Director a clear spend limit. This needs to be split between:
- Capital (one off spend)
- Regular Expenditure (rolling budget).
Who’s paying for what?
The Finance Director also needs to set the parameters around what is ICT spend and what is Department spend.
For example, if the Science Department wants licences for Science Apps is that from their budget or the ICT Budget?
Be ready to prove your Capital spend case
As Andy explains, “I knew what my Regular Expenditure was as I knew what we had to spend each year to keep running ICT.
“The Capital figure for one off spend was subject to negotiation between me and the Finance Director. I had to make the case for my one off spend each year.”
To do this effectively, make sure that you have a researched detailed ICT Strategy; then you can make a powerful business case for the Capital Spend that is needed and justify it.
Once you have your Capital Spend agreed, create a contingency pot by purchasing your Capital spend requirements at good discounts.
Often, if you spend under the allocated budget the unused spend can be that year’s contingency pot.
Remember the rolling refresh costs
Check what your refresh rates are and make sure you have the budget for them.
Andy explains, “One ICT Director I knew moved to another MAT. It wasn’t recorded that the front line PCs were three years’ old and had been ear-marked for a refresh every four years. Suddenly, there’s an expectation that these dying PCs will be replaced but no budget had been allocated.”
For more on the other refresh costs that can get forgotten, such as infrastructure upgrades, download our Novatia Note.
The Project spend that gets forgotten
The complete cost of an ICT infrastructure project can surprise even experienced ICT Directors.
There are two typical ‘forgotten’ ICT Project costs:
- Infrastructure needing upgrading
- Purchasing additional licences.
Andy explains, “Another common pitfall is to tie yourself up to a contract for five years and not realise that, in some cases, it can be a false economy.
“You have to judge whether what you’re purchasing will actually come down in price over the next five years.”
Most IT teams are always busy, so if they need to deal with a problem or deliver a project, it’s essential to consider who will do it and at what cost.
Two options and their budget considerations are:
- Is it cheaper to outsource?
- If you don’t give your ICT Managers the high impact projects, how will you develop them and hold their interest?
Another key ICT Team cost is training. How can you keep your Team’s skills and knowledge up to date without a huge training budget or lots of time off work?
We’ve briefly touched on how to set an effective ICT Budget. In our Novatia Note, we go into more detail about each area and the possible solutions.
Andy has also recorded a quick 10-minute webinar, where he shares his experience of when spend can be overlooked or miscalculated and the knock-on effects of this.
Watch the Webinar
Like to learn more? Andy Waring has made a FREE webinar '"How to set an ICT Budget." For further details and the recording click here.
Let us help you ...
Alternatively, if you would like further help and would like to speak directly to us, get in touch either by phone on 01962 832632 or by email on firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d be happy to provide guidance.