Technology Planning and Budgeting in Volatile Time
It’s the new fiscal in California, and I know many of you are working your budgets. It can be challenging to predict what you’ll need to spend when so much is uncertain. However, here are a few tips I’ve picked up from clients over the years:
Start planning ASAP- As Ben Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” From the vendor perspective, the biggest mistake I see IT leaders make is failing to plan. And, by planning, I mean creating a true governance framework integrated with the goals of the organization. Almost every agency IT organization has more demand than available budget, which forces IT leaders to choose which initiatives are worthy of funding. The decisions must be driven by supporting the agency’s priorities, and IT should identify the way the departments expect support and plan capacity and priorities, respectively. In addition, CIOs need clear visibility into business needs and goals to accurately manage, forecast, and prioritize long-term projects.
Evaluate technology investments carefully- IT leaders are often under a good deal of pressure from department heads to invest in new technology that will bring them efficiencies. While understandable, this approach can be risky. A keener approach would be to invest deeper in current tech that delivers business value, such as ERP or ECM, and only then plunge into innovative or new applications so that you can manage the risk.
Work your internal network- Inter-agency relationships are integral to IT success. Lobbying fellow department heads, and explaining the project’s benefits gets their buy-in. If you do this before the project, when it’s time to go to RFP, you’ll have their vocal support and cooperation.
Reduce inefficiencies and redundancies- IT leaders are hard-wired to mitigate disorganization and repetition. Tech departments can easily reduce operational or manual costs and should be on the lookout for new technology that can trim these costs. I’ve talked to CIOs who share that processes automated in Laserfiche save their staff hours of time. Another way to prune costs is integration. Having applications communicating on the back-end also saves time as staff doesn’t need to toggle back and forth between apps.
Seek advice from peers- Obtaining a realistic assessment from a peer (such as a fellow MISAC member) can help you set reasonable parameters for your budget. Combining this approach with analytics and collaboration with finance and vendors of your business-critical systems can help you effectively manage your IT budget.