Monday, July 1, 2013

Using Services to Stretch the EdTech IT Budget

It’s not news that EdTech budgets are under constant pressure and often face cuts or reductions as tax receipts drop in some areas. While at the same time there are new and increasing needs for EdTech solutions within schools to meet the demands of 21st century education.

It seems to be an impossible situation, doing more with less. Especially when you consider that the cost of staff, hardware, and many products just seem to go up every year. As with most IT operations, the largest part of the EdTech budget is allocated to staff costs. This means that any leverage of these staff resources brings substantial benefit to the budget. This is where the judicious use of Service Providers can be a great strategy.

One of the great truisms about Information Technology is that 70-80% of resources are focused on just “keeping the lights on” or more accurately, managing and administering current systems. This is one aspect of operations that is ripe for outsourcing or dropping on a service provider. The reason for this isn’t just to lower costs, but more importantly, to free up staff resources to work on the new projects that are unique to your district. It could be a network upgrade or new security solutions.

The corollary to this is to use a service provider to do the work on the new project and to have them handle on-going operations. This has been a common approach as the cost of the service provider becomes part and parcel of the new project and put into the overall budget request. The only issue here is that it leaves district staff a bit removed from the new project, and farther from being able to really add value to the district’s IT strategy.

One of the single best ways to stretch the IT budget in a district is to stop paying for things you don’t use, or use sparingly, but buy all of. This is approach of “paying by the drink” is a hallmark of cloud services. You only pay for what you use. This may be why using cloud service providers can actually save you money.

Let’s use Office 365 for example. Rather than buying an Office license for every administrative system, you might find that not all users need this software and that having end users sign up and register as needed for this cloud based version of Office, your costs could actually drop. In addition, as a monthly fee, you don’t have the one-time charge for a license purchase. This is one example, and you may find many others.

Services may become an essential tactic in dealing with tight budgets and limited resources. They can be attractive as staff extensions, but also, look at the pricing models for services as the movement to a “pay as you go” pricing model could be very beneficial to your budget.

View the original article here

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