Three budgeting tips for higher ed

In the meantime, while we all try to sort this out, a few things to note:

1.  Intangible is the “New Black”

There’s no denying it. Wireless, bandwidth, and storage are all invisible to the non-tech eye. Yes, we need it. Without it, you can feel its lack of presence. Without it, all connectivity and online activity will be impeded. No, we can’t show it to you. And the “old black” is the clunky hardware that some need to hold on to until it fails but that most of us are trying to get away from as soon as possible.

2.  Infrastructure = Infrastructure

Completing capital maintenance on a residence hall roof is no different that completing capital maintenance on your core network. All maintenance, without it conditions are not “livable” by today’s connected standards and these projects need to integrate and be prioritized.

3.  Budgeting 101 Needs an Update

Technology leaders need to spearhead initiatives to update outdated policy and procedure as it pertains to budgeting tech expenditures. Capital expenditures are slowly being addressed in federal policy. Unfortunately the pace of technology is not slow. Capital projects need to be redefined at their most basic level.

“Data in the cloud” today needs to be treated the same way that “physical servers in the cold room” were treated five years ago. The dollars need to be applied in the same way, with the same treatment under the same financial definition.

Ideally a magic answer will appear to solve all of these technology needs jutting up against budgeting restrictions. Since that is likely not going to happen, the next few years will be rough. In the end, hopefully we will create a financial funding model that is every bit as agile as the technology infrastructure we are implementing. A model that is scalable, adaptable to a fast-changing environment, and where solution-centric discussions replace the word “no.”

Paige Francis is the CIO for Information Technology Services at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Conn. Northwest Arkansan turned New Englander, Paige Francis is a successful executive IT leader, energized by education, recently named to the Top 50 Most Social CIO’s in Higher Education, one of Computerworld’s 2014 Premier 100 IT Leaders and, most recently, was named a member of eCampus News’ new Advisory Board.

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