IT Budgeting Playbook for Nonprofits


Few nonprofits have the resources available to hire a CIO. Causing the task of budgeting IT to land on the shoulders of an executive, that may not have the necessary expertise to make these important decisions. Tech Impact is here to walk you through everything you need to ask yourself when budgeting IT for the year. 

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Head over to ZDNet for the full article.

Set up budget contingencies and anticipate arguments

By their very nature, budgets are an exercise in compromise. The first rule of thumb for anyone who is creating a budget is that you will not get everything you ask for. Your CIO should enter budget meetings with a 'best case' scenario that presents maximum IT spend options. They do this because they know they will be asked to reduce their budget. Their hope is that the final IT budget will actually align with what they realistically expect.

Collaborate with stakeholders before budgets are presented for review

Today, nonprofits recognize that IT is an facilitator for strategies and operations, so best-of-breed CIOs actively collaborate on the technology budget with end users. These end users can be vital allies in budgetary reviews (for example, the Marketing VP can join the CIO in arguing the importance of establishing an analytics program for sales and market forecasts).

Gain a working knowledge of finance

To argue budgets with the CFO, strong CIOs understand the balance sheet and income statement ramifications of IT investments based upon how they are expensed (capital, longer-term investments that are amortized or operational expenses that are totally expensed within the year's operating budget).

Revisit aging assets

Making sure your house is in order is part of any budgetary process. What aging assets are coming off depreciation schedules? Will this have a favorable impact on budget formation? If these assets are coming off the books, do they also need to be replaced? Most IT departments keep track of the large assets -- but the tracking of old PCs, printers, and other equipment that might be collecting dust in the IT backroom or in remote sales offices, is often overlooked.

Determine whether expenses are operational or discretionary

Energy costs for the data center, lease expenses, and to a degree, core IT staff, are all ongoing operating expenses that the IT budget carries year after year. Then there is the discretionary part of the budget: the projects that are approved one by one, and that upon approval begin to incur costs for staffing, outside training/consulting, equipment, software, and so on. In formulating the budget, many CIOs first determine what the baseline of expenditures will be, and what portion of the IT budget should be projected for either budget approval or disapproval. In cases where project work is vital, CIOs are aggressive and ask for funding that starts on day one of the new budget. For lower-priority projects, the choice is often to defer project work until a call can be made later in the budget year. 

Challenge Vendors

IT vendors understand the budgetary challenges that CIOs face. Before penciling in a project that involves the services or products of a given vendor, many savvy CIOs test the waters to see what types of financial flexibility the vendor can provide.

In some cases, vendors offer free proof-of-concepts (POCs) of their products to get the products in the door. These POCs can be instrumental in demonstrating business value to the CFO and other executives.

There are also vendors that offer buybacks of old technology that lightens the load on your balance sheet. In still other cases, vendors might offer deferred payments and attractive financing options--or subscription or per use pricing that gives you the ability to control your spending and avoid expensive capital investments.

In still other cases, vendors allow you to pay by use or subscription, even if you elect to in-source a system that you run on premises.

Tech Impact ensures that nonprofits receive every software and product discount available. We accomplish this through our deep partnerships with nonprofits like TechSoup Global and corporations like Microsoft.
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