Technology is a critical investment for health and social care organisations, enabling management to track client outcomes and communicate with stakeholders, staff to work smarter, and clients to use technology to support their own independence and quality of life. Technology is also evolving rapidly and becoming more pervasive in our daily lives and work.
However, although every organisation we meet spends money on technology, not every home budgets for it. This article outlines the basics of budgeting for technology and making the most of limited funds.
1. You need a technology plan
The first step in budgeting realistically is to have a technology plan that links to your organisation's goals as a provider of social care. Having a well thought out plan can help you increase efficiency, put money aside for IT projects, and protect your organisation from unforeseen events. We've written an article describing the seven basic steps to a technology plan.
2. IT Audit
The second part is to take an audit or inventory of the technology equipment you have. This allows you to establish what you have, how old it is,and what needs replacing or upgrading. Two free tools we recommend for taking an IT audit are Spiceworks (for those with networks) and Belarc Advisor (for computers not networked).
3. Budgeting for total cost of ownership
Now you have a plan and you've audited your technology, the third step is to put together a budget. Buying technology isn't a 'one-off cost', you need to spread it over the life of the item. ‘Total cost of ownership’ is a way of accounting for all the costs likely to be associated with an item, which could include - initial capital costs, installation, licensing, training and maintenance.
Depending on how heavily used, we generally advise desktop computers and laptops have a life of around 5 years. Sofware licensing used to be about buying licences and installing the software on your computers. More recently, web-based services like Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps have introduced a 'pay as you go' monthly subscription model. Taking account of these will help you budget more realistically for the actual cost of hardware and software.
Lasa's technology budget calculator takes you through the basics of items you would expect to find in a typical ICT budget.
4. Buying technology
Charitable status brings access to a variety of discount and donation schemes not open to private companies, and we recommend investigating these before paying retail prices.
You don't have to spend £500 on a new machine as recycled and refurbished computers also offer a great way to save money and buy a machine, for £100 upwards that will meet your basic office computing needs. Some factors to think about include:
Download: A Guide to Managing ICT (PDF, 1.59MB)
Connecting Care issues a monthly e-bulletin rounding up the latest technology and social care stories for providers of adult and social care. It's free for anyone interested in technology and adult social care.