Budgeting for technology

Getting the most from limited funding means choosing the technology at the right price,without forgetting to allow for training, upgrades, ICT support and other running costs.


Budget (Photo: TaxCredits.net)

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.

Budgeting Steps

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.  

  • Discounted: Companies such as Pugh, Phoenix and Caretower supply software at charity discount prices.
  • Donated: Technology Trust runs a donation programme on behalf of hardware and software suppliers such as Microsoft, Adobe, Symantec, Citrix, Cisco and many more.

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:

  • what do tasks do you need the new machine for (web browsing, email, office documents)
  • refurbsihed, recycled and reconditioned generally mean the same thing - the computer has been wiped clean and key parts replaced or upgraded
  • buy well known brands from a reputable supplier

Some recyclers we know of include happus.eu and Computer Recyclers UK


Article: Microsoft - Your non-profit needs a technology plan

Download: A Guide to Managing ICT (PDF, 1.59MB)

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