Friday, December 4, 2009

Doing More With Less

dollar sign $Image by Leo Reynolds via Flickr

Budget cuts are common across the board right now in our nation. In a time when organizations are looking for ways to trim costs and pinch pennies, education is no exception. Education is always looked at by state leaders because it usually comprises a significant portion of their budget. K-12 leaders have always been asked to continue to perform at the highest of levels, when dollars are being taken away or flat lined (which is essentially a decrease).

Making the news recently in Kentucky is the request of our Governor for all state agencies (including the Kentucky Department of Education) to prepare for a 6% budget reduction during this year. (Here is that story.) A budget cut in the middle of a school year is a PR nightmare for any administration, but the effect is felt from the top to the bottom as multiple programs and areas are typically affected.

How can we as educational technology leaders be good stewards of our dollars while continuing to improve services, support and instruction? I believe these tips will help any technology leader prepare his/her organization for tough economic times.

  • Go Green- this includes a variety of initiatives that not only shows the innovation of technology within your organization, but will save dollars. A few examples include: Go Paperless. Turn your meetings paperless, reduce copies, paper costs, printing, etc. Power Saving Plan. Develop a plan/strategy for reducing energy costs in your data center, end user machines and other devices. In most cases, thousands of dollars can be saved annually with an effective energy management plan.
  • Look at your recurring costs - often you can find phone lines that are not used regularly or can be bundled with other lines.
  • Virtual Meetings - Telecommute. How much does your organization spend in travel - even for local meetings? Utilize Skype (which is free) to cut down on travel and face-to-face meetings. You can still accomplish the same goals while reducing costs.
  • Reduce Repair Costs - often you can stay ahead of repair costs with good preventative maintenance, regular upgrades, updated anti-virus protection. This will also free up time for technical staff to focus on other projects.
  • Open Source - this one is the most logical. Look at Open Office or other free / open source applications / services that can be used in place of a competitor with fees.
These suggestions certainly are not all the ways an organization can look to save money in tough economic times, but can provide a kick start to the process. Any time a CIO or educational technology leader can take the above items to their Superintendent or CEO and show added value while saving dollars, he/she is a proven asset within the organization.

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