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Summer 2008 is just around the corner

Well, your students are off-campus now (or soon will be) and any mid-year upgrades you're planning during the break have been scheduled.  Chances are, you're not thinking about the next academic year just yet but by mid-January you should be -- especially if you work in University IT, where budget planning needs to start early.

Marc Wagner

Well, your students are off-campus now (or soon will be) and any mid-year upgrades you're planning during the break have been scheduled.  Chances are, you're not thinking about the next academic year just yet but by mid-January you should be -- especially if you work in University IT, where budget planning needs to start early. 

Perhaps the most difficult challenge in Education IT is to be proactive, not reactive.  This means anticipating your user's needs far enough in advance to be able to ask for the funding you need before the budget is spoken for by others.  You may have spent months, or even years, analyzing the need, talking to the parties involved, and building a case for your budget request.  Or, perhaps you only recently learned of a critical need and you don't have the luxury of time for building your case.  In either event, you need to be prepared to justify your budget request with hard data.  The data is usually there but it often takes time and patience to ferret out the details. 

This is where a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis pays off.  Coming from a position of strength, Education IT can often make its case for a realistic budget and, while you may not get everything you want, you are likely to come closer to your goal than you would if you just took whatever is granted to you and stretched it as far as you could.  This proactive approach is the first step in establishing life-cycle funding for your operation. 

Regardless of the life-cycle you establish, life-cycle funding is critical to being able to set realistic budget expectations for your finance office moving forward and for establishing a baseline upon which you can build as your student's and faculty's needs change.