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Technology Budgeting Paradox

August 24, 2015 1 comment

As one of the IT Directors for a university, I often find myself straddling the demands of technology and the needs of the business.  Often, this precarious balancing act reaps benefits when technology can be leveraged to address business challenges.  Of course there are occasions when these two worlds end up contradicting each other, and I’m strung by opposing forces.  This later experience typically rears itself when the business is crafting a multi-year budget, and they are asking for technologists to identify spending needs for the next five or ten years.  The technology practitioners, given this request, throw up their hands in disgust proclaiming that the rate of change within technology makes it impossible to predict spending patterns.

To the technologists credits, it’s unlikely we could have predicted the impact that mobile devices would have had in 2002, five years prior to the release of the Apple iPhone.  It’s just as unlikely that we could have foreseen the impact that cloud computing and storage would have had on data center operations in 2005.  But just because we can’t predict technology shifts and changes, shouldn’t preclude us from making educated guesses or charting a course based on the best information available.   It doesn’t require a fortune teller’s crystal ball to look at a trajectory and ask financial questions about where we are headed.  It also doesn’t mean that we can’t make necessary course corrections along the way.

Changes occur rapidly.  The business needs to plan.  Execution requires planning and coordination.  So like it or not, we should be able to pen a budget that is multiple years long and have specific dollar amounts associated with each year.  This process helps the business, and gives technologists a base line to assess deviations as the months and years tick off.