Module 1: How to analyze costs

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Landing the concept

Sustainability/funding is one the main issues that H.E. institutions face when they start their digital transformation journey, along with simplification, innovation and compromise from the institution. All higher education institutions are working harder than ever to do more with less, and some are struggling even to survive.

As it is stated by EDUCAUSE, the higher education sector is embarking on Digital Transformation, which is defined as a ‘series of deep and coordinated culture, workforce, and technology shifts that enable new educational and operating models and transform an institution’s operations, strategic directions, and value proposition’.

To do so, the institutions should develop a sustainable approach to technology investments and also use technology to reduce or contain costs. That requires aligning IT investments with institutional priorities and developing a sustainable approach to funding the ongoing technology investments that everyone knows are needed. 

IT/digital leaders are trying to work with financial leaders to develop new funding models that can respond to both changes in digital sourcing and the growth of initiatives and operations that depend on technology. The reason behind is that sustainable financial strategy requires focusing on the highest priorities and, increasingly, centralizing technology investments to avoid duplicative spending. Therefore, IT, finance, and other institutional leaders need to re-create the digital funding model, consider new financing sources, and identify predictable resources for innovation. Moreover, the technology managers should be included in an early stage of any type of technology investment, so that they can advise on the most efficient way to meet technology needs and estimate the true ongoing funding requirements. In summary, digital transformation implies an engagement from the institution as a whole, and more specifically, a close collaboration between ICT/IT and Finance departments.

Coming to digital transformation funding, at many institutions, it depends on one-time expenditures or capital-funding mechanisms that are based on building-construction funding models predicated on a life expectancy of 20 years or more. Such models do not provide the stability or flexibility needed for modern IT investments. Read the following report (from page number 4 onwards) to understand how to implement the technology change: https://library.educause.edu/resources/2015/12/aligning-it-funding-models-to-the-pace-of-technology-change-enabling-financial-flexibility-for-core-flexible-and-transformative-services.

According to the AduLeT (Advanced Use of Learning Technologies in Higher Education) project, one of the barriers to technology enhanced learning in higher education institutions, and applicable to digital transformation, is the lack of equipment. As an example, due to the constant technological improvements, hardware and software quickly needs to be replaced by the most modern innovations. This, of course, requires a lot of investment by the higher education institutions, most of which have a hard financial situation. Lecturers are not only aware of this fact, but face this situation in their job. Read the full report from the AduLet project (attached as an additional resource) to find out suggested solutions for this and other barriers to the digital transformation.     

Watch the following videos to get a better idea about the main issues while facing digital transformation, and tips to align resources and investment in technology:

Take Action!

  • Contact someone from the ICT department of your university, preferably with a certain responsibility to take decisions and ask him/her about the process followed to invest in technology. Is there a role of CIO (Chief Information Officer)? Are these decisions taken involving the Finance department? How are the costs identified? You can have the meeting in person or using any video conferencing tool, such as Adobe Connect, Skype, Zoom, etc.
  • Elaborate a proposal of a procedure to follow in your H.E. institution when investing in technology, detailing which departments are involved, the communication between them and the decision making process. If possible, include contact references.

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