Technology Expense and Cost Benefits
The first concept for the inclusion of technology components is that information technology is part of the basic infrastructure of an organization. The trend is to think of all technology as a special expense, not part of ongoing operating budgets. Therefore there is resistance to building in standard line items for technology upgrades, maintenance, and staff training into agency budgets.
To be effective users of technology, organizations need to budget for day-to-day technology expenses in the same way they do for postage, copying, and similar operational items. Understanding the direct costs of any activity is an important managerial tool; and adding technology and appropriate information management expenses to the calculation improves coordination, planning, and outcome.
Many now find technology investments to be budgetary “black holes.” They may not easily discern exactly how investments in either benefit the institution as a whole. Expenses for technology development are local, whereas many of the benefits — both operations costs savings and service improvements — are deferred and often accrue outside of the local institution. Local investments may leverage benefits from the investments of others, but these benefits may take time to materialize.
The challenge is to sustain a system of networked information across institutions, measuring local and systemic outcomes more precisely to see that investments are effective.