Gain Financial Buy-In for 1:1 Initiative Infrastructural Investments

By Anna Maxin

The curriculum leadership in your district is pushing to integrate mobile, high-tech learning devices into the classroom, throwing phrases like “1:1”, “BYOD”, and “Connected Learning” around loosely.  The fact is, it falls on you, the Director of Technology, to get it all done, and more often than not the entire success or failure of the initiative can ride on your shoulders.

Here is the problem.  There are many infrastructural items needed to correctly facilitate the curriculum’s vision, yet the person approving the budget, your CFO, only sees them as added costs. You need to prove that the added infrastructure will mitigate the financial, security, and PR risks for your new 1:1 initiative, ensuring that students and teachers are held accountable for each device, are adhering to usage policies, and that the district won’t spend more money than necessary replacing devices.

If you build the discussion with your CFO correctly, by talking in his terms, you should have a compelling business case to get the budget for what is necessary.  As T.H.E. Journal wrote in March, you need to make the CFO your BFF.

Understand your CFO’s view of technology

Most CFOs don’t have a high-tech background – they don’t have the same knowledge or perspective about technology as you do.  Understanding the CFO’s point of view towards technology is important.  Connect IT solutions with specific business problems within your district to keep the conversation moving forward.

Look at how performance and value are defined by district leaders

Find out how value and performance are defined by fellow internal leaders and consider relevant metrics to help you measure them.  You need to tie your infrastructural items to both the goals of the curriculum, and the goals of the business department.  Some key areas for metrics that are gaining momentum in the IT space are:

  1. Impact of technology on business and student results.
  2. End-user productivity, including faculty, teachers and students.
  3. Speed and simplicity of internal deployment of IT devices and services.

Create a business value proposition

With an understanding of the first two points, you can craft the conversation in your CFO’s terms; connect solutions to business problems, and utilize key metrics that demonstrate value. Steer away from talking about how to implement the latest technology, and focus on how it can help meet your district’s strategic goals. Position your IT spending in terms of business return by flipping the conversation from being a cost center, to a productivity center that supports key district objectives.

School districts aren’t the only organizations struggling with the relationship between technology and finance; private sector companies are, too.  Check out this slide share providing 11 Tips for Building a Winning CIO – CFO Partnership.

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