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The Midrange Manager: What's in Your 2003 IT Budget?

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This is the time of year when many iSeries IT managers are reviewing or planning their budgets for 2003. Granted, some do it at other times of the year because of fiscal year planning, but the vast majority of iSeries shops are in small to medium-sized businesses, and they typically budget on a calendar year basis.

From what I have been able to research, it appears that IT budgets for next year have been reduced just slightly or are roughly the same as 2002. What's even more interesting is that some iSeries IT managers don't actually have final budget authority, but rather consult with the controller, treasurer, VP of finance, or some similar position. This typically occurs in smaller iSeries shops with few employees.

Where are IT budgets going to go in 2003? If we are being asked to do more with less in 2003, we need something included in the 2003 budget that perhaps we may not have previously considered: training for the staff.

If your company needs your staff to produce more, the solution is not to just expect the staff to work more hours; the solution is to train them in the new technologies, technologies that--more than likely--you already paid for and own. For example, what is the cost of having an existing staff member attempt to implement an in-house Web site that is hosted on your iSeries? You probably already own the iSeries' Web server. You probably already own a CGI language. You probably already have the iSeries on a network connected to a T1 or similar communications line. So what would it cost?

If the staff you've assigned to implement the Web presence is unfamiliar with the various Web technologies, they may spend a couple of weeks configuring your Web server and many, many weeks building the applications that run on the Web. If they don't know what the technologies you have installed can do, then they may simply recommend purchasing software, such as Lotus Domino.

The Domino route will cost about $5,000, depending on the configuration and processor group. If you end up licensing all Domino features and add-ons, then you're looking at $25,000 or so. In addition, you have to add in the costs of training employees, whether it's instructor-led training or self-taught on company time. In the end, Domino may be a good choice for an intranet or extranet for up to 5,000 users.

This is just one example. Budgeting for training in some organizations is actually not done. Instead, they take appropriate funds from a general fund on an ad hoc basis.

If you want to send staff to COMMON, the IBM iSeries User Group's national IT Education Conference and Expo, then you need to budget for the registration fee, the hotel, and transportation to the event. For national education conferences such as COMMON, I would recommend a per-person budget of $1500 for the registration fee, $500 for airfare and $150 per night for hotels. Some IT CIO's and executives I've talked with budget a simple, flat amount per person per year for education and training. So whether they bring someone in to train staff or they send staff to a national IT education conference, such as COMMON, or they let staff take college courses, they will budget something like $5,000 per staff member per year for training.

The value of keeping your staff trained is that they remain happy and they actually know the new technologies vs. simply guessing. Do you have an application or project backlog? Training your staff to do things smarter, faster, and better will only help reduce that backlog. Take a few days out of their schedule to get them up to speed on the evolutionary technological enhancements to things like iSeries, OS/400, Web, HTML, XML, and RPG IV. You will not only reduce your back log, you'll also help keep your staff happy!


Bob Cozzi is a programmer/consultant, writer/author, and software developer. His popular RPG xTools add-on subprocedure library for RPG IV is fast becoming a standard with RPG developers. His book The Modern RPG Language has been the most widely used RPG programming book for more than a decade. He, along with others, speaks at and produces the highly popular RPG World conference for RPG programmers.

MC Press books written by Robert Cozzi available now on the MC Press Bookstore.

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