Assessing Your Fiscal Bandwidth: Current Practices for Measuring IT Costs in Higher Education


Accurately and consistently measuring the cost of IT in higher education is an essential part of strategic IT management, yet according to IT leaders, cost data have proven elusive. What if assessing current IT costs and spending practices were as easy as assessing institutional network bandwidth reports? In order to accurately track and record IT costs, higher education needs automated and recursive mechanisms—including alerts to identify anomalies and diagnostics to troubleshoot problematic issues—as well as data that are accurate, accessible, and understandable. To develop such tools, higher education must first understand both current capabilities and projected needs for IT cost measurement. The results of this ECAR investigation provide insight into the current practices for IT cost measurement, the challenges around effectively measuring IT costs, and the gaps in information and systems to report those costs. This information provides an industry standard to gauge an institution’s IT cost measurement practices, while offering a spectrum of ideas for improving practices for institutions that have unmet IT cost measurement needs. Deciding which IT cost data are important to your institution is an important first step to (re)prioritize if/how/what IT cost data are collected and is also essential to developing accurate and effective IT cost data reporting and data use practices.

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