When making purchasing decisions on, profit technology managers need to think about both “hard costs,” such as the price of a new software program, and ”soft costs,” the most important of which is staff time, Richard Wollenberger, director of information technology at the Parents as Teachers National Center, told participants at the Nonprofit Technology Conference, in San Francisco.
For example, when his organization recently bought a system that allows the technology department to push out updates to software programs across its network, he took into consideration the staff time that would be saved by eliminating the need to go to each employee’s desk to update the software individually.
“You figure by the time you can get people away from their computer and can go install their updates, you’re probably talking about a half an hour per computer per week,” said Mr. Wollenberger. “Well, if your help-desk person’s making $30 an hour, that’s $15 per computer of soft-dollar time.”
But he also tries to keep costs down by asking vendors if they’re willing to donate the product or give the organization a discount. The tool that allows the group to update software programs across the network normally costs $7,000, but after asking for a discount, the organization was able to get it for $1,400.
“Nobody’s saying, ‘Hey, we’ll give this stuff away or we’ll give you a discount,’ ” Mr. Wollenberger told conference participants. ”You have to ask for it, so don’t be shy.”
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