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It's that time again...

It's double bonus time for us right now: budget season and E-Rate season.

In a time of budget crisis and ever shrinking resources, we (the IT organization as a whole) are in the relatively lucky position of proposing a flat budget. No gain, but no reduction either. That means that I'm trying to bring in our share of the cost for our 2010-2011 E-Rate funded projects at a number that's very close to this year's number (~$313,000 as Hartford's share of $2.4M in work).

My three subordinate managers and I had assembled a "basic package" of the things that we thought had to get done in 10-11. Once our E-Rate consultants computed the discount rate for the cluster of schools we're targeting we could figure out how much farther we could go beyond the "base package".

We had seven projects, that would probably cost Hartford $100K to do, but only $40K in "room" to fit them in. I borrowed brianrogers's concept of the gaming prospectus: I listed each project on my whiteboard and gave each of us 10 points to allocate among the seven based on our views of what was most important. Everyone marked down their numbers and then I went around the table tallying the scores.
ProjectScore
Full replacement of equpment at Hartford High5
Full replacement of equpment at Classical Magnet4
Full replacement of equpment at Central Library6
Gut-and-rewire Sanchez ES6
New firewalls8
New email, DNS and DHCP servers9
Implement Cisco MeetingPlace (a collaboration tool)2

It worked. And the results surprised me. Two projects that I thought would score higher, didn't, yet there was strong consensus around three others (two yea and one nay). My network manager remarked that he thought the ranking came out the right way. My voice manager ... well he felt like he'd taken a bullet for the team as his one project on the list came out dead last. (He's not hosed, mind you. 1/3 of the funding we are applying for is for the voice system.)

All in all, a good day.

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