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General Chat Thread, How much do you involve your finance officer in a small school environment? in General; How much is finance involved when making IT purchases in a small school? For example, IT finds some great software ...
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    How much do you involve your finance officer in a small school environment?

    How much is finance involved when making IT purchases in a small school?

    For example, IT finds some great software the school could use. IT gets approval from administration to buy software, then IT gets quotes from resellers, IT then gives lowest quote to finance officer/business manager for purchase to be made.

    However, I'm being asked by finance to include them in the process from the beginning, including negotiations about the software product and how many licenses to get. It this normal?

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    synaesthesia's Avatar
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    Usually they don't have a huge amount to do with it around here but obviously that will differ school to school. Common practice, I find, is that they assume that if something is being requested it is required for the curriculum or would at least be useful - but usually if there's room in that departments budget, it's typically unquestioned. Most involvement I've seen usually comes from wanting a few different sources if possible to get the best price or to avoid particular companies. However in the very small (circa 100 pupil) schools I attend to, it's all far far closer - the Finance Manager is typically also the bursar, sometimes IT coordinator/point of contact.

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    EduTech's Avatar
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    I dont personally deal with the purchases in our school, thats my boss but basically all he does is either get asked or he has to find something for a certain project, he has a rough idea of how much he has in his budget gets quotes and then gets an order raised via finance and then the order gets delivered.

    IF there are any problems the finance lady normally makes a point of telling him

    James.

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    Small school - my decision unless something that bursar buys for admin network eg printing ink when she will see if she can get it cheaper (she can't!!)

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    elsiegee40's Avatar
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    It would be easier to say how much does the finance office involve everyone else.

    We are a very small, independent (non-government dschool) with approximately 170 children from 3 months to 11 years.

    What the bursar says goes. I can recommend, I can get quotes, but without the Bursar's say-so nothing happens. If it costs more than 500, then our school governors have to approve the purchase!

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    Never worked in a small school so can't comment on that but it's very common for finance people to not want IT (or anyone else!) involved in price negotiations.

    I've had meetings before now where I've been told in no uncertain terms by a purchasing manager how to talk to suppliers - basically, you can say "OK" and "err" and make other non-committal noises but what you don't ever do is say "that's just what I'm looking for!" Once the supplier knows that they've got what you want then it's much harder to negotiate a price.

    If the finance people can go in and say "well, the IT department quite like it but it's not exactly what they want and it's a bit expensive" then they can negotiate better prices.

    This then brings you back to the earlier thread about "why can't they just give me a price" - it's because the price you're going to pay is determined by all sorts of things including how much the supplier thinks they can charge and how much the buyer is prepared to pay.

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    I work in a small school and have total control over my budget, I only have to go through the head / governors on orders above 10,000. Suppose being a member of SMT helps.

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    nicholab's Avatar
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    The problem with IT stuff is it not like paper/books it needs more understanding of what you are getting. I think that 10K for IT equipment with out higher authorization is about right.

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    Other then making sure we are following guidelines they have no input. In fact they are meant to refuse IT purchases requests made by other departments unless we've rubber stamped them. In practice this doesn't happen.

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    elsiegee40's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nicholab View Post
    The problem with IT stuff is it not like paper/books it needs more understanding of what you are getting. I think that 10K for IT equipment with out higher authorization is about right.
    I agree, but as I said, in a tiny school (especially an independent which relies on fee income) I can do nothing without the Bursar's say-so. Major expenditure is planned carefully and the Bursar would no more spec something for the network, than I would choose new basketball nets.

    It's up to me to make sure that the Bursar is aware of what expenditure is likely to be needed in the coming months and years.

    It is the same for all expenditure at the school, not just IT.

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    Quote Originally Posted by K.C.Leblanc View Post
    Other then making sure we are following guidelines they have no input. In fact they are meant to refuse IT purchases requests made by other departments unless we've rubber stamped them. In practice this doesn't happen.
    This is about how I feel about the situation.

    I run what I do through my supervisor and get my approvals through administration so it strikes me as odd to include finance on IT related procurement aside from available budget and handing off purchase orders.

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    chrbb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elsiegee40 View Post
    I agree, but as I said, in a tiny school (especially an independent which relies on fee income) I can do nothing without the Bursar's say-so. Major expenditure is planned carefully and the Bursar would no more spec something for the network, than I would choose new basketball nets.

    It's up to me to make sure that the Bursar is aware of what expenditure is likely to be needed in the coming months and years.

    It is the same for all expenditure at the school, not just IT.
    Exactly the same here, except for the fees bit. I'm told we have have some money to spend, I say what I'd like, smt either agree or make some other suggestions, I get quotes by email cc to admin email account, then the office manager and myself go through quotes together.

    Having working in industry in sales and knowing plenty of staff that have been questioned and prosecuted over their 'method' of choice of supplier/purchaser, I'm more than happy for the office manager's input and the arrangements that we have for receiving quotes and tendering procedures for larger amounts. never good to be the sole person in charge of a budget.

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