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Information and Communications Technology Strategic Plan, 2005-06
Appendix A: ICT Investment – Five-Year Budget and Priority Plan
An ICT Budget and Priority Plan, or five-year central ICT expenditure
plan, has been produced for the first time in the University. It
should be stressed that the amounts shown in the Budget and Priority
Plan are illustrative.68 The purpose is to
establish and agree the principles for creating an ICT Budget and
Priority Plan, and to explore how this will be used to help set ICT
priorities for central expenditure in the future. It will provide a
vital tool for addressing the apparent discrepancy between the funding
which is likely to be available, and the funding required.
Table A1 presents a single plan for ICT investment over the next five
years. It is important to recognise the following caveats and
- The purpose is to collect Oxford’s ICT planned expenditure
through central University funding in one table, to prioritise69 items driven by the needs of the collegiate
University, and to make estimates of the central ICT resources which
will be needed over the next five years.
- The plan covers central funding for ICT activities across the
University (measured in 2005/6 £s throughout).
- The intention is to develop a process by which a single view of
central ICT expenditure can be created. It will be a blueprint for
future procedures; both the process and the content of the ICT
Budget and Priority Plan will be refined and developed by the new
‘ICT Structure for Coordinated Decision Making’ (CDM) structure.
- The result will be an ICT Budget and Priority Plan for central
expenditure, with priorities set by Oxford (as opposed to the ICT
service providers), which will enable long-term strategic planning
to be made in the provision of central ICT.
- The current priorities are specified on the basis of feedback
received and documented in sections 1 and 2.
- The ICT project costs specified by units in the table have been
developed according to local practice, and this leads to apparent
inconsistencies. In due course it will be essential to specify and
agree a common approach, but at present it is important to recognise
and understand the differences.
- Similarly the level of detail for future planning varies from
unit to unit,70 and again a common approach
will be required in future.
- An additional area of uncertainty relates to the source of
funding: some central ICT activities are not funded from the
infrastructure charge (e.g. some are funded by Oxford University
Press); this level of detail is missing in the current analysis.
- An area of particular uncertainty is the process of moving from
pilot – to project – to service, and specifying what constitutes
baseline budgets for the service providers through the
lifecycle of the application. The Business Services and Projects
unit proposes to create a permanent team of specialists to continue
development and enhancement of finance and student systems, based on
Oracle Financials and the Oracle Student System, and a permanent
rolling programme of other (i.e. non-finance, non-student) business
systems projects. This would obviate the need to submit annual bids
for ongoing phases of work on Oracle Financials and ISIDORE and for
individual smaller projects. In OUCS’s case, it is assumed that
upgrades and renewal of existing services require new capital
investment, but that recurrent costs remain covered within the
baseline allocation. New services delivered by OUCS, however, which
require additional recurrent costs (staff, maintenance, etc) will
either need to be added to the baseline in due course, or the cost
met through charging.
- By analogy with the creation of new projects, it
will be important to specify a process for seeking agreement to
terminate existing ICT services, and agreeing the
consequent reduction in baseline level.
- The University’s overall approach to planning future capital
spending is to cost each individual project in full, including that
part which is considered by some units as part of existing recurrent
expenditure. It is recommended that this becomes the standard
approach (this is not done consistently in the table entries at
- The forthcoming CDM structure will need to address the issue of
baseline allocations for all the central service providers in the
University. No further analysis is undertaken here but the
University will need to debate and agree a definition of what is
included, possibly with fEC considerations taken into account. A
process for determining the appropriate baseline levels by year will
have to be agreed by the collegiate University (which will include
additions for new services and subtractions for the removal of old
- The Medical Sciences Division ICT expenditure and plans have
been appraised and two entries71 are included in Table A1. These are exciting
projects which are applicable beyond the confines of the Division,
and are representative of other projects developed through units
within Divisions and Colleges. It will be important for the central
University to invest in ICT wherever the best use of resources can
be made72, and it is proposed that funding is
made available to ensure that these important ICT services are
accessible to the wider University.
A Categorisation is made for each entry in Table
A1. This is based on a number of factors, but in particular
feedback received from Oxford as described in sections 1 and 2 of
this ICT Strategic Plan. To an extent the category represents the
potential funding source/method. The Category definitions are:
- Category 5 – funding already agreed by central University;
- Category 4 – very strong user requirement and/or underpins
other high priority pilots, projects, services;
- Category 3 – potentially very important, and worth funding
as a pilot;
- Category 2 – very important for parts of Oxford but not an
enterprise-wide service; should be funded through
- Category 1 – potentially less important than higher
categories but worth considering to be funded as special
project through development office.
Some items have components within more than one Category,73 in this case
the item is placed in the most relevant Category.
The formal allocation of projects to Categories will be
re-appraised by the new CDM structure in due course.
- Full Economic Costing (fEC) is likely to play an increasingly
important role in funding central ICT services, particularly when
teaching as well as research is covered. This will have an important
impact on Category 2 items, and will increase the focus on cost
recovery for different levels of service within a given ICT
Data from Table A1 are displayed in Plot A1 and show the central ICT
expenditure by Category. Plot A2 shows the same data with a total
anticipated central ICT baseline expenditure added. If the baseline
remains at current levels, the University is committed to c. £11m/year
plus the Category 5 expenditure. This is shown in Plot A3.
Table A2 takes the projected expenditure from Categories 4-5,
tabulates the anticipated baseline amounts, unit by unit, and forms a
total central ICT expenditure which would be required year by year.
Table A3 offers a holistic view of ICT across Oxford. Taking the
total spend from Table A2, the projected spends from Categories 1-3 (a
proportion of these would be cost-recovered and would not be borne by
the Centre), an approximate total divisional spend on ICT (based on
one Division’s approximate numbers), approximate college expenditure
(based on the extrapolation from the spends of a sample of colleges) ,
and finally some known ICT funding from external agencies, gives an
overall spend for ICT in Oxford.
This rather crude approach indicates that the total Oxford ICT spend
could be as high as £50m/year if external funding continues at its
present level, if cost recovery ICT services are introduced, and if
some development funding is procured for ICT.
The ICT Budget and Priority Plan for central expenditure has been
created to be compatible with, indeed in support of, the Capital
Projects Register, used by the Capital Steering Group.
An initial comparison between the expenditure foreseen in the ICT
Budget and Priority Plan in its current state (remembering the
uncertainties listed above concerning the amounts) and the proposed
ICT expenditure in the Capital Projects Register, indicates that
funding anticipated in the latter will only cover the capital74 costs of a fraction of the projects foreseen. The
budgeting exercise will need to be repeated more carefully before
definitive statements can be made.
It will be essential for the collegiate University, through the
new CDM structure described in Appendix
B, to specify central ICT priorities, and to ensure that
mission-critical central services receive adequate funding in order
to operate robustly, reliably, and effectively. Existing services
which are agreed to be of a lower priority may need to be
It is expected that all mission-critical central ICT services will be
appraised as soon as possible, and risk assessments made. This will
make it possible for the CDM to make informed decisions, concerning
where resources are most needed.
Eventually the CDM structure may be offered an ICT budget to manage
part of the ICT expenditure. This will avoid every (small scale) ICT
project needing to get endorsement from PRAC before it can proceed.
Link to PDF
Table A1. Overall illustrative priority and expenditure plan
for ICT, 2005/06 – 2009/10
Table A2. Projected major expenditure (category levels 4-5)
and anticipated baseline funding required by each Central ICT
Table A3. Overall picture of ICT spend across Oxford combining
Table A2 totals with category levels 1-3 expenditure, together
with illustrative college and divisional spend.
Plot A1: Overall proposed ICT expenditure, for all category
levels, excluding baseline.
Plot A2: ICT expenditure for all category levels, and including
Plot A3: ICT expenditure for baseline and category level 5
(funding agreed) projects
Up: Contents Next: Appendix B: Terms of Reference of the Planning and Resource
Allocation Committee Sub-Committee Structure
Illustrative in the sense that substantial additional
analysis would be required to give reliable investment predictions.
Activities are underway to define criteria for specifying funding
components within ICT capital projects.
Prioritise, or define appropriate funding
Sample Costing Processes
As indicated above, the figures
in Table A1 have been generated through different costing models
within the various units. Commentary is provided in order to
illustrate current practice.
OUCS: Where the ICT
investment is in upgrading or replacing current equipment, no
increase is projected for recurrent costs (staff, maintenance,
etc.), which are assumed to be part of the overall baseline
funding for OUCS. Capital costs are based on current market
prices without adjustment for inflation. It should be kept in
mind that many of the planned upgrades include technologies not
currently available. The next generation equipment costs are
therefore based on the current generation of hardware, etc. For
new services, capital costs are calculated as above. The
projected recurrent costs are an estimate of the new costs
arising from staff costs, maintenance, etc. to support the new
service (with no adjustment for inflation). Funding for new
services is assumed to flow from an increase in the overall
baseline, a cost-recovery mechanism, or some other method.
BSP costing of projects indicates ballpark
investment costs for each new project or phase of development,
in/over the appropriate financial year(s). Except where funding
has already been awarded, generic project-costing estimates have
been used, based on the estimated size (small, medium or large)
and expected duration of the project. A detailed,
project-specific costing exercise will need to be carried out
for each project, as part of the project start-up process. The
estimated figures are intended to include staff costs for
additional resources required for the duration of the project,
but do not include any allowance for the time of University
staff expected to contribute to projects as part of their
day-to-day responsibilities. The figures also include expected
hardware, software and consultancy costs. Figures for future
financial years have been adjusted to allow for inflation (at
OULS ICT expenditure is divided into staff,
non-staff and capital costs. Staff costs are based on actual
salary costs. Non-staff costs are based on the current equipment
budget. Capital costs relate to an annual replacement cycle and
the supporting hardware.
OxCort, the tutorial reporting system, is
an excellent example of a new application, driven by those members
of the collegiate University, to meet a specific need, and
This approach minimises complexity, but may lead to
additional uncertainty in interpretation.
The amounts shown under the capital columns in Table
Maintained by: OUCS Webmaster (email@example.com)
Submitted for consideration by PRAC, March 2007. ICT Strategy Programme Consultation Sub-Group.