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BSF Thread, BSF and the Local Community in United Kingdom (UK) Specific Forums; Hi, Why don't counties try to encourage local IT business to apply for contracts? Should counties encourage local IT business ...
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    BSF and the Local Community

    Hi,

    Why don't counties try to encourage local IT business to apply for contracts?

    Should counties encourage local IT business to apply for these type of contracts?

    I'm talking about the Microsoft Gold Partners, Citrix Partners.

    Tom

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    The answer is 'because the contracts are usually very large, and as such the companies need significant capital to be able to show they can handle the contract'.

    The process is done via EU tendering rules, which means that any company can apply. Smaller companies will have the problem of more than likely being more expensive than larger ones which can use economies of scale to reduce costs.

    Also, IT companies don't bid by themselves, it is a consortium of companies made up of a building company, an IT company etc... which will only come about if the building company partners with that IT company.

    So really, the entire process is stacked in favour of the bigger service providers, as they have the millions to spend on showing they can do the job, whilst smaller companies look on and dream.

  3. Thanks to localzuk from:

    uk101man (20th March 2010)

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    Do these IT MSP contracts end? If so how easy is it / will be for a school to move away from RM par say.

    Am I right in saying that once a school has a MSP like RM there could be a very high barrier to exit, if the school wanted to leave the MSP at the end of the contract?

    Would it not be better to split the IT side of things away from BSF and give the money to the schools?

    I just do not see the benefit of having a MSP come in, re do the network, servers and desktops and if the school wants to leave the MSP at the end of the contract they may be face a highe cost to revert back to a more standard network (if there is such a thing) or are forced to pay on going support contracts?

    It's been a while since I've been in Education, so I maybe missing something.

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    localzuk's Avatar
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    The equipment provided under the contract usually belongs to the school (I suppose this depends on the contract itself, but I've yet to hear of one where the equipment is leased or some such concept). The contracts are fixed length also, so at the end, the school can decide to take out a new contract with the same company or say good bye to them and go a different route. The network would carry on running the same as it did before, except now it would be back in the hands of the school.

    I can see your point about the cost of ending such a contract, because undoubtedly there will be things the school would have to buy in order to admin the network internally, but at the same time this would be happening anyway if they weren't in a MSP contract.

    Also, remember that just because RM gets a contract, it doesn't mean RM will load up the network with their CC3/CC4 product. The network could very easily be a vanilla network, or a thin client network etc...

    Every school would have to look at it themselves, to see what it would cost them to change to someone else or internal support, as every school would likely be somewhat different with their needs (which is my main objection to the cookie cutter approach to ICT that seems to exist within BSF as it stands).

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    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    When you are looking at new builds then smaller companies do also get involved as sub-contractors.

    The builders sub-contract out for sparkies, etc ... so when you are looking at eh network infrastructure you would have the sparkies doing the putting in the trunking and cable trays as they do this for the electric anyway ... they might even also pull the cable for Cat 5e/6 too. You then get a cabling firm who will come round, terminate and test. At the same time the IT firm might be putting in the Cabs ... or the cabling company might do that depending on the arrangements ... it varies. The cabs might have been purchased under the building contract or under the IT contract ... it varies.

    The MSP will then provide the network hardware and it could be the cablers who also configure teh network hardware ... or it could be a sub-contract to the MSP.

    Basically ... as long as the infrastructure is in, meets the the requirements set out in the contract ... then how it is put together is unimportant. There will be warranties to go with it all and should the MSP find fault with it then they know who to go back to.

    It is rare to come across a company that has *all* their own in house staff to cover everything, as they would spend some time sat around doing nothing. Managing it all though ... that is where a lot of things fall down. Faults don't get picked up soon enough and you get into the blame game.

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    @uk101man:

    Very good question, one to which I would like to answer if I may with a vision of what is happening in our county at the moment.

    It goes like this:
    All the headteachers have been asked (nay more or less told) that they all have to sign up to the BSF IT MSP before they have even seen it (on good faith I believe the term is called). Anyway what the county is investing in (already built) is a data centre (soon to be 2) and all the county services which need IT will be connected to these through Virtual desktops (Xenapps and VDTs) which seems really good for the business side of things but then the county decided they would utilise this for the BSF incentive and throw in the education side of it for good measure so in answer to your question if RM take over your school IT then you will be quite lucky in that you have a chance to break away when the contract ends if the service has been less than adequate, whereas we will not be so fortunate as once the new schools are tied into these data centres it will cost the schools far too much money to set-up their own network infrastructures again and getting hold of their school data might be a problem as the question of who owns it may come into question.

    Already the first of our new BSF schools which has been open since last September has still not got its managed IT service and is still being sorted at this moment with a deadline of April or it has to move to plan B and use the schools old equipment which they are using now (so much for the millions of pounds the new schools are supposed to get for their IT).

    Sorry to be the bearer of such bad news but this is the way of the bureaucratic government we have in charge and are not likely to get anything better when the next one comes to power as there is no money in the kitty.
    Last edited by SYNACK; 20th March 2010 at 10:16 PM. Reason: Language

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    russdev's Avatar
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    Also smaller companies get involved by lets say their is problem with said BSF build after its opened the contract says this time frame to be solved.

    The big supplier company can not get someone there in time. At that point they give the LA permision to hire someone else and then they will pay the bill etc.

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    broc's Avatar
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    I am amazed at how many small & medium sized companies that supply schools are ignorant of what is happening with BSF.... it comes as a rude shock to many of them when you tell them!

    Like most schools, we get a steady stream of phone calls from existing suppliers & potential suppliers touting for business. I have been telling them for 12 months now that I have no budget because of BSF & in the not too distant future I will not have any say in what the school buys. First they claim to be oblivious of what is going on, then they want to know who is calling the shots so they can get on their suppliers list, not realising they are about 2 years too late.....

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    Really, head teachers have to sign up for BSF IT MSP without seeing the contracts. I wouldn't call that good faith, I would call that stupid. After all they are held responsible.

    I would never sign a contract without seeing it to make sure it's right for me. If the head teachers did see the contract would they understand it and its implications long term? Who could advise the head teacher, not the MSP (they have their own interest), not the schools IT people (they have their own interest)

    I thought BSF was about making each schools IT with the county the same, thus the MSP can lower costs.

    So really BSF played right by MSP could be a rolling cash cow as schools will face a high cost to leave a MSP even if they are unhappy.

    I just think BSF well the IT side of it could be done different.

    Why not the x millions and say right with have this vision for the county school and for that we will need x amount of servers, let buy them from a local company (Supporting a local business), we will need x amount of helpdesk staff (Supporting the local community, by employing people).

    I just think having the same companies winning contracts will harm the innovation within the schools.

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    Quote Originally Posted by uk101man View Post
    Really, head teachers have to sign up for BSF IT MSP without seeing the contracts. I wouldn't call that good faith, I would call that stupid. After all they are held responsible.

    I would never sign a contract without seeing it to make sure it's right for me. If the head teachers did see the contract would they understand it and its implications long term? Who could advise the head teacher, not the MSP (they have their own interest), not the schools IT people (they have their own interest)

    I thought BSF was about making each schools IT with the county the same, thus the MSP can lower costs.

    So really BSF played right by MSP could be a rolling cash cow as schools will face a high cost to leave a MSP even if they are unhappy.

    I just think BSF well the IT side of it could be done different.

    Why not the x millions and say right with have this vision for the county school and for that we will need x amount of servers, let buy them from a local company (Supporting a local business), we will need x amount of helpdesk staff (Supporting the local community, by employing people).

    I just think having the same companies winning contracts will harm the innovation within the schools.
    Head Teachers & Chairs of Governors (I know because I was one) are 'persuaded' to sign up with threats & bullying tactics; LAs will force the issue with arguments like saying refusing to sign 'jeopardises' BSF funding for the whole LA... Schools would lose out on >£1m ICT funding if they don't sign up for the managed service.... not many can afford to.

    BSF & ICT managed services is mostly about sweetening the deal for the private sector. Everything else is a smoke screen.

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    webman (22nd March 2010)

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    So the LAís encourage schools to sign up for BSF and if the school want to refuse the IT side of things this will put the BSF in danger. Why can private businesses bully LAís if there is a hint that the IT BSF may not be welcomed.

    Schools are signed into a contact, which is no doubt in the interest of the MSP (they are a company a need to make money).

    If I was an MSP I would advise the LA to take a solution that would be extremely hard and costly to move away from at the end of the contract and thus schools are force into contracts that could be more expensive than the original contracts.

    Mean back at school level you see new PCís and monitors, but you may have lost a skilled employee as the network manager role can now be done remotely / centrally. Again if I was an MSP I wouldnít want an employee changing GP settings, installing software that I havenít supplied let alone tested. In fact what I want is bod who can follow instructions and use a mobile phone.
    After these contracts end Iím guessing we will be seeing more IT jobs for schools include the line such as Knowledge of CC4 and other MSP management software.

    I just feel with things getting harder before they get better (I predict a double dip recession) we should be trying to keep as much work locally, by employing local IT People (as hire helpdesk bods, etc..) and training the many people on Job Seeker allowance in IT. Just my Idea

    Anyhow thanks for the replies. I just got annoyed after speaking to someone at a school who said they had RM come in over last summer and under took a whole new install, which did not work fully until late in the term. Also they now keep all their data in a data centre (Iím guessing what the person means is data is held locally with DFS used to sync the data up to the data centre).

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    @uk101man

    I think you have made a reasonable assessment of the situation.....


    Reflect on this;

    Schools will be locked in to their contacts with the MSP for 5-10 years, some schools with falling rolls may even be at risk of having to sack teachers to pay their MSP charges especially as their budgets will likely be cut because of the economic state of the nation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by broc View Post

    Reflect on this;

    Schools will be locked in to their contacts with the MSP for 5-10 years, some schools with falling rolls may even be at risk of having to sack teachers to pay their MSP charges especially as their budgets will likely be cut because of the economic state of the nation.

    Oh I forgot about that. So said contracts would not "scale down" based on the number of pupils? If I were an MSP I wouldn't want my monthly/yearly fee to change based on number of pupils.

    Surely schools can look at their feeder schools and gage how many pupils they will have and argue that over the next x years will have x% less pupils so there for we will be using the equipment a lot less and thus a lot less support is required.

    It's almost like a group of businesses sat down a designed the BSF project, so they could get as much money as possible (well the IT MSP side of IT)

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    Quote Originally Posted by uk101man View Post
    Oh I forgot about that. So said contracts would not "scale down" based on the number of pupils? If I were an MSP I wouldn't want my monthly/yearly fee to change based on number of pupils.

    Surely schools can look at their feeder schools and gage how many pupils they will have and argue that over the next x years will have x% less pupils so there for we will be using the equipment a lot less and thus a lot less support is required.
    The Managed service costs should scale upwards & downwards, they are calculated per student per year. The loss of budget for every student not on roll is significantly greater than the MSP cost per student. More significant is the risk of education budget cuts & schools finding themselves saddled with fixed ICT costs they can no longer afford.

    Today a school can decide to cut its IT costs to suit its budget; that is why some years a school can afford to invest in ICT & in other years they cut back. They will lose the flexibility to decide how to do this with a managed service contract..... costs will be straight-line & beyond their control......

    Also, if a school wants to have equipment replaced during their contract they have to pay more. The preferred method is for the schools to pay a fixed amount per student per month, building up a 'reserve' to spend on new equipment, purchased from their MSP catalogue at their prices of course......
    Last edited by broc; 22nd March 2010 at 12:20 PM.

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