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BSF Thread, I (we) categorically do not want BSF Managed ICT in United Kingdom (UK) Specific Forums; Ok I know not one individual has the time to do this, but if we work together We could set ...
  1. #31

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    Ok I know not one individual has the time to do this, but if we work together
    We could set up a generic response so that it can be used as

    1) A proposal that can be used by all schools that will better BSF's
    2) Showing all the pitfalls of signing up to a remote service

    It should not be hard to better any remote service

    In fact a lot of business must be loosing out to others with long term contracts with BSF

    I know the company we buy our computers, whiteboards etc.. From relies heavily on schools for its business
    I’m sure they would help out with a proposal that beats BSF but does not include remote management

    You guys must have access to companies that will do the same, what do you think?

    What we need is a list of suppliers that would be willing help!

    I can see that I'm going to have to get a website built to accommodate this; there must be someone who has the skills, time and experience better than me to do this surely

    we may only be the IT guys but we are the ones who who always find a way around things are we not !
    Last edited by sjpage10; 30th March 2010 at 04:42 PM.

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  3. #32

    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    I know that I usually come across all positive about BSF to some folk (thankfully others see what I am trying to get at) and I will keep throwing back to you the challenges that LAs, ICT Consultants and MSPs will raise. It is not intended to say you are wrong in what you are doing, but if you read through the past posts on BSF by Broc, Bossman and Grommit, to mention a few, then you will see how easy some of the arguements can be knocked down by MSPs and so on.

    The first one I'll mention is remote management ...

    There is nothing to say that in any particular BSF Managed Service (or other managed services actually) that it will be based on centralised servers, remote management and with only one techie (not an NM) at each school. It varies depending on what the LA ad the schools decides the needs are. As Broc has already pointed out that if nothing else you raise this as an issue and something for your school to fight for.

    There is nothing to say that your present suppliers might not be involved in BSF either ... if you get your kit from Dell, RM, HP, IBM, 3COM, Cisco ... then they sell into BSF. The resellers are the people who will lose out ... and one of the arguements is that by going to the company (or a damn large reseller) then you reduce the costs on bulk buying. You will need to produce some seriously good figures (consistent figures) to show otherwise. One off quotes will not do it, but a clearly demonstrated cost saving by working with particular suppliers over a 3 year period would be a good start (remembering that this is to be over a 5 year period and they might want like for like).

    Also, it is not all about kit ... it is about policies and procedures. At present there is no standard box-set of policies and procedures for IT in a school. If one was to be created (under CC) then I know a *lot* of people would be happy ... but a lot of people promise them and they don't appear. A number of people have tried to spark this off ... (including me) but considering the number of members (lurkers and regulars) is is embarrassing the lack of sharing of resources that go on when it comes to the paperwork side.

    Technical expertise, scripts, technical how-to guides ... yep, there are some fantastic examples of that here ... but too little on the policies side. *Please* cajole and harass people to get them. It may be that some folk feel that they are not in a position to share them as they are poor ... then perhaps an anonymous drop-box might work ... but my main concern is that they just don't exist enough in schools or that many folk are more interested in the technical side *in spite of being told over and over again that this is an important factor in BSF*.

    Also ... you still don't mention the education bit. *This* should be the bit that people should be saying "Hey ... I understand education but the MSP doesn't ... that is why you need me!" and yet all too often people forget to talk about this bit.

    Now I know that some are still cynical if I mention Transformation or other buzzwords .. and will spend time explaining their point about it (usually well expressed, well researched and at the totally wrong person) but it shouldn't be me you are trying to convince ... as others have said in previous threads, if central Govt, LAs and other agencies are using that language then you have to use it to ... and then twist it your own needs.

    It is not an insurmountable task I might add ... and yes, with enough people together you have a good chance of building up a framework for people to use. It would need to be full of some serious examples (supported by evidence that your SLT would be happy to put the school's name to ... so be careful there and don't get yourself into any trouble ... a note to members in general).

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  5. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    it is not all about kit ... it is about policies and procedures. At present there is no standard box-set of policies and procedures for IT in a school. If one was to be created (under CC) then I know a *lot* of people would be happy ... but a lot of people promise them and they don't appear. A number of people have tried to spark this off ... (including me) but considering the number of members (lurkers and regulars) is is embarrassing the lack of sharing of resources that go on when it comes to the paperwork side.
    Could not agree more. Speaking as someone who has been guilty of this in the past. It is a critical and intrinsic part of managing a complex network. When someone says 'I programmed this or I wrote that' my immediate thought is how exposed are we if you leave? Documentation goes a long way to answer this.

    Also ... you still don't mention the education bit. *This* should be the bit that people should be saying "Hey ... I understand education but the MSP doesn't ... that is why you need me!" and yet all too often people forget to talk about this bit.
    At last! I know I have come into this discussion late but reading through the comments I can't help thinking that the main reason for being here has been missed. The END USERS! after all there is no point in any of this without them. Too often we get bogged down in the technical stuff and forget our purpose.

    I take the point about us unscrupulous commercial profiteers (yes I am one) just out to screw every penny out of the poor unsuspecting school but the reality is not like that.

    We are not in the Managed Service Providers framework and not talking to any provider of BSF about Managed Service, but I am confident that the overriding priority for most employees in a MSP will be the quality of service not the bottom line. After all if they don't perform the 'gravy train' will stop.

    The point about lack of investment is just frankly not going to happen. It is far cheaper to prevent things going wrong than it is to put them right in an emergency situation. What you are seeing in MSP is the true cost of ICT provision laid bare. As GrumbleDook pointed out, many schools have not got a clue how much they really spend on ICT annually.

    I agree there are misgivings about MSP. Not least is the freezing out of smaller local suppliers and support services. But look at the benefits. Being part of a larger organisation with training and career prospects. Being able to call on outside expertise. Having a sensible refresh plan. Cover for holidays and training. If you are good at what you do then I think the whole thing should be a positive experience. If you are not....

    What is going to be far more interesting and challenging is how all of this investment can be made to impact on transformation.

    Opinions are like belly buttons - everyone has one and this is mine. (Lights the blue touch paper and stands well back)

  6. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    Also ... you still don't mention the education bit. *This* should be the bit that people should be saying "Hey ... I understand education but the MSP doesn't ... that is why you need me!" and yet all too often people forget to talk about this bit.
    Once again, I find myself agreeing with you completely

    But... (there's always a but...)

    You have to be allowed to say what you are suggesting... so that means you need to be involved, to be engaged in discussion with the people who are shaping the BSF solution for your school/LA.... you have to be allowed to make your voice heard.

    In too many cases school staff are ignored, marginalised, not invited to give their opinion, or have their opinion dismissed because they are only trying to protect 'their' networks & jobs....

    Many LAs don't really understand how school ICT works, and are either afraid or too embarrassed to ask the schools who have staff (us) who do understand how school ICT works. These LAs would rather bring in 'experts' from outside at great expense than ask the staff in their own schools for their input.

    This is why we have to work harder at getting our message across without getting emotional or spending all our time moaning......
    Last edited by broc; 30th March 2010 at 10:51 PM.

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  8. #35

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    "Hey ... I understand education but the MSP doesn't ... that is why you need me!"
    MSP then wheels out a couple of the brightest/best/experienced they plucked from school-side who will understand it much, much better: Any company seriously targeting any significant market has experts from that market on tap. Your only hope with this approach might be with lack of educational experience/sensitivity amongst the people doing the in your face local stuff, but aren't many of those likely to have that because they were TUPEd?

    One man's cynicism, is another's realism and (subject to what happens in May) I don't think anyone has a cat in hell's chance, unless perhaps you have some genuinely world-class ICT and a bunch of smart/stubborn people at the top who, and this is probably the key bit, have pinned their reputations to that i.e. have often stood up in front of their peers et al and bragged about it.

    Many LAs don't really understand how school ICT works, and are either afraid or too embarrassed to ask the schools who have staff (us) who do understand how school ICT works. These LAs would rather bring in 'experts' from outside at great expense than ask the staff in their own schools for their input.
    Same old, same old. You've been out there haven't you? It can be hard enough to find the qualities you're seeking from decision makers in the more Darwinian parts of the private sector, never mind in a Kafka-esque public sector bureacracy so strongly built on personal risk (responsibility, decision making) avoidance.

    A lot of it is ultimately that Peter Principle cited above. Get an expert in: a) Your cluelessness won't be exposed, b) You can say you were oh so dilligent by getting an expert in, c) If anything bad happens as a consequence it is their fault not yours, d) You get a pretty report to pass up the food-chain that you couldn't put together yourself in a month of Sundays.

    There will be some heroic exceptions to that blah-blah-blah, but that's pretty much the shape of it, isn't it?
    Last edited by PiqueABoo; 31st March 2010 at 10:57 AM. Reason: typo

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  10. #36

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    @PiqueABoo

    You have obviously come across the same companies in the private sector as I have then?

    My ex-employer made a load of money telling their customers what their own staff would/could have told them if asked, for precisely the reasons you give.

  11. #37
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    Just read the PWC doc and frankly find it a little lacking in anything useful, from an ICT point of view, to back arguments either for or against managed services.

    It says that those who already have been through the process think that the ICT provision is good. Well I would bloody hope so for in excess £1M, if any of us was given that amount of money and at the end of it the schools IT was anything less that fantastic then frankly we would deserve to be shot.

    This is a quote (from recommendation 10) from the PWC report:

    The evaluation suggests that schools need to be convinced, to a greater extent, that the perceived loss of control over how ICT is provided will be more than offset by improved levels of service and provision through managed services.
    You do not have to sell this idea, it should be bleedin' obvious because BSF schools are well on the transformation road and have dramatically improved their results as a DIRECT result of massive capital investment in ICT along with a super efficient managed service. That is what is happening isn't it, you have the evidence right?

    The evaluation, in subsequent years, needs to investigate whether, and to what extent, managed service provision is having a positive long-term impact on pupil outcomes and the extent to which this outweighs initial reluctance, on the part of schools, to engage with these arrangements.
    So PWC conclude, they don't know yet if it is having an impact; yet recommend in the same paragraph that it should be sold as the greatest thing ever and will enable you as a school to make huge leaps on your transformation journey.

    All mentions of the transformation agenda (which is a very good thing) seem to suggest that guidance and training and materials should come from the LA. That's not necessary as part of the BSF as this is what LA advisors do. What does this have to do with externally managed services, surely they are not holding back transformation guidance until we have an MSP.

    Ok, one more quote (recommendation 11) and then I'm done:

    Local Authorities could commission an audit of how schools currently provide ICT.
    This could, for example, include a detailed SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis of current provision. This could provide the evidence required by schools that managed service provision is an appropriate route for their school to take.
    ICT audit, good idea, why is this not done as a matter of course to improve ICT provision, both inside and outside BSF. Then the caveat; the default conclusion from the said audit is that managed services is the best solution. Wow, that makes me convinced that I will be getting an independant audit. What happens if the audit shows the current provision is better than that offered by the MSP?

    So apart from the deafening silence (or worse vague rumours) we have from schools that already have a BSF provided managed service, the propaganda from the Govt, DCSF, MSPs and LAs and an evaluation from PWC, we have no firm evidence from which to base a decision to say "yes the managed services solution is right for us" or "thanks but no thanks, we'll take the money instead".

    Yes we want the new buildings, yes we want the new ICT facilities and equipment, yes we want to continue our transformation journey. I would however like to choose who manages the ICT facilities and equipment. I would like to make this choice based on hard, clear, definative, unbiased evidence of increased learner outcomes. That is all that matters, do students gain? Yes or No?

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  13. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by skunk View Post
    What happens if the audit shows the current provision is better than that offered by the MSP?
    very well said

    just have to tell you this little jewel

    I recently visited a school where the head took great pride in using RM and in telling me how his IT manger and 2 technicians where expendable because of RM and he wanted it this way as IT guys never keep records (pr@t)

    I didn’t bother explaining to him any competent IT technician should be able jump straight in to any Microsoft based network.


    yes we should keep records however

    You have to ask why you would need it!

    When I first started my role the previous IT manager (who it soon became apparent did not even know how to set a backup running, he got the office staff to eject the tapes at night and put new ones in for over 3 years no schedules where set and the tapes where all blank lol) did not even leave the admin passwords and there was also no network layout plan.

    It took me about 20 minutes to reset the servers admin passwords (ERD) then 10 minutes to set group policy (that had never been configured doh!) to run a script to reset all pc’s admin passwords – it was just then a matter of mapping out the network

    The annoyance I found was there was no audit data, however after renaming all computer descriptions to Location-Number-PCimage-SerialNUmber-MonitorSerailnumber e.g. ‘ICT1-01-A-PCGD232434-MON-JHJ978347289’ then setting a script to copy this over to active directory description on start-up and shutdown with a little extra to capture the user logon/Logoff and time/date we could then see who is logged on where and when, who used the PC last and print of the computer OU for a quick audit

    Oh err yes the licensing took some finding had to trawl the purchase records!
    but none of this was impossible to do

    Anyway after that little rant, when you have heads like that what can we ever expect
    Last edited by sjpage10; 31st March 2010 at 05:54 PM.

  14. #39

    localzuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    Also, it is not all about kit ... it is about policies and procedures. At present there is no standard box-set of policies and procedures for IT in a school. If one was to be created (under CC) then I know a *lot* of people would be happy ... but a lot of people promise them and they don't appear. A number of people have tried to spark this off ... (including me) but considering the number of members (lurkers and regulars) is is embarrassing the lack of sharing of resources that go on when it comes to the paperwork side.

    Technical expertise, scripts, technical how-to guides ... yep, there are some fantastic examples of that here ... but too little on the policies side. *Please* cajole and harass people to get them. It may be that some folk feel that they are not in a position to share them as they are poor ... then perhaps an anonymous drop-box might work ... but my main concern is that they just don't exist enough in schools or that many folk are more interested in the technical side *in spite of being told over and over again that this is an important factor in BSF*.
    Just wanted to pick this point up. Policies and procedures are all well and good if they are followed, and if they are written and then supported by the SMT. The problem is, in my experience most schools try introducing them but hit the giant brick wall that is:- "Teachers that hate change".

    I tried to introduce various things at our school, such as single point of contact for reporting faults, SLAs, change management etc... but got stonewalled by my usually supportive boss saying that staff won't follow it. They don't understand the need, and no amount of explaining it will change their minds - they want to be able to turn up and say 'i've bought X piece of software, install it asap' without checking to make sure it works. They want to be able to walk into the IT team's office and demand satisfaction. No amount of policy writing will change that.

    What BSF appears to be doing is letting the SMT and head teachers outsource the blame for policies to an external provider. It means that changes can happen quickly, and without the head/smt having much say in it, and the teachers? They can only complain so much.

    Why must this situation exist? Why can't the head teachers and SMT stand up to the teaching staff and say 'this is how it is going to be'?

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  16. #40

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    Lol
    I must have it so easy (sorry), what i say goes if i want to change somthing then i change it and they have to live with it

    I think this stems through the years of reading the BOFH

    for those who have never heard of the BOFH where have you been

    THE BASTARD OPERATOR FROM HELL

    Though to be honest we always try and give the staff what they ask for

    unless they ask for something stupid, like the guy who asked for 20 copies of a CD he made yesterday , yeh like I would do this or let my techies do this, - it is just easier to convert it to wma and stick it on our websites homework folder for the kids to login to and download
    Last edited by sjpage10; 31st March 2010 at 07:45 PM.

  17. #41

    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    @localzuk
    Getting staff used to change and accepting it ... well, that's where 'transformation' comes in ;-)

    In all seriousness though, it is a battle ... I only get got staff moving by doing stuff and then moving the goal posts further than they expected so they had to rush to catch up ... once they are used to change in one area it makes it easier for other areas. Once you explain that to a goodly number of SLTs they realise they can do lots of things.

    When all the TLR stuff was going on the staff found little IT changes as insignificant ... when changes to doing reports went on they found having to hand their laptops back in to make sure they could do reports was just part of the program ... when some new blocks were being built the staff found that access control cards were handy ... and now they are ID cards.

    But yes, without SLT backing you are going to struggle ... which is why I will keep on saying that anything you can tie into the educational aspect, rather than just technical / financial, is going to help win hearts & minds. It then also helps build up a case as to why you make a difference educationally ... and yes, MSPs can thrown ex-school consultants in for their side of things, but at least it is a level playing field (minus the politics).

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    You have obviously come across the same companies in the private sector as I have then?
    It's probably the same view for any private sector company dealing with public sector and it's not just our public sector e.g. Holland, Germany, France,...

    Just read the PWC doc
    I don't do BSF news any more than news news so just went looking for that and found it via ICT fares well in BSF review - but not transformation. Nearby was Transcript challenges Bristol Brunel ICT furore which refers to the Times article Head of Bristol Brunel Academy says much school IT spending is wasted someone linked in another thread here a few weeks ago.

    I liked this from Mr BB: "get the balance between the ‘wow’ factor, the cost of functionality, because you can be really led up the wrong way by IT gurus, there’s lots of them out there".

    I know it's futile, but this and similar bits from the first link makes me want to scream: But let's be honest. We are still in the first stages of BSF and the Wave 1 projects are only just settling down.. How/why, when you're spending relatively massive amounts of money, is it acceptable for these systems to take years to settle down? What essential bleeding-edge T-word ‘wow’ tech is causing the problems?

    any competent IT technician should be able jump straight in to any Microsoft based network.
    If you're genuinely competent you look before you leap, and consequently put some of those systems out of their misery. Never really figured this out, but some idiots can be extremely inventive and subtle.

  19. #43
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    I know it's futile, but this and similar bits from the first link makes me want to scream: But let's be honest. We are still in the first stages of BSF and the Wave 1 projects are only just settling down.. How/why, when you're spending relatively massive amounts of money, is it acceptable for these systems to take years to settle down? What essential bleeding-edge T-word ‘wow’ tech is causing the problems?
    I think the reason it takes time to settle Down, is that these projects are so massive and the changes for most are huge leaps beyond what they had before it can often take people time to work out how best to use what's available to them. Rabbits in headlights springs to mind.

    Going through the one school pathfinder myself the biggest flaw in the whole process is that you get all these shiney new things when the campus opens. I feel there needs to be some flexibilty In how the it money is spent. Allow a small amont to be held back, so that some systems can be implemented over a year or so from opening as part of a ongoing flexible development plan as needs chAnge.

    I wonder how much tech has been purchased that has sat their unused because of the "must" spend now mentality as it's our last chance of significant investment for years to come.

    Hope this makes sense, on my iPhone as my charger just died for my laptop! Roll on September/Xmas!

  20. #44
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    I've picked an interesting thread to wade in to with my first post. Good to see that, at least half way through the article, education and students began to get mentioned.

    Quote Originally Posted by gaz350 View Post
    I wonder how much tech has been purchased that has sat their unused because of the "must" spend now mentality as it's our last chance of significant investment for years to come.
    I have only seen schools with in-house techies that have unused/in-repair kit piled up in a corner somewhere, but have not seen this where a MSP of any sort is involved.

    This usually though is a symptom of a missing link; network manager not knowing what to do with the kit, or the MSP's assigned manager/consultant either not knowing that kit is piling up or some other sort of hold-up.

    However - if kit is piling up, or is unused in large swathes, whose fault is it? Not a rhetorical question, just want to know where you think the fault lies.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PiqueABoo View Post


    If you're genuinely competent you look before you leap, and consequently put some of those systems out of their misery. Never really figured this out, but some idiots can be extremely inventive and subtle.
    Well said, that’s I (we ) are looking in to this now ,our build is set for 2017

    Though I made this comment

    any competent IT technician should be able jump straight in to any Microsoft based network.
    At the fact that there are more people with knowledge of Microsoft based systems, than remote managed systems that use their own unique software - (are RM still on XP SP2) so why would you want or pay for it !

    I spoke to a network contractor yesterday that has a lot of BSF contracts , I asked him what kind of job he was doing and he said to be honest their work is all low budget unless you specifically ask for what you want you get the bottom end 100mb budget switches, cat5e, single location cabinets(rather than in each room) he said he would love to quote better specs but then they would not get the contracts!
    Last edited by sjpage10; 1st April 2010 at 07:02 AM.

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