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General Chat Thread, Outsourcing School ICT in General; Hi All I am a network/systems engineer with a number of years experince in support and administration. Recently I've been ...
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    Lightbulb Outsourcing School ICT

    Hi All

    I am a network/systems engineer with a number of years experince in support and administration. Recently I've been hearing a lot of schools complaining about their 3rd party support companies and I see this as a great opportunity to start my own small local IT support company for schools in my area as I believe I can give a great cost effective service. Any advice on how to approach this would be great as I am not sure how contracts work (ie tenders etc..) the annual costs and whether to deal directly with the school or the LEA. If your a school with 3rd party support I'd would love to hear any stories, whether good or bad about your local support company and how you rate them.

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    I use a local support company, and what matters to me is the good quality of their telephone support. I can do most of the techie stuff myself, but when I get stuck, I get stuck! and edugeek and my support company are my next port of call.
    We deal directly with the company and arrange our own contracts - nothing to do with the LA here.
    Sent a pm

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    I used to work for such a company and, again, nothing to do with the LEA.
    Both Primary and Secondary were supported and they chose their own support method - much to the LEA's disappointment, actually!

    PM sent

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    I know rates can vary between £5000 pa for 3 hours a week term time only, to the LEA charging £12,000 a year for one day a week term time only.

    The problem is you'll end with schools paying it as a stop gap, when the money being spent would be better going into a term time only permanent member of staff.

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    speckytecky (30th September 2012)

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    We dumped our supplier/support company after 18 months and invested back in staff. We took out some direct support with one very specialist company and a couple of contracts direct with the systems suppliers. Cutting out the middle men saves a fortune and reduces the layers.

    I think when supporting multiple organisations, finding enough work whilst also being available for crisis and having the knowledge to effectively resolve issues on a vast array of systems is always difficult for individual. And if you enter into a regular time agreement then you need to keep to that too.

    Rob

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    speckytecky (30th September 2012)

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    Quote Originally Posted by BB_Brads View Post
    Hi All

    I am a network/systems engineer with a number of years experince in support and administration. Recently I've been hearing a lot of schools complaining about their 3rd party support companies and I see this as a great opportunity to start my own small local IT support company for schools in my area as I believe I can give a great cost effective service. Any advice on how to approach this would be great as I am not sure how contracts work (ie tenders etc..) the annual costs and whether to deal directly with the school or the LEA. If your a school with 3rd party support I'd would love to hear any stories, whether good or bad about your local support company and how you rate them.
    I work for a college and as such don't need the sort of support I guess you're talking about. We do have contracts for specialist support however.

    What I would say, on reading your post, 3 things spring to mind:
    1. Don't take this the wrong way, but if you don't know how the business side of running a consultancy works (the contracts, tenders, etc. that you mention above) then you're going to struggle.

      Running the business is every bit as important as being able to deliver on the technical side once you have the contract.

    2. As an individual, how will you prioritise 2 schools that both develop a serious issue that's preventing teaching taking place first thing Monday morning? Come to that, how will you handle sick time, etc?
    3. How good are you at writing Service Level Agreements? We've all met people who only want to pay for a Lada and expect Rolls Royce level service?
    Last edited by Roberto; 30th September 2012 at 11:26 AM.

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    GrumbleDook (1st October 2012)

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    Quote Originally Posted by BB_Brads View Post
    Recently I've been hearing a lot of schools complaining about their 3rd party support companies and I see this as a great opportunity to start my own small local IT support company for schools in my area as I believe I can give a great cost effective service.
    I think you're right in that there's a market for a good, cost-effective IT support company but, as others have pointed out, trying to do that as a one-man-band, bootstrapped startup isn't going to work - the whole point of an external IT support company is that they can provide a consistant, fast response time, and for that you'll need, say, a dozen empleyees to cover sickness, holidays, training, etc. You're maybe aiming more for "IT consultant" whereby you come in, design and set up a system and train permanant staff to maintain it.

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