General Chat Thread, Help! They want to outsource my department! in General; Good morning geeks, I am afraid I have bad news for you. It has been announced that they want to ...
19th March 2013, 08:11 AM #1
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Help! They want to outsource my department!
Good morning geeks, I am afraid I have bad news for you. It has been announced that they want to outsource the IT support department where I work in.
I work for a small LEA, and the plan is to outsource it to a commercial company. The reasons they are giving us are that they want to save money, etc.
I am trying to think of reasons why this is a bad idea, to challenge the plan, and I need your help. Anyone knows where I could find evidence or case studies where this has gone wrong?
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19th March 2013, 08:24 AM #2
Some one more helpful will be along soon but examples you can use against are Capita and Natwest. Arguments against are that most companies have found they haven't saved money in the long run, you lose experience from the LEA that will be hard to get back, client (users) dissatisfaction normally goes up, contracts have to be very carefully checked and worded or they will find the outsource company will either not allow a whole raft of things to be done or charge through the nose for it.
No case studies sorry just bits of experience and anecdotal stories.
19th March 2013, 08:26 AM #3
Step 1: Call your union. It is likely you will be fighting an uphill battle on this one, regardless of evidence, and you will need someone local who can support you.
19th March 2013, 08:29 AM #4
Oh man I want to sit back and watch the catastrophe!
Someone steams into the empty office wanting a Powerpoint off their Mac with coffee spilt all over it for the SLT meeting five minutes ago, and then has to ring an overseas call centre instead.
Or that projector stops working, and NO SOD is around to fix it.
Simple example would be, we (old workplace) bought 200hrs phone support from a company for £20,000 with every job costing us at least an hour. We get through 200 jobs a WEEK here sometimes, so the costcutters would be bankrupt and their school on fire after a fortnight!
It's actually a fair idea if you've got say two technicians onsite and one NM by phone somewhere, but there'll be NO flexibility/parent evening set up/out of hours favours. All gone. Pitiful cries of 'but I NEED it to TEACH!' will be met with
How firm are they on the decision? Is it just an idea or a done deal? If it's a done deal pretty much just let them do it and dig their own hole.
19th March 2013, 08:48 AM #5
I am aware of some schools that have gone the other way and stopped outsourcing and employed IT staff, they are much happier since.
If they are determined then no evidence will change their mind but you can at least try. For us we have a help centre, so we can easily pull out a report of the jobs we do on a daily basis.
Most of these jobs must be done within 5-15 minutes - Will outsourcing be better?
When it comes to remote support (we have netsupport) we are able to fix jobs in a matter of under 5 minutes - Will outsourcing be better?
There are times when we have to go to the staff laptop (no network working) and sort that out ASAP and done within 30 minutes - Will outsourcing be better?
I would also ask are the staff happy with this? Find out the estimate time of fixing problems when outsourcing - when we last checked it was usually high cost and next day.
Our staff wouldnt be happy to wait for their SIMs, projectors or network connections to be fixed after 30 minutes. Then there is the staff who walk in the door or want something ordered and dont know what they want - we also provide advice to depts.
What about software installations they want on the laptops within 30 minutes?
Software in a room within a day?
Rebuilt IT suites at the end of the day?
New accounts added?
Detective work on how/where a student did certain things?
System maintenance done at the end of the day (outside working hours)?
Student PC not working and full class so no spare PCs?
All you can really do is write a list, I really do have sympathy for you and I really think that outsourcing is only good for those places that do not rely heavily on IT. A good prime example is primary schools BUT most primary schools only employ a single person. And the cost of that person is less then outsourcing?
19th March 2013, 08:58 AM #6
What about network and hardware upgrades?
Will the support company be willing to put in 2 weeks solid work on site for less than £70ph per person (that may be an over-estimation, but you know what I mean)?
What about future purchases? Will the school be bound by whatever limited array of hardware and software that they will support and possibly be made to purchase it via the support company?
Will the support company have in-depth knowledge of the specialist educational software that is currently in use within the school?
There are a whole raft of things that need answers to that your school should be aware of, but mainly, as has been pointed out, the small print of any potential contract should be read, re-read and handed to someone else to read as well.
19th March 2013, 09:00 AM #7
That is changing due to the levels of tech being employed in primary schools. I agree, I am cheaper than an outsourcing company and I am needed as I am called upon every day to sort issues with netbooks, laptops, whiteboards, cameras, visualisers, microscopes etc etc.
Originally Posted by mthomas08
Outsourcing would work but it would mean a change of mindset - people have to understand that things will not get fixed immediately and sometimes not for several days - are they happy with this?
19th March 2013, 09:02 AM #8
I would imagine the battle ground will be cost and impact on teaching and learning. Cost will almost certainly look better on paper for outsourcing - it always does, but often doesn't work out that way. Find some evidence of case studies, but I wouldn't waste too much time on that, as the opposition will almost certainly have already won that argument. Impact on teaching and learning is where your strength lies.
You'll need evidence of what you do - not just evidence of how bad the opposition is. You might already do this, but logs from a helpdesk system showing how many little but vital jobs you do would be a good start - especially if you can provide evidence of response times. Although the "can you just have a quick look at this" problems which we all know are generally either user caused or user ignorance are one of the main sources of annoyance to most of us working in schools, that's one of the places you really add value to smooth running of the school.
Finally, get in touch with your union - you need to be prepared for the possibility that it will go ahead against all logic and reason.
19th March 2013, 03:11 PM #9
As others have said, is this just an idea or something which is definitely happening? Either way, get in touch with your union and get their advice.
19th March 2013, 03:38 PM #10
I know of schools who have gone down this route including one that fired their IT staff to outsource it then a couple years later changed who they outsourced it to. Turns out this 2nd contract was an IT support company started by the original tech after he was made redundant and they've been with them about 4 years now. The support company in question has someone based at larger school contracts such as this at all times, a day to day tech. The school has around 1300 students and 400 devices plus the normal projectors, smart boards etc...
Smaller schools such as primary's are a weekly visit or pop in unless its an emergency, all schools are fairly local and tend to have someone in a permanent base school within 10 miles who sometimes will visit other sites if required, works pretty well for them but that's small scale compared to most outsource contracts.
19th March 2013, 06:56 PM #11
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Every pretty much seems to agree with me that outsourcing will be a bad idea, but I wonder if anyone thinks is actually a good idea?
Thank you geeks for your replies, they are much appreciated. I panicked and didn't think of contacting the union rep.
19th March 2013, 08:28 PM #12
^ This is the most important reason why outsourcing, if it means someone not on site, needs to be looked at carefully. I can see how big issues may well be sorted remotely or by a one-day-a-week tech in about the same timescale as perhaps an in-house tech might, but it is the little things that just won't get done. Today I have got a DVD to work on a laptop, sorted out an issue with a laptop screen not showing on the whiteboard, sorted a connection issue on another whiteboard, sorted out a couple of machines that had dropped off the domain, and done some research into why our netbooks are having trouble connecting to our wireless network by wandering about with a laptop with inSSIDer on it. Something an outsourced tech could do but it would use up all his time.
Originally Posted by jmak
19th March 2013, 10:46 PM #13
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You need to also look at your own value added. What extra do you involve yourself in apart from tech support? For example drama productions. What about report writing or timetabling. How about a teaching and learning aspect and staff training. Your own cost cutting for example printers and copiers or the phone system and mobile phones. Bringing new technology to the classrooms and supporting staff on how to use it. How about after school clubs such as school radio or TV channel.
It all helps to make you a valuable department and not just a tech support department.
20th March 2013, 07:57 AM #14
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It sounds like the decision has been made so concentrate on protecting your interests and look at the advantages.
I went through this twice within a few years when working for a multinational company.
If you're not in a trade union, join now so that they can advise and represent you.
You will receive lots of information about TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings, Protection of Employment).
The principle is that your terms and conditions should be protected at the time of outsourcing, but there are loopholes and exceptions. The outsourcing company will target these - that is how they manage to do the job more cheaply while covering their overheads and making a profit.
Your trade union will realise this and negotiate to minimise your losses. At the first meeting, ask if your local officials have experience in TUPE and if they haven't suggest they get help and advice from colleagues who do.
On the positive side, you will be working for a company who focus on IT not mending roads, looking after vulnerable people, emptying bins and all the myriad of things local authorities do.
There may be better training, opportunities to gain experience in different technologies and industries, more chance of promotion and a senior management who actually understand what you do.
20th March 2013, 09:30 AM #15
Not saying outsourcing is a good idea but for you it could be beneficial. As ANiceEnglishman mentioned, you suddenly have access to the resources of a whole company, including bosses who probably understand IT. Also there may well be more opportunities for you, such as moving into different sectors or specialisms.
I knew, before BSF, someone who was TUPEd into RM and they said it wasn't great for the school but for them it was brilliant. They got all the benefits RM offered, secondments, a real training budget, sabbaticals and eventually managed to train and transfer into the programming department as that was what he'd always wanted to do. He even got paid to go on a weeks kayaking course under the guise of personal development. Depends on the company, how you feel about it and if you want to end up working in a corporate culture.
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