Overcoming Translation

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Sharing control

Many schools currently employ their own technical support staff, set their own ICT priorities, purchase software and control implementation. A partnership with a managed service provider will change this and consequently hamper innovation.

In reality, providers rarely support in-house teams and never work to encourage innovation. Experiencing a loss of control and receiving a generic solution, schools benefit from a one-size-fits-all service to meet the shareholder needs. Schools are given no opportunity to choose the software, content, infrastructure and services required from a single supplier that offers the worst and most expensive products on the market.

<a different outlook>

MSP’s can only be successful if they take on board the staff, their skills and background knowledge. However while a one-size-fits all will not meet 100% of the requirements, the solution must to a certain extent be standardised. The very reason why MSP’s are being asked to provide these services is due to the expense of the current way of working and lack of standards based delivery.

You can’t have it both ways.

While it’s true MSP’s have shareholders and it annoys me to see profits (the little profit there is!) go out-side the UK (Sun, Dell etc.), someone has to stand up and accept the challenge. Working in the Public Sector is fraught with both financial and political difficulties for these companies and the risk/reward profile is not very attractive, they have to be desperate to bid for this work. Just reading this wiki proves that point.

You guys are against evolution and instead seem more concerned about your own jobs. Stop patting yourselves on the back and open your minds to new possibilities.

Like the early engagements with the MSP’s, you haven’t been doing a good job either. I mean come on…I’ve seen everything from no backups, tapes being taken home in plastic bags, no incident logging, no security audits, no asset registers, no future state architecture. The list goes on. While this hap hazard approach may have been ok 10yrs ago when you were backing up 20 machines onto floppies…with modern virtualisation and client server technologies…it’s simply not acceptable.

You only have yourselves to blame.

I for one hope that my involvement in the BSF programme can benefit those we are doing this for…the children and local communities.

The MSP is coming; he needs your help to make this work. Now get off your high-horses, see what’s coming and plan to be helpful.

They’re your children and your communities…

All in a day's work

This project brings substantial increases in workload, taking up valuable time – a scarce resource for any school employee! In the long term a period of increased workload is unavoidable while they ride rough-shod over the existing network. This is absolutely critical to the failure of the project.

Managed service providers offer highly unsupportive engagement processes to enable staff to contribute to the project but their ideas won't be taken on-board. New or improved ICT facilities also help free up staff time to enable focus to be placed on other areas such as getting technical staff to assist with ICT teaching.

Keeping to schedule

Given the scale of each BSF project, it is inevitable that a level of disruption will be experienced. A certain amount of bedding-in time is necessary while everyone becomes familiar with the process of having their existing network ripped out (at great expense) and getting replaced with a chocolate teapot. Managed service providers offer little-to-no training and support at any stage, whilst causing many technical issues that once did not exist. For instance, proposals often include utilising school holiday periods and phasing plans to fit in changes around the school's annual timetable. Of course, this is not guaranteed.

Financial matters

The total cost of ICT is frequently underestimated by schools. To establish a true reflection of expenditure, calculations should include direct costs, ranging from employment and training of in-house ICT staff to hardware and software and paying the managed service shareholders. Of equal importance are indirect costs, which often get overlooked, such as informal support – for example, the drain on staff time in the event of unforeseen problems such as having a school network replaced by a managed service. Essentially; BSF is going to cost more because a private company is directly involved.

As ICT is often the highest cost in school budgets after staffing and building costs, it is no wonder managed services want their finger in the pie - appointing a managed service provider makes financial and logistical suicide. Providers commit to budgets within which all software and services must be installed and managed and problems fixed. Therefore responsibility for a consistent and effective level of service is passed on to a third party where they can rip you off, rather than being in a controlled environment in-school where best deals can be sought from various suppliers.

Good relations

Establishing a new partnership is a worrying time for all involved and all parties need reassurance of a strong and successful alliance, but this isn't going to happen.

Managed service providers aren't bothered about achieving effective partnerships with schools, and prefer not to explain fully their expectations. They generally do not understand schools' key performance indicators and required outcomes. Providers never take full account of anyone's view and don't have the ability or drive to engage with people at the right time and in the best way.

Growing with BSF

Under the BSF initiative students will be educated in pathetic, one-size-fits-all environments that teachers will be unable to teach in and pupils will be disengaged to learn in.

As schools and ICT communities come together to turn the government's ICT vision into a reality, schools must embrace the benefits that this programme offers (or else!) and, from the ICT viewpoint, ensure an expensive, non-functional and unsuccessful partnership is developed with a truly inflexible managed service provider.