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In House IT Teams vs Managed Services - Is the Grass always Greener?

Here at 9ine we have been speaking with ex-BSF schools who are champing at the bit to get to the end of their IT Managed Service contracts so they can leave what they often see as a “one size fits all”, rigid service, in order to start afresh with their own approach. At the same time, we have schools who have lost key members of their in-house team and are now clamouring for the stability that can be afforded by a managed service. But what is the right approach?

If the previous model didn’t provide the service levels and educational impact that was expected, then could an in-house model turn things around? Or should you be considering a hybrid approach? Perhaps a managed service, with bespoke requirements, flexibility and continual improvement mechanisms be a more suitable solution?

While the answer to all of these questions could be different depending on a school’s existing experience, expertise and strategy, the following key factors need to be understood.  


Vision & Strategy

Before understanding what the most suitable operating model will be, the school needs to define what they are trying to achieve through the use of technology. Does the school need to provide a 24/7, high availability, high performance network, or does it need to keep things running while cutting back on escalating costs? If the school already has a clear technology roadmap with a limited number of core systems, these can be specified. Otherwise a flexible, open model is needed that could potentially offer expertise in multiple operating systems, software packages and cloud-based ecosystems.

Advice: Having a clearly defined ICT Vision and Strategy are a key starting point for any ICT project and these should always align with wider school vision and teaching and learning objectives.


Old Vs New

Before pushing ahead with the scoping and procurement of a new service, there needs to be a detailed understanding of what is being provided by the current managed service or in-house team. By understanding exactly what the scope and limitations are of the current service you can then define exactly how you are planning to address these in a new model.

Advice: By defining what the key benefits and features are of the current model you can then ensure that these will not be lost when moving away.


What are the Options?

In responding to the demands of the market, IT suppliers are offering increasingly flexible and adaptable managed services. These include a full range of hybrid services that can be taken up on an ‘as needed’ basis to supplement your existing, in-house expertise. Rather than just choosing between an in-house or managed service model, there are now a plethora of different approaches to be considered based on specific needs. By engaging with a third party, a service can be developed which encompasses not just basic network management and IT support, but also training for users on the available systems, introduction to new technology and other associated support.

Advice: When scoping a managed service, specific teaching and learning objectives should be considered and allowance made for the required support to deliver the expected outcomes.


How do we get there?

Once the options have been assessed and an approach chosen, next comes the small matter of making it happen. Depending on the current and future models, this could involve procurement, recruitment, TUPE, decoupling from central services, technical migrations, infrastructure refresh and change management.

Advice: Ensure the initial scoping, implementation and transition to a new model is comprehensive, as it can make or break the ongoing success of that IT service.

9ine have worked with many schools who have either been approaching the end of a BSF contract, wanting to re-assess after the departure of Key IT staff or just testing the market for best value. If you would like to discuss your current setup or ongoing strategy, get in touch and arrange a meeting.