9ine is engaged by schools for any number of reasons, but for the most part it’s because something has gone wrong. By the time we come in, there is normally a particular issue or system that has been singled out as the culprit to be tackled. This could be ageing hardware, poor infrastructure or user devices that are just not up to the job. While these are the issues that people can see, we usually find them to be symptoms of a problem within the school’s own approach to IT provision - i.e their ‘IT operating model’.
Because an IT operating model is accountable for creating budgets, managing refresh, planning capacity, specifying solutions and supporting users, any of the usual headline problems can usually be traced back to operational mismanagement. In order to help you spot whether this is the case in your school, here are the key reasons for breakdowns in various types of operating models:
When a school’s IT is failing under an in-house service, this often comes down to a lack of structure. Many in-house teams have slowly grown, changed and adapted over time to support an ever changing IT provision at the school. Team members come and go and the ways of working are passed along in a drawn out game of chinese whispers. If the school recruits well and maintains a strong core of experienced and organised staff then this can sometimes work in the short term, but when a long time manager departs and that foundation is lost, this can very quickly fall down. The common signs that this could be the case are:
- A lack of readily available, up to date documentation of the school’s network and systems and associated roles and responsibilities to manage those systems
- Job descriptions that were used during the recruitment process but have not been reviewed since and no longer represent an accurate picture of a staff member’s day to day role
- A lack of regular performance management reviews with associated training & development plans, linked to an up to date skills matrix
There are very few, if any, managed service providers out there who are simply not capable of delivering a good quality service. However, there are countless cases of schools who don’t feel they are getting the service they need and are looking for alternative options. As with in-house services, there are a few key factors which we see as the main culprits in the eventual failure of a managed service:
- A service which was either never correctly specified to the school’s needs, or a contract which did not allow sufficient flexibility for the service to adapt over time with the changing requirements of the school
- A lack of structured contract/service management, with regular reporting of service performance against KPIs and mechanisms to adjust and adapt the service delivery as required
- A lack of clarity around the roles & responsibilities of the two parties and the individual personnel involved
Hybrid Managed Service
A hybrid managed service usually involves an in-house team supported by a more specific, targeted managed service which only covers part of the network or systems. As such these setups can be subject to the same risks as both of the two models above. However, biggest risk we have found to the success of a hybrid model is the distinction of boundaries and interfaces between the two sides of the service. A hybrid model can provide great value to a school when utilised effectively, but can also break down if there is not an efficient workflow embedded between the on site team and the contracted support.
Where do we go from here?
Click below if any of these 3 apply to your school...