21st Century University IT Outsourcing: Saving Money AND Improving user satisfaction

The impact of COVID-19 on UK Higher Education

COVID-19 has increased student numbers, put pressure on income and accelerated online remote teaching across the Higher Education sector.

(We looked at the major challenges and opportunities for IT departments posed by COVID-19 in this post so won’t repeat them here!)

This has forced IT departments to take a fresh look at their priorities and seek ways to get more from their constrained budgets.

COVID-19 has accelerated the shift to the cloud, freeing up internal resources and improving user access and satisfaction.

One option is to take a long hard look at the role IT outsourcing could play beyond cloud applications and hosting. And application development, maintenance and integration services are areas where remote working could be taken to the next level to reap the economic and quality improvements seen from outsourcing elsewhere.

IT outsourcing and the Higher Education sector

Some studies suggest that around 20% of UK IT budgets are now outsourced

PA Consulting

Anecdotal evidence suggests the figure in Higher Education is lower, maybe closer to 10%. Why the difference? Higher Education is a conservative sector historically insulated from commercial pressures and with ample funding in recent years.

But there is a clear trend in all but the largest institutions to outsource hosting. There is also an accelerating shift to the cloud typically starting with Microsoft Office 365 adoption or maybe new Digital services that are native to the cloud. Other triggers are the adoption of enterprise applications such as Slate, Banner or Salesforce. These are sensible steps to take and we believe this trend will accelerate.

Why outsource application development, support & integration?

At 20-40% of the overall annual IT budget, application development, maintenance and integration is the top IT activity to outsource according to Computer Economics.

The reason? It is one of the most difficult to resource, manage and deliver user satisfaction on time and to budget. The diversity of legacy platforms, systems and applications can mean the need to retain a relatively large pool of staff but with little flexibility to quickly meet changing user demands. And as a non-core activity, it is often hard to build and retain complex and changing knowledge and expertise.

Triggers for outsourcing application development and maintenance and integration:

Some of the common triggers for considering outsourcing are:

  • COVID-19 – remote working and reduced IT budgets for call for a shift in focus and priorities to remote working, e-learning and content digitisation,
  • Internal knowledge & resource constraints, including loss of core skills through redundancy and retirement (including key contractors) or need to re-deploy staff to more innovative & strategic priorities,
  • Improve Stakeholder satisfaction, a challenge when students are demanding more for their money, faculty are teaching online and administrative users working remotely,
  • Cost reduction and control to make the most of constrained budgets and improve value-for-money,
  • Improve software development processes – adopting Agile and Dev Ops principles and tools across development, integration & testing.

9 major benefits of Outsourcing with C-BIA

  1. Up to 30% savings against current spend through a blend of on and off shore talent managed by a dedicated onshore account and project manager,
  2. A Partnership model based on common goals with clear roles and reporting transparency,
  3. Access to a deeper pool of ‘on demand’ resources, both for legacy and emerging technologies and projects,
  4. Improved user and stakeholder satisfaction through increased performance, responsiveness and transparency,
  5. Reduced time to delivery with a larger pool of talent available,
  6. Clear contractual performance Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) mapped to core metrics and tracked and shared and with associated penalty clauses,
  7. Accelerated adoption of modern software development and support approaches – Agile, DevOps and ITIL/SIAM amongst others,,
  8. Shared cloud collaboration platforms such as Microsoft Teams for seamless remote collaborative working with ‘one view of the truth’ and ‘virtual team’ collaboration,
  9. Access to industry-wide best practices to reduce risks and accelerate technology adoption and realise business benefits.

5 common challenges

  1. Develop a common ‘language’ and way of working that embraces modern 21st century ways of working such as Agile and DevOps,
  2. Ensure no conflict around any IP generated and or ownership,
  3. Focus on Quality as well as cost to meet user expectations,
  4. Address Cloud and legacy integration challenges
  5. Help the client mature its IT and Digital culture to take advantage of outsourcing.

Want to Know More?

Contact us for details of our 21st Century IT Outsourcing Assessment and find out how we can save you money AND improve internal user satisfaction.