Everyone wins with outsourced IT

Andy Horn, CEO of IntraLAN, on how outsourcing IT can help schools and colleges operate more efficiently and create much-needed cost savings

When education providers invest in technology, students perform better, teachers are more motivated and parents are happier. Many schools are now leveraging technology as an aid to learning and that’s why so many classroom experiences are now digital.

These expectations can pile significant pressure onto the school’s IT team. The burden intensifies when multiple academies, learning centres and external education partners cluster together under one group.

Many IT managers consider these technology estates a sprawling hinderance, which is difficult to manage, costly and inefficient.

Instead, reframe these connected digital assets, technologies and networks positively. The larger the technology estate, the greater the opportunity for a robust IT framework, pooled resources and efficiencies from better budget utilisation, reduced duplicate spend and hidden operational savings.

The O word…

Start with easy-to-implement consolidation projects. Reduce overprovisioning. De-duplicate spending. Once past those quick wins, consider what could be outsourced.

Unsurprisingly, outsourcing divides opinions. It’s an emotive subject, but many of its misconceptions are because the model was misapplied in the past.

Outsourcing should always start small and focus on day-to-day IT management rather than large-scale strategic projects. Phone systems, connectivity, cybersecurity, organisational continuity – operational IT that saps time, drains budgets or requires specialist expertise. Keep your overall vision grand, but scale carefully.

And remember, the goal should always be best practice and consistency – what could an external IT provider help standardise to provide students and staff with a unified experience? How can the third-party provider augment and upskill IT teams? How much money can be saved?

From a practical perspective, the cloud, with its streamlined management and cost savings, is the most enticing outsourcing option, whether that’s replacing cost-restrictive contracts with more flexible commercial models or leaning on an external provider to manage mundane IT activities.

This combination empowers in-house teams to keep pace with new developments in digital learning, reallocate spend to strategic projects, improve the school’s financial position by stretching budgets further, and seamlessly integrate the latest administration and school management systems.

Unlock outsourcing savings by locking down systems

It’s equally important to recognise that not all threats are physical – especially in the present day and age. Providing a safe, secure environment for pupils is key for both parents and education establishments.

Data protection and cybersecurity are as important as delivering productivity gains or financial benefits.

IT security is an unavoidable priority, especially as staff maintain such highly sensitive records. Systems and networks must be secure and a three-pronged approach of prevent, detect and respond is crucial.

There is no second chance, with GDPR bearing down nowadays and with curious, digitally native children constantly trying to break through security measures, as well as plenty of malicious people devising new strategies to overcome defences, it’s important that cybersecurity is baked into every digital touchpoint.

This poses a problem as there’s a security-shaped gap within many school IT departments. Building a security team on-site and sourcing the appropriately competent security solutions is prohibitively expensive. Outsourcing solves this problem.

E is for effort

Ultimately, when IT people are freed from general IT troubleshooting, upgrading systems, backing up data and monitoring networks, the whole department becomes more streamlined, strategic and can focus on the overall digital duty of the learning provider.

With school budgets facing ongoing uncertainty and many under incredible strain, it’s vital that education providers maximise current IT investments, reduce unnecessary costs, uncover hidden savings and strategically invest in technology initiatives that benefit pupils and teachers long-term.

You might also like: Robust and reliable: why networks matter

Find out more about IntraLAN: www.intralan.co.uk

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