Outsourcing: Cost Effective or Unrealistic Expectations?
The Trenton Public Schools Board of Education decided to outsource their IT department to save on costs, but how much will they really be saving?
Monday night, the Trenton Public Schools Board of Education voted to outsource the IT department. While I don't think they reached this vote easily, the decision doesn't feel right. Having been in the field as a professional for several years, outsourcing might not be as cost-effective of a solution as mentioned.
During the last Board of Education meeting I attended where Plante & Moran representatives discussing the current technological upgrades, none of the responses given or questions asked hinted that this has been a smooth transition to the new Windows based network. While it is a massive project that will cause far more frustration than receive adulation, bringing in outsourced staff to replace on-site techs during a switch of this nature sounds wrong.
After experiencing companies that had no other choice than to outsource their IT department, I've seen the challenges. What about the potential for overtime, weekends, and nights? Can the cost of this contract increase similar to the mileage of a leased car? Can the outsourced techs pick up and go at the end of their shift, regardless of pending issues? Probably not, but we don't have the full details yet.
In this industry, nothing ever goes according to plan. What if the district requires 50-70 hours per week instead of the reported 40 or even have to bring in another tech for larger projects? If outsourcing ends up costing the district closer to the IT department's 2011-12 budget, how was this a cost effective decision?
It was wrong for the Board not to at least hear the department out with their counter-proposal first. Instead, they made a motion to vote on the decision and directed them to the public comments section of the night. While they may have had their reasons not to hear them out first, it seemed unprofessional considering their jobs were on the line.
The outsourced employees do have the choice to interview for jobs that opened as a result of the contract, but if the two techs provided through inaCOMP are acting on a "break-fix" model, where does this leave the three technology positions? In the tradition of the industry, the district could pass on the experienced employees and hire entry level graduates instead.
Regarding the company itself, inaCOMP is a successful company with two divisions, one dedicated to small and medium businesses while the other provides sales and service to educational and government entities. They've been around for twenty-five years and have a great reputation in the industry. They are not to blame for submitting their bid.
While no one is to blame as districts everywhere are making extreme cuts, some students and most faculty will be affected, too. The relationships the IT department formed with everyone, especially those that may have been helped with their own personal IT problems, are important and appreciated. As a tech, it's not just about providing service, but quality customer service. It's always sad to see employees that seemed to have been so well trusted for so many years let go without a fight.