He noted that outsourcing your IT functions doesn’t “absolve you from managing.”
Outsourcing facts vs. myths
Before looking at what questions to consider when evaluating IT outsourcing, Tritsch outlined what he called several outsourcing “facts” and “myths.”
• “Everybody’s doing it”: Myth. While most institutions are outsourcing at least some of their IT functions, few are outsourcing all of them, he said.
• Outsourcing saves money: Myth. While outsourcing has the potential to save money in some cases, Tritsch said, in others it just moves the same pool of money around—from a school’s capital budget to its operating budget.
• Outsourcing is “greener”: That depends. Somebody’s still paying the electric bill, Tritsch said; that organization might be more energy efficient, or it might not.
• Outsourcing has its place: Fact. In the right situations, it can be an effective ed-tech strategy.
• An organization must decide not only whether to outsource but what specific tasks and services to outsource: Fact. IT outsourcing doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition, Tritsch emphasized.
Benefits vs. risks
The key driver of the IT outsourcing trend is the emergence of the internet, which has “changed how we think of computing,” Tritsch said—including how software is delivered to users and how quickly organizations can implement technology.
The claims from ed-tech companies in support of IT outsourcing can be compelling, he noted. These include:
• Technology is complex, changing, and converging. The lengthy school budgeting and procuring cycle leaves school technology departments “behind the curve,” the argument goes, because technology changes faster than campus leaders can react. Ed-tech providers don’t have to jump through the same hoops, however, and they can upgrade systems faster than campus tech chiefs can.