Thursday, 12 May 2011

Shared Services in IT Management

Next session was Chris Cobb talking about Shared Services in IT Management. Bit of deja vue here as the more observant of you will have noticed that he was speaking on a similar topic yesterday.

Some confusion of terms, shared services can mean many things. Sharing within the same university, ie centralising and standardising, sharing between institutions, or outsourcing completely to a different provider.

Economies of scale, or critical mass both drivers for shared services.
Economies of scale such as JANET, UCAS, USS, SLC.
Critical mass, where institution can't afford a large team, but a single person is a risk, things like out of hours IT support, internal audit, procurement.

Being pushed down the economy of scale route, so how do we create that within our institutions? Need to identify those elements which lend themselves to economies of scale, ie transactional based, and those that are decision support and strategic in nature. Then concentrate on transactional based processes. We're guilty of looking at things at too high a level, ie HR or finance function. Need to dig beneath the surface and drill down.

Need to get beyond the barriers. VAT often quoted. But we already pay VAT on many things eg non staff, and our staff costs are higher than private sector. Service sharing beaten ourselves will be VAT exempt eventually.

Don't outsource a problem. Need to get the process sorted out first, but we're all going through efficiency programmes at the moment and looking at business process review, so this might be a good time to outsource.

Devil is in the detail, things are often more complex than initially perceived to be. Need to break things down to a functional level, and enterprise architecture will help with this.

Drivers for shared services used to be resilience and quality, but moving more towards cost savings and efficiency now.

Let's not think about outsourcing or sharing a student record system, but look at what processes we could. Already doing some elements of it eg for payments.

Four step approach to sharing services:
Disaggregate what we have, distinguish strategic from transactional.
Start transferring systems and services into the cloud, possibly with another institution to get joint procurement
Than look at sharing the architecture, eg a finance system with multiple operating entities
Then share the services, eg finance transactional processes.

Then Chris talked about the University Modernisation Fund, he sits on the Steering Group as I do. I've blogged about it before, but to recap, funding is going into these areas:
JANET brokerage service for Cloud Infrastructure
National Research Data Curation Centre
Systems and services procurement service ( first project will be a research management system)
Electronic resource management service
Secure document management service

No comments: