Next session was an overview of the FEAST report, an overview of the adoption of shared services and cloud computing in universities which was funded by JISC.
HE is just too expensive for most economies, especially as an increasing percentage of the population attend University. In the end, the customer pays, either though fees or taxation.
Administrative overheads must be cut, putting more emphasis on front facing services. Why do we compete on services that give no competitive advantage eg payroll?
The transformation of the IT environment requires greater agility than we currently have. The world is changing rapidly!
Government in UK believes that efficiencies will come in back office services through sharing, pooling or outsourcing. They believe we have too much money, we can afford to run 160 payroll systems, data centres etc.
We have an excellent record in shared services eg purchasing consortia, JANET, UCAS. However the sector has been set up to compete with each other. We all want the best students and the best staff.
The report is aimed and written for VCs, Finance directors etc. High level. Intended as a report to be utilised rather than stand alone.
You would expect back office systems would be expensive in small institutions, and cheaper in big ones. Yet, this isn't seen.
Expenditure often based on legacy, not cost justification. Also institutions have no understanding of their back office costs. Know cost of IT systems, but not processes, eg how much does it cost to register a student.
Full report is concerned with emerging technologies with a focus on innovation to support flexible service delivery. The report contains a number of vignettes of shared services, and 6 in depth case studies. Eg University of Canberra have outsourced a lot of administrative systems and processes, with significant cost savings, and an increase in user satisfaction. Major process change took place. Kings College have outsourced a number of services including email and the desktop. The case study highlights a number of successes, but also the people and contractual issues.
Also includes a study of the STEP-F project which looked at the implementation of SOA projects across institutions though the use of an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB). Very rapid deployment of cloud based applications calling data from different student systems have already been demonstrated.
Message is that the pace of change is being driven by an accelerating provision of technologies and end user expectations. New paradigms are rapidly gaining maturity and institutions should prepare for the adoption of many. As IT depts we need to move away from technology and concentrate on processes and people. The obstacle to shared services is not technology, it's culture and people issues.
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