Call for community experiences: In-house IT versus external partnerships

(Vanessa Palmer, Hiawatha Academies) #1

Hello, data community!

I’m reaching out in hopes of learning from others’ experiences with managed IT services partnerships versus in-house IT. We’d love to hear from folks who have experience with both, about the pros and cons you’ve seen with each. We made the transition from in-house IT to an external vendor a few years ago after outgrowing what we could support internally – but we’ve gotten significantly bigger since then, and are now feeling some pinching again. One concrete example would be tech life-cycle planning; right now, without an on-the-ground point person centered in what it’s like to work in schools, processes where we really need consistency and reliability – like teachers being able to count on classroom sets of laptops that are working smoothly – often feel much more reactive and non-strategic than we’d like. That said, though, we’re not sure about the sustainability or scalability of what would always need to be a small in-house IT team.

If any of this sounds familiar, we’d love to learn from you! Any quick thoughts below would be super helpful – or, if you’re feeling especially altruistic and would be willing to hop on a quick call, please be in touch with me directly.

Thanks in advance!

(Mariel Matze, Schoolzilla) #2

Thanks for sharing this question, @vpalmer. Sounds like Hiawatha is thinking about this really carefully, and it’s a moving target when you’re growing and your needs change!

I hear that @jgiordano at EQUITY and/or @abrown at American Promise might have thoughts to lend. Jerry, Adam, if either of you feel like you could speak to a situation like this, I’m sure Vanessa would be so glad to hear!

(Jerry Giordano, EQUITY Education) #3

We’ve encountered similar obstacles, and frankly, aren’t satisfied with our solution. Currently there is one PowerSchool/tech support person at EQ’s central office (internal), and then we contract out our other tech needs to a vendor. We have one operations leader in each building, who theoretically is supposed to manage their building’s technology/IT needs, and communicate those needs to EQ or the tech vendor as appropriate. The system is very dependent on who is in that building’s operations role.

We’re not at a point where we could absorb more than one additional IT role, but we’re unsure if the best solution is to try to bring it all in house or fully contract out and have the schools work directly with the vendor. So it sounds like we’re in a similar situation, but at a smaller scale.

(Jan Faraguna, Schoolzilla, PBC) #4

@jboots Does Rocketship still outsource to Jumpstart?