Questions: Blog more? Outsourcing IT?

Thanks to all who helped with the ITS annual report! Here are a couple of questions that came in recent days.
Q. Why don’t you blog more?

A. Blogging takes time. For me, I blog when the notion hits. In the past few months, I’ve found a use for a blog in my role as CIO. The blog allows me to post ideas and issues, news and updates…for me it is a new and provocative avenue of communication to the PSU campus and ITS. However, I’m not going to try and keep a schedule.

Q. There’s more and more being written about outsourcing IT on campuses. Just recently, the U. of Florida opted to outsource their distance learning program in an effort to keep their core efforts on mission critical projects and increase productivity elsewhere. (more on U of F). Is PSU thinking of outsourcing any of its components?

A. If you’re asking if we’ve thought of it, sure. We’d have our heads in the sand if we didn’t. Are we thinking about anything seriously? No, not now.

The core issues around outsourcing is making sure you don’t stretch your people too far on projects or services that are not centrally critical to your overall operation. Higher education already outsources a host of services. Dining services, Web production, payroll, information systems, course management systems, cleaning and maintenance, and residential life are outsourced by higher ed campuses. PSU outsources dining services and power production.

Should we be considering outsourcing elements of ITS? Sure. As our costs to operate systems on this campus continue to grow, we need to apply the same principles of due diligence. If an aspect of our operation can be done well and possibly for less cost, we should explore it further, particularly if additional services can be developed.

On the other hand, there isn’t a lot of competition to perform those services up in these parts. And, we have some serious talent in ITS that has developed some of the finest IT services around. We’re real proud of what we do and the systems we deliver.

Yet higher education is no different from any other industry struggling with the high cost of technology. I expect we’ll see more and more competition from outside services. That is good: it will keep us on our toes.