For a university, that is, looking to cut costs in a world where we spend more and more each year to meet basic expectations.
Far too long ago, I hypothesized a scenario where a university might choose to outsource strategic decision-making on technology. Let me clarify exactly what it is to which I am referring – right now, just about every university has a person or group that looks at different trends out there, considers what current needs exist, and try to balance all of that within a general framework of “being innovative.” I challenge anyone to point to a university that doesn’t want to be innovative and therefore consider my last stipulation a reasonable one.
Provided that there is some semblance of logic to this process, what we’re talking about is strategic decision-making, not just outsourcing in general. A method through which an over-arching theme emerges that guides when to say yes and when to say no. When to invest in that $250,000 ERP system that must replace the aging system in place and therefore sacrifice the time-saving management system for staff. Or how high student productivity ranks on the list of priorities.
Rather than having people in charge of this, why not just outsource it all? That is the question that I put forth.
If I were a university president, this would be a tantalizing option for cost-savings. Everything about running a university involves rising costs, but some things just cannot be sacrificed. If you need top-notch faculty and they collectively lead to a cost of $X, then you must spend $X. If you decide that a new Welcome Center will help put a pretty face for visitors and you must invest $Y over the next 3 years, then you allocate and spend $Y. Plain and simple.
Right now, staff salaries are rising faster than most other operations (insert appropriate citation here – I’m pretty sure it’s in DIY EDU somewhere). And a lot of staff are needed to manage, maintain, install, learn, use, train, and just be around technology. And deciding how much to spend on what and then implementing those decisions involves a lot of people, too. Overall, the number of staff that surround the need to be “innovative” technologically is increasing. So what do we do?
Get rid of all of them, right?