Outsourcing in Education

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    There hasn’t been much published about outsourcing in higher education. That’s a gap we hope to fill in the future (inspired by stories from a family member who works in IT for a major university and has regaled me with tales of ambitious projects sourced out and miserably doomed by late deliveries, budget overruns, mismanagement and other assorted examples of incompetence that often beset large-scale outsourcing endeavors).

    I bring it up because I just came across a job posting for a company named Bridger, which is an affiliate of Wight & Company (an architecturual, engineering and construction firm that does a lot of school projects) and resulted from a merger of Campus inDirects and Tera Byte, companies in the educational consulting space. Bridger appears to be a service provider that focuses on working with schools, not just colleges and universities but K-12 too. The combined companies had worked with about 40 schools.

    According to its Web site, there are seven areas that “typically comprise 30 percent of a school’s total operating budget,” where Bridger can focus its outsourcing efforts:

    • Space utilization
    • Energy
    • Service contracts
    • Maintenance and repairs
    • Labor productivity (aside from the teachers, I presume)
    • Technology design — planning, selection and implementation
    • Business practices

    The company believes it can generate savings “of 10% to 15% of total indirect expenses.” Why is that so interesting to me? Because it’s so mundane. The very ordinariness of the areas where it looks for savings are in such contrast to my family member’s sagas. I wonder how often ego and ambition in the name of remaking services actually call down the slings and arrows of the sourcing gods to pike us where we work.

    Currently, the company is hiring a program manager to serve higher ed specifically. I’ll have to go poking about to find out what other companies work in this space.

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