The University of Nottingham UCU, Unison and Unite branches have been working together to oppose the work of University management to outsource the Information Services department in any form.
In October 2017 the first report on the state and capability of Information Services was created by KPMG. This had several factual issues that the Union, when informed of the report, were concerned about. This was presented to staff in June 2018. It contained 5 potential levels of outsourcing from retaining in-house fully, to a complete outsourcing of over 250 IS staff.
There is currently (November 2018) an ongoing “ITO SOC” (IT Outsourcing Strategic Outline Case) being worked on by an external company. This is expected to be used to present options in January 2019 for a decision to be made by UEB and University Council.
The suggestion of outsourcing part or all of the IS department is unprecedented in the UK Higher Education sector, with the closest example being University of Manchester and their cancelled attempt in 2015. Examples of outsourcing from worldwide Universities have not been easy to find. So called “joint-venture” companies have also been suggested which the Union also oppose since staff are removed from the University workforce and the unit still privatised.
The current outsourcing of the “Campus Solutions” or “Project Transform” (which itself involving 12 TUPEd members of staff) is a cause of concern if this is done to Information Services, as the outsourcing has become a massive issue for the University with frequent complications, delays and cost overruns (unknown and unreported), and a wholesale restructuring of all UoN services in a very opaque process.
The Anti-Outsourcing Joint Action Group has produced a report which has been sent to several UEB members and the Chief Digital Officer of IS which is firmly against any possible outsourcing of IS. You can read this report for further background and outline of the situation here. We however cannot release the KPMG reports to Union members.
We have agreed with our sister unions that the current state of IS is no reason to privatise the department. There are many areas IS excels at and with proper staffing, management, training and strategically run budgets with forward planning the department would be vastly improved. The current work on outsourcing is making staff morale drop and causing a lot of uncertainty and stress, especially over hiring practices cutting back staff numbers and some fixed term contracts being used.
We are interested in hearing your thoughts about the potential IS outsourcing; we have created an online survey which is available here, and request all members of staff send their feedback. Please note that the poll will close on 31 January 2019. IT is used by everyone and therefore the outsourcing is bound to affect everyone.
Any queries or concerns, please email our branch at firstname.lastname@example.org.