Perfect project management – when outsourcing digital services leads to success

Universities across the UK are seeing significant ROI in digital, thanks to their partnerships with industry vendors

By Matt Hull, Application Manager, CoSector – University of London

To outsource, or not to outsource. That is the question many universities ask themselves when it comes to employing specialist services. Justifying spend in HE has, in recent years, come under heavy scrutiny. But today, universities across the UK are seeing significant ROI in digital, thanks to their partnerships with industry vendors.

Outsourcing is always results driven. Customers want to see what they will get for their money, and want bang for their buck. CoSector has over 50 years’ experience of delivering leading digital services to help learning institutions achieve their digital ambitions. Our team provides a range of services based on our customer’s individual requirements, from a base level service, pre-production, enhanced reporting, data insights, disaster recovery and Learning Technologists as a Service.

Flexible digital platforms

One element of our service that has been impressing is our project management.

Our digital teams coordinate the entire process of a university’s virtual learning environment (VLE); from planning to implementation, to ongoing upgrades. Our project managers oversee time, budgets, expectations, paperwork and the teams involved.

Our diverse customer base has allowed us to become very dynamic and flexible in our project management style. Our university customers often have a set of common goals, such as enhancing the learner experience, but they often have a unique list of requirements. Many of them have non-negotiable deadlines, and a pre-existing set of challenges created by a legacy system.

When we partnered with the University of Plymouth to deliver its single solution digital learning environment, we worked alongside the institution’s multi-disciplinary digital team. The professional services team, technology team, academic team, and CoSector, worked closely throughout the project, to deliver the new online service.

As Paul Westmore, IT Director at the University of Plymouth said:

“I think, fundamentally, because CoSector – University of London comes from the higher education sector, they really get it, they get what we are trying to do. They understood our vision, and they understand the constraints we are working within”.

Smaller institutions have less man power behind them, which means our management teams very much lead the project. Our customers rely on our consultancy to keep the project on track. With larger institutions, there is often an in-house team which we can work alongside, offering support and guidance along the project’s journey.

Time is money

We’re particularly well-practised at maximising the allocated time for customers with less complex requirements, and smaller budgets. Budget is always set at the start of any project, so we have to be careful we don’t blow this budget early doors. We, as the project managers, make the decision on what is a priority for each customer. This may simply mean having shorter phone calls, or arranging fewer face to face meetings, but this enables us to be efficient with our time to achieve our goals. This does inadvertently change the dynamic of the project quite significantly, but it is something that we are used to, because of our experience of working with such a diverse range of customers.

There is a fine balance to this of course. We can analyse, design, implement, integrate, maintain and enhance a learning platform, but we ensure we are working in close partnership and collaboration with our customers’ own teams. It is a partnership from day one.

We want to help make the very best out of our customers’ digital learning platforms to provide the best experience for all users. We look for solutions which will protect a university’s IT investment now and in the future.

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