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Outsourcing your IT integration vs. bringing it in-house: Which is better for your institution?

Server, database, and system integrations are integral to the success of an academic institution. Many outsource the job to a dedicated provider, or you can bring it in-house for your IT team to work on.

Either way, despite its importance, it rarely seems like the most interesting thing you could be doing with your IT budget. It’s a bit like spending money on a brand-new house extension whilst the plumbing also needs sorting. You can show off the extension, after all.

But your neighbours won’t be so impressed when the pipes burst, and you have a bigger, smellier problem on your hands.

To use an example from HE, if you have a data breach because of insecure or compromised integrations you could face the cost and hassle of fines, investigations, and repairs.

Getting integration right should be a priority, but is it better to do it in-house or get an outside company like Amos involved to sort it out for you?   

In this post we compare these two approaches.


Upfront costs

One of the main differences between doing it in-house and getting someone like Amos on board, is knowing how much you’re going to spend up front.

If you’re using existing employees’ time or even making a couple of new hires, the immediate cost may look smaller. But the overall cost in the long run will be bigger. BAU (Business as usual) cover might be one option to consider. 

After all, experience tells us that projects like this always take longer than planned. Things can go wrong and people on a day rate often have less incentive to get the job done quickly.

We work differently. We know how long it will take for us to do it so we can let you know the full cost upfront. It takes away any uncertainty and allows you to plan your budget around it.


Cost of employment

Probably the biggest ongoing and unknown costs for an in-house project is the cost of hiring specialists and/or contractors.

It can get expensive. Although the salary for a local developer may initially appear affordable, it doesn’t factor in the other costs of hiring someone. The true blended salary of a developer is thought to be roughly £400 a day. This includes pension, NI contributions, holidays and more, not to mention the cost of recruitment. And even then, you can’t guarantee how efficient they will be.

Hiring a contractor may take away some of the unknown costs mentioned above, but this will transfer to a higher fee. If you want someone who’s going to do a good job, you’re looking at a day rate of anywhere between £700 for SITS Stu:Talk to £1000 for a MuleSoft specialist. These amount to significant costs in the long run. Without a fixed fee approach this is an open cheque book.


Expertise in the market

And that’s assuming you can find the relevant expertise in the first place. In today’s market that’s difficult. Through a combination of factors, many sectors are finding it harder to attract tech talent and are having to pay more to find it. This ‘brain-drain’ is particularly prevalent in the education sector. There just aren’t enough developers to go around.

Amos takes away that headache by providing a complete service informed by years of experience in edtech. We’re much easier to find and because we’re working with several institutions already, we can bring you the best-in-class integrations straight away.


Time to value

Another important thing to consider is how quickly you will benefit from these integrations.

There’s no question you will experience a shorter time to value if you use an external specialist that uses pre-built connectors (we know the industry inside and out). Getting it sorted in a fraction of that time means you can use your linked up system straight away.

An in-house team on the other hand will work for months on end, connecting one system or database at a time, ultimately causing a delay in its effectiveness. You and the end users (students and staff) won’t experience the true value of the project until further down the line.


When student’s find out

Fully working integrations and connectors contribute to a better experience for students. And what’s more important than that?

Good catering services, bus passes, and fast wi-fi will all be popular with students, but if they’ve turned up to collect their ID card on the first day of lectures and it’s not there because database integrations are broken, it’s going to reflect badly on your institution.

The difference between outsourced and in-house integration, is who finds out first, if things are broken. With an in-house team, often it’s the students themselves, when they discover that something isn’t working as it should.

With our Amos Connect service we get alerted to any issues in real time, and often before something becomes an issue. Not only are we on the lookout for breaks but we can put things right before it becomes an issue for the end user.


Should you outsource your integration to a specialist? 

Bringing integration in-house can seem like the obvious choice but many of the apparent benefits are short term.

When it comes to overall costs, you will spend a lot more money on a hardware refresh and contractor hours and it will take time for the return on investment to materialise.  

By bringing in a tried and tested service with an up-front cost and a known turnaround time, you’ll see that ROI much quicker. And you’ve got support and alerts from a dedicated expert team.


If you want to know more about going down this route, get in touch using the contact details below. We’d be happy to chat.

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