ICT Advisory Services for the Independent Sector
The Abbey School is a leading independent girls’ school based in Reading. The school is situated across four main sites and takes girls from Nursery (age 3) to Sixth Form (age 18). The four sites are: The Abbey School (Senior; The Abbey Junior School; The Abbey Gardens; The Knell (Nursery).
Following a change in leadership in February 2015, The Abbey School wanted to appoint an external advisor who could support the school in developing an ICT strategy over the long-term.
Current State Review
Novatia offered ICT Advisory Services to the school, recommending a Current State Review (CSR) as the best place to start. It was felt that this approach would provide the school leadership and governors with a clear and unbiased view of the current health of the school’s ICT strategy, ICT systems and services, as well as its use of ICT in teaching & learning.
Recommendations: Following Novatia’s delivery of the CSR, Novatia recommended the development of an up-to-date 3-5 year ICT Vision & Strategy, drawing upon CSR findings. In addition, an ICT Management Report was strongly recommended, since the strategy was likely to result in a number of change management challenges for teaching and support staff, and adjustments to ICT operations. Novatia was also asked to provide commercial advice regarding the school’s third-party ICT contracts to inform a Procurement Strategy.
ICT Vision & Strategy
Changes to the leadership structure and personnel, coupled with the recent publication of The Abbey School Strategy 2015-2020, made this the ideal opportunity to formulate an up-to-date coherent ICT strategy.
The ICT strategy was developed by Novatia with senior leaders, informed by interviews, focus groups and web surveys with a range of school stakeholders. Once complete, the current state was reviewed against the school’s ICT strategy, and an operational plan of recommended actions and responsibilities was agreed.
“Novatia’s work allowed the ICT management team to understand what skills the team had and what gaps needed to be addressed,” said Simon Turner, Head of IT. “This ‘gap analysis’ was invaluable to the management team in knowing how the ICT service could grow moving forward to meet the ICT needs of The Abbey School.”
Interim ICT Manager Support
In April 2017, the school went through a period of operational change. This resulted in a requirement for an interim ICT manager with an on-site presence. Novatia filled this interim post with a qualified IT leader.
In tandem with the changes to internal operations, Novatia advised the school to modify its requirements for third-party ICT support so that it better met the needs of the school. Novatia led the procurement exercise to appoint an ICT contractor that could work in partnership with the school to deliver solutions and supplementary support designed to round out the school’s ICT operations. The team drew up a detailed ICT Service Specification for issue to prospective bidders.
“Novatia’s experience in leading procurement programmes was key to making sure The Abbey School ran a proper and fully detailed procurement exercise,” said Simon Turner. “The level of detail and governance provided by Novatia helped The Abbey School to define an ICT service that fully met the needs of the school both today and going forward.”
The team helped the school to evaluate the bid submissions, making sure there was a clear understanding of what each potential supplier was offering so senior leaders could make a considered decision. Evaluation criteria were agreed and a scoring matrix was put in place. Clarifications were carried out to ensure the appointment of a ‘best fit’ partner. Additional factors were also considered. The rigour around the procurement process led to increased competition, greater levels of cost certainty and better value for money.
“Novatia helped to make the whole process run smoothly and efficiently,” added Simon. “As a result, The Abbey School was able to successfully appoint a provider that matched requirements and provided cost savings over the existing contract.”
Novatia’s unbiased ICT Strategic Advisory Service, was welcomed by all stakeholders at The Abbey School with a great level of commitment, honesty and professionalism. As a result, our team of experts was able to work with the school to deliver a wide range of strategic and operational support to significantly improve the delivery and use of its ICT services.