Thursday, June 25, 2009

Insource Decision of the University

The new enrollment system that was developed by two of our instructors in the Institute of Computing was implemented this semester. Why the University decided to change the enrollment system is also a vague issue to me as I do not have insider opinion about that decision. However, I will try to synthesize what I know into this one-thousand word assignment. I cannot be more specific about money matters as I do not have an exact figure of the cost of using the old system and developing the new system.

To begin, let us look at the old system (by old system I also mean the time when the old system was being used in the university and the enrollment process, not only the system itself). The old system was outsourced by the University from an outside party. Basically, from my perspective, I do not see anything significantly wrong with the enrollment system that was used. I think it was able to cater to the basic needs of our University and support our enrollment. However, there were times when the system was down and it took days to complete the enrollment process. During those times, I believe the system cannot be fixed right away because people who have the capability to thoroughly fix it were not present. Now, when it comes to money matters, we were only given an idea as to how much the University is paying every month for the old system. It was somewhere around P70,000, if my memory serves me right. That is a lot of money deducted from the University every month! :O

Now let me present the scenario during the previous semester (Second semester, School Year 2008-2009). So, at the start of the previous semester, after we have conducted a number of sessions, two of our instructors suddenly informed us that they will not be handling us anymore because they were tapped by the University to develop a new enrollment system. Almost all of their classes were affected. One of them even had to choose to retain one subject in the Education department and let go of all subjects he handled in the Institute of Computing. From a student’s perspective, this sudden and right-at-the-peak-of-classes change is a very hassling thing. This would mean new teachers and possibly new subject outlines, which would need additional adjustment for our part. This resulted to IC having to hire additional teachers from other schools because two of the faculties are now “untouchable”. It took quite a while to adjust, especially to the new schedule. A whole semester later, the new system was completed and trainings were held for the staff that will use it. This was also in preparation for the upcoming enrollment period for the new school year.

In my experience, during the recent enrollment, there was a problem with my sectioning- I have a wrong section recorded in my entry in the system. The light of things is, during times when the people using the new system encounter problems with it, the people that developed it are just a phone call or a short walk away. This is probably one of the benefits of using in-house talents. Trainings can also be conducted with ease since the trainers are the developers themselves and the close ties (just in the administrative sense, not really personal) to the University make them easier to approach. However, if in-sourcing was really the right decision for the University is something that cannot be taken lightly.

First of all, before making any decisions about outsourcing or in-sourcing projects, an organization has to carefully weigh the factors that constitute that decision. Now the question is why did the University outsource the enrollment system in the first place? Was it because they found that our in-house talents are not enough to develop something for the University? Or did they overlook the potential of our in-house talents? I do not know the exact answer to these questions.

The first step in getting outside help is in figuring if it is really needed. Although this may sound obvious, some organizations tend to overlook the possibility of still getting by without even needing to hire outside help. I do not know for sure if this is also the case with the University, but for most organizations this is probably what happens. According to Rudy Karsan, founder and CEO of the human resources services of Kenexa, the fatal error that people make is the lack of thinking through their own company’s internal processes. Going back to the old system, I don’t think it was actually tailored to meet the specific needs of our University’s enrollment process. In a way, I could say that we adjusted to the system; the system did not adjust to us. And yet we are paying thousands for it! But now that the University has finally resorted to in-house development, was it also the right decision?

The enrollment process of the University is something that can be considered as an internal process. If we follow Karsan’s view, then utilizing in-house talents can be considered as an advantage to the University. Think about it. Inside people know more about what’s going on inside the University, and thus have a more accurate idea of what the University needs, than outside people. The two IC faculties who developed the new system have been in the University for years and surely they know how the University’s enrollment gears shift. Most probably, they have also been tapped to look at the old system and possibly fix the errors encountered. The enrollment system can also be considered as a core process for the University and for these kinds of processes, in-sourcing is the better option. For the money involved in this in-house development, I do not even have an inkling as to how much the University has spent for this project. Looking at it this way, money aside, I think the University has made a wise decision in harnessing in-house talents for its internal process.

However, using in-house talents do not come without a price. It is true that by using in-house talents, the University can fully dictate how to customize and tailor the new system for its specific needs. Even though the enrollment system is a core process of the University, developing it in-house also creates conflict with another of its core processes, which is education. Since the people who were tasked to develop the system are teachers on top of everything (at least, when they’re inside the University), it affects their core function, which is to teach students. The disadvantage is felt, not by the University, but by the students.

Then again, considering all of the things I mentioned and my experiences, I could say that in-sourcing the enrollment system was a good move by the University.


  1. we have the same point of view kate..
    basically, i shifted my decision from outsource to insource hehe
    anyway, we know what's the problem inside the university and for me, we know what we want and how to solve those problems.

  2. two thumbs up with the in-sourcing idea..
    but then your right, the university is still adjusting with the new enrollment system and unfortunately.. we,students, are the once who suffers the adjustments...

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