Transformations Highbury College Portsmouth

Project Name: Field Testing Costing Tools

Lead Institution: Highbury College, Portsmouth

Project Lead: Paul Rolfe, Head of Technology & Innovation




The College had a business need to develop its cost modelling approach towards IT projects and services. The College was assessed by Ofsted as a Grade 1 Provider in 2011 and was at the same time assessed through the  Skills Funding Agency (SFA) as Grade 1 with regards to financial health and management. Currently the College uses relatively basic cost modelling tools and was keen to test more models that would better inform our decision making and evaluation processes, ultimately improve the value for money.


As tough economic times progress it has become apparent that the College needs a robust methodology to monitor the total cost of ownership for its IT Services and compare overall costs of particular services. In addition to this the College required a process of developing standardized businesses cases for investment changes to the IT infrastructure. It also became apparent through the project the increasing need to be able to make financial comparisons of services run in-house against shared and commercial third party services such as cloud technologies. The outputs of this would help inform the Colleges IT Strategy 2013-16 which is currently being written. 


Aims and objectives


Like most colleges in the sector we have a number of change management programmes in progress looking at efficiency savings and tangible benefits specifically around IT based projects.


The key aims of this project were:



For this reason we were interested in evaluating three tools:



There are a number of identifiable benefits for the College which are qualitative and quantitative. As an organization which is financially sound and mature in its IT developments the College sought to further enhance the management of our IT Service by implementing a holistic approach to costing the systems and services that are offered. 


The business case


The business case for undergoing this project is clear. The Further Education Sector is facing increasing demands to become more efficient and 'do more for less' as such all College departments including the IT department needs to ensure that it is providing value for money. To deliver this it needs to understand the full of running IT services and be confident that these services are running as efficiently as possible. With the increase in Cloud and Shared Services providers it is easy to make suitable comparisons and as such hard conversations will need to be had where services can be offered more effectively by third parties.


In addition to the above it is essential that college departments justify IT spend on projects, fully costing the implementation and running costs. This will allow capital monies to be spent on programmes that will have the greatest impact against the IT Strategy and Vision Plan. 


Key drivers


The key drivers for the project have been the opportunity to explore robust ways of determining what constitutes value for money in terms of ICT Services. By evaluating and applying the selected tools, we had the opportunity to explore the cost of our existing infrastructure as well as evaluating appropriate future developments and their associated developments. As the College looks to develop new models to deliver its IT Services (e.g. Cloud or Shared Services) it is important that we have a baseline in which to measure.


JISC resources/technology used


The overall aim of the project was to evaluate the effectiveness of the tools mentioned in the aims and objectives section, as such the following JISC resources were used extensively for this project.


The following weblinks have been used as part of this project:







The project was a useful exercise for the College and it met the key aims. Key achievements for the project were:





The benefit to Highbury College by undertaking this evaluation project has been the recognition and deeper cost understanding by both the College's Leadership Team (CLT) and the IT Services Team. 


The project as whole has:






Key lessons


There has been a number of key lessons which have emerged as a result of undertaking this project. A summary of the key lessons are highlighted below:



Looking ahead


There are several areas of development that have come out of this project and that we would like to take forward in the next few years:





The work that has been undertaken as part of this transformations project has had a huge impact on how the College manages its IT Systems. The College is keen to take forward the work of this project and use it as a benchmark for all future IT projects which will now become normal practice as part of the operations of the IT Department. 


In addition to this, Janet has also launched a new programme called Financial X-ray. This programme has similar aims to that of this project:



The College is currently engaging with the Janet team to understand how the work from this project can also be picked up and progressed. 


Further Information

For further information, please contact:


Paul Rolfe -
Head of Technology & Innovation

Highbury College, Portsmouth