Schools coming towards the end of a Managed Service contract, or looking to start a Managed Service contract, have a question that needs an urgent answer.
What kind of IT support will best serve the school?
Will it be a continuation of the existing contract – that is if you can afford the fees!
Is such an option in keeping with the modern day where a school makes so many decisions itself? Should IT contract management not be determined by the customer most able to comment on what works and what does not- the school itself?
Trouble is that school systems have marched on ruthlessly over the last few years and few school technicians now have the wide range of experiences and specialist skills to be able to fully support a school.
Most school based technicians tend to be Level 1 technicians who deal with user issues. Few are qualified to deal with Level 2 or level 3 requests – server, wireless or infrastructure engineers who deal with the kind of issues that may not happen very frequently but when they do they can bring down the entire site.
If a technician becomes temporarily ill and absent, the impact will be felt in lower service levels, and the workload of other IT staff.
Having your own engineers can help ensure a closer alignment with the school’s goals, but there are costs attached which are frequently not considered such as their training, their exposure to other IT environments, providing leadership, allocating priorities, identifying key issues, tracking, monitoring and reporting to school management, appraisals, line management.
Having your own engineers is also an expensive option- and whilst it could work, it can go badly wrong with the incorrect individual. Recently we came across a school whose technician had not checked the backups for 6 months!
In between BSF (Building Schools Foundation) type support and the school-managed type of ICT support there are a range of other options available from different providers. Where do you start?
We recommend you consider the HOT Matrix;
- Holistic- make sure any supplier is willing to support the entire school- not parts of it. Cherry picking should not be allowed!
- On the DfE framework of Approved Contractors for working with schools
- Transfers risk from the school to the supplier- takes risks of IT failure, poor IT staff, cost of repairs etc away from you.
Additional information to help you find your way through the IT world is available to you at no cost.