School ICT networks are now complex beasts to work on. In the past, schools didn’t really have much IT onsite to worry about, but now even the smallest primary schools have some sort of ICT network, even if it isn’t that big.
The education sector is being put under a lot of pressure to cut their costs. Certain areas of the country are being told that they have to outsource their services to external companies, and that they are responsible for sourcing the IT Support companies by themselves.
So the pressure is on for organisations within the education sector to find their own IT Services. If there is one thing that this country isn’t short of it is IT Consultancies and engineers so you will have plenty of organisations to choose from. Finding a good one however can be tricky, so it is important to bear the following points in mind:
Do they have a portfolio of educational clients? – There are lot of IT companies that don’t have experience in the education sector. This isn’t the end of the world, after all a computer is a computer, but educational networks can be quite specialist and there are many software platforms such as VLE’s (virtual learning environments) that require specialist support. You should also check to see if all of their staff members have been criminal record checked before they are allowed to visit campus.
The type of support do you need? – having spoken to many principles in the past, it seems that many of them only want onsite IT Support for Schools and they are not too interested in remote assistance. The majority of IT Organisations conduct over 75% of their support remotely, so if you want a scheduled site visit then I would make sure they have the resources to do this. You also need to check the costs involved; having an engineer onsite isn’t cheap, although you should be entitled to some sort of discount because you are part of the education sector.
On-going consultancy – it is very important to conduct regular IT consultancy sessions to discuss on-going projects, upgrades and any issues on the network. You would be surprised how many companies don’t actually offer on-going consultancy unless you request it, so make sure that regular monthly meetings will not be an issue.
Working from the cloud – remember that you are outsourcing to save money. There are many new IT Technologies that can be used in order to improve your IT Network such as cloud technologies. Make the most of their expertise and improve your IT Network at their expense!