ICT Support in Hertfordshire
Hertfordshire School IT Systems Support - Hertfordshire County Council
Hertfordshire School IT Systems Support (SITSS), a traded unit within Childrens, Schools and Families of Hertfordshire County Council, have created a formula for the development and continued provision of high-quality support.
We spoke to Janine Bryant, Head of School IT Systems Support, about the support that SITSS provide to schools throughout the county.
Hertfordshire School IT Systems Support (SITSS) are an RM Approved Support Provider, working in partnership with RM to deliver effective local IT support.
RM Approved Support Providers are one of a wide range of support services available to schools with alternative options including direct support from RM, and other independent support providers.
Hertfordshire SITSS provides IT services to over 95% of 540 schools in Hertfordshire. They have a team of 40 experts supporting the 516 schools, of which 130 have Community Connect 3 networks.
Formula for success
SITSS have created a formula for the development and continued provision of high-quality support. This includes a number of elements:
- Flexible services matching school needs
- An effective and well-structured team
- A broad range of knowledge and services
- Continuous investment in staff professional development
- A direct link to, and strong relationship with, experts at RM
- Involvement with new developments
- Sharing best-practice with other authorities
Janine Bryant, Head of School IT Systems Support, explained the formula to us...
Flexible services matching school needs
"At SITSS we believe that it is important to provide flexible services to meet varying IT support needs.
"We have developed a five-tiered support model so that schools can receive the level of support that they need, in the way that they need it. This means that we can provide effective support for schools, tailored to their IT proficiency and onsite support. Our services range from telephone and remote support to a full managed service. All of these services are backed by third-line support from RM".
An effective and well-structured team
"We have a fairly large support team that covers Management Information Systems (MIS) support as well technical and network support. The size and expertise of our support teams gives us and schools flexibility and assurance; we can distribute this resource, changing it as appropriate, and protecting schools' networks throughout the year without the risk of annual leave or IT-staff illness leaving the schools unsupported".
A broad range of knowledge and services
In addition to being an RM Approved Support Provider, Hertfordshire SITSS are also an RM Build and Installation Provider and a Local Support Unit for the MIS used the majority of Hertfordshire schools.
"We commission and build networks as well as supporting them throughout their life. We have installed most of the networks that we support. As a result of this, we have valuable in-depth knowledge of these networks and a very broad understanding of how the network is configured.
"This understanding of the networks means that we can resolve a wide range of problems; we are experts of our schools networks.
"Being part of the Local authority we also have knowledge of the local policies and pressures on schools in Hertfordshire, helping us to support schools accordingly. This means that we understand and can respond to the changing needs of these schools".
"Covering both systems and data needs we are very well equipped to deal with most of the more complex issues that occasionally hit our schools"
Continuous investment in staff professional development
"Schools need our staff to have the knowledge to fix their IT issues. For this reason, we make sure that we provide our network staff with great professional and technical development.
"Our career development scheme is multi-faceted. We provide extensive training, certification and career progression opportunities with a focus on being flexible, developing our staff and providing plenty of opportunities.
"Our scheme ties in with the RM Certified Professional Programme. Individuals in our network team have to be an RM Certified Network Manager giving us and our schools confidence in the ability of these engineers, and supporting the delivery of efficient and effective services".
Direct link to experts at RM
"As an ASP we have a direct link to RM's Enterprise Support team. This is an experienced team at RM with a very broad knowledge base.
"At SITSS our technical knowledge base is very advanced. When issues need to be escalated to RM we send them directly to the Enterprise Support team. Having direct access to this team helps us to resolve complex issues for schools as quickly as possible".
Involvement with new developments
"Whenever we can, we are involved with field trials for these new solutions. This summer we will be trying Thin-client solutions. We're looking forward to seeing how this could deliver benefits to schools.
"It's good to be among the early adopters of new developments. Involvement in projects like these means that we are up-to-date and ready to support schools with these new advantageous technologies."
Sharing best-practice with other authorities
"Whenever possible we share best-practice with other authorities that have similar demands. Consultation with others is great for us and for our schools. It provides us with an even larger knowledge base and means that we can continually share ideas and find optimum solutions to specific issues".
In summary, delivering IT support to a number of establishments is an exciting challenge. In Janine's words "services offered to schools need to be of the best quality".
Hertfordshire SITSS have focused on a number of elements to support this quality, demonstrating the hard work required to deliver effective support and the specialism that schools have access to through these valuable support organisations.
Partnering with RM provides Hertfordshire SITSS with a number of benefits. They have access to RM's Enterprise support team for expert problem resolution, and enhanced access to RM's Knowledge Library including some otherwise restricted articles. SITSS also benefits from a Services Manager, Technical Seminar places, Email Bulletins and Network Support Bulletins, all from RM.
Hertfordshire SITSS' partnership with RM also benefits the schools that they support, eliminating the need for schools to buy an RM Support Contract, but still offering the advantages of expert knowledge from RM.