If you’re paying a monthly fee for any kind of support you want to make sure you are getting good value for the amount regularly leaving your bank account. If you pay for an ICT support package or if you are thinking of doing so in the future, here are a number of tips to ensure you get the most value for your monthly investment.
Make your intentions known from the outset
Start with an exploratory meeting with the ICT support company you choose. Make sure that everyone you will come into contact with as part of the contract is in the room - from both the school and the ICT support provider. It’s a great way to get everyone to know each other from the outset and to set everyone’s expectations as to what should happen and when.
List your challenges
If you’re paying a company to help you it’s not your job to find a solution to your challenges, it’s theirs. Make sure you list all the challenges you face as a school and find out from them if ICT could be a solution. From your school network, wireless, antivirus, the cloud – including Microsoft Education or Office 365, ICT is often the answer to many school issues. Find out more about transforming learning through the cloud in this case study.
Before you sign on the line
Check out the ICT support providers’ service level agreement, testimonials from customers and average response times. This will give you a good idea of the level of service they provide. Make sure the package you are offered is flexible and don’t get tied into a contract that’s not 100% right for you. An online support portal and knowledgebase is also useful for quickly finding any answers you need. Don’t forget you might also be able to negotiate if what you need doesn’t match your budget.
Once you sign
It’s time to get going. Kick-off with a meeting around your school objectives – where you want to be in one, five and ten years’ time. Your ICT support company should be able to create an ICT plan for the future that supports this, within your budget. Ask them about upcoming technologies you might need to introduce including immersive environments and artificial intelligence – they should be able to tell you how these could benefit teachers and learners.
Everything is underway and you’re settling into your new ICT support contract. The company you have chosen is responsive as well as proactive, from checking the network before the school day starts, to coming out to fix hardware on-site. Make sure you use them to their full potential and ask for their help as much as you can, rather than asking your in-house team to take more on – you need to get good value for your money.
Monthly phone call reviews and quarterly face-to-face meetings with your ICT support provider are always a good idea. Monthly calls might just review current projects and what’s working well / not so well, whereas the quarterly reviews might be more strategic and discuss future innovations and roadmaps.
The extra mile
Whichever ICT support provider you choose, you need to ensure they go the extra mile for you. They should understand your specific challenges as an education establishment and do everything in their power to ensure that ICT not only supports teaching and learning but also minimises disruption to the school day. RM for example, runs seminars - a day of free technical CPD designed to help you make the most of technology in your school and keep ahead of industry trends.
These seven tips will help to ensure you are getting the most from your ICT support provider. The Department for Education also offers a number of useful tips here, from help with buying, to managing assets, and guidance on getting good deals.
If you know you need to improve your school technology but you’re not sure where to start, try our free online Health Check Tool to see your areas of ICT strengths and weaknesses.