How do you choose a support provider to take care of everything IT throughout your school? Cost has to be a factor but what if the providers all charge a similar price, how can you be sure you are getting best value for your school?
Remote support provision, a range of service levels, some kind of helpdesk, and a range of add-ons come as standard. So what adds real value to support? And can your provider evolve from a support provider, to an IT partner? Here’s what to consider.
Do they regularly review your support?
An IT partner will offer regular reviews to discuss the support they have delivered over any given term. This could be termly, six-monthly or an annual review. They will provide performance statistics to include response times, and the time it takes to resolve each issue (we call this the first time fix ratio). This level of transparency enables you and your partner to evaluate the service, and to make any changes to improve service delivery. This could mean the way in which faults are reported, additional on-site technical assistance or staff training.
It can also highlight re-occurring hardware, system failures or patterns in service indicating deteriorating or ageing hardware. This level of detail allows for corrective technical measures to be put in place or a longer-term strategy for the replacement of out-of-date hardware.
Can they prevent things from going wrong?
It is all well and good having the support team available during standard hours, but what happens if you need support outside of that? Teachers spend most of their time in class so check whether your IT partner offers out-of-hours support; or a service portal to report and monitor faults when they are not available.
Most problems occur before the school day starts so it is important that your partner can react as early as possible. Monitoring software should form part of any proactive support provision. It creates an automated support ticket for issues as they happen enabling your partner to respond to the issue before it manifests into a problem for the school.
Do they actively protect your data?
Regulation changes, and the rise of ransomware activity, mean that back-up is now essential for data protection within schools. Your IT partner should offer a compliant cloud-based back-up service, which performs regular consistency and recovery checks, as well as daily reporting to ensure you can provide evidence to demonstrate that your data is safe.
Do they future-proof your provision?
There isn’t always the time, or the foresight, to have a comprehensive IT strategy in place. But that is where a partner’s advice is invaluable. They should be available to assist you in the development of a longer-term plan and listen to your vision on how you wish to use technology for everyday learning. They should draw on their technical and industry knowledge to help you build a cohesive plan; whether this is based on new products, services, or making the best use of old technology.
A final piece of advice
If your partner is confident in their ability to support your school, you should not be tied into a long-term contract; you should have the option to renew annually.
Whichever partner you choose, you should feel like you are a valued customer and be confident in their technical ability and industry knowledge to help with your long term vision.