With school spending under scrutiny, how do you ensure you get value for money from your IT investments? Neil Watkins from Think IT shares some advice
We don’t know who will win the election but one thing we do know for certain though, is that whoever wins will preside over a real terms cut in education funding during the next parliament. Even before new cuts bite, a recent survey showed that over 50 per cent of school leaders expect budget pressures and lack of funding to be their biggest challenge in the next academic year.
VALUE FOR MONEY
School leaders need to look at all areas of spending, and often IT comes (rightly) under scrutiny. No Good or Outstanding school can operate without good IT infrastructure and systems. The trouble is, when budgets are under pressure, it’s easy to ’make do’ and neglect important things like software upgrades, and we’ve all seen the problems that can cause in the recent NHS cyber-attack.
So how do you ensure you get value for money from your IT investments? First and foremost you need a three to five year IT strategy. Most schools don’t have one. Without one you’re likely to make poor or reactive buying decisions (i.e. when something goes wrong, or you have some ‘spare’ cash). With a strategy you can better plan, prioritise, identify savings and improve teaching and learning.
Most schools don’t have a strategy because they work on annual planning cycles. Another reason is they don’t always have the skills or capacity in-house to keep up with the rapid pace of change in technology.
Much has been made of moving schools’ IT to the cloud to save money, increase effectiveness and provide data security. Many schools are nervous of moving to the cloud because they don’t think it’s safe.
We heard recently of a school that lost the work of 80 GCSE students because it was on a USB stick that got ‘lost in the post’ to the examiner. If their work was stored in the cloud that would never have happened.
The Department for Education (DfE) is promoting the benefits of cloud solutions and its guidance sets out practical advice for schools.
However many still find planning a move to the cloud a daunting prospect. This is when schools should look to seek support from external organisations who can work with the school to identify their specific needs and help plan a strategy.
Once the school knows what it wants and needs, they need a place to buy it. The DfE strongly recommends schools use frameworks to ensure value for money and compliance with procurement legislation.
Finding the right framework is essential in ensuring your school is given the right level of education and technical expertise. Schools should look for one that is DfE compliant, and provides schools with support, expert guidance and recommendations.
Frameworks exist to make schools’ lives easier, and with the DfE’s recognition and support, this route is only set to become more common among schools.
If you have any questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Think IT online quotes portal, which allows you to quickly and easily enter your requirements.
With that information, schools will be given three quotes, recommendations and all the hassle is taken out of the procurement process.