How to Approach Your Next School IT Project

Certain school IT projects exceed the scope of in-house technology teams.

In-house school technology teams are often stretched thin. Whether repairing defective Chromebooks, responding to teacher tickets, or configuring a new phone system, in-house teams have their hands full as it is. Throw a high-stakes school IT project on top of these regular responsibilities, and things can quickly fall through the cracks.

Because of their IT team’s workload, school leaders may look elsewhere for a partner who can quickly and effectively tackle discreet school IT projects. Perhaps the school needs wiring installed, classroom audio-visual systems upgraded, or new security cameras mounted. While these projects certainly add value to the school, they often become another to-do on an already long list of action items for an in-house team. 

School IT projects are vast in scope and can dramatically impact school programming.

As the above list indicates, school IT projects are vast in scope. At the classroom level, technical projects can range from Chromebook inventorying and firewall deployment to projector set-up and SMARTboard configuration. These tasks directly impact students and teachers, who rely on functional technology to successfully execute their daily lessons.

At the whole-school level, IT projects range from wiring installation, cabling, public announcement, and bell systems, to synchronized clocks and digital signage. These items provide the basis for effective school programming, offering a frame within which learning occurs, and school-wide systems operate. Without an adequate number of wireless access points or working phone systems, school administrators may spend more time putting out individual fires than they do focusing on student achievement, a lapse that threatens to compromise the school’s mission. 

At CTS, our goal is to understand the unique needs of each partner school.

We’ve worked with more than 60 schools across the United States on IT projects large and small. At partners with existing in-house teams, our services allow the school’s technical personnel to focus on mission-critical, day-to-day operations while we handle larger-scale projects. In such cases, we work directly with that team to understand the school’s existing technology landscape, identify any programming gaps, and execute a project armed with the contextual understanding necessary for success.

Our goal is to also understand the school’s broader unique mission. How does the school IT project fit within the larger instructional program at the school? Why did the school decide to outsource this project, as opposed to handling it internally? What’s the vision of success? Answering these questions provides, yes, more context, but also allows us to make technical choices that align with the school’s unique mission. No one school is the same, so even projects with the same scope may look different depending on the needs of the partner. 

Contact us today to learn more about our technical project services and how we can use our expertise to add value to your school’s unique mission. 

Leverage your E-rate bid to secure a service provider for your school IT project.

Successful execution of your school’s IT project can also depend on a number of fiscal considerations. While most technical projects add or build upon existing school technology programming, others are sought out as a necessity: if a building’s internet suddenly stops working or its switches, which lack back-ups, suddenly go out, costs can quickly accumulate.

Fortunately, schools can leverage the E-rate bidding process to offset at least some of the costs associated with technical projects. Category 2 funds, for example, can be used for a number of big-ticket technology items like cabling, routers, and switches. Making effective use of federal funds can therefore offset at least some of the costs associated with technical projects, easing what may otherwise be an unsustainable financial burden. 

Project management is key. Choose a provider with a proven track record.

Fiscal responsibility extends, similarly, to provider selection. Schools require effective solutions fast. As a result, prioritizing providers with a track record of success and strong project management skills are essential.

From identifying key stakeholders, crafting thorough project plans with key deliverables and milestones, to proactively updating school partners on their project’s status, firms with strong project management skills are more likely to accomplish the school’s project on time and under budget. 

Sometimes you need your school IT project completed by the next school year. Sometimes it’s within the next two months.

A project’s timeline may also need to accelerate based on changing circumstances. If a school is planning significant construction or other renovations during the summer months, a school IT project may have only a few weeks to get in and out of the building with the project completed.

An ability to be nimble and respond to changing circumstances is just as critical as project management. In the school setting, even the most thorough plans can change at a moment’s notice. Schools will want to select a firm with the right attitude and capacity to navigate such a challenge and ensure the technical project goes off without a hitch, regardless of what obstacles stand in the way.