Outsourced school IT keeps schools focused on their unique missions.
Almost every school has a unique mission that drives their instructional and non-instructional practices. A STEM-focused school might name their classrooms after certain scientists, while an arts-based school might devote 90-minute instructional blocks to painting, drawing, or sculpture, depending on students’ interests. At the core of each model, regardless of its particular form, is a belief that certain instructional practices work better for some students than others and that by scaling those unique instructional practices to an entire school, teachers can improve student achievement.
Non-instructional administrative duties, however, often get in the way. State and local compliance metrics require school leaders to submit data on teacher experience levels, free-and-reduced-price lunch population counts, school schedules, and a host of other information in order to receive funding. These duties often distract teachers and administrators from their school’s core mission and threaten to undermine student achievement.
Technology management is one area that can easily distract administrators from their school’s core mission. Troubleshooting individual student or teacher technology issues can quickly consume hours, if not days, of an administrator’s time, as can monitoring the school’s technology inventory, planning new technology-related purchases, and preparing the school’s technology for launch and close-out.
The administrator responsible for school IT must also forward plan for the weeks and years to come. For instance, if the school plans to add another grade level or expand to a new site, the administrator must begin planning the procurement process months ahead of time. With so many competing priorities on their plate, administrators can understandably drop the ball, jeopardizing the school’s technology programming.
By outsourcing their school’s IT to a third-party provider, administrators can reclaim the time they’ve lost on these and other tasks, refocusing their attention on supporting teachers and students. Rather than spending their time fixing a single computer or tracking down a missing device, administrators can devote their attention to classroom practice, observing and providing feedback directly to teachers.
Outsourced school IT also allows administrators to assume a more strategic role in their technology programming. With more time on their hands, administrators are able to consider which software programs and hardware really make sense for the school’s mission or what upgrades, if any, the school should make to its existing IT infrastructure. These “bigger picture” topics have a far greater impact on school programming than individual troubleshooting, or inventory practices ever could and therefore make better use of an administrator’s time.
As with any non-instructional decision, however, the choice of whether to outsource school IT comes down to cost. Below, we outline several ways in which outsourcing school IT can save schools money, in addition to allowing school leaders to keep their focus on the school’s unique mission.
Outsourced school IT is often more cost-effective than a traditional in-house team.
Outsourced school IT can cost schools far less money than a traditional in-house team. While an in-house team member’s salary may cost the school $65,000 or more depending on the market, the school can obtain the same scope of services from an entire team of managed IT professionals for a similar, and perhaps lower, price.
Hiring an external firm also gives schools access to a shared knowledge base. While an internal school IT team may have expertise in a particular area, an outsourced team can draw upon the experience of all its members, ensuring one-hundred percent of the school’s technology-related bases are covered. When an unforeseen technology issue arises, the school need not contact a consultant or auxiliary provider when it has a managed IT team: the managed IT team can almost always identify the problem and implement a solution quickly, allowing the school to resume its normal programming.
Finally, as a school expands, the costs of an outsourced school IT team increase at a far slower rate than those of an in-house team. If a school plans to add another grade level, for example, it may have to hire a third or fourth IT team member at the cost of at least $65,000 per year for each individual. These costs are far lower for an outsourced IT provider and allow the school to scale sustainably while not compromising the quality of its technology services.
Outsourced school IT costs are often more predictable than those of an in-house team.
Outsourced IT teams who offer a flat-rate service package also provide schools with a more predictable sense of their recurring IT costs. With an in-house team, certain issues might arise that can’t be solved internally and require the school to hire an external consultant or managed IT firm on a project-specific basis. By contrast, with an outsourced IT team, the cost of the school’s technology-related services is far more predictable and is typically charged on a monthly or quarterly basis, regardless of what issues arise on the ground.
Predictability in IT-related costs allows the school to more accurately gauge its capacity to accomplish its instructional priorities. For example, if a school knows it will have to pay a certain amount for IT services over the next two or three years, it can devote its scarce resources to restocking classroom libraries, purchasing additional science lab kits, or preparing for an eventual expansion. Predictability in IT costs allows schools to rest easy knowing that at least one of its budget line items is likely to remain relatively fixed over the short term.
Similarly, rather than picking and choosing which aspects of its IT programming need the most attention, a school with an outsourced IT team can comprehensively address all of its IT needs without worrying about its bottom line. Whereas an in-house team might be hesitant to bring in a consultant to solve a particularly complex IT problem, a school with an outsourced team doesn’t have to worry and can simply contact its provider to have the problem solved.
Outsourcing school IT is often more reliable.
Finally, outsourced IT is often far more reliable for schools than an in-house team. This reliability begins with the service quality the school can expect to receive. Whereas the personnel on an in-house team can change over time, with vastly different levels of quality depending on its composition, an outsourced IT team has a standardized service model and hiring process that ensures each of its team members has the requisite skills to serve its partner schools. A standardized service model also ensures that the scope of the school’s technology services won’t change year over year. While an in-house team member might be a whiz at fixing student Chromebooks, his or her replacement might not be, comprising the quality of the school’s technology services.
Second, an outsourced IT team is on-call at virtually all of the times when schools might need assistance. Whether it’s a helpline or ticketing system, a school team member can submit a request at any time of the day and expect a prompt response from the outsourced firm. This level of reliability is particularly important for teachers. With every second a teacher spends trying to resolve a technology-related issue, he or she loses precious instructional minutes. Add up all of these incidents over the course of a year, and a teacher can quickly lose hours of instructional time due to technology-related issues. A reliable helpline or ticketing system can go a long way in solving these problems, ensuring teachers have rapid solutions to their common technology issues.
An outsourced school IT team will also monitor the school’s critical IT infrastructure to help avoid any potential outages and notify the school if any upgrades are needed. Without a team to monitor its routers, switches, and wireless access points, schools can suddenly find their technology program derailed by otherwise preventable issues. An outsourced IT team helps ensure schools avoid a nightmare scenario in which, in the middle of the school day, or worse, state testing, the school’s internet suddenly goes out, forcing teachers to spend minute after minute waiting for a fix.
At CTS, we take care of the technology so that schools can focus on educating students.
Our team is deeply invested in the work of our partner schools. By outsourcing your school’s IT needs to CTS, your school will not only receive a reliable, high-quality service package but also gain the ability to more easily manage the school’s recurring IT costs. We offer three easy-to-understand, flat-rate service packages to our partner schools so that you and your team can figure out exactly what your school needs in a given year.
Our goal is to take care of the technology so that you and your team can focus on educating students. We’ve worked with more than 60 schools across the United States to help school leaders accomplish their unique mission and keep their focus where it should be: in the classroom, educating students. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help your school achieve its unique mission.