Finding an honest, reliable and capable IT services provider can be tricky for any organization, and especially for schools where the stakes are high and providing the best learning environment for students is the primary objective. With increased demands for technology use in the classroom, it’s more important than ever for leaders in education to collaborate with experts who can guide them in setting up a robust network infrastructure, implementing educational software and web-based learning tools, and deploying digital devices for students and staff such as Chromebooks, Macs, tablets, and PCs.
Unfortunately, it isn’t always clear that you’ve hired the wrong IT services provider until you’re halfway into a project. And by then, you’ve already invested a significant amount of time, money and resources. You’re also most likely fed up with missed deadlines, unfulfilled promises, lackluster performance and solutions that just don’t seem to work the way you expected.
This happens more often than you would think because many schools hire outside IT consultants without checking important facts.
Making sure students succeed in the classroom and preparing them for a bright future means an increased reliance on technology. And because technology changes so rapidly, it’s easy to feel that you’re always playing catch-up when you don’t have the right team in place. If you’re worried that your current IT services provider isn’t up to the challenge, then here’s the ultimate test to give any potential replacements to avoid making the same mistake twice:
- Do they have demonstrated K-12 technical expertise? What is their experience in working with other organizations like yours?
- Are they well-versed in education specific programs such as E-Rate as well as other standards, regulation and compliance mandates that your school must adhere to?
- How fast do they respond to emergencies? (A good technician should be easy to reach and respond within 1 hour or LESS.)
- Do you typically have a senior technician working on your project or a junior newbie just learning the ropes? (The old bait-n-switch).
- Do they have other technicians on staff that are familiar with your network in case your regular technician goes on vacation or gets sick?
- Do they offer any professional development or technical training for teachers and administrative staff?
- Do they offer different options to fit YOUR school’s budget, mission, and goals, or do they push a “one-size-fits-all” approach?
- Are they consistently on time and on budget with their projects, or do their projects always end up costing more and taking longer than you expected?
- Do they offer to meet with you regularly to review your goals and objectives, your network status, and their own performance in supporting your school?
- Do they listen to you and provide proactive suggestions in helping you stay ahead of the technology curve?
If your current IT services provider doesn’t score a resounding “YES” on every point, you’re probably not getting the support you need, and your students and staff could be suffering because of it.