Growing Technology, Shrinking Resources

Dr. Darren Williams, VP & GM, Service Management, Absolute Software
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Dr. Darren Williams, VP & GM, Service Management, Absolute Software

Across the country, schools are participating in a technology evolution. From laptops to tablets, devices are being used to enhance the educational experience. However, as devices and technology are expanding across school districts, budgets continue to shrink,resulting in limited resources to manage and support these technology rollouts. The result is a growing demand for efficient service, knowledge sharing, and effective device management.

For many large school districts, IT technicians are spread out over a wide geographical area in order to better serve various campuses. For example, Absolute Software works with Charlotte County Public Schools, which operates all K-12 public schools in Charlotte County, Florida. The district is comprised of 10 elementary schools, four middle schools, three high schools and six specialty education centers with over 2200 staff members. In order to serve such a large area, there are 42 in-field and onsite technicians and service analysts tasked with managing the ongoing needs of end users and the increasing deployment of technology and devices.

As with many school districts facing budget restrictions, staff and service teams at Charlotte County Public Schools are expected to do more with less. But as the use of technology continues to increase, so does the need for ongoing maintenance, knowledge sharing, and training that is necessary for teachers and staff to keep pace.

In the past, Charlotte County Public Schools used a system similar to many other school districts, relying on email and sometimes a conference board for cross-campus communication regarding IT issues. When issues were resolved, email threads were deleted, removing any opportunity for others (staff, teachers or even IT) to access and apply the knowledge when the same issue reoccurred.

Charlotte County Public Schools wanted to implement a solution that would allow them to better manage IT issues. But given their budget shortfalls and the lack of dedicated IT resources, they also wanted a solution that would save and organize knowledge from previous IT issues. Rather than reinvent the wheel every time an issue arose, users and IT technicians could self-serve and access the knowledge base for a fast and resource-efficient resolution.

This type of infrastructure should be considered by other school districts that face the same budget and resource challenges as Charlotte County Public Schools.

IT Service Management Implementation

Consider incorporating these three steps in your IT service management implementation plan:

1. An IT service management platform for school districts should be uncomplicated for the end user. With so many members of staff wearing multiple hats to stretch the budget, the technical grasp of each user may vary widely so an intuitive and easy to use experience is essential.

2. Start small and select a school with a relatively simple and clear cut infrastructure. Use this school as a test site for the full deployment.

3. Provide clear communication to all users and explain the rationale for rolling out new technology procedures. Focus on the benefits of the new system including ease of use, automated IT reports, and the faster service that will result.

Recycling Knowledge to Optimize School Resources
Everyday school district field technicians are responding to requests and resolving issues. But without a service platform to collect and disseminate it, this valuable knowledge disappears as soon as a case is closed.

Once established, a knowledge base will allow IT technicians to spend more time focused on meaningful tasks versus repetitive issues that really only need to be solved once.

Resource efficiencies are improved as technicians spend less time reinventing the wheel, providing a faster time to resolution. Proactive support will increase with onsite technicians and one-on-one training sessions allocated where they’re needed most based on call volumes by location and individuals.

Keeping Pace
The adoption of low-cost, easy-to-use computing devices has allowed schools to customize and evolve the process of learning. And even though many school districts are experiencing budget declines, the thoughtful implementation of IT service management technology can create significant efficiencies.

These efficiencies can allow schools to keep pace with technology. And if the school district keeps pace, then so do the students and teachers.

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