Education revolves around technology and it’s essential to have IT support available at all times to minimise disruption when things go wrong, whether you are a Multi Academy Trust, large high school and sixth form or a small primary school.
Reasons why you might need outsourced IT support
IT in education is not limited to just teaching and learning, it’s key in many of the systems and solutions deployed by a school, including email, cyber security, storage and backups, administration, finance, communication, visitor management, networking, and internet connectivity. In addition, there is the management of all the physical devices such as desktops, laptops, servers, switches, access points and screens. This is a lot of responsibility for one person or a small team.
Not every school has the capacity to employ a full-time IT Technician, but almost all schools have some form of IT support. It might be a member of staff with a shared job role, an in-house IT Technician or Network Manager. Some neighbouring schools or schools within a Trust may share their IT support, however, with budget constraints, the resources available aren’t always capable of fulfilling requirements.
It’s not necessary for all IT support to be outsourced, and there are situations where having an onsite technician full-time is a great asset if budgets allow, however outsourced IT support can be a complementary service and play a key part in keeping the school’s IT provision operational and successful.
Outsourced IT support can help to fill the gaps in internal expertise with access to skills across all areas, from what is often a much larger team. By combining in-house skills and the services of a well-chosen IT partner, both parties can work together seamlessly to achieve common goals.
What types of outsourced IT support are there?
An IT partner should first complete an audit or discuss your IT in depth to establish your current infrastructure and discuss your requirements and expectations.
There are many different situations and Primary Technology can adapt to them all, whether that be working alongside an onsite apprentice who might need guidance and training, or assisting an experienced Network Manager who is struggling with the time constraints of looking after multiple sites.
We can offer a tailored solution, which might be a regular onsite visit from an engineer or our remote technical support offering via phone and email, or a mix of the two. Many IT issues today can be resolved remotely by our Service Desk, without the need for a technician to attend site.
If you need extra resources to complete a project or assist with project management, Primary Technology can be on hand on an ad hoc basis for these types of works, such as server or cloud migrations.
We can also provide a fully managed IT service incorporating day-to-day on-site support, technical oversight from a Senior Technician and management of your IT strategy, project scoping and project planning provided by a Technical Consultant. This fully managed service meets and exceeds the DfE’s technology standards to ensure all the requirements for IT management, cyber security and data security are met. We’d encourage you to discuss this with us if you’re considering this route.
What are the benefits of outsourced IT support?
- Quick response times – If there isn’t an engineer onsite, there is still on-demand access to experts on the Service Desk
- Access to additional staff – In the occurrence of IT emergencies there is access to additional team members, and you are not relying on just one person. In addition, there is backup available to cover for illness and holidays
- Scalable support – For specific projects, the support available can be scaled up and you have the added benefit of working with technicians or an Account Manager that is already familiar with your organisation, allowing for stress-free communication and works
- Wide skill set – Your IT support provider will typically have a larger team with a multitude of expertise across the whole team, with specialists in many different areas. To employ an individual with all these skills would be almost impossible in most cases and likely expensive, and this is where outsourcing IT support can be a major advantage. You can rely on your IT support provider to be up to date on best practices and new technology, including any developments in cyber security
- Recruitment – With outsourced IT support, the worry of knowing the skills needed in an IT Technician or attracting the correct skillset is entirely removed. Furthermore, if you wanted to share the IT support between in-house and outsourced, your IT partner can help with this recruitment
- Planning – A good IT partner will go beyond the day-to-day tasks and will assist the school or Trust with strategic planning, including budgeting and how to make the most of IT and drive IT forward. This could also include hardware purchasing and licensing
- Cost saving – There are many ways in which outsourced IT support can save your school money;
- There is no or little need to pay for specialist training or for expert equipment, as your IT support provider will already have this covered
- You only pay for the IT support that you need, whether that’s onsite or Service Desk based, and the support can be tailored to your needs
- An IT support provider gives access to lower cost technology solutions and enterprise level technology via their partnerships and relationships with suppliers
- Proactive support – An IT partner will do daily monitoring and checks on the school’s systems and can respond to any issues immediately to minimise disruption
Using a combination of in-house and outsourced IT support
Outsourced IT support can offer guidance to in-house IT staff and compliment and advance their skillset, without the need to pay out for additional training. Whilst it’s a possibility that internal IT support staff may initially perceive outsourcing as a threat, the reality is often that they are broadening their skillset by working with a third-party, and are allowed the time to concentrate on their core job role, whether that is hands-on day-to-day IT support around the school or focusing on strategy and wider IT management.
There is access to a wider team to help with bigger tasks or an escalation point for more complicated tasks or issues when required. Utilising a third-party IT partner allows IT Technicians, Network Managers and Business Managers the time they need to focus on their key tasks.
Moving to the cloud continues to be a popular choice for schools and Trusts looking to cut expenditure and adapt to modern ways of working, meaning schools are requiring both cloud migrations and ongoing assistance. With cloud migrations being a large undertaking, it’s essential to engage with an experienced and trusted IT support provider if you don’t have this expertise in-house.
How can we help
We are the trusted IT partner of many educational institutions across the UK, providing both onsite and remote IT support as well as strategic planning, project management and consultancy.
Here’s what Lyn, the Chief Officer Finance and Operations from an Academy Trust we work with had to say about our outsourced IT support:
“Our Trust has received excellent support, consultancy, development and creative ICT network solutions from Primary Technology. Their engineers who are always on call to respond to any queries, have transformed our ICT across a number of sites. The team at Primary Technology work closely with Trust stakeholders and our internal IT team”
Primary Technology can provide IT support fully tailored around what your school or Trust requires, considering your current infrastructure and who is working in your organisation. If you’d like to work in partnership with us, please get in touch to discuss your needs.