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To Outsource or In-House, That is the Question (in School IT Support)

It goes without saying that school IT support is hugely important. It’s important at every level, whether you’re a 2000 student sixth form college, or a 50 pupil primary school. Education revolves around tech; a science trip to the nature reserve could involve taking tablets for insect and plant identification, Spanish class could be video chatting with students in Peru. Having expert support available to keep learning flowing smoothly is essential.

 

Many schools have some level of IT support, perhaps a support technician or network manager. Some schools and many Trusts share. However, with budgets stretched to the limit across the entire school network, these precious resources don’t necessarily cover all scenarios.

 

As a specialist outsourced IT provider (with a strong background in supporting schools), we understand a lot of the pain points. We’ve written this article not to suggest all school IT support should be outsourced, but to highlight how it can be a complementary service. In-house IT resources play a hugely important part in helping us do our job well. We’re here to work with you, let’s take a look at how outsourcing could benefit your school.

 

School IT Systems

Taking care of the IT in a school means being a bit of a Swiss Army knife – there’s a lot going on. Understandably, a single IT Manager will have greater strengths in some areas, and weaknesses in others.

 

Schools rely not only on tech for teaching (from languages to graphics), but to power everything behind the scenes. The IT systems and solutions used by schools include:

  • Email System
  • Accounting System
  • Cyber Security Solutions
  • Storage Systems and Backup (cloud and/or on-premise)
  • Classroom Management Software
  • Productivity Software (Office 365/Google)
  • Network Management
  • Connectivity Management
  • School Information System
  • Library Software

 

Behind all this software-based IT is all the hardware it runs on, from desktops and laptops to servers, switches and access points.

 

All of the above is essential in keeping your school operational and your students safe and protected at all times.

 

What an outsourced solution can offer you is expertise across the board. With your in-house person focused on the tasks they excel at, they can have a whole Service Desk on hand to support them with the rest.

 

What Can Outsourced Support Offer

When we first speak with a school or Trust we establish what level of support they’re looking for. For example, there could be one on-site IT apprentice who needs a lot of training and guidance, or a school IT Manager with 20 years of experience who is run off his or her feet maintaining two different campuses. Both scenarios require different levels of support from us, as do the many versions in between this.

 

When your technical support provider is commissioned mainly to help with unexpected issues you can expect a systematic process to solve the problem now and for the future. Something along the lines of:

  • Fault diagnosis
  • Identification of the resolution
  • Fixing the issue using existing hardware and software
  • Enlisting additional hardware or software to resolve the issue if required
  • Testing the system to confirm the fault is gone
  • Putting measures in place to ensure issue can’t recur.

 

If your technical support provider is engaged as an extension of your day-to-day activities, they’ll be helping with:

  • Setting up new starter accounts
  • Handling password resets
  • Adding/removing users to your Microsoft 365/Google Workspace
  • Assigning or removing licenses
  • Increasing or decreasing storage limits

 

Types of Outsourced IT Support for Schools

In the course of establishing what kind of support package you need, we also clearly discuss the types of IT support available. Today, the vast majority of issues can be fixed remotely, particularly if the infrastructure has been built in such a way.

 

We provide either:

  • Remote technical support (via phone or email)
  • On-site technical support (either ad hoc or an arranged regular visit)

 

A custom support solution from M-Tech will be built around the type of support you need, ensuring you’re getting the most out of your outsourced service provider.

 

We can also place a full-time technician in your school or Trust, fully employed and managed by M-Tech. If this is what you’re looking for, please discuss this with us.

 

The Good, the Bad and the… Well There Isn’t Any Ugly

In-house IT support and outsourced IT support both have their pros and cons. Let’s take a quick look at each below.

 

In-House IT Support Pros

  • Quick response time, your technician is always dedicated to you and on site/s
  • You can hire in the set skills you need and want for your environment
  • Your team will be (or will become) very well versed in your specific setup: software, hardware, networking, etc

 

In-House IT Support Cons

  • The person employing and managing the team may have limited expertise as to what they should be looking for/no industry expectations
  • An in-house employee or team may not have all the specialist knowledge required for your environment
  • If staff are unwell, on leave, or otherwise engaged, no one is available to attend to pressing issues
  • Maintaining motivated, engaged and well-trained technical staff, as well as up to the minute equipment, can soon add up

 

Outsourced IT Support Pros

  • On-demand access to expert support
  • Affordable support plans, tailored to your needs, without the associated personnel costs
  • A typically large(r) team who bring specialist knowledge across many different areas
  • Up to the minute knowledge of security best practices
  • Access to higher grade technology and lower cost solutions through managed service provider relationships
  • In-house technicians can feel supported and able to provide a better service to pupils and staff alike

 

Outsourced IT Support Cons

  • In-house technicians can see outsourcing as a threat to their livelihood so may move on, leaving a temporary void
  • Finding a provider who can work with you, who you trust, and who understands the education market can be a risk (but it doesn’t have to be with M-Tech! Take a look at our Testimonials and Case Studies and feel free to ask us for a reference sheet to speak with our many satisfied customers before making your decision)

 

How Does Outsourcing School IT Support Save Money?

Every school is different, which is why at M-Tech we offer custom-designed IT support packages. As we’ve touched on already, some schools need someone on-site on a regular basis who can deal with the day to day, others just want an expert on hand they can call to help with serious threats and service outages. Whichever position you’re in, we act as a Service Desk and 3rd Line support for many schools across the UK – by simple economies of scale, our costs are kept low. Instead of looking for a unicorn – one network manager who is an expert in 15 different fields (and charges accordingly) – why not get a whole blessing (yes that really is the term for a group of unicorns), with a whole company of individual experts continually learning and developing from each other.

 

If you only want outsourced support at certain times of the year, we can help with that too. Why hire two members of tech support to cover against eventualities at great expense, when you could have just one and an external cover arrangement when you need it.

 

As well as technical support, you can chat to us about hardware and software purchasing, licensing and renewals. With our considerable years of expertise, we know how to get what you need at the best prices.

 

We also firmly believe in helping you prepare for tomorrow, today. We don’t just fight fires with you, we support you in strategic planning, ensuring your IT is ready for the future and that you’re investing your limited budget in the right solutions. Together, we’ll put your school in good stead for years to come.

 

To Outsource or In-House, What is the Answer?

To us, the answer is both, but in what capacity depends on your exact requirements. Every school, college or Trust deserves to have access to the best IT to support their students’ learning and development to the fullest. How this is achieved comes down to who is currently working in your organisation, how current your infrastructure is and how you’d like to work in partnership with us.

 

With decades of experience in managing schools IT, we’d love to work with you next. Get in touch for a no obligation initial discussion.