Supporting the technology needs of over 850 students and their teachers can be a challenge. Nobody knows this better than Eric Nelson of the Mishicot School District (www.mishicot.k12.wi.us). Eric functions as both the elementary principal and the technology coordinator for the rural school district. Technology support issues began to consume more of his time, taking the focus away from developing a technology strategy for the district.
I.T. Staff Continuity
Each year the school would hire a technology intern to manage the daily technology support in the district. When higher-level I.T. experience was needed, the school had a partnership with a large, national technology support company. Most of these interns would get full positions outside the school district. Sometimes the intern arrangement would work out well. Other times the intern was not able to stay on top of the support demands. Year after year Nelson faced the challenge of introducing a new I.T. intern into the school district. At the same time, the IT company’s service levels were slipping. “The company got too corporate for us,” recalls Nelson. “We wanted someone smaller and more locally focused.”
Managing Technology Infrastructure
Increased use of the Internet inside the education process also began presenting challenges for Nelson. “I had a solid understanding of computer hardware, but when it came to network infrastructure, I had no experience.” As the school district needed to upgrade its wireless capacity and phone system, Nelson knew that he needed a partner that could support him.
No Technology Strategy
In the middle of the continuity and technology challenges Nelson realized that the school needed a technology strategy. The school’s technology was quickly becoming obsolete. “The vision is so critical,” said Nelson. “You have to have a plan in place since budgets are so limited.”
End User Frustration
By the end of the 2013 school year, Nelson faced growing discontent from the teachers. 250 unresolved support tickets were the tangible evidence that something needed to be done to improve end user support.
Faced with these growing challenges Nelson engaged The Office Technology Group. “We threw out a life raft to The OTG to ask if they could help.”
The engagement began with updating technology. “We needed to upgrade wireless capacity with more access points and more bandwidth,” said Nelson. “The OTG got right on it.” The school was in desperate need of a phone system upgrade which was completed quickly. In the process the school also updated their printing capabilities with 4 Sharp multifunction systems.
Comprehensive Support Plan
With the updated technology in place, Nelson’s trust in The OTG continued to grow. He decided to implement a Managed Network Services program that combined proactive monitoring with on-site support, removing the need for the intern. “After the work they did on the technology upgrade we felt strongly enough to ask them to support our network.”
Today the school district’s servers and key desktops are monitored 24 hours a day in The OTG’s Network Support Center. This allows issues to be resolved before they become big problems. Software patches and anti-virus updates are installed remotely. On-site support issues are handled by a technician that works on site 3 days a week.
Going forward, the school district is working with The OTG to develop a technology strategy. “The guys at The OTG are very candid, upfront and honest,” remarked Nelson. “If they know a way we could be more efficient, they bring it to our attention.” This collaborative relationship is helping the school develop a path to implement cloud services and offsite backups.
Restored Trust with End Users
Support issues are now resolved quickly. Proactive monitoring and updates are reducing support issues. On-site support from an experienced network support professional makes sure issues are taken care of correctly. This is restoring trust with the teachers. “When end users see results they are happy,” said Nelson. “The OTG follows through so I don’t need to be as involved.”
Instead of bringing on a new intern each year, the school district now has a technology support plan that is consistent year-to-year. Nelson no longer has to worry about getting the right intern. “If we had an intern that was a bad fit, the entire year was a challenge,” remembers Nelson. Now the school district has a long-term support strategy.
A Shared Vision
The school now has a partner that is developing a shared vision for the future. Nelson appreciates the way The OTG understands the school district’s budget limitations. “They are able to find cost effective solutions that fit our needs.” This partnership allows the school to be confident that they will be able to keep up with the growing technology needs of today’s educational processes.
“I highly recommend The Office Technology Group,” smiles Nelson. “They are down to earth, dependable and they get the job done.”