Over the years, I’ve seen many education customers come to us with a similar combination of problems when it comes to managing computers across campus. What it boils down to is the IT team is too small and the department is working on too tight of a budget. In order to save money, the department works with solutions that are free or discounted for the education industry. For example, many IT departments turn to SCCM (also known as ConfigMgr or Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager) because it is included in their Microsoft School Agreement (or Microsoft Campus Agreement for universities) at a significant discount. However, many IT teams are lean and are required to wear many hats. This leaves them little time to manage tech environments, work on other IT tasks, and manage SCCM’s extensive and complicated suite.
SCCM’s cost was outweighed by lack of IT productivity
When I spoke with Paul Reed from the Menasha Joint School District, he struggled with the same pain points I’ve heard time and time again regarding SCCM. Paul is a systems engineer and manages the entire district’s networking, PCs, copiers, and security cameras. Paul’s team is comprised of four techs who are all spread thin covering the district’s needs. The team was using SCCM in order to cut costs. From Paul’s perspective, when SCCM worked, it worked well; and when it didn’t, it was a disaster. When SCCM didn’t work, the team was suddenly consumed with troubleshooting the broken solution instead of working on other district tasks. Even though SCCM’s cost was low, the IT resources required, unpredictability, and productivity impact for students, teachers, and staff outweighed its low price.
Big project, tight timeline
Computer management solution success is even more important for education IT departments because computer refresh projects are conducted during a tight three-month period over summer break. The students and staff are counting on their machines to be ready on the first day of school and if they aren’t, IT spends the first few weeks of the school year scrambling. This puts teachers behind on their curriculum and prevents students from being able to work. After months of struggling to fix their process, Paul began to look for an SCCM alternative. Paul assessed the teams needs and concluded they needed a simpler and more reliable imaging solution, even if it was going to come with a license cost. That’s when he found SmartDeploy.
An inefficient tool can increase cost in less tangible areas
Despite SmartDeploy’s yearly cost, compared to SCCM, the amount of time Paul’s team would be saving outweighed the price. For Paul, the decision came down to evaluating how much his time was worth
and he realized SCCM’s cost was made up in the amount of time spent troubleshooting. In most cases, when looking at software purchases, organizations look at an upfront price and base their decision on the number. However, time is money, and using an inefficient tool can increase costs in less tangible areas. Taking a step back and evaluating the break-even point between time and money can lead businesses to make a more calculated decision by placing more consideration on IT productivity. With SmartDeploy, the Menasha Joint School District has regained IT department efficiency and improved productivity for end users district-wide.
Read Paul Reed’s and the Menasha Joint School District’s full story here.