The price of Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) is often deeply discounted in the education industry. When the cost of SCCM is included “free” in their Microsoft education licensing agreement, schools are inclined to try to use that tool to manage computers across campus. Sometimes, though, the cost of resources to learn, configure, and manage SCCM proves much higher in the long run than a paid product that is faster, easier, and better suited to the needs of the organization. This was the case for the Menasha Joint School District, whose situation was similar to many education customers who have come to us.
7 schools, 600 staff, and 4 techs
When I spoke with Paul Reed from the Menasha Joint School District, he struggled with the same pain points we’ve heard time and 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 the cost of SCCM was low, the IT resources required, the unpredictability, and the productivity impact for students, teachers, and staff outweighed its low price.
The true cost of SCCM: Productivity
Paul’s team typically does 80 percent of the annual computer imaging in the three months of summer, before the 3,500 students and 600 staff return to campus. “If we’re not ready when they come back, it becomes a nightmare,” Paul explained to me when we spoke. 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. Failure 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 team’s needs and concluded they needed a simpler and more reliable imaging solution, even if it was going to come with a license cost. Getting technical support on SCCM was both challenging and quite expensive. Paul needed something simple and reliable. And if he had an issue, he needed someone there to help him. That’s when he found SmartDeploy.
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.
Looking beyond upfront price
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 the long run. 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 about one university’s search for the best SCCM alternative
Compare SmartDeploy with other SCCM imaging alternatives.