Craven College Invests £1.5 Million in Apogee's Managed IT Services for the Education Sector
Craven College Invests £1.5 Million in Apogee's Managed IT Services for the Education Sector to supply over 900 new devices to students and staff for a complete end-to-end Managed IT Solution. Alongside a complete Managed Print Service (MPS) to fulfil their campus's needs.
Craven College has seen a dramatic increase in student numbers over recent years, with old IT and AV equipment in its teaching rooms, it needed a major overhaul across its estate to improve the experience for both students and staff. As part of this development, it needed a trusted advisor to recommend, supply and deploy the new technology.
Gareth Dixon, Vice Principal of Finance and Resources at Craven College described the challenges faced: “The equipment we had was on average seven years old, consequently we were suffering from poor performance and low satisfaction rates from our students. Adrian Lawson, Head of Information Technology at the college had long identified that inefficiencies with the technology was a challenge the college needed to face.” Adrian remarked, “When I arrived at Craven College there was no refresh cycle, so a lot of the machines were really struggling on a day-to-day basis and even more so with the move to remote teaching - video calling on Microsoft Teams was near enough impossible”.
Gareth added: “I must say, it wasn’t achieved solely by us. We saw a growth in student numbers which then provided us with the additional funding that allowed us to make this investment and provide a better service to our students”
Adrian explained: “Craven College was a client of Apogee for 18 months prior to the IT refresh. They were tasked with the installation and management of our print devices.
“As the roll out of the printers was occurring, I was speaking with Tom Proudfoot, Apogee’s Deployment Services Manager, when it came to light that the managed services provider’s expertise included Managed IT Services (MITS), as well as Managed Print Services (MPS) and that the same level of service is offered on these devices.
“I explained to Tom that I was looking for the ‘best of breed’. The IT needs to be reliable, secure, and the service agreement must guarantee the performance over the duration of the contract.”
Tom Proudfoot commented: “One of the main paint points that the college has is in terms of supporting such roll outs - a small IT department to deploy circa 900 PCs or laptops would be very time and resource consuming”.
Once the senior management team gave their full support, the college was able to devise what an affordable solution would be. According to Gareth, “The need for technology is an area that’s developed so quickly that if colleges were to go out and buy this equipment themselves, in three, four, maybe five years at best, they’ll be facing obsolescence and that’s a significant bill on colleges.
“In my opinion, we don’t get paid as much as we should do from central government, and that makes a large capital investment unaffordable. Technology can also cost money when you’re least expecting it. With Apogee, we know exactly how much we’ll be paying for the next four years.”
The College’s route to market also had to be through a compliant purchasing framework, a key tenet for any education sector organisation, college, or university. With their 18 months of experience dealing with Apogee, Craven College found that not only was their current supplier a proven route to market, but it instilled confidence in their investment in an IT infrastructure overhaul with the backing of framework quantified supplier. By going through the education framework, Craven College could establish through the tender process the very best of what Apogee’s Managed IT Services (MITS) could offer the education sector, and therefore what they in turn could expect to receive.
Craven College opted to go through the Crescent Purchasing Consortium (CPC) Framework. Frameworks offer the college the peace of mind that the goods and services they procure will be fit for purpose, the suppliers and contractors deliver on time and within budget, and legal and financial obligations are complied with.
Paul Rylands, Head of Public Sector at Apogee Corporation, filled us in on how this process works and what it means for the college: “The Framework we used for Craven College is the CPC Framework – in particular, we used ‘Lot 2 – Digital Transformation’.
“CPC was used this time because of its specific nature to bring technology forward, to allow the college to go for a technology transformation. It enables the college to start in one particular area and move forward, but not take everything on day one. This is a transition for them, so the CPC’s Lot 2 was perfect for them, and it will follow them on this journey because they’re still at the start. As they continue to invest in technology, Lot 2 will provide them a compliant way to ensure they fulfil what they need.”
After a rigorous application process, Apogee won the tender bid with a 96.9% score and was now able to supply and deliver a whole host of technology upgrades to both teachers, students, and administrative staff.
Initially Apogee installed a number of HP printers including:
- Multifunction Colour Printers with monthly page volumes and fewer interventions, to help reduce printing and copying costs
- Colour Laserjet Printers with booklet finishers
- A Wide Format Device including CAD software and a 44-inch plotter
For 29 devices out of 31, PaperCut, a print management software was provided. PaperCut gives the college control over their print environment. It allows ‘tap and release’ printing so that users need the correct identity cards to release print jobs.
Whilst the print solutions were being put in situ, behind the scenes, Apogee deployed their MITS (Managed IT Services) Imaging Services (loading a system installation complete with software) alongside asset tagging (affixing an identification number to the equipment as part of the College’s asset database) the new IT equipment ready for deployment.
The Managed IT Services (MITS) solution included HP desktops, laptops, and peripherals, including:
- Student Desktop PCs and Height Adjustable Monitors
- High End Desktop PCs with NVIDIA Graphics Cards
- Staff Laptops
- Keyboards, Mice, Laptop Bags, and Mounting Brackets
In addition, 50x ScreenBeam casting devices were deployed and setup by Apogee’s Deployment Service Team. ScreenBeam allows presenters to connect effortlessly and wirelessly to displays with a touch of a button.
The college also has a Mac Suite, which Apogee refreshed with Apple iMacs with Retina 4.5k displays. This deployment of a Mac Suite was an essential aspect of the contract in order to bring their wide ranging Art and Design course offerings up to not just an expected standard but one which exceeded expectations. Through Apogee, and it’s unique position as Europe’s largest multi-brand supplier of Managed Workplace Services, this aspect was fulfilled, where another provider may have failed being locked into a single branded solution, Apogee are not.
All print and HP devices are covered by Apogee’s Care Pack, an indispensable aspect of Apogee’s Managed IT Service (MITS) offering. This includes a next day call out if any issues arise. Tom explained: “The benefit of an Apogee Care Pack for Craven College is it removes the ticketing system for their IT team. IT queries are now managed through Apogee’s helpdesk and tickets are easily raised via our Client Portal on the Apogee website.”
Given where the college was technically, everything was an improvement. The college had looked at HP laptops before, but Apogee integrated this as part of the complete package – enabling staff to teach remotely when needed.
Gareth reported: “Staff have been overwhelmed with the quality of the product. Consequently, we have seen an 85% reduction in the number of queries, or tickets – as we call them – coming through to our IT Helpdesk.
“Most importantly, we saw a 15% increase in student satisfaction with the equipment whilst the rollout was happening. It’s now at a 91% satisfaction rate with the new technology.”
Apogee continues to work closely with the college and there are now plans for an ‘Automated Laptop Locker’. The locker will allow staff and students to access a laptop within the college’s reception area for use on-site. It will provide a tracked system to log the laptop in and out, ultimately reducing the reliance on staff being present to issue those laptops. This epitomises the implementation of a Managed IT Service (MITS) roll-out in the Education Sector, removing time consuming and burdensome tasks for the faculty while improving a student’s ability to sustain an environment conducive to learning, without the fear of technology holding them back.
A major factor for engaging a Managed IT Services (MITS) solution in education is to facilitate the IT department’s work and to make it easier, Adrian said, “We literally couldn’t have done the project without Apogee. From the beginning, the Apogee tender was far superior to all the others we received. This was later matched by the team’s willingness to go the extra mile.”
He added: “I would absolutely recommend Apogee for other education providers.”
Gareth concluded: “The education sector is continuously using technology more so in recent years, particularly with COVID. The amount of remote learning that now happens has increased. So having a reliable technology base on which to operate from has proven essential and we're finding every curriculum area that we work in has got an increase in dependency upon technology.
“This investment is key to our success going forward. Every course will be touched in some shape or form, whether that be through the classroom that we've deployed the equipment in, whether it be in the Learning Resource Centre where we carry out our directed study sessions and through the staff that are teaching those students with the technology that we've now given.”
He noted: “The quality of the equipment we have received is absolutely fantastic and the service that we’ve received from Apogee’s deployment team has been excellent – very flexible and very approachable.”
Won tender through CPC Lot 2 Digital Transformation Framework
Implementation of over 800 student and staff laptops, plus device accessories
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