Implementing Managed IT Services within the Education Sector

An Interview with Gareth Dixon, VP of Finance and Resource at Craven College on the implementation of a Managed IT Service in the Education Sector


As part of our ongoing Case Study series with Craven College on their implementation of Managed Print and Managed IT Services within the Education Sector, we had the chance to sit down with Gareth Dixon, VP of Finance and Resource at Craven College. Gareth has been an integral part of the technology refresh at the College, evolving the relationship with Apogee from a Managed Print Service (MPS) to the expansion into Managed IT Services (MITS)

   At Apogee, we pride ourselves on our industry-leading "Service Excellence" but also on being a company you can trust. As part of our ongoing commitment to providing genuine insight into our Managed Workplace Services (MPS), you can read from Gareth in his own words below or watch his interview here. This interview covers several aspects, but most importantly, it gives true perspicuity on the importance of having a trusted Managed Service Provider (MSP) as a partner while implementing Managed IT Services (MITS) in the Education Sector.

We're finding that every curriculum area that we work in has got an increase in dependency upon technology. So having a reliable technology base on which to operate from has proven essential.
– Gareth Dixon, Craven College

Q. Gareth, can you tell us a bit about Craven College and a brief overview of the Managed Print and Managed IT Services undertaken by the College working with Apogee?

A. "We offer a range of vocational qualifications across the Craven area, as well as on our site at Leeds Bradford Airport and our specialist higher education centre in Ripon, known as Ripon Evolve.

We've invested in a complete desktop refresh for all of our student devices with Apogee. Which resulted in over 400 desktop positions being changed, as well as issuing laptops to all our staff."

Q. What necessitated the change from your previous IT structure and device fleet towards Managed Services for the Education Sector?

A. "The equipment we had was, on average, seven years old. Consequently, we suffered from poor performance and low satisfaction rates from our students. Inefficiencies with some machines meant they took up to 15-20 minutes to load up each day. Ultimately, we had an ageing IT estate that heavily needed investment."

Q. Gareth, can you tell us why the College engaged with a Managed Service Provider (MSP) in order to implement your IT overhaul?

A. "The education sector has continuously used technology more recently, particularly with COVID. The amount of remote learning that now happens has increased.

Previously the staff only had fixed desk positions and had to share machines. Now every member of staff who needs one has their own laptop or mobile device.

We're finding that every curriculum area that we work in has got an increase in dependency upon technology. So having a reliable technology base on which to operate from has proven essential."

Q. What made Apogee stand out over other Managed Service Providers (MSP) in the Education Sector when choosing a company to provide Craven College with Managed IT Services (MITS)?

A. "We'd worked with Apogee previously for our print contract, but we went out to tender through the CPC framework, which we then discovered Apogee was on the framework of which we were looking to put the tender out through.

It allowed us a proven route to market for us to access what we've now got across the College, and it was something that we knew we could rely on. We benefited from our previous working relationship with Apogee on the print side. Still, through the tender process, we discovered Apogee could offer the same level of service on our devices as well, which is helping us–as well–that we can link our print and our devices as one through one relationship."

Q. How has the investment with Apogee for your Managed Print and Managed IT solution helped Craven College since implementation?

A. "This investment is key to our success as we advance. 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 also through the staff that are teaching those students with the technology that we've now given."

Q. Can you share with us any metrics or KPIs that show the success you have enjoyed with Apogee's Managed IT Services (MITS)?

A. "We've seen a significant reduction in the number of queries, or tickets as we call them, coming through our IT Help Desk. We have had in the region of an 85% reduction off the back of that. Most importantly, we saw a 15% increase in student satisfaction with the equipment - this was whilst the rollout was happening - it's now at 91% satisfaction with the new IT devices."

Q. Gareth, can you tell us what your experience has been like working with Apogee as your Managed Services Provider (MSP)?

A. "Apogee was brilliant, incredibly flexible, very accommodating, and understood our restrictions around timetabling. We're fairly busy during the college day, so Apogee was willing to work around that day, going into rooms when they were empty and working through our holiday period, which often coincides with when a lot of people want to take a holiday with their families.

I can feel like I can pick up the phone with our contract director at any point, speak to them about any problems we've got, and resolve them quickly. Overall, Apogee has a very flexible approach and a positive can-do attitude."

Q. What have you been most impressed with regarding the provision of our Managed IT Services (MITS) for Craven College?

A. "One is the quality of the equipment we've received. Absolutely fantastic quality from the HP laptops and on all of the equipment we've been provided as part of the contract. The other thing I'd say is the service that we've received from Apogee; the whole deployment team was absolutely fantastic, very flexible, and very approachable.

Staff have been overwhelmed with the quality of the product, particularly after the underinvestment we've experienced for many years."

Q. Does Craven College have any plans to develop their Managed IT Service with Apogee in the future?

A. "We are now expecting more quality laptops to supplement the desktop positions that we've had. In addition to looking at laptop purchasing solutions for our students so that if a student chooses to buy a laptop on their own, we can look to offer them a device in partnership with Apogee.

To reduce the reliance on staff having to be present to issue laptops to staff and students, we will be putting a laptop safe/locker in place. It works on the same concept as Amazon Lockers. The locker provides a tracking system when staff and students log the laptop in and out and will allow staff and students to access a laptop within the college reception area for on-site use."

Apogee was brilliant, incredibly flexible, very accommodating, and understood our restrictions around timetabling.
– Gareth Dixon, Craven College

We thank Gareth Dixon from Craven College for giving us his unique view on Managed Services in the Education Sector. You can read their case study here if you would like to know more about how Craven College implemented Apogee's Managed IT Services (MITS) into their organisation. Apogee provides Managed Workplace Services (MWS) across the entire Public Sector, from Education to the NHS. You can read our interview with Apogee's Director of Public Sector, Paul Rylands, or watch our series with Craven College on YouTube to learn more.

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Craven College: Managed IT Services in the Education Sector

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