Supporting teaching and learning with technology
Coleg Sir Gar provides higher education, further education, vocational learning, and assessment in the workplace to students in South Wales. Along with its sister college, it is responsible for educating between 10,000 and 11,000 students, across seven campus sites.
Due to the college’s size and number of students, it maintains an IT estate comprising 2,100 PCs and 350 Apple Macs. This equipment forms an essential foundation for the wide variety of courses on offer. Therefore, it is vital that all the equipment is up-to-date and in good working order to enhance both the teaching process and learning for all students. Additionally, having state-of-the-art technology serves as an important factor in attracting new students to the college.
One of the challenges for the college’s IT department is the ongoing management and maintenance of this hardware. As a result, Coleg Sir Gar needs a cost-effective way to keep its digital estate current, while minimising the time and effort required in financing and maintaining it. Planning cash flows for these types of projects is a difficult task. Knowing what equipment is needed a few years from now is hard to predict, which means cash flows can be difficult to manage. In addition, the IT team needs to consider end of lifecycle management for each device to ensure that any obsolete product is disposed of in a secure and environmentally friendly manner.
To overcome these challenges, Coleg Sir Gar regularly puts out a formal tender to secure a technology provider to meet its needs. In the most recent tender round, Econocom, a business that combines technological expertise with financing capabilities, won the contract to supply the equipment using a subscription-based approach.
Understanding the education sector and being able to provide a cost-effective and quality service was a deciding factor in Econocom winning the contract. The company’s subscription-based model means that the college has access to the latest technology it needs, without making a large upfront investment. Instead, the college pays for the hardware on a monthly basis, absorbing the cost in its operating budget.
Using this approach, Econocom has supplied a number of PCs and Apple Macs with a five-year warranty to the college. This includes collection, disposal and re-marketing services and a deletion certificate at the end of the product’s life. The subscription service is managed over five years, after which it is refreshed to ensure that the equipment doesn’t become obsolete. This approach ensures that there are no issues with supporting obsolete devices, and any concerns around resources for deployment and disposal are mitigated as Econocom supplies these services as part of the contract.
Ralph Priller, director for financial services for Coleg Sir Gar, said: “Econocom provides us with a consistently high quality of service in the most cost-effective manner possible. They are responsive and provide answers to our queries very quickly. It gives us great peace of mind to know that we have the latest equipment and when it becomes obsolete, it is disposed of securely and then replaced with minimum input from us. It has taken the pressure off the IT department and our cash flow, meaning that we can focus on other areas.”
By working with Econocom, Coleg Sir Gar ensures that its staff and students have access to the most up-to-date digital technology that assists the learning and teaching process. From an IT perspective, the college’s team is able to focus on day-to-day operations as the estate of PCs and Apple devices is taken care of by Econocom. In addition, the entire hardware supply process is more predictable which makes cash flows easier to manage.
Chris Labrey, managing director, UK & Ireland, Econocom, said: “Many educational establishments are now realising the benefits of a subscription-based model for their IT estates as it helps them, both in terms of time and money, to focus on other educational priorities. It is also important for them to know that the students are working with current and supported technology. For Coleg Sir Gar the same is true and we have been working with the team for several years now supporting them as the college has grown and expanded across several more sites.”
Econocom has worked with Coleg Sir Car for the last eleven years. During this time, it has been approved as a key supplier on three occasions. Because of its expertise and value-add to the education sector, Econocom has built additional relationships with three other large Welsh colleges in the area.