pearson-kelly technology blog

How to Get Hardware Updates Approved by Your School Board

The run it 'til it dies model just won't cut it in schools anymore. Find out how to get new hardware updates approved by your school board.

The Benefits of Cycling Your Hardware Purchases

Consistent, yearly hardware updates are one of the easiest ways for IT educational directors to make a big impact on their technical infrastructure without breaking the bank.

Updating end-user machines like laptops and desktops prevents cyber risk and allows you to do more with the little budget you’re allotted. But doing a full-scale refresh every five years isn’t feasible for your budget or team.

Instead, Brock Glidwell, one of Pearson-Kelly’s vCIOs, recommends setting up a recurring refresh model. With this model, you’d update 15-20% of your machines yearly to keep the hardware constantly up-to-date and your budget under control.

Why a Recurring Model Works for Hardware Updates

Hardware refreshes are necessary. Many testing systems for MAP or EOC tests require your schools to have currently supported machines running specific versions of their OS. But buying all new machines just to run testing software can be a hard pill for anyone to swallow.

Switching to a recurring model makes that pill go down just a little bit easier.

Avoid Critical Security Risks

The simple fact is hackers target school systems. You have personally identifiable data for thousands of people and insufficient funding to spend on a sound security solution. The bare minimum you can do is ensure the hardware your students, teachers, and administrators use receives security patches and updates.

Avoid the Budget Busters

The whole goal of a cyclical or recurring approach to hardware refreshes is to spread out the cost of replacing old hardware over the years. Eventually, all the hardware has to be replaced. And they could pay to replace 90 percent of those devices in a single year. But as 2021 has shown us, sometimes it’s hard and costly to purchase a lot of hardware in a single year. Cyclical models let school districts leverage lower costs in some years to avoid spending extreme amounts when there’s a hardware shortage.

Challenges to Hardware Updates

Switching to this kind of recurring model is not without its challenges, though. But nearly every time, it comes down to a lack of communication.

Communicating the Financial Side of Hardware Updates

Your leadership team is looking at shrinking budgets, increasing class sizes, changing technology needs, and other legislative changes that dictate how they manage their schools. They’re trying to ensure they spend their limited funds wisely. And you’re not the only one asking for it.

Arts programs are shutting down. So are trade programs. This team has to make some difficult decisions regarding budget allocations. And it’s your job to communicate the value, necessity, and return on any proposal you bring to them.

You’re looking at hardware refreshes to reinforce your school’s infrastructural integrity and security. But your leadership team sees it as a waste if you don’t pitch it the right way. Instead, they’re asking themselves why they should replace perfectly good machines.

Flip the Script

Explaining the budget ramifications is just one way to get your leadership team on your side. They think you’re spending money just because. But really, you’re taking advantage of ever-changing market conditions by spreading a significant capital expense over five years. This also lets you take advantage of market lows while avoiding outrageous price hikes (hello , hardware shortages).

You’re both concerned about the same things and working towards the same goals. You just have to start speaking the same language.

Explaining the Security Benefits to Hardware Updates

In addition to the budgetary benefits of a recurring refresh model, you can also discuss security benefits. Schools are targeted because they have a lot of personal data that is easily exploited, and their networks are easier to access due to the volume of people connecting to it each day. Hackers also know they don’t have the time, infrastructure or budget to invest in the latest security measures. And their easiest point of entry is out-of-date, unpatched operating systems.

Flip the Script

One of the biggest security struggles Leadership teams often overlook or underestimate is keeping hardware running the latest OS. So, when you talk about hardware refreshes, frame it from a software standpoint when you can. Standardized tests often require the latest OS to run. Use that fact, combined with the security reasons for maintaining updated hardware, to prove the financial necessity of a hardware refresh. If you can convince them they’re getting more bang for their buck because they’re addressing two key concerns with one budget item, you’re more likely to see success.

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