Schools have outsourced nonacademic services like transportation, custodial work, and food service for years.

Technology is showing up on that list more often, and because it touches nearly every operational and academic area, school leaders are understandably cautious about trusting their IT to a third party.

And just like in any industry, there are managed service providers that have cast shadows by overcharging and under-delivering. Most IT outsource providers aren’t like that. Most are exceptional partners. Armed with accurate information about what exceptional service looks like, you can find a partner that’s right for you.

The first step toward transitioning to a managed services model is to assess how your internal team is performing. You are fortunate if your school has a tech staff that meets your needs and exceeds your expectations. If you’re not sure how to evaluate your team, download our self-evaluation here.

Related: Finding the Right IT Strategic Partner

If you decide to start looking for a managed service provider, look for partners that

  • have deep experience in school systems and understand how to help educators budget for, plan, and manage large- and small-scale technology implementations and ongoing upgrades;
  • are willing to consider hiring qualified members from your team;
  • want to be part of your strategic IT planning to help you achieve your academic vision;
  • offer a fixed-price contract that locks in your annual investment before you sign the deal
  • provide guaranteed service levels and have contracts with penalties for the provider if it falls below those levels;
  • provide regular  reports on their performance;
  • understand technology integration and how to support teachers as they learn and adopt new technologies; and
  • have a rigorous hiring process that builds teams with certified technicians, engineers, project and operations managers, experienced educators, and customer service professionals.

Working with a managed service provider is not about giving up control of your school’s IT. It’s about partnering with professionals who help you have greater control over how technology drives student and teacher success.