This page provides an overview of the options available for New Zealand schools as they procure digital technologies, and is intended for use by technology decision-makers in schools.
Digital technologies are a significant part of the overall spending by schools, or, in the case of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), parents and caregivers. It is therefore important to ensure that purchases clearly support the intended learning vision and approaches and have been well researched.
You need to be able to answer two key questions before procuring digital technologies:
Planning ahead is a critical part of the procurement process. Procurement should be thought of as an on-going, long-term process, rather than a series of one-off events. To ensure sustainability of your technology procurements:
Create and maintain an asset register so you know exactly what you have:
Have a five year plan that is reviewed annually and includes:
The Ministry’s guidance for Maintaining your upgraded network should be followed to ensure you keep your ICT network maintained to the current Ministry standard.
Be clear about the intended vision and desired approaches to learning. Ensure you are able to justify your procurement in terms of how it will support and improve learning for your students. Useful resources for you to use in your planning and learning include:
Take a team approach to procurement. The risks and complexities are too great for one person to be able to determine and manage effectively. Consult with staff and students about what they think their needs and preferences are. Make sure you include your community so they understand the planning that has lead to the school’s decision.
Look for examples, experiences, reviews, and recommendation from a variety of sources such as a range of commercial suppliers, other schools, and online communities. To do this you could:
The purchase cost of digital technologies are just part of the overall cost. Integrating digital technologies takes a lot of time. The time costs include:
The various costs in people’s time are usually greater than the initial purchase cost.
With technology decisions, you are often weighing up the ratio of price to performance. Knowing the level of performance, or quality, that you require is therefore important.
Budget constraints are a fact of life for schools but decisions that are made due to a low price will commonly be at the cost of poorer performance. To ensure your procurement is at the correct price:performance ratio for you:
The overall costs during the lifetime of the technology need to be determined. Technology that costs more up-front but lasts longer may give better value than something that has a lower initial cost but has a shorter lifetime. Similarly, something may cost more up-front but will have lower running costs.
The cost of not having the technology available, such as network or device downtime due to hardware failures, should be considered. You should:
Your school's relationship with a service provider and their ability to respond to technical issues is critical to support the use of technology in teaching and learning. Ensure that your service provider can support the technologies you are procuring. Any good service provider should be able to support a range of digital technologies but don’t assume that a particular provider will be able to offer the support you need; it is always best to check.
Digital technologies can be complex systems of interrelated things. For example, if you are going to add some file storage then you need to consider how you will back it up. Or, if you are going to add some mobile devices, then you need to consider how well the wireless infrastructure will cope. Often the consequences of procuring one particular technology are difficult to predict, so ensure you are consulting with others to understand what the knock-on effects of your particular procurement might be.
Technology changes rapidly and innovations are difficult to predict.
Hardware and software costs:
Get at least three quotes when procuring digital technologies. Your Board of Trustees may insist on this. This will ensure you pay a fair price as well as surfacing alternative solutions. When getting the quotes:
Suppliers will commonly approach schools with recommendations for new purchases. To help you understand their recommendations, the service providers should be able to explain in simple terms:
The itemised breakdown should include:
While budgeting in a contingency fund may seem sensible, this should not be necessary if thorough, prior research has been completed.
Effective strategic planning should prevent last-minute procurement suggestions from your ICT support providers.
For more complex or costly requirements you could put out a Request for Proposals (RFP). Procurements over $100,000 should go through an RFP process and be advertised on the Government’s open-tender website, GETS. More information about this is available from this Ministry guideline .
If you are upgrading an existing system seek independent advice and competitive quotes.
For example, if you are advised that that you need a new server, then the following strategy will ensure you get the best outcome:
Many schools, in particular lower decile, are providing a number of digital devices at school for students to use for the day or are setting up a "lease to own" arrangement for students. For example the Manaiakalani Cluster is a community of collaborating schools. Most families within the Manaiakalani Cluster do not have the resources to provide devices for their children. Currently families are all paying approximately $3.70 per week over three years to own their child’s device.
If you are planning any model where parents are expected to fund devices, you will need to consider the approach you will take for those that cannot afford to purchase devices. Many schools have long term payment schemes and hardship funding.
A school cannot make it compulsory for students to fund and bring devices; the Ministry advises, “It is not appropriate to require students to purchase items such as tablet or netbook computers or smartphones. Students should not be excluded from participating in courses if they are unable to provide their own items such as a tablet or netbook computer”.
New Zealand Schools are eligible to join the All of Government (AoG) purchasing scheme. Schools are encouraged to consider the All of Government scheme because suppliers to AoG are contractually obliged to ensure that their products are not available at a cheaper price through any other channel.
A technology vendor (manufacturer) may be able to sell directly to the school, often via an online store, at a reduced price for the school. Typically, though, the vendor prefers to channel things via a network of resellers who will usually have received product training or have particular partnership qualifications to be able to resell the vendor’s product.
A good reseller should be able to listen to you about your situation and needs and then provide useful advice and guidance about your procurement options. This will help ensure you are purchasing the technology that best meets your requirements. The reseller may also provide the services that are needed to get the technology properly set up and used.
There is an attractive up-front cost-saving to purchasing second hand. But, you may need to:
Accepting donated equipment is tempting – it’s free! Or, is it? In particular with donations you should consider:
Leveraging the purchasing-power across a number of schools may enable you to negotiate a lower price.
The Department of Internal Affairs keeps an index of Societies that Make Grants .
We now have easy access to overseas online marketplaces. These sites can provide cheaper alternatives to procuring from a local reseller. The Commerce Commission offers the following quick tips for buying online:
Be savvy: if you have any doubts or the offer seems too good to be true, don’t proceed.
Know who you’re dealing with: search the seller online, look at their online auction feedback, check review sites, social media, Scamwatch, and similar to see what other customers have experienced. Check where the business is based and that it provides its name, street address, phone, and email details.
Know what you’re buying: read the description of the goods or services closely, especially any fine print. Read the terms and conditions, including what happens if there’s a problem.
Work out what it will cost: factor in shipping, exchange rates, insurance, or any applicable extra charges, such as customs duty.
Shop around: search online and compare prices, terms, and conditions.
Protect yourself: only buy if you are comfortable with the payment method and keep a record of the transaction details. Purchasing by credit card or a secure payment system like PayPal should give you more protection than a cash transfer.
Before purchasing from an international supplier, consider:
The two big advantages of leasing are that:
The total cost of leasing is typically higher than purchasing outright. At the end of the lease period you either keep the goods, send the goods back, or pay extra money to keep them, depending on the type of lease that has been arranged. Leasing IT hardware does not typically provide any protection against theft, malfunction, damage,and so on – you will still need to consider insurance and warranties.
Buying goods outright will usually be cheaper than leasing as you are only paying for the items themselves and not the finance or administrative costs of the finance company.
Some items have life cycles that are not well suited to the three years often associated to leasing. For instance data projectors, screens, wireless access points are all items that you might enjoy five or more years of use out of if you own them outright or were able to arrange a five year lease period.
The table below summarises the advantages and disadvantages of buying and leasing:
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