For school districts, increasing costs are stretching budgets significantly. And while federal funding has been helpful as we emerge from the pandemic, those special funds might not be eligible to pay for day-to-day operating costs such as telecom—which is more important, and more complex, than ever.
Rapidly improving technology for telecom (phones, videoconferencing, internet connectivity, and related services) is allowing school districts to streamline systems and potentially realize cost efficiencies. But effective management requires monitoring numerous phone lines and devices, various rate plans which are often changing, and a host of other variables.
Many school districts don’t have the time or the tools necessary to keep track of those variables especially on a line-by-line and a device-by-device basis. So, they end up overpaying for telecom—sometimes by 40% or more—without even realizing it.
How can you make sure your school district isn’t one of them?
Understanding where you are now
Getting a handle on your telecom environment can be eye-opening. At a minimum, here are the things you need to know to determine whether your district is paying too much:
- All current systems and vendors (regular phones, cell phones, videoconferencing, internet services, etc.)
- Rate plans for those systems
- All lines being used and for what purpose (regular phones, fax lines, elevator lines, alarms, fire, etc.)
- Differing needs by school, if any
- External support costs
- Any available special rate programs
- Your vendor’s customer service performance
- The time your staff spends on managing telecom, including reviewing invoices
Answering the key questions
Ultimately, that information will allow you to answer three vital questions:
- Are our existing telecom services delivering what our schools and students need?
- Are we paying only for the services we need and use?
- Are we paying the right amount for those services?
Getting on the right path
This isn’t a one-time task: Even if you’re paying the right amount today, that’s no guarantee you will be tomorrow. Your district must go through this process regularly, because technology, pricing, and your needs all change. The upside, though, is immense—the more your district saves, the more it has to put toward other expenses or enhancements for students.
And the good news is you don’t have to do it alone.
Michael Salazar is a Strategic Partner at Schooley Mitchell, which has been helping school districts and other organizations reduce costs for more than 20 years. Most clients don’t need to change vendors, and only pay fees if savings are found. To learn more about Michael and Schooley Mitchell, please visit his website.