Back to School or Not? Options Abound

By Charles Castelly, SLED Analyst

With the expected return of students back to school in the fall, most counties are trying to figure out the best way to facilitate a safe and orderly process.

School systems are facing many challenges right now — the first being how to keep social distancing. Secondly, they will need to manage remote learning environments — and find a way to pay for new technologies that are required to support them.

Lots of decisions still need to be made and school systems are using all available resources to resolve outstanding issues — and they are reaching out to parents for their input.

For example, Fairfax County, Virginia has given parents two options. A virtual learning option would involve students logging into a virtual classroom for interactive instruction four days a week. The second option would require students returning to school three days a week and spending two days a week at home learning virtually.

Whatever the decision, virtual or hybrid classroom, there will need to be technology enhancements to successfully adapt to the new reality. Other school systems will likely face similar challenges.

Cybersecurity will be a crucial piece. With students and teachers accessing information from multiple devices, endpoint protection is vital. Students will need to be able to access the school’s network virtually or in the classroom without putting their data at risk.

Cloud applications are another crucial piece of the puzzle. With many school systems transitioning to the cloud over the past couple of years, classroom management and learning applications have become great tools for students and teachers alike. With the potential of a fully virtual or a hybrid experience, being able to access resources from wherever students are located will be vital to success.

As school systems work through what the best course of action will be for the fall, the safety of students and teachers will continue to be the top priority. Vendors will need to partner with school systems to understand their specific needs to find best the solutions for them. There will need to be a true collaborative effort between all parties to make the remote learning experience successful.

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If you want to expand your presence in the SLED marketplace, reach out to immixGroup’s Market Intelligence team today!

State Budget Documents: Treasure Troves of Information for IT Vendors

By Rachel Eckert, SLED Manager

State budgets are certainly not the most exciting topics in the world, but they offer many clues into key areas where you can target your sales campaigns. Budget documents provide insight into the areas state and local governments plan to invest funds, identify areas of concern and often outline key priorities for the upcoming year or two.

Most state governments operate on a July 1 through June 30 fiscal year. The process starts with agencies receiving guidelines from the governor on priorities and mandates for the upcoming year. This typically occurs during the fall and is the best time to work with agencies as they scope out their business cases for inclusion in next year’s budget.

Agencies work with their budget office to finalize budgets before submitting final documents to the governor. With the governor’s approval, final budgets are submitted to the legislature, typically in the winter. The legislature is then tasked with reviewing, reconciling and approving before the start of the next fiscal year.

By the end of January, most states have submitted their budgets to the legislature and governors are beginning to make their “State-of-the-State” speeches which outline their budget priorities. While you can find the text and video recordings for each of these speeches online, here are some of the key themes you’ll see in many FY2021 budgets and what they might mean for you:   Read more of this post

Here’s when you should be talking to your SLED customers

Rachel EckertSLED, procurement, sales, public sectorBy Rachel Eckert, consultant

The new state, local, and education (SLED) fiscal year kicked off July 1 for most of the market, and with that governments began a new budget (assuming of course that the legislature passed it). A new budget means fresh money and hope for many in the IT industry about new opportunities.

If you’ve worked in the public sector, be that federal or SLED, you know that nothing in government is immediate. Turning opportunities into deals takes time and careful planning. Also, having an understanding of the government’s planning cycle can help ensure that you’re approaching decision makers with proposals at the right time.

Here is a rundown of their planning cycle and what your actions should be during each quarter:

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Start Sharpening Your IT Pitches for the Next School Year

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Start Sharpening Your IT Pitches for the Next School Year

Rachel EckertBy Rachel Eckert, Consultant

The school year may be wrapping up, but the work is far from over for many school districts across the nation.

The efforts to secure adequate funding for the next year is a constant struggle for nearly all school districts and this year is no exception. What’s new this year is the battle being waged in many states–battles that could have lasting effects on the structures of many states’ school districts and ultimately have an impact on the IT industry.

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The End of No Child Left Behind Brings Technology Back to the Classroom

EduImg_100x100Rachel Eckertby Rachel Eckert, Consultant – SLED

As the No Child Left Behind Act draws to a close, the education market is seeing a shift in focus that will bring about much-needed change in school curriculum and learning approaches — all with an eye towards technology integration.

The No Child Left Behind Act, signed into law in 2002, provided an avenue for teachers to identify where students were progressing and where they might be falling behind. Gradually, its requirements became too limiting for teachers and ultimately ineffective. In its place is the Every Student Succeeds Act, signed into law December 10, 2015. This relatively new act fundamentally changes how content and curriculum are developed for schools. Rather than mandates and broad-brush minimums required by the federal government, the new Every Student Succeeds Act puts the states and then each school locality system in control of the decisions and benchmarks that make sense for them. Read more of this post

3 Must-knows on Selling IT to the Higher Education Market

Higher Ed SpendingMark Wisinger by Mark Wisinger, Analyst

Educational institutions present a major market for facilities management software providers. Universities and colleges are tasked with maintaining campuses that require seamless facility management 24/7. This presents opportunities for COTs vendors that sell facilities management tools, but in order to tap into these opportunities, you have to understand the key considerations higher-education institutions are taking into account when investing in a software solution:

  1. Familiarity & Relationship Building is Key

Universities prefer to operate with products that are familiar to them. It is common to see an initial deployment of software within one department expand university-wide. This general trend of proof-of-concept small initial deployments is just as prevalent for facilities management software. University of Michigan’s initial expansion of software from its core biomedical facilities to all of its biomedical facilities is a perfect example of the success of scaled deployments. Deploying into a smaller department or office can provide a powerful use-case for the university as a whole. Focus on establishing relationships with a particular department in order to achieve buy-in and a demonstration of capability before pressing for university-wide deployments.
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