According to the most recent data from the US Department of Education, nearly 90% of combined students in primary, middle and high school use security technology available at their school. Public safety security solutions are becoming increasingly ubiquitous in state and local education facilities. That’s encouraging—it means that educational leadership understands the importance of leveraging technology to contribute to the goal of student safety.
The downside is that having the technology itself does not automatically equal a safe environment. This distinction is often achieved by having an experienced partner dedicated to delivering measurable business outcomes for the field of State, Local and Education (SLED).
THE DEFINITION OF AN EXPERIENCED PARTNER MIGHT SURPRISE YOU.
For example, “experienced partner” actually includes two separate (but important) parts. Let’s take a quick second to touch base on some of the most important aspects of each part of the definition.
It is all well and good that a technology company has experience in selling and installing widgets. The question is about how much experience they have with government agencies in general, and schools specifically. Supporting a project from initial discussion and discovery through design and helping school leadership understand and use government contract vehicles, requires a special company—namely, one that has been doing it successfully for decades. Experience in other verticals just doesn’t translate in the same way.
Have you ever thought about the term “partner” and what it means? Really thought about it? There are a LOT of technology salespeople calling themselves “partner,” when an “order-taker” would be much more appropriate. Are they going to help you coordinate with facilities and operations for delivery of equipment? Will they look for opportunities to combine budgets and manpower to build a more powerful solution? Did they complete a comprehensive assessment to look for opportunities to use your current equipment and look for potential issues? Do they follow up with you years post-sale to notify you about upgrades, patches and updates? If not, you have a vendor, but not a partner.
THE PRICE IS WRONG
One of the reasons many school leaders go with a company that does not provide a partnership is based on price. It’s absolutely understandable. There is a real limit to how much school districts can spend on safety and security solutions. What might seem like a better price on paper usually winds up costing a lot more in the long run. For one thing, a lot of discounted security equipment doesn’t come with support beyond installing it and commissioning the system. Additionally, most discount technology sellers will forego conversations about your goals and outcomes. Hint: this is one of the reasons they’re able to be less expensive (in theory). The trouble is that let’s say they get a camera set up and you can review the footage. Does that help you prevent crimes, or does that give your IT staff hours of work after a crime has been committed to see if they can find the footage to provide to police for their report? The less expensive option is great for saying you have security technology, but not great at actually creating a safe environment. So you’ve invested millions of dollars in buildings and equipment that might be compromised because you tried to save money on your surveillance and security system. In our humble opinion, it simply doesn’t add up.
DOES THIS “EXPERIENCED PARTNER” EVEN EXIST?
It might seem like this is a lot to ask from one technology solution provider, and it kind of is. Finding a company that has decades (like a combined 75 years) of experience and many areas of expertise (from former manufacturer employees to prior consultants) is challenging. A partner with a passion for creating measurable business outcomes is incredibly rare. Having all of this and a streamlined procurement process (such as CMAS and GSA Schedule 84 government contracting vehicles), is almost impossible. We can only think of one company that can do all of that.