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Getting the most from your tech dollar 2: buying power of groups

Over the next few days, I'll be addressing some strategies school districts use to get the most from their technology dollars. See the full list hereAny budget stretching strategies you're willing to share?

2. The (buying) power of groups: consortium purchasing, state contracts, bidding and quotes.

While technology products and services can be expensive, the industry is also intensely competitive. Savvy educators can use that competitive environment to their advantage.

For any purchase over a few dollars, getting two or more quotes is standard operating procedures. Even when we have formed a long and trusted relationship with a vendor, we still get a couple quotes just to make sure everyone is keeping the pencils sharp. Our state requires, as I assume do many, that we go through a formal closed bid process for any procurements of over $100,000. Just good bid-ness. Writing good bid specs is critical and involves, I believe, the ability to describe functionality rather than specific kinds of equipment. 

While such organizations vary from state, intermediate service agencies (AEAs, BOCEs, ESCUs etc) often offer consortium purchasing of goods and services. Our district takes advantage of discounted costs for Internet connectivity, educational resource subscriptions, and hardware purchases provided by our regional telecommunications cooperative. This may mean some compromise on specific brands, etc., but if it means big savings, we can live with it.

State government contracts can provide great costs for equipment and may eliminate the legal need for getting quotes or bids on products. While we often can do the same or better with many vendors negotiating as a district, we still check the state contract.

Districts can even take advantage of "group" discounts when entering a district-wide contract for resources rather than each building purchasing them. Often support agreements can be negotiated if the company knows there is a single point of contact for a district rather than multiple points in buildings. By standardizing and aggregating materials purchases district-wide, a volume discount usually applies. This requires, of course, some district leadership.

Nothing here that rises to the level of rocket surgery, just common sense.

Other ways to stretch your tech dollars by working together?



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