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Playing to win – Parago Software

Sunday September 20th, 2009

By Tim Roots, Director, Parago Software

Tim Roots, Director of Parago Software, speaks to GO about the company’s contract win with the London Borough of Tower Hamlets to implement an innovative asset management solution.

Q What does your contract with Tower Hamlets involve?

A We have partnered with Tower Hamlets to provide all schools in the borough with asset management software. Asset management is a key feature in the education sector and one that is growing in status and understanding. It is key that both local authorities and schools appreciate the importance of accurately tracking both ICT assets and general inventory.

This is for several reasons. Firstly, in the event of fire or theft, schools are able to produce an up-to-date audit for any insurance claim. Secondly, schools can save significant amounts of money by implementing an automated solution. No longer are staff required to track and record each asset manually – many schools have reported ‘it’s like having another member of staff’. Finally, a precise list of assets and software titles eliminates the risk of expired warranty dates and duplicates, allowing schools to remain compliant with licensing laws. Ultimately schools can make effective financial decisions through better planning and forecasting.

Q What solution was provided?

A Parago, an asset management solution designed specifically for the education sector, was supplied to every school in the borough of Tower Hamlets. The solution enables schools to automate the process of computer, software and general inventory asset management.

A handheld computer with a bar-code reader, known as ParagoMobile, was also provided to the borough so that all assets owned, ranging from interactive whiteboards to kettles, can be logged online in one central source, no matter where they may be located, on or off the school grounds. The process is a simple one of attaching a bar-code sticker to the item, zapping it, then recording the details.

Q What is the contract worth and how long is it for?

A The contract is worth £100,000 for 12 months and annual support thereafter. This covers 98 primary and secondary schools in the borough; a total of 37,500 students.

Q What are the main differences between working for public sector and private sector clients?

A Public sector clients are keen to establish a long-term and trusting relationship, built on quality, innovation and value for money. For this reason, the bidding process can be quite prolonged. Numerous meetings were required for us to provide an overview of not only our products but also our training provision, customer service and experience within the field.

Q What were the greatest challenges you encountered in the tendering process?

A The greatest challenge when bidding to win this contract was ensuring that our final presentation/tender was tailored to cover the authority’s every need. Our main objective was to cater for all parties involved; to meet Tower Hamlets’ requirements as well as the requirements of each school in the borough. It was a lengthy process of decision-making and approval, but as our solution is highly flexible regarding schools’ needs we were able to tailor our bid accordingly. Dialogue and engagement were crucial to winning the contract; both were necessary at all levels to ensure a constant flow of feedback.

Q What advice would you give to others embarking on a public sector contract?

A When working alongside schools, it is crucial that the solution is designed to cater for their needs and budgets. In order to benefit the schools and local authority the solution needs to be aligned with Government policies and legislation. Well established relationships with sector organisations, such as the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT), are again important to ensure that solutions are aligned with senior management needs and strategies.

Q What feedback have you received from the client?

A We are still in the relatively early stages of the contract but so far all feedback has been highly positive. All schools within the borough are up and running with the software, with the majority of schools having attended training sessions at local authority premises.

Tower Hamlets has also explained to us that our LA Account Manager tool will prove invaluable when supporting their schools. The borough will be able to view a precise account of each school’s assets and software titles. Furthermore, Tower Hamlets is currently working with Microsoft to ensure all of its schools are boosting their IT efficiencies, reducing licensing and support costs and more skilfully managing legal risks.

Q What impact has winning this contract had on your business?

A Winning the contract with Tower Hamlets has strengthened our status significantly within London. Tower Hamlets is now the sixth London borough to adopt our asset management solution, making up one third of the 18 authorities across England that have helped us raise the status of asset management across the sector.

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