CSHS Technology Acquisition Procedures Guideline

Over the years Cardinal Spellman High School (CSHS) has acquired many software/hardware technology products and services to address various administrative and academic needs. There has not been a clearly defined process to assist departments in this activity. This has often led to last minute "surprises", confusion, lack of coordination and, ultimately, frustration and coordinated technology solutions that would effectively benefiting all Spellman community users. To have a successful software/hardware technology solution in place, all "stakeholders" need to work together in a coordinated way. The intent of this guideline is to describe a process for any software/hardware technology solution acquisitions at CSHS that insures:

  • The proposed software or hardware solution is warranted based on the  business and/or academic needs (and not just wants).
  • The best software/hardware options are evaluated and then get selected
  • Acquisitions are approved by the appropriate administrators
  • The process is open to all those key stakeholders who have a need to know and participate
  • Contractual obligations are reviewed
  • Training and support issues are understood and agreed by all involved
  • The total cost of ownership of the software/hardware technology solution is understood.

Departments will play a leading role in:

  • Justifying the business and/or academic need for the proposed;
  • Identifying and working with potential vendors and CSHS Technology Department to evaluate the software/hardware without causing normal school interruption and daily business functions;
  • Completed necessary piloting assessment (if permits based the time and internal resources);
  • Arranging for necessary funding;
  • Performing any necessary implementation tasks such as application configuration, data entry, hardware/software setup, trainings and documentation...etc.

CSHS Technology Department plays a key role in supporting administrative and academic department’s software/hardware technology.  Our services are available as early as possible to assist in this process by:

  • Consulting for each of the steps described below;
  • Assisting with implementation requirements and evaluation;
  • Facilitating the infrastructure requirement to support the software/hardware deployment needs;
  • Integrating the software/hardware with existing school wide technology systems;
  • Providing trouble-shooting services when applicable and necessary.

The steps outlined below are designed to meet these objectives.

  1. Business justification for the proposed software/hardware technology solution.
  2. Administrative/Academic software/hardware solution is designed to support business, teaching and learning processes that either require extensive manual work, or have complex requirements that require technology solution support. There are two aspects of a software/hardware acquisition to consider, the "functional" benefits which may include improved service to the school community members, reduced workload on staff and/or the ability to do things that cannot be done or done easily without the software/hardware. The other aspect is the "ROI", return on investment, of the software/hardware. Will savings be realized from the use of this software/hardware technology solution that will offset the purchase and support costs? What are the financial benefits of acquiring this software/hardware? IT will work with departments to do a feasibility study. This study will examine current business processes and evaluate options including non-software/hardware solutions (e.g., business process changes) and "in-house" solutions developed by IT. In-house solutions have the advantage of being integrated with existing systems. IT will work with the requestor to document the problem and recommend a solution.
  3. After this assessment has been completed, all software/hardware acquisition proposals will be reviewed by the Technology Advisory Committee (TAC). This committee is led by the Director of Technology and consists of the president, principal, administrators, faculty staffs and member of the board  representing the key “stakeholders”.  The committee will review the proposal and approve or deny it. They will also assist Technology Department in prioritizing the project with competing works.
  4. Student related software/hardware must also be reviewed and approved by the academic department chair prior to submission for TAC approval  Department chair will make recommendations to TAC on any necessary funding request for implementing such proposed software/hardware technology solution.
  5. Participation of stakeholders - In many cases other entities on campus will be affected or could benefit from a given software/hardware acquisition. It is important that concerned parties be included in the evaluation and implementation stages. If software can be utilized across the university rather than by a single department, the ROI will be much higher.
  6. Software/hardware selection process and evaluation - Assuming that there are no other options besides the acquisition of software/hardware technology solution (based on completion of step #1), due diligence must be exercised in evaluating other alternative software/hardware options, as well as for any non-technology related process/tasks which can be substituted with.  Typically, there are multiple vendors in the marketplace for any given functional area.   We must consider all aspects when evaluating software/hardware vendors; the viability of the vendor itself, the "fit" of the software/hardware to our needs, the ability to integrate the software/hardware with existing school wide technology systems/infrastructures, the flexibility of the software/hardware to adapt to future needs, the vendor support and enhancement policies, and the licensing and maintenance costs to name just a few.  Again, IT will work with departments to assist in the research and evaluation phase if necessary.
  7. Software/Apps evaluation - As part of the software selection process certain standards must be evaluated. From a business perspective, the software/apps must meet the functional needs of the school. Typically, this is evaluated using a "Fit/Gap" methodology where the software is mapped to business needs to determine where they "fit", where functions are adequately supported, and where there are "gaps", where the software does not support a need. Gaps in the software's capability must be addressed. One way to insure better fit/gap compliance is to do an "RFP", Request for Proposal, where required and desirable functions and technical requirements are described in a document that is sent to vendors for their responses. Only those who best meet our needs are further evaluated. IT will assist with fit/gap and RFP activities.
  8. Technical standards must also be considered. The type of technology employed by vendors when building an application has a direct effect on our ability to integrate it with other systems, provide adequate security, provide acceptable performance and accessibility and be able to adapt to future needs. IT must be consulted if we are to provide support for a new software application.
  9. Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) - While the licensing, maintenance, consulting, training and implementation costs are typically part of the contract and are negotiated up front, there are often other overt and "hidden" costs. There are hardware costs, usually one or more servers, network equipment, database licensing costs, periodic maintenance increases and hardware upgrades and other such costs to be considered. There are also other"internal" costs to CSHS to consider such as the networking connections configuration, security provisions (e.g., "firewall" rules), integration or "data feeds" with other systems like Rediker, problem resolution with the vendor, and other time and labor oriented costs. Before committing to any solution the TCO should be understood.
  10. Contract Review - Per school policy all contracts must be reviewed and approved by the President. To facilitate the process, when the number of viable vendors is reduced to one or two, copies of their standard contracts should be provided to President and Finance office for review. It is also advisable to negotiate a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with the vendor to insure acceptable performance of their obligations.

To assist in this process, the school has developed guidelines of steps and questions to be asked along the way to insure that the best decision is made regarding any software/hardware technology acquisition.   Please refer to this "CSHS Technology Acquisition Proposal Guideline" document link when submit a new technology acquisition request.   Any new software/hardware technology deployed at CSHS without TAC approval will resulted in immediately removal.

Last Updated: January, 2017