- The state of Washington paid $2.6 million to settle a dispute after it canceled a contract with now-bankrupt company Ciber Inc., over its inability to effectively install a computer system at community colleges in Spokane and Tacoma. The setbacks cost $10 million more than the originally anticipated cost of $100 million, reports The Chronicle.
- The system, originally contracted in 2013, was initially scheduled to be complete by June 2017 and operating at all 34 of the state's community and technical colleges; when the installation was pushed behind schedule, institutions faced resulting difficulties in registering students and giving them their financial aid packages and paychecks.
- The settlement highlights how poor tech rollout may end up costing institutions and states more than anticipated and how communication across IT experts and tech buyers is key, with Community Colleges of Spokane Chancellor Christine Johnson reporting to The Chronicle that "No one thought it would be quite as (troublesome) an implementation."
Rolling out new technology in within a school system or even just a singular institution can be very difficult, and as demonstrated with the case of Washington and its community colleges — it can also be incredibly costly. To mitigate these risks, the accompanying difficulties in making sure classes will run smoothly, it's important for ed tech decision makers to communicate and collaborate with other parts of the administration, especially the CIO and the IT team. Virginia Tech CIO, Scott Midkiff, discussed this reality at length with Education Dive, explaining that in navigating the flood of ed tech vendors, it's critical that campus leaders really consider the functional, institutional and faculty needs of new technologies in the classroom.
Beyond that, he explains that when buying new technology, it's also key to consult IT professionals on whether the technology can be integrated into existing technical systems easily.
"I think what's really important is to have pre-established relationships between those different functional units between academic units, the provost office, administrative units—between those units and the the information technology organization to make sure that there's a conversation able, so that the IT organization understands what the functional needs are, what the academic needs are, what the research needs are and that the functional units understand what some of the constraints of the opportunity some of the IT environment is that will help distinguish between what's going to be a successful product and what's going to be perhaps a failure. When that conversation happens early and IT and operational units are involved in evaluating products, that often usually works pretty well," said Midkiff.
"But too often what happens is there is sort of sales opportunity, someone believes something is interesting and they go out and they get well down into procurement process and then IT get involved. And, then you start running into well the integration challenges, the data privacy challenges, compliance challenges for this product. And, especially some of companies that aren't very mature — that can lead to real issues, so I think it's that early engagement between functional units and the IT organization that leads to success."