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Kingston University has strived to deliver a high-quality learning experience throughout its 116-year history. With more than 20,000 students based on four campuses in and around the Kingston upon Thames area, technology plays a critical role in attracting talent, enriching education delivery and developing successful graduates.
End user devices supplied in a 3 year contract
From Lenovo, Microsoft and VMware
Software procurement and Software Asset Management (SAM)
Kingston University has implemented an extensive IT transformation programme. 'Connecting Kingston' has a number of strategic priorities and its main aim is to provide students and staff with a standardised, reliable and highly effective ICT platform to support high-quality teaching and research. A critical element of the initiative is the End User Computing (EUC) project, which will provide the very latest devices to enable students and staff to leverage full value from the transformation. The existing device estate required a refresh in order to support many of the positive aspects of the university's offering, such as location and the delivery of quality teaching. The newly formed IT team had already carried out a significant amount of work to outsource a variety of IT functions and rationalise vendor relationships to more effectively manage its complex IT estate. As a consequence, it wanted to work with an organisation that would 'be more of a partner than just a supplier fulfilling orders' and could deliver the devices needed to make Kingston University an even better place to study.
Critical Success Factors
Softcat initially provided a significant VMware Enterprise Licensing Agreement as part of the ongoing Connecting Kingston project. The success of the engagement and ability to deliver a licensing contract of such significant volume, proved a major driver in the IT team's decision to approach Softcat again when seeking a provider to supply multiple devices. To complement the improvements in the overall IT infrastructure, Kingston University sought the very latest technologies from leading suppliers, such as Lenovo and Microsoft, to deliver an optimised, standardised and highly functional device estate.
This initial approach resulted in a three year contract, with Softcat acting as a strategic partner tasked with supplying and managing up to 6,000 Lenovo devices throughout the lifecycle of the project. Softcat, working alongside delivery partners such as Exertis, committed to providing devices each month. Each device would be asset tagged and delivered with a pre-imaged hard drive configured to precisely match the university's specific requirements.
Delivering added value is an essential element of the Softcat offering. Kingston University worked closely with the IT Team to realise maximum value through providing a range of consultancy services, including:
As Wendy Hollingshead, IT Vendor and Contracts Manager at Kingston University, said; "We were keen to establish a mutually beneficial relationship with a partner we could trust for the long term. Softcat definitely had the insight we needed to maximise the project's impact for the university as a whole."
A deep and productive relationship has now been established, with Softcat gaining a broad understanding of both the customer and what it's trying to achieve. Close collaboration has characterised the relationship, enabling the implementation of a seamless device procurement process. Nick Berry, Head of Education at Softcat, highlighted how critical that close collaboration was to the success of the project. "Working closely with customers to gain the insight needed to ensure our solution fits with their overall strategy is critical. Our aim is to add value through identifying and monitoring spending patterns and then helping to reduce cost. We knew the IT team was keen to rationalise the number of suppliers they used and we could clearly help with that."
Softcat manages the replacement of the existing end user devices securely and in line with regulations as part of the project. Replacement devices are always on tap, with Softcat holding a stock of laptops, desktops and tablets for 90 days to help ensure constant availability across the lifespan of the project – an essential element of Kingston University's strategy of facilitating access to high-tech equipment as an integral part of the student experience.
Kingston's IT Team now has an up-to-date overview of its device landscape, which helps to keep both students and staff up to speed with what technology is available and when it can be delivered – usually within one working day. IT spending patterns can now be much more easily analysed and improved, as can the overall procurement strategy as a result of the ongoing dialogue.
The availability of the very latest devices, software and network access is helping to enhance Kingston University's reputation as a fantastic place to learn and develop employer desirable skills. The University is now able to facilitate access to laptops for students who come to university without a device through the highly successful 'laptop loan' scheme – which enables them to borrow a device for free from an automated locker. Softcat has spoken directly with students to assess what they need from a technology supplier in order to fully benefit from the technology on offer.
At a Glance:
A hands-on approach has characterised the relationship between Softcat and Kingston University's IT Team from the outset. A dedicated Softcat Account Manager works on site and collaborates closely with the team to ensure the smooth running of the process. Of course, issues have emerged, but every challenge has been overcome by working together to achieve the long-term objectives of the project; the development of a network and device estate that enables Kingston University to provide its students and staff with access to the very latest technologies.
"We've been growing together throughout the relationship," says Wendy Hollingshead. "Softcat has helped us simplify and clarify what we need in place to deliver an optimal student experience from an IT perspective. But just as importantly, it's been mutually beneficial. We've helped Softcat refine processes through identifying potential issues and working together to improve them. We sought a trusted partner to work with us long term and Softcat is an ideal fit."
Kingston University recognised that today's students demand access to the very latest technologies to help support their studies. A need to provide such access was identified as essential to the university's overall offering, so securing a strategic partner capable of procuring the right technology, at the right price and the right time was critical to its long-term goals. Softcat's hands-on approach and tireless commitment to working collaboratively with the university to achieve its goals has played a significant part in the ongoing success of the Connecting Kingston project.