Get Started With Device Procurement
Before entering the procurement phase, make sure that your school district has taken the time to consider both its short-term and long-term needs and goals. In order to support an Emergency Remote Teaching (ERT) scenario during coronavirus, many school districts found that they needed additional devices. As a result, many of them moved to quickly augment their device supply. Other school districts are working to be prepared for any future quarantines or alternate school models.
If your district simply has a short-term need for more devices, look for ones that match your current infrastructure. The integration will be easier, and students will already be familiar with them.
If, on the other hand, you are procuring devices in preparation for school closures this fall (or other learning models) and concurrently planning for a new districtwide 1:1 program, the procurement process may be different.
Procurements may be subject to state or local policies saying that vendors must have equal opportunities to earn your business (and the public funds that go along with the purchase). If you want to make a large purchase, you will likely need to go through a formal procurement process, where you must issue a Request For Quote (RFQ) or a more comprehensive Request For Proposal (RFP). Vendors respond with proposals that are scored and evaluated.
Sometimes you may have greater spending flexibility during an emergency. However, you will still want to review your district’s procurement policies in case you encounter resistance from your school board or the local community.
REQUEST FOR QUOTE (RFQ) v. REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL (RFP): WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
An RFQ describes what you are seeking to purchase and any necessary specifications, including the quantity, where to submit the quote, the due date, and usually any delivery date requirements. Additionally, an RFQ should include your anticipated order date, a contact person for questions, and any other salient procedural details.
RFQs are effective for simple commodity purchases like laptops or tablets, as well as simple off-the-shelf services like extended 3-year warranties. Make sure that your RFQ clearly defines how the pricing proposal should be structured. If it includes multiple items like both a laptop and an extended warranty so that you can easily and accurately compare quotes from different vendors. When evaluating an RFQ, price is usually the most significant factor.
If you are looking to set up a 1:1 program, you will want to issue an RFP. You will need devices with an extended warranty. You will also need professional development services, repair services, asset management, software, replacement devices, service spares, asset tagging, carrying cases, and more. With RFPs, you’re looking for the best value, which doesn’t always equate to the best price.
Setting up a 1:1 program can require multiple vendors to coordinate on the submitted proposal, where one primary vendor submits the proposal on behalf of itself and all the partner vendors. No one company can provide all of the services and equipment needed to operate a 1:1 program, but by requiring them to work together, you can help to mitigate problems further down the road. Your primary vendor assumes the responsibility that the entire solution is operating correctly, even when certain aspects are provided or manufactured by a different partner. Additionally, this structure can help your school district understand the Total Cost of Ownership more easily because so many of the associated services and equipment fall into a singular contract relationship with the primary vendor.
1 | Based on your situation, and any procurement policies in place in your school district or state, determine if you need an RFQ or an RFP.
2 | Develop and issue your RFQ or RFP.