Product shortages and supply chain issues are slowing education technology projects everywhere. We asked EdTech manufacturers what you need to know and what you can do to keep your project plans on track.
Develop a Long-Term Strategy
Education is different from other industries because budgets and implementations are on different schedules. But it’s not just timing and funds that are tight—schools are often limited to choosing approved vendors and sticking to existing contracts. Shortages may also be worse in education because a lot of schools and districts are trying to purchase the same technologies. Some shortages and delays may be here for a while, so a long-term strategy can help keep your plans moving forward. Here are steps you can take now and to improve EdTech buying in the future:
The most important tip is to place orders as far in advance as you can. Ashley Smith, Regional Sales Manager at Biamp, says, “The best way to maximize your chances of getting your product delivered and installed on time is to order as early as possible once the design has been finalized.”
Work with an integrator.
Integrators work closely with manufacturers and know the state of all things EdTech. They can keep you updated about technology availability and what your options are.
Be More Flexible
Even if you create a plan and place orders early, consider a shift in how you view EdTech buying. Some of the recent challenges may be long-lasting and some aspects of EdTech may be permanently changed, so it can be helpful to view EdTech improvements as an ongoing process.
Adapt your standards.
Ashley Smith of Biamp explains, “Many education institutions establish device standards and approved vendor lists to ensure performance and installation repeatability. But many organizations make those standards so strict that they essentially limit themselves to a single source. Having to install equipment within a certain time frame but not having any flexibility in who they purchase from is very challenging.”
You can make your standards more flexible, she adds, by establishing approved alternatives for devices and vendors. You can also change the wording of standards to include solutions that are “equivalent” in performance.
Expect longer processes.
Have patience, include longer timelines in your plans, and implement upgrades in phases when possible. It helps to remember that everyone else in your role is dealing with the same issues.
Jason Tirado, President of Lightware North America, says their products are facing 12- to 16-week lead times because of the global chip shortage. He is, however, predicting to shorten lead times to 8 to 12 weeks by the end of the summer. Shortages have been exacerbated by increased demand—up to 4 or 5 times for some products.
In response, Lightware has quadrupled its investment in raw materials and doubled their manufacturing capacity, Jason Tirado added. “In cases where supplies are not dependable, we are shifting to new suppliers and redesigning products,” he said. “Fortunately, we have the engineering resources to be able to shift from one chip or component to another.”
Learn More About Other Changes in Ed Tech Buying
As an EdTech buyer, you face more than supply chain issues, including funding obstacles and hybrid learning demands.
Download the “Buying Guide for the New World of EdTech” for solutions to these and other common challenges in EdTech buying.