In this editorial, Tony Gilbert discusses the importance of ordering essential hardware requirements as soon as possible to ensure your school has the best chance of getting what you need for the coming year. With the COVID-19 global pandemic still having significant impacts on supply and shipping, it has never been more urgent to “get your order in early”.
It was the night before Christmas, and all through the school, things were quiet. Well, you would hope so, wouldn’t you? What you don’t want is for it to be quiet at the start of the following year when things are ramping up for the arrival of students.
Strong school leadership understands the importance of planning. Just like you don’t wait until the night before Christmas to do your shopping, schools must be thinking about what they will need well before the year begins.
Avoiding last-minute purchasing has never been so important in light of the ongoing global situation. The following are a few key points about why this is happening and other information you should consider when making your decisions.
We are little and quite a way away.
Compared to large markets like North America and Asia, the relative size and buying quantities in New Zealand are small; even our cousins in Australia purchase, by volume, significantly more hardware and software products than we do. So, despite New Zealand educators having great use of technology, our size and physical geography means that sometimes suppliers will drop us down the priority list. But, don’t feel disheartened completely! We have some fantastic people and partners working hard in New Zealand who go above and beyond to get you what you need – it is fair to say we punch well above our weight on this. We need to know as soon as possible what it is you need!
Consumer retail is not the same as commercial, and neither are the numbers.
It can be easy to think – “Hey, there are heaps of computers in the shops. There must be plenty around”. Firstly, the components of the models available in the shops are suited for everyday home use, not for a commercial or school environment. Just like you wouldn’t put a jungle gym built for a backyard into a school playground as it wouldn’t last very long, you need to ensure that the computers and hardware you are purchasing for your school are suited to the purpose you are buying it.
Secondly, the volume required of commercial hardware is entirely different. For example, you might purchase a computer every few years at home, whereas schools may be buying hundreds every year. Volume has a massive impact upon supply, so having an accurate forecast is essential (a bit like trying to predict your roll when timetabling).
Don’t substitute for quality.
Often retailers are open ‘till the very last minute before Christmas day for those that may not have had the chance or motivation to get organised. Unfortunately, this can mean that the “genuine article” that you or even your kid has been craving is well and truly out-of-stock. You might figure that a cheap knock-off will be fine, but between the disappointment on their face and the 30 minutes it takes to break, you will wish you had purchased the quality item much, much earlier.
The same can happen with essential technology. Again, you don’t want to be in a situation where you compromise quality so that you have something. Therefore, you may end up paying more for inferior equipment plus potentially needing to replace it earlier than you should.
Additionally, it might not do what it needs to do, which will only breed frustration. Also, there are indeed “dodgy dealers” out there who “Frankenstein” equipment together that may look OK on the surface but will have non-genuine parts affecting performance and causing significant headaches with warranty and support issues.
There are lots of points in the supply chain.
So, a wee bit of myth-busting here – not all things are made in the same place, particularly technology. Take your friendly All-in-One computer, for example. Not only are different components such as the RAM, camera and chassis potentially all manufactured thousands of miles from each other, but the supply routes to get them to where they are assembled all vary as well! Further, each region requires unique power supplies, plus there are other disruptors, like a lack of cardboard boxes due to flooding!
Do you care about how this logistical mission comes about? No, and you probably shouldn’t, but it does illustrate the complexity of it all and that the sooner you order, the more likely you are to get what you want when you want it.