Solving Three Common Edtech Partnership Problems
When the partnership you have with your educational software provider turns negative, is it worth the effort to reconcile? Or would it be better to just end the partnership? A case can be made for each option.
Knowing how to discern if a partnership is salvageable or beyond repair is a valuable skill for any educational technology leader. The wrong decision can lead to hassles, headaches, and wasted opportunities and funds. In this article, we will explore three common situations that can make or break an edtech partnership.
1. You don’t use all of the features available in the technology.
Your school district may have been using the technology for many years now, so nobody is left from when it was first implemented and nobody is accountable. Administrators from other districts discuss features you didn’t know were available, and you don’t know exactly which ones you have. Some users like some aspects of the setup, but low district-wide usage doesn’t justify the fees.
In this scenario, both parties are to blame, so it’s time to compromise. Reconciliation may come at a cost depending on how long the district has been out of touch with the vendor. Compared the cost of starting over, salvaging this partnership is likely the most economical option.
2. Users are uncomfortable with the technology’s functionality.
This unenviable situation can be reached in a variety of ways. Perhaps the vendor’s training program relied on direct instruction, but your staff that received training has either moved on or didn’t retain what was taught. Or maybe your district didn’t consider ongoing training at the time of implementation, so knowledge levels have remained low since the day it debuted. Or perhaps the passage of time has simply rendered old skills obsolete.
Effective leadership can have a significant impact on the district’s bottom line in situations like this. Many opportunities for ongoing professional development and training are available either for free or at minimal cost. Implementing options like this will require significant planning, accountability, and follow-up, or you’ll find yourself in the same situation sooner rather than later.
3. The vendor’s growth has shifted customer support to the back seat.
Maybe you had a great partnership, at least for a while. But now when help is needed, it’s days before anyone responds to you if you get a response at all. You either can’t reach your sales rep when you need help, or you don’t even know who your rep is.
Even the world’s most advanced tech isn’t worth such headaches. If threatening to end the partnership motivates the company to respond to you and reopen lines of communication, it may be worth your while to stay with that company on a probationary basis. But usually, in situations like this, positive gains are short-lived. The issues are the result of corporate culture, which doesn’t change quickly.
When you commit to a new edtech provider, the mutual goal should be to consistently have positive experiences. But mutually beneficial partnerships are hard to come by. Time, transparency, and knowledge are at the heart of good business partnerships, and the absence of any one of those can damage the relationship. When that happens, starting over may sound appealing, but that’s not always the best option.
Effective educational tech leaders can discern if a partnership has hit a rough patch, or if it’s headed for failure. Can you?