The Art of the Technology Contract: Five Tips - Tech Learning

The Art of the Technology Contract: Five Tips

Assistant superintendent and seasoned technology buyer Jo Campbell shares her thoughts on coming to terms with vendors.
Publish date:

Vendors typically issue the same boilerplate contract to their customers, with a few minor alterations such as district name and number of school sites. That doesn’t mean you have to accept the document as is, however. Though I don’t purport to be a legal expert, here are a few common-sense strategies that have worked for my district.

Tip #1: Hire a Lawyer. Retain a technology attorney to work through one major contract together. When negotiating our district’s student management system contract, for example, I turned to a lawyer who specializes in tech issues. She reviewed the contract and suggested changes, which I then rewrote into the contract myself (this last step saved us a lot of legal time). Total cost: $1,000.

Tip #2: Protect Your Assets. If you’re using a Web-based application service provider, guarantee in writing that your data’s backed up regularly and will be made available, along with the software code, if the vendor goes out of business or is sold. It may be expensive for your district to maintain the code, but at least you’ll have the option.

Tip #3: Keep Problems in State. What happens in the unlikely event you’re forced to sue a vendor? Boilerplate contracts typically stipulate any legal actions and proceedings must occur in the vendor’s home state. Since you’d rather have a jury of community members hearing your claim, include a provision that ensures any legal cases are tried in state.

Tip #4: Adjust Billing Terms. Often contracts will state the total bill needs to be paid within 30 days. Instead, agree to pay the vendor according to the district’s warrant schedule since many districts only pay bills once a month.

Tip #5: Guarantee Success. It’s wise to negotiate that 10 percent of payment will be held back until the software is fully implemented, not simply installed. The definition of “full implementation” should be clearly stated in the RFP. In my district, it means every school has full access to all components of the software and uses it daily.

Jo Campbell, Ed.D., is assistant superintendent of the Council Bluffs Community School District in Council Bluffs, Iowa. She earned a doctorate in educational administration from Columbia University.



Contracting for Technical Support

We’ve limped along by providing technical support through the services of a teacher who deals with hardware and network problems after school and sometimes on weekends. She’s paid on a timecard for this work. However, our need for support is growing beyond the few hours she can devote each week. The school’s

Arts and Technology as the Hub for All Disciplines

Introduction Educators cannot avoid the fact that they have entered the world of visual communication, dependence on computer graphics technology, and a time when most students are swiftly becoming computer literate. The relevant interests of everyday life for today's student are different from those of past

Recent survey says 40% of ID theft is from browser-based password software promo image

Five tips for parents to stop cyberbullying

 Surveys indicate that around half of all children are victims of cyberbullies at some point during their time in school, and 11 percent of children have been bullied in the last 30 days.

Teach-nology - The Art and Science of Teaching with Technology

Name: Teach-nology — The Art and Science of Teaching with Technology Brief Description of the Site: Teach-nology is what it claims to be — a Web Portal For Educators. It has more than 200,000 reviewed sites with links to something for all teachers and administrators. Some of its major headings are