If you are going to plan your ICT properly - short, medium and long-term - then you need to know what you have now. How many machines (desktops, laptops, whiteboards and all the rest), where they are, how old they are, exactly what they are, with serial numbers. You need to know, too, what software is on them so you can manage all the licensing agreements. Do you know all of that for sure? Is it tidily kept and managed? Can you retrieve the information quickly? Could you retrieve it equally quickly if you had a serious fire and needed the information for replacement and insurance?
Parago, from IT Vision, is a software tool that sits on your system and effectively does the job for you, scanning your network, keeping your inventory and licensing up to date and hosting everything on the web so that the information is secure and away from the school site. It is presented on a screen that is easy to use, with recognisable icons for rooms, computers and other equipment. You can add other kinds of equipment to your inventory if you want (there is an icon for a kettle and one for a fire extinguisher, symbolising the various items of electrical equipment that many schools want to include in the audit).
The cost for an average primary school is pound;240 per year. For an average secondary with 350 PCs, it works out at pound;1,400 per year.
Birmingham council was so impressed with Parago that it has rolled it out to 450 of its schools, funding the first year's cost from efficiency savings. Andy Jackson, head of service delivery in Birmingham, sees it as an investment for both the schools and the authority. "Parago brings an easy-to-use, real-time and instantly up-to-date audit and inventory tool at a value-for-money price. For us, supporting schools' IT, it means we have detailed information down to machine level for when things go wrong."