Minnesota Independent School District 196
When the state of Minnesota mandated that standardized testing be administered via a computer, Technology Specialists like District 196’s Bonnie Halvorson knew they had some work cut out for them.
“We needed a specific inventory of all the active computers across our 30 sites, including management of licenses and warranties,“ says Bonnie. “Additionally, we needed to prove we were up to the standard of one computer, fewer than five-years-old, for every six students in our district.”
To compound the inventory quandary, a district levy allowed for a large influx of machines, all of which needed to be accurately accounted for. It was clear to Bonnie that District 196 had a need for solid central inventory management, but she didn’t want to cause culture shock.
“Often, enterprise solutions that are enforced on independently managed sites meet some resistance, and we’re no different,” Bonnie explains. “We have talented people working throughout our district and want them to have as much involvement as possible—they know best the needs at their site.”
Enter the Casper Suite, with unobtrusive inventory management that solved the immediate issue. This was a big win for District 196, but Bonnie and her staff recognized the chance to do much more.
The kinder, gentler overseers
Jason Weber and Dustin Dorey are two of the four ‘go-to guys’ for system administration at District 196. They have used the Casper Suite to create a thorough and comprehensive management system without stepping on the toes of individual site managers.
“Other management software takes weeks of training,” explains Jason, “as if it’s built by engineers, for engineers.”
But with the Casper Suite, site managers were quick to get on board because of its intuitive interface.
“It just makes sense; it’s built with the user experience in mind,” he says.
The Casper Suite’s Self Service software repository has also been “a big hit” with site managers, leading to widespread, comprehensive adoption. In one instance, this buy-in saved the day.
“We had a critical update to testing software on Friday,” Jason recalls, “and testing was supposed to start Monday.”
With centralized software distribution, the update made it out in time. What would have happened without the Casper Suite?
“Simple,” says Bonnie. “We would have had to put off testing.”
When central administrators seem less heavy-handed and more like helping- hands, it can make a big difference in support as well.
“Our users now expect policy-based updates,” said Dustin. “I’ve had calls with users where they explain the issue and then immediately ask, ‘Should I just reboot?’ They’re used to that easy fix.”
“Our base image goes out with all the necessary plugins and helpers,” adds Bonnie, “so often the problem can be solved without our help.”
And because imaging is easy managed, it’s become a tool for support as well.
“We can easily start clean with the right updates and versions, which can eliminate a lot of issues on its own,” explains Jason.
The day-to-day environment for the central support team has changed for the better.
“Before the Casper Suite, most of my time was spent putting out fires,” Dustin says. “Now I can work on new and better ways of doing things.” Jason has altered his technical support strategy in a big way. “Now I get so few calls from some sites, I call them just to check in!”
Exploring new opportunities
What started as an amiable central solution for accurate inventory has become a tool for innovation.
“We’ve just started a conservation program that utilizes the Casper Suite’s monitoring services to limit down-time,” says Bonnie, “which we think will lead to notable energy savings.”
The importance of this kind of application is not lost on Bonnie. “When a piece of software not only offers a specific solution but also allows for new initiatives, that’s very valuable to have in our system.”Download PDF