Many multi-academy trusts (MATs) are seeing the benefit of streamlining their website infrastructure by using a single website provider. Not only can it help to save time and money, it can also help the trust to maintain a consistent look across all the schools and makes maintaining centralised policies much easier.
Having worked with a number of MATs, we’ve put together this guide to help trusts make their next trust-wide website project a success.
Common challenges multi-academy trusts face when working with multiple providers
Schools within a trust will often have a wide variety of website designs and providers as well as personal preferences on how their site works and who they choose to work with.
However, long-term, especially as a trust grows, managing multiple contracts from multiple providers can be costly and confusing.
Some of the challenges we’ve seen trusts face over the past few years when they have used different providers for their school and trust websites:
- Out of date information
- Different systems
- Lack of consistency
- Varying levels of support
- Multiple contracts and payments
Out of date information
When schools use different school website providers, it can be hard to get information updated on the websites in a timely fashion, especially in an emergency. Some providers may give schools full access to their content management system whereas others may need the school to raise a ticket and wait a few days in order to add news stories or amend content.
Using different content management systems and back-end software across multiple schools, means a trust administrator may need to learn several different systems to do their job effectively. Managing a variety of systems can also mean different levels of maintenance, conflicts relating to required integrations and the sites may not work in the way you expect across the board.
Lack of consistency
When school websites have a different look and feel it may make it hard for users to identify them as part of your trust. Some trusts do not mind this, but others may wish to have a more cohesive approach to the design – to make the schools feel part of the MAT and to fit with their branding and ethos.
Varying level of support & issue management
Different providers will offer different levels of support. This may mean that for one school you can get an issue resolved over the phone in minutes, but for another school, you send an email and wait 5 days for an effective resolution.
Multiple contracts and payments
In line with the above, different providers will also have varying lengths of contracts, terms of business, payment schedules and invoicing terms. This will take time and organisation to manage effectively, to ensure contracts are maintained, paid and offering value to the trust. It can also potentially mean contracts expire on different dates which could mean you are often undertaking redesign projects on an ad-hoc basis for each school.
The benefits of working with one provider for a trust-wide project
There are many positives to working with one school website provider for all of your trust and school website designs. You may also find a provider who can assist you with branding, photography, prospectus design, payments and more – which again, can offer massive economies of scale and bring everything under one roof.
The main benefits that our trust customers have highlighted over the years, when working with us on all of their websites, are:
- One relationship
- One design (or two or three!)
- One agreement
- One system
- One source of information
- One pricing structure
To make things simple and easy, working with one provider means you will benefit from one single point of contact that you can talk to whenever you need help. At e4education, you will have a dedicated multi-academy trust relationships specialist who can assist should you have any problems, need a new website for a newly joined school or require advice on best practice to get the most out of your investment.