There are a few systems in the school that are not our responsibility.
- The ‘Staff Information’ section of the intranet.
- The photocopiers (which are all networked).
- The main phone switchboard (which is computer controlled).
The first of these is designed and maintained by our Deputy Head, who is very IT literate and a reasonably good coder, so we’re happy to let him crack on with the code that ties in with some of the more antiquated MIS systems we’d rather not have to deal with.
The other two are looked after by an external supplier under the supervision of the school’s facilities manager.
They fulfil neither contract with anything resembling competence.
The photocopiers we lease from them are vastly overpriced compared to almost anyone else in the market. We’ve had quotes from Xerox that undercut them. Xerox. They also frequently ignore chronic problems and lie to us about the capabilities of equipment they want to sell us.
The PBX phone system is worse. The voicemail system for the front office regularly locks up, preventing not only the recording of new messages but also losing any old ones that have not yet been played back. We gave up on it years ago and have run a parallel Cisco IP phone system that connects to it. Therein lies the chief problem. When making a call from an IP phone to a PBX phone, or vice-versa, the PBX system will often not hang up the line after the call is finished, leading to a busy signal next time you call that extension.
Bond knows how to clear the problem, even though the system is nothing to do with us. He also knows how to fix it permanently, but can’t do it himself, and the supplier refuses to touch the configuration because they don’t have anyone trained in that part of it. The outrageously poor response times of the supplier has meant that the Head has now devolved responsibility for clearing the problem each time to Bond. At its worst, the problem occurs around 3 times a day.
I can’t quite understand why Bond hasn’t killed someone over it yet, because if I were having to deal with this 3 times a day, there would have been a death by now. Possibly my own.