The Regional Association of Saarbrücken serves as a governing body for 10 municipalities. With approx. 330,000 inhabitants, it’s by far the largest administrative district in Saarland. The information technology in its schools is looked after by the Information and Media Centre (IMZ) which belongs to the education board. In December 2020, the IMZ provided end devices for the association’s 47 secondary schools, which shall serve remote teaching. For this purpose, Bechtle procured and delivered 3,500 iPads. The devices were financed by the federal government’s emergency funding programme and the assumption of costs for digital end devices in German Social Code (SGB II).
The Regional Association of Saarbrücken is a highly modern, municipal service provider for approx. 330,000 people—about one third of the population of the Saarland. Approx. 1,400 employees provide their extensive citizen services on a daily basis. The Information and Media Centre (IMZ) belongs to the Regional Association’s education board, and has been overseeing the secondary schools in the area as a service provider for educational IT since 2013. Since 2021, it also serves primary schools, providing and implementing PCs, tablets, whiteboards and additional technology. The IMZ’s tasks also include finding the right devices, writing tenders and concluding framework agreements. One of these framework agreements, concluded in 2020, entailed 3,500 convertible PCs for secondary school students and was granted to Bechtle.
Delivery bottlenecks during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic however gave reason for a rethink. Every one of the 47 schools uses a centrally-managed system structure by IMZ, whereas each school can define their own catalogue of software. In the course of the provision of each individual student with their own end device, it was left for the individual schools to decide whether they wanted their future environment to be Windows or Apple. About one third of the schools opted for Apple, whereas two thirds went for Windows due to the applications they are running. As the Regional Association plans to provide every student with an end device, it requires 40,000 devices in total. However, the funding provided through the federal government’s emergency funding programme (DigitalPakt Schule) and the assumption of costs for digital end devices according to SGB II initially only allowed for the purchase of the 3,500 devices originally ordered.
Working with Bechtle was a charm. Even when something had to be done fast, Bechtle was able to deliver, all the way up to the end of the project. Bechtle was quick to respond to all of our requirements. They made it feel like we were in charge and worked reliably and fairly.
Christian Müller, Head of the Information and Media Centre, Regional Association of Saarbrücken
Once it was clear that the delivery deadlines stipulated in the contract couldn’t be met, Bechtle immediately came up with an alternative. The ordered Convertibles were replaced by Bechtle with 3,500 iPads that are also eligible for funding and dearly needed at vocational and secondary schools. Thanks to Bechtle’s extensive stock of Apple devices as an Apple Education Specialist, the Saarbrücken Regional Association was able to immediately provide the children and young people taught there with digital support in the form of iPads. By February 2021, the IMZ had distributed a total of 3,500 iPads for students at secondary schools in the Regional Association of Saarbrücken—starting at 30 devices per school and then providing more as needed. Each iPad had to be configured especially to the school it was delivered to and loaded with the necessary applications. For this purpose, Bechtle and the IMZ collaborated closely. Bechtle unpacked the iPads, created an inventory and documented the serial and MAC addresses, and then labelled the iPads at the IMZ with their device IDs. Using Mobile Device Management (MDM), the IMZ then loaded each device with an individual, school-specific configuration. Up to 150 end devices were configured daily this way and provided by Bechtle and the IMZ from December 2020 onwards to schools.
The Regional Association continues to expand its stock of digital end devices for students. The 3,500 devices provided so swiftly by Bechtle and the IMZ represented a milestone on this path. Pupils in need can now participate in digital lessons with a suitable end device. This is thanks to Bechtle’s flexibility and its close collaboration with IMZ of the Regional Association of Saarbrücken.