Girls’ Day School Trust: GDST

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The Customer

The Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST) is a group of 25 independent schools – 23 schools and two academies – in England and Wales, catering for girls aged 3 to 18. It is one of the largest groups of independent schools in the UK, and educates 20,000 girls each year. The GDST was formed in 1872 to provide affordable day-school (non-boarding) education for girls as The Girls’ Public Day School Company (1872–1905), then The Girls’ Public Day School Trust (1906–1998).

The GDST is a registered charity, and is one of the 20 largest charities in the UK.

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        The Project

        The GDST is a major user of data network services to support all aspects of the operation of its schools. In 2017, the GDST worked with The Network Collective (TNC) to procure a new network solution to meet its growing demands, ultimately leading the GDST to enter into a contract with Exponential-e.

        Through the term of this contract, the GDST has been demanding ever greater performance and throughput from its network. However, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic meant the GDST needed even more performance and functionality to support multiple scenarios of education provision, significantly accelerating the GDST’s requirements for bandwidth. With the contract with Exponential-e also coming to an end, the GDST seized the opportunity to renegotiate this contract, secure the technical and operational upgrades it needed , whilst making sure its pricing remained aligned to the most competitive terms in the market.

        Although facing very tight timescales to meet its pandemic response plan, as a charity, the GDST also had to make sure it was securing value for money from this sizeable contract. Therefore, the GDST quickly needed an independent, expert review of its renewal terms, to identify ways in which they could be optimised, as well as to satisfy its governance and compliance standards that the new deal was indeed market competitive.

        To achieve these objectives, the GDST engaged TNC to complete a benchmark of the renewal terms.

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        The Solution

        TNC had to move extremely quickly. Crucially, TNC was able to mobilise almost immediately, and integrate into its team the consultants who had led the GDST’s original procurement process in 2017.

        Building on this existing knowledge, TNC was quickly able to understand the GDST’s needs and to begin assessing the renewal proposals. Key to the success of any benchmark is having the market data to enable detailed analysis. In this case, TNC was able to draw on its unparalleled market dataset, comprising over 4.3m data points. Using this data, TNC built the comparison dataset and completed the normalisation process to enable the benchmarking to proceed.

        Within days, TNC had completed the initial benchmark analysis and presented its findings to the GDST’s senior IT leadership. This analysis provided a detailed assessment of the areas where the renewal terms were strong and where they could be further optimised. Significantly , TNC’s analysis also enabled the GDST to build the internal consensus around the terms secured, showing they were indeed market competitive, meaning the GDST could proceed with the critical programme of upgrades to meet the needs of its schools going into the new academic year.

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        The Result

        As a result of the benchmarking process, the GDST secured further improvements to its renewal terms. However, most importantly, TNC’s market insight demonstrated the robustness of the GDST’s strategy to its senior leadership team, giving them the confidence to progress with this critical project.

        Crucially, TNC was able to deliver the results GDST required within very tight timescales.

        Being able to call on TNC for their expertise and independence meant we were able to prove value for money to our Executive board and move rapidly through our procurement process. I estimate this saved us three months in the overall delivery timeline.

        Dan Hall, Director of Information Technology Services

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