Purchasing and Managing Client Computers
You can also improve serviceability if you standardize on a particular manufacturer
because then you can focus your resources on supporting that line of computers.
The people who support the desktop computers in the company will find it easier
to stay up-to-date with the peculiarities of that manufacturer and will become more
comfortable working with those computers. Also, your company's support staff will
be able to solve a problem once and then apply the solution to many computers, rather
than having to troubleshoot many different types of problems on many different types
of computers. Finally, there might be service-quality benefits when you establish a
strong, ongoing relationship with a computer manufacturer.
If you support many computers, make sure that they are as consistent as possible. Not
only do you want to ensure (as much as possible) that they are the same model and the same
configuration, you also want to make sure the manufacturer uses the same components for all
computers of a particular model. Some manufacturers are not careful about this; they will slip in
different motherboards or network interface cards (NICs) without any notice. For someone buying
a single computer, this isn't a problem. When you need to support 500 or 5,000 computers that are
all supposed to be exactly the same but aren't, it becomes a huge problem, because then you also
must keep track of different drivers and configuration information. Also, if you install and maintain
computers through the use of disk images (such as those made by Norton Ghost), you will need to
maintain different images for all of the different submodels of the computer.
Price and Performance
Once the preceding priorities are satisfied, you can then strike the appropriate balance
between performance and price. You need to take into account the useful life that you
plan for new computers and make certain to purchase systems that will be productive
over that useful life. In determining this balance, don't look at how well a particular
configuration can handle today's needs; look at how well it can handle tomorrow's
Some people might disagree, but I firmly believe that price should be your last
priority when you purchase computers. Although purchase price is important, you first
need to determine your needs and then find the most reasonably priced computers that
best fulfill those needs.
Different strategies exist for getting the best price. These strategies range from
straightforward bargaining and competitive bids, to slightly under-purchasing on the
performance side but planning to upgrade the existing computers when needed (at
least in terms of RAM and hard disk space, both of which decrease pretty rapidly in
price over time).
Don't forget to estimate the cost involved to replace a computer or to upgrade a computer
when you choose a system. It might be less expensive overall to purchase a more capable
computer that you won't need to upgrade or replace as quickly, when you factor in the labor costs
and user productivity impact from installing a replacement.