Saturday, December 22, 2012

Reducing IT Costs: The Five Pillars of Computer Dependability and Longevity that Save Your Company Money

Reducing IT Costs: The Five Pillars of Computer Dependability and Longevity that Save Your Company Money  

Part One - Avoiding the Lemons Is Easier Said Than Done

We all heard the term “Lemon” as it applies to a product that is bad, unreliable, or simply doesn’t work.  What makes any product a “lemon” is poor design, not just quality control. Even if, you have a manufacturer renowned for product reliability such as Toyota, that manufacturer can still produce a product that needs to be recalled.

The first pillar of the Computer Dependability and Longevity that Save Your Company Money is to avoid purchasing that computer application or hardware with poor design or is a “lemon”.   Unfortunately, in the ever changing environment of computer technology that is easier said than done.  It is easy to get fooled by the hype and sucked into keeping up with the Jones so we are not left behind in the old technology dust.  Even so, try to fight buying on impulse and follow the best practices below before purchasing any computer product:

Purchase products that have a proven track record

What I’m saying is a “product” that has a proven track record, not simply a manufacturer with a track record.  This means do the following:

1.    Avoid being a “first” adopter of new technology

2.    Purchase products that have been on the market for six months or more

3.    Check any and all product reviews about the product

4.    Check any “troubleshooting” forums that mention the product.  This is the advantage of waiting at least six months.  After six months these forums should be replete with complaints about the product.  Review these complaints to determine what you are really purchasing

5.    Buy business models. When you’re buying new computers for your business, look at the business models instead of the home models. Manufacturers (Dell, HP, etc.) change the components in their business machines less frequently, and only after testing the components in their “home” or “consumer” models.  This is reason behind the longer warranties you get with a business model. 

Whenever possible, test the product before you make the purchase

You may find the product that has good design and is reliable, but it may not pair well with the other software or hardware in your computer or your company computer network.  You can do this by doing the following:

1.    If it is software, obtain a demo.  Run the demo on a typical computer in your network. 

2.    Buy one copy or one device and test it before purchasing multiple devices.

3.    Setup a “test” computer that you don’t mind crashing.  You can use virtualization and imaging software to create you “test” computer so there is NO need to purchase additional hardware. 

Ask your computer support tech or company if they do the following

You can get invaluable advice if your computer support company does the following…

1.    The computer support company has their own “lab” where they test products

2.    The computer support company belongs to industry trade associations and regularly attends meetings.  Whenever techs get together they ultimately will discuss horror stories about products. These associations also provide a resource that your tech can tap into and obtain information from other techs who have had experience with a product.

3.    Avoid working with computer resellers who try to push you into adopting the latest technology. 

4.    Find a computer support company that is exclusively a consulting company or one that makes 80% of their revenue from consulting and less than 20% of revenue from product sales.  At least the financial incentive of the computer support company will lean heavily toward support and not product sales.  Essentially, they are forced to support the products they sell.

5.    Avoid Break/Fix computer companies.  They charge by the hour and they make their money when your computer breaks down.  It is the wrong financial incentive to pay a tech only when the computer breaks down.  From a Break/Fix support company’s view there is little financial incentive to prevent computer issues. The financial incentives lean to much toward the expensive fix as opposed to preventing the expensive fix. Find a company that will agree to work for a flat fee for all support and maintenance including system replacements…yes, they are out there.    

Part Two: Why variety increases your business computing costs