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Laptop user criteria

By TTate ·
Does anyone have a criteria checklist for choosing who in your organization has a laptop vs desktop?

Thanks for the advice.

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Rough criteria

by generalist In reply to Laptop user criteria

You might want to work up a matrix of conditions.

A person's location would be one of the items in the matrix. If the person is always at the same location, a desktop might be best. If they are always on the move and never know exactly where they will be, a laptop might work better. If they are on the move some times and not others, it might be a tossup, especially if solid data sharing is available.

Then you have the political side of the matrix. The Big Boss might not need a laptop computer but if the Big Boss wants one, is it safe to say no? And at the lower tiers of the organization, you might want some matrix entries that suggest that certain groups of people have laptops while others have desktops, but not restrict them. (i.e. Some engineers may never leave their cubicles and can use desktops while others are sent out to visit customer sites and need laptops.)

Security may also affect the matrix.

Physical security may encourage the use of laptop computers that can be removed from a work area and locked up after hours. Conversely, to prevent a snatch-and-run operation, desktop computers that are chained down make an excellent deterent.

Data security may dictate that you use one type of machine over another. I know some laptop models that are setup so that you could remove the hard disk even if the machine is chained to a spot.

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Question

by Oldefar In reply to Laptop user criteria

When you say organization, are you referring to a company or department?

The reason I ask is that such decisions are best determined by the business managers whose employees will be using the tools provided by the IT department, and not by the IT department, IMHO.

A good checklist for IT is one that outlines the unique capabilities of one platform versus another so that the business managers are better informed when selecting tools for their people.

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Sorry didn't reply sooner

by TTate In reply to Question

I had subscribed to this but apparently did not receive the notices of any responses.

I am talking about for an entire organization. Yes, I understand what you mean about a business manager specifying the tools an employee needs, but some (most) of the time, those tools are not realistic because of costs (TCO of desktop vs laptop).

Thanks for the replies.

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TCO

by Oldefar In reply to Sorry didn't reply sooner

While that is sometimes the case, it ignores other aspects of business which the various business managers must deal with.

Take for example lost revenue.

A manager provides support to the sales effort on a once per quarter basis. The resource he sends is well versed in the product/service the company sells, but not comfortable with computers in general. His people do get comfortable with whatever PC they use on a daily basis. The resource requests come in unscheduled and on short notice, so the manager cannot task one of his people to always be the resource. Typically, the resource arrives at a sales presentation and must provide the technical details to the client decision makers.

On one occaission, the resource sent was unable to find needed documents to validate a statement made. The sales presentation essentially lost momentum while the resource searched the sales laptop for the necessary file, and then became flustered as he was unable to locate it. Sale was lost, probably due to an unproffessional presentation. Revenue lost was $1M, with a profit of 3%. Pipeline (future sales) lost was estimated at $20M over 5 years.

Now to that resource manager and to sales, the TCO is chump change when compared to lost profits. Putting each resource in that department on a laptop so they would have their "own" files instead of trying to find someone else's would have been more than paid for by the profit on the first sale.

Best decision from a business manager perspective - laptops for all his resources. As a side note, the sales director might pick up the extra cost as risk management.

Now, I don't think either manager would be inclined to justify this to IT.

Other business influences outside the scope of technology include customer base and target market base. Sales will not always share the targets with anyone outside of sales, so the link might be missed. An example is a target company that has a subsidary making laptops. These laptops are not the best technically, but the parent company represents a sales potenital that exceeds the current customer base. Sales pushes hard to make that subsidary product the standard build so that both when making calls on the parent target customer or when bringing decision makers back to the company offices that customer sees their products being used. In a close decision, this might be the influence that makes or breaks the deal. Technology TCO is insignificant to the value. IT is not considered a critical part of the decision process.

One off situations also apply. An external resource who is a strong door opener to particular target companies might have a stake in whether laptops or PC are used, or which laptop or PC. His value to sales opportunities is so important that the selection is made based on influencing him. Again, the technical TCO is considered insignificant to total value.

Sometimes the issue is time. The business manager needs to act, and so buys on his own what he thinks he needs. Counter this by being the miracle guys he can call and get results faster than he can acting alone. Be available and easy to work with.

Now IT can become a valued player in these decisions if it handles the disucssions properly. Having done an excellent job of ranking workstations and laptops by TCO and capabilities (its expertise) the IT rep (CIO, CTO, department head) can still have a role in these decisions. Begin by recognizing and accepting the business drivers - feed the prestige of the business managers by acknowledging their expertise. When they have a need contrary to the technical recommendation, offer solutions. Become the team members known for always trying to make it work rather than the ones always saying no.

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