Planning Is Critical When Buying Computers For The Agency
While most agencies look hard for ways to get the most out of equipment purchases, the sad fact is that the useful life of a computer you buy new today is likely to be no more than four years.
There are many reasons for this untimely obsolescence, not the least of which is the incredibly rapid advance of technology development related to computing.
As an example, I purchased a new PC in 1999 that had everything I needed for work and play, and then some. At that time, it seemed the 400MHz (megahertz) clock speed, “new” Windows 98 operating system and 8GB (gigabyte) hard drive were more than adequate for what I had in mind.
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Last year, however, I replaced that lumbering beast with a faster 2GHz (gigahertz), Windows XP machine with 80GB of hard disk space. The operating system alone had advanced three versions in the three plus years since I bought my 1999 machine.
Needless to say, if youre buying new workstations or freestanding PCs for your agency, youll want to make sure the new machines are as useful as possible for at least those four years, or possibly longer. Buying too little in the way of computing power could leave you searching for new PCs two years down the road, while overbuying could have you paying for features youll never use.
Thats why careful planning of such purchases is critical to your return-on-investment.
Buying a computer has never been easier, and that is both a good thing and a bad thing. If youve done your homework and you know what you need, the purchase itself is a piece of cake. If you havent done some planning, however, its easy to make mistakes or to be taken advantage of.
Before you even consider brand, type, speed and data storage capacity of a new computer, take a very hard look at your agencys business practices. What kind of use are you and your staff getting out of your current computers? Often, those who do this kind of self-appraisal are surprised to find that employees are either not using computing resources fully or arent doing so in an efficient way.
Its possible that when you review the agency workflow, you may realize that simply changing workflow policies will serve just as well as replacing your computers, at least for the time being.
Another good way to approach this is to ask yourself and everyone else who works in your agency how your computing experience could be improved to speed carrier interactions, customer service, information storage and other critical aspects of your business.
Are your computer systems maximized for the latest version of your agency management software? Consult with your agency management vendor and find out about things like systems requirements, in both hardware and software.
Again, if youre using an older version of your management software, you may not need to upgrade your hardware (or operating system), especially if you believe you can stick with that older version for a while longer.
According to W. Russ Taylor, a partner in People Computer of Brick, N.J., agencies need to “take a look at your organization. How many people will have to use your technology systems? Will they be doing all their work in the office, or will they be working in the field or out of their homes? Are these people strictly independent, or do you want them to be networked with each other?”