Standards. We all have them in one form or another.

My father refuses to buy from Chrysler yet my brother-in-law loves Chrysler. My mother drinks her coffee black, and I drink mine with cream and sugar. A good friend is a staunch Republican while another friend in the same circle is a life-long Democrat.

Standards are the guide we use to navigate our way through life’s challenges. For an IT professional, establishing standards for the purchasing of technology equipment is an essential element in proactively managing the network and its resources.

Equipment standards should cover all aspects of information technology from tablets and workstations, to servers and network equipment, to even extending where you do the majority of your purchasing. By defining standards for your computer hardware, you gain compatibility, predictability, and possibly even greater leverage with your vendor partners. You also give your IT staff the chance to become experts on the equipment ensuring they will be able to support your network more efficiently.

At one company, we chose to standardize on Dell OptiPlex workstations and Dell Latitude laptops. We even took it a step further by selecting specific models inside each model. In this way, our we were able to focus our training on those particular machines. We were able to diagnose issues more quickly because we understood the personality of each model. It also made the purchasing much easier, and the pricing more predictable.

At another company, I arrived in my position to find that purchasing was done from whatever vendor was the cheapest. I vetted some suppliers for the breadth of offering and pricing and ended up choosing a local vendor for all purchasing. At first, management was angry that some prices had increased, but as our leverage with the vendor grew, it became apparent to everyone that we had gained increased leverage with the supplier. When we spoke, they listened.

A key component to setting standards is regular evaluation and comparison to ensure that the equipment and vendors you have chosen are still what you need. Is the hardware keeping up with the changes in technology? If not, is it keeping close enough to satisfy your needs? Is your vendor keeping their prices competitive? If not, are the others who should be considered? This process insures you are using the best technology you can, and it keeps your vendors on their toes.

I can guess what you are thinking by now: I don’t have time for this!

You will have more time for this if you do this! In my experience, the efficiencies gained by setting standards far outweigh the time it takes to research and evaluates the equipment and vendor(s) you are using. Knowing how the equipment you support behaves, how it should be configured, and where to get it creates consistency, predictability and considerable expertise for your staff. All of which makes your life simpler, and the network run smoother.

For more information, contact  Blue Star IT Services right away at (574) 975-0767 or info@bluestarpro.com.

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