Considerations when procuring for your company (From LinkedIn)

I recently posted a comment on a LinkedIn Group focused on corporate real estate, in response to a request by a very active member.  He was looking for feedback on what some considerations are in selecting a notebook or a desktop for one's company.   Since I took the time to post a fairly detailed reply, I thought I'd share it here as well:

I've helped companies evaluation and make "platform" decisions now for over a decade. My input is based on some basic business principles applied to experience with hardware, software and integration into a preexisting or new I.T. system. My measures of success for any company or individual I'm working with to procure a new system is 1) they enjoy the capabilities and results they expected as a result- most of which are unexpressed until the customer is proactively polled, 2) no unintended consequences down the road in terms of surprise costs or support issues and 3) price that fits the budget, or if a compromise will be made, to know what the compromise is before the purchase. 

A few things I've learned that hopefully can help: 

1. Try to separate hardware and software when evaluating which platform to invest in. Start by breaking out a list of user needs first (this drives everything else), which will be satisfied by applications including Cloud-based apps (SaaS). Once you have a list of apps, then you can look at those and determine the operating system platform (what version of Windows, etc.). Once you determine all of that, then you can now look at hardware. One of the most important things to consider in this is preexisting assets like software assets. One of my customers has a Microsoft open license subscription, and we have a number of Windows 7 Professional installs that we keep track of that can be deployed if available. This can reduce the cost of a purchase if either a) the qualified hardware purchase can have the OS cost negotiated out or b) you have a hardware platform you want to buy with a different OS (for cost, capability, etc.) that you wish to replace. More and more business users are beginning to realize they can run their MacBook Air ultra-portable natively in Windows 7 Pro- without any kind of interference from the Mac OS. This is an example. 

2. Closely inspect the track record of the vendors, especially the movement of their reputation in the last 2-3 years. I'm most familiar with Consumer Reports which is a North American entity- I like their objectivity. I give less credit to other North American entities who publish satisfaction reports (e.g. J.D. Powers and associates) because, in my opinion, the level of depth one sees is more based on the I.T. Director's opinion or the Purchasing Manager's opinion, and not based on the direct feedback of the users who typically are quietly compliant about their complaints and issues with the platform. The other thing to do is talk with others who have success stories to share, but be careful not to assume their platform requirements are the same- unless they really are exactly the same. 

3. If considering Apple - which many companies are (I can site my sources and more specific metrics for what "more" is separately), go back to point #1- Some of the most successful Apple Mac procurements (regardless of what triggered the interest- usually it's the CEO or business owner's personal interest) are for the hardware ONLY, then the Windows platform and related apps are installed. I've personally (and very carefully) helped migrate several companies ranging from Biomedical Device to Accounting to Legal to the Mac this way- it can give a company quite an enormous return on investment, and generally a cost savings believe it or not that would make most CFOs smile (they hate surprises when the "cheaper" option costs more in year two, or worse yet, after 90 days). I.T. Directors taking direction from their CEO can look like heroes by having a staged implementation - migrate to Mac with zero software platform change costs using all preexisting licenses- and then switch software platforms once the next major upgrade purchase cycle (e.g. Adobe, Microsoft office, etc.) comes around. 

There are a lot of moving pieces. Just FYI for all reading this, I am a multi-vendor expert, not a Mac head or a Windows person. I use both.

(Posted on LinkedIn, via the Group Corporate Real Estate & Facilities Management Professionals)