The RIGHT Computer System For The Office
You may think that finding the right computers for your business is as easy as logging on, adding a number of computers to your shopping cart, checking out, and paying a gigantic bill next month for all the gear you bought. And if you’re a start-up, you may have wasted half your budget on a computer or computers you don’t need.
Choosing the right computer system for your business isn’t hard, as long as you focus on getting the job done productively - doing more with less, and for less.
Before You Buy, What Do You Need?
Just because you have 38 employees doesn’t mean you need 38 different work stations with computers. Employees in shipping track shipments on a single computer. Materials are tracked on a simple spread sheet.
So, first determine how many computers you actually need. Work stations used to perform basic business functions like order tracking and billing don’t need a lot of speed so you can pay less for a less speedy CPU, and are you EVER going to require a terabyte of storage in the era of off-site cloud storage?
Hey, if you store data in the cloud, why pay for a huge hard drive on a basic work station? Go with a smaller hard drive and, again, save on hardware costs.
Now, once you know how many computers your office needs, and the functions performed on each unit, you can design a system that meets company needs, grows as the company grows, and doesn’t blow up the budget.
Price is usually the first consideration. How much? That’s what you want to know.
Allocate computer resources smartly, purchasing faster computers for data-dense business activity like graphics rendering, and slower less expensive computers for use as basic word processors.
What kind of computer does the best job? While Internet access via smart phone is increasing, the good old desktop computer is still valuable to even really small, nano-cap businesses.
The downside is that employees are tethered to that desktop big box. Mobility is limited. A lot.
However, today’s desktops are available with a smaller footprint, and a smaller box, but you still get all the features that can be added to desktops, password protected and locked down to prevent equipment theft.
If mobility is a consideration for use by on-the-road employees, go with a laptop or tablet for basic functions like placing an order from another location or remote payment capture from the customer’s home.
Laptops can deliver basic services, or add a faster CPU and it can become a remote work station so employees are always connected.
Two-in-one systems deliver the simplicity and convenience of a tablet, but you also get a separate keyboard locking bay, in effect, turning a tablet into a nice remote laptop. However, you pay for this flexibility. If the device requires sophisticated features, like a camera or video capability, you’ll pay more for these features on a tablet or laptop.
If you don’t need a camera, and don’t expect to shoot video footage, a basic, low-cost tablet that can sync with the office network is really all you need.
Smartphones are growing in use at a truly phenomenal rate, especially among younger consumers who grew up in front of computers, and who can type their text, review their email, and watch a movie all at once.
Some smartphones are free when you sign up for a service plan, but that’s not a good way to pick your hardware. Do your homework. A technician with a smartphone that can take a picture and send it back to the warehouse knows in minutes whether a part is in stock.
On the other hand, if the smartphone is simply being used to dispatch your service trucks throughout the day, a simple smartphone with a GPS app can save your business operating capital and costs of hardware.
The office server should be scalable to grow with your company. All office work stations should be networked through the server, with distinct access privileges for each employee, determined by you.
Once again, back-up your company business information off-site, in a secure cloud. Chances are you’ll pay a monthly storage fee based on how much cloud you require. The nice thing? You can always add more cloud when you need it.
Versatility is another important question to ask before rushing out to buy a bunch of gear you don’t need. A single, wireless printer can serve a small business office. You don’t need a printer at each work station.
All digital devices should sync up with the digital activities of your business. Employees on the road should have access to schedule updates. Sales staff should be able to place an order, collect and deposit payment when services or products are delivered.
Versatility is available in desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones - you can conduct online business securely using today’s computing devices.
Compatibility may also be a consideration if the graphics department uses Apple while the billing office uses Microsoft Office. There are cross-platform software packages: Apple software that works on Microsoft operating systems and Microsoft products that sync seamlessly with the Apple computers in your networked office system.
Finally, determine how easily equipment can be upgraded. You (or your CTO) could add RAM chips to a desktop, but you might need the services of a professional to upgrade a laptop. If you think you’ll need upgrades, go with a small-form desktop that can be popped open, chips inserted, popped closed.
All digital devices should be able to talk to each other - another benefit of cloud computing. The information may have been uploaded to your company’s off-site storage using a desktop, but it can be downloaded (with permissions you set) to a tablet, laptop, smartphone, personal data assistant (PDA) - whatever device you employ to track business activity.
Do your research, develop a plan to keep computing costs low while still meeting business standards, and only purchase what you need, not the newest fastest smartphone that’ll never be pushed to the max.
Plan ahead on computer purchases and save business capital.