Standardize Your Hardware, Software, and Policies

How does standardizing save you money? Think like a Managed Services Provider. Simple: efficient troubleshooting and support.If every piece of hardware and software at your business is different, you suffer a variability tax each time there is a problem with a computer on your network. If there are no standards, every problem takes longer to identify, investigate and solve no matter how familiar a technician is with your network setup. Ultimately, the problem will cost you more to fix whether you bring in a consultant to investigate, spend your own time, or have an internal employee solve the problem.
As an example, each time a technician looks at a problem, he must find the answers to the questions like these:

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  • What is the model of computer we are working on?
  • Which version of Microsoft operating system is being used?
  • Which version of Microsoft Office is being used?
  • Has the latest service pack been installed?
  • Do they have a current antivirus tool on the computer?

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Having the answers to these questions is critical to solving a problem and standardizing these factors across your computers will save you time and money. By standardizing the vendor and computer type used within your company, replacing broken hardware becomes easier as well. If every computer you buy is different, replacing parts becomes an investigation requiring opening up the computer, finding purchasing records, and determining if parts for that computer are standard. This ultimately costs your organization real dollars in time and effort. If every computer you purchase is the same, it’s easy to keep a small inventory of spare parts on hand and reorder quickly as necessary.

How do you standardize?

If possible, order all of your computers at one time. Larger companies do this technical refresh process every few years. Putting everything on a three-year lease is a nice way to spread out the expense. If purchasing everything at once isn’t possible, make sure you purchase only business-class computers, and always get the same model. Identify computers that are older and put a phased purchasing plan in place to replace the older computers over time. The components in the machine will then be easier to inventory, replace, and manage. Finally, use the same version of operating system and Microsoft Office suite on each computer.
Don’t upgrade one without upgrading the others.

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