WOOF! Newsletter

April 05, 2018

Standardize Your IT Environment (and Lower Your TCO)

When it comes to your company’s IT hardware/software, think Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Allowing employees to pick a PC or a Mac, or saving a little money by buying home-grade computers or software, creates a mixed environment…which may dramatically increase your costs over time. Part 1 of 2.

PART 1:   PICK YOUR WORKSTATION PLATFORM AND SOFTWARE SUITE, AND STICK TO IT!

When an IT professional talks about "standardizing your IT environment," what do they mean? How does it help the business? Does it lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), and if so, how?

That’s what this two-part WOOF! is all about.

Buying and maintaining IT equipment costs. For some businesses, it's one of their biggest expenses. Does it add value? Definitely. Can it damage the bottom line? It can…if not done properly.

In this Part 1 article, we'll talk about the benefits of standardizing your IT, and how mixed environments (non-standard IT) can cause all sorts of problems.

How to Standardize Your Business' IT – One Type, One Brand, One OS

When we say, "standardizing your IT," we mean:

  • Selecting the same workstation platform for your employees (PC or Mac).
  • Buying the same brand every time (with varying features to accommodate end user needs).
  • Running similar components – A certain minimum RAM/CPU speed/disk space based on operational needs.
  • On one operating system – e.g. Windows 10 Pro.

Now, the designers may need a special graphics app. The VPs may need extra RAM for number-crunching software.  But every employee has the same baseline hardware/software.

Why Standardize?

When you've worked in IT for over 30 years, you pick up quite the list of incompatibility issues. Issues that would have been nonexistent if customers had standardized their IT environments.

What Standardizing Does:

  • Streamlines the sourcing and support of your IT environment
  • Simplifies end-user and support team training on your hardware and software systems
  • Avoids software compatibility issues (a source of increased IT support costs!)
  • Makes your business eligible for bulk purchasing discounts
  • Facilitates smooth workstation backups and security patching
  • Avoids the possibility of substandard products causing extra support work
  • Makes spare workstations easier to provide in the event of theft, or sending a machine out for warranty support

You might wonder, "Why do we need to bother? All computers work together don't they?"

They do…but the more varied your IT, the more potential exists for incompatibility issues. If you have the time, ask any IT professional about "mixed IT environments." Their response may take a while—mixed environments can spawn all sorts of IT problems!

Examples of Mixed Environment Issues

A "mixed IT environment," as you might expect, is a business/organization where there is no IT standardization. Users work on different computer types, use different software applications, etc.

These grow organically—you buy a new computer for one person, another person installs "their favorite" software app, and so on.  The worst examples of mixed environments come from BYOD companies…where no standard exists.

Let's illustrate some problems that come about from this.

1. PC/Mac Compatibility Snarls

We had a new mid-market customer with about 150 employees. These employees used a variety of Macs, PC laptops, and iOS/Android tablets. Due to all the software differences between platforms (Mac, Windows, iOS, Android), support was a nightmare!

We recommended they standardize on one platform, one hardware vendor, and one software suite. It took a little doing, but afterward? Compatibility issues dropped by 90%. (It would be 100%, but the CEO refuses to give up his Mac, even though it gives him Skype for Business issues.)

2. Software Capabilities are Different for the Same Product

Word, Outlook, and Excel are configured differently for Macs and PCs. They're actually separate products.  Things you could do in Excel on a Windows machine, require different steps to do on a Mac (if you can do them at all—sometimes you can't!). This causes user-to-user file issues, extra training requirements, and frustration.

3. "This Software is Not Supported on [Windows/Mac/Android]."

Not all software solutions work on both PCs and Macs.  For instance, you may need two different antivirus or backup solutions, one for PCs, one for Macs. That means managing two different software applications instead of just one.  Extra software management and support time!

4. Twice the Hardware Provisioning

With a mixed environment, companies have to keep an inventory of two or more types of spare mice, keyboards, monitors, etc. Not to mention all the different cables and adapters needed for each. Finding the correct accessories takes time too.

Benefits of Standardizing Your IT

A standardized IT environment avoids all of those issues. In addition, you get:

  • Simpler software sourcing and renewals.
  • A shorter learning curve for all employees.
  • Faster onboarding for new employees.
  • Greater focus on providing security and backups (since you're only supporting one platform).
  • Reduced in-house or outside consultant IT support fees.

Check back next month for Part 2 of Standardizing Your IT Environment. Learn why we always say “pay now or pay later!”

 

How standardized is your IT environment?  Email us your thoughts at woof@planetmagpie.com.