In the argument over how to source computers, this segment examines the benefits, challenges, and considerations of purchasing IT equipment out right.
- These final two chapters represent some of the most important discussions that don't happen between IT and management. And they are first, the devices themselves, and second the site where the technology is used. These conversations are usually skipped either because one side or the other figures they have exclusive rights to making that decision or because they don't see long term consequences to those decisions. In this chapter I'm going to focus on the devices on the network.
And by device I mean the computers and tablets or other things that connect to the servers and printers in the office. There are several considerations about these devices, and they're most easily grouped together by who owns the device. Let's start with a very common scenario. All devices that participate on the company network are owned by the company. If we only allow computers owned by our company to access our servers and printers, we will see the IT department cheer because their daily tasks just got a lot more consistent.
The company can take advantage of the chapter three discussions about purchasing hardware and can make sure that every computer is selected for both the tasks of its user and continuity with the other computers to be supported. If a computer goes south, having all one model makes computers easier to repair if they're broken. Either because of a defect or because a user ran over it with their car. It is easier for the IT department to stock replacement parts, or when necessary, an entire replacement computer when they're the ones that made the purchase.
When all computers are owned by the company, the IT department can also take advantage of things like group policies and other technology designed to restrict how the computer is used. When the computer is more tightly controlled, the operating system is less likely to be destroyed by careless use. And don't act so surprised about that car scenario. Chances are you know someone who's done it, even if they've never admitted it. But there are downsides to having the company own all the computers.
And the ability of employees to run them over illustrates just one of those issues. If you own the computers, you own the problems. Now I've worked at companies that have policies making employees responsible for the computers assigned to them, but I've never seen employees actually required to pay for broken computers out of their pockets. Maybe this is because it hasn't happened all that often and maybe it's because I've worked for some very generous employers, but either way, having the company own the computers introduces a financial risk.
Another aspect of owning the problems is owning employee discontent associated with the computers. This could be as innocuous as complaints that they don't like the brand of computers or phones, but more troubling is when users are frustrated at what they're not allowed to do with their computers. When the computer is intended to be used for company business, it's reasonable to put restrictions in place to makes sure it continues to fulfill those purposes, but the definition of reasonable will be put to the test with laptops and other mobile computers.
Som employees will want to be able to install things to make the computer more compatible with their personal computing needs. This becomes especially troubling when those users are members of senior management and used to getting their way. The decision to having the company own and take full responsibility for computers and other devices needs to be made with the input and support of the IT strategists and the rest of top level leadership.
- Including IT in strategy
- What does IT bring to strategy?
- Communicating the big picture
- Selecting and evaluating the effectiveness of training and development activities
- Choosing the right hardware, platforms, and applications
- Who owns the devices?
- Site planning
- External and internal connectivity