Often when organizations make hardware buying decisions, the majority
of their attention is focused on processor speed, RAM, ease of maintenance,
and other standard hardware concerns. However, if you are facing a space
dilemma, realize that you could save money on rent if you utilize your
office space more effectively, or are looking for creative ways to reorganize
your office space, you should add size to your list of criteria as you
Also, take the time to use Visio or a space planning tool to create an
electronic diagram of your office so you can see exactly what impact ultra-slim
desktops might have on your workspace layout. The initial time investment
you spend creating this virtual office may pay off significantly if you
find a way to reorganize instead of expand, or move project teams together
so they communicate more effectively and are more productive.
Finally, as you consider your hardware needs, make a special point to
carefully consider how extensible your new hardware needs to be, and how
many legacy devices you really need to support. For example, do you really
need to buy hardware that supports PS/2 mice and keyboards just because
you have a whole collection of these legacy peripherals sitting around?
It might make more sense to invest in new keyboards and mice (you can
buy them as part of your new hardware for a cost savings) to rid yourself
of the need to support them.
Also, while you want the hardware you buy to support your future business
needs, don't buy to accommodate any business need -- instead, plan to
meet a targeted set of needs that fit your business plans. If your business
depends on a call center, short of outsourcing that call center, you'll
always need to support the basic applications that keep your call center
running. Match the software and peripheral updates you have planned in
the next 6 to 12 months with your new hardware. If you run a training
facility, short of getting out of the training business all together,
you will always need to support training labs. Consider the subjects you
plan to instruct for the next 12 to 18 months and design systems that
will support them.
As you begin evaluating your own space and computing needs, consider how
two real companies are evaluating theirs.
||Tip: The Selecting
Workstations IT Guide linked at right discusses the ins and outs
of purchasing hardware for your organization in detail.
A growing call
The Re-Fi Group is a growing financial services company that specializes
in brokering auto and home loan refinancing. Their entire loan fulfillment
system is Web-based, and they take applications online and over the phone.
To close the loan, staff must work live on the phone with customers to
gather more information and documentation, as well as get the customer's
approval on the terms of any new loan.
The company supports two distinct call centers:
The company's loan business is booming, and they have found it is more
cost-effective to add additional representatives in both call centers
rather than outsource portions of the business. The company doesn't want
to lease additional office space, but needs to make room for more staff;
also, they need to purchase new hardware for the new representatives they
plan to hire.
||An incoming call center takes loan applications from
customers. Representatives work in this call center in three shifts,
24 hours a day. Call center representatives do not have individual
workspaces; instead, representatives share workspaces across shifts.
Because the company's application is Web-based, the computers
in the call center need to support a Web browser and an e-mail
client, but not much more. System ergonomics are important in
this call center because representatives spend their entire shifts
working at their computers.
||An outgoing call center works with customers to convert
loan applications to fulfilled loans. Representatives in this
center work in a single shift and don't share a workspace. These
representatives have to access the loan fulfillment system as
well as a document printing system and standard Microsoft Office
applications to write letters and manage spreadsheets. Each representative
has his or her own printer as well as a scanner for digitizing
documentation that customers provide to include in a digital record
of the account. The company just purchased 10 USB scanners for
the outgoing call center representatives.
Widgets Inc. is a software company that was once an application service
provider (ASP) that hosted client Web sites in their data center. To expand
their client base and better meet customer needs, the company has begun
to sell licensed software that clients can install and run on their own.
Under the ASP model, the company didn't need to worry about training their
customers to install and use their software. Widgets did all of the work
in-house and trained new employees one-on-one. The sale of licensed copies
of their software means that users need training. Initially, the company
sent staff to client sites to perform customized training, but requests
for training have grown and there aren't enough trainers to go around.
Under their current model, the company would need to hire five new employees
to keep up with demand.
Rather than bring on several new employees, the company is set to change
its model and offer training to clients at the Widgets main office. They
will still need to hire two more trainers and build a training lab, but
if they can utilize existing office space for the lab, they can contain
costs. The company plans to knock down the wall between two 12 x 12 foot
conference rooms to create the lab. The room needs to support as many
trainees as is comfortably possible, along with a trainer, projector,
white board, and other training materials.
When you take a step back and look at your space requirements along with
your hardware requirements, just as the Re-Fi Group and Widgets Inc. did
in the above scenarios, the many ways a space-saving PC can help you maximize
office space start to become abundantly clear. Once you have a vision
for your office space, it's time to find just the right hardware configuration.
A software company
that needs a training facility