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Improving desktop IT support

Spending on PC support

Eighteen months ago we employed two specialist PC technicians. It costs about one and a half to two times somebody's salary to employ them.

Guess the salary of a skilled PC technician, multiply that by three or four and divide by your estimate of how many staff we had eighteen months ago.

Now compare that with the cost of your desktop PC.

And your own time?

A 2000 study by Lt. Col Alvin Lee USAF showed that the average member of the USAF Air Education Training Command spent 9.3 hours per month fixing his or her own IT problems and another 9.2 hours per month helping coworkers with their IT problems. [Source: Technology Excellence in Government 2000]

Estimated annual Total Cost of Ownership of a Desktop PC

Economist: $6,400
Forrester: $8,200
Fortune: $9,000
Gartner: $7,000
The majority of this is reckoned to be the so-called "soft costs" (i.e., ones that don't appear on anybody's budget) of end-users spending their time fixing their IT.

The basic proposal

At the moment every desktop PC is a one-off. We propose doing the same as every organisation that pays for its staff's time: trying to buy a standard high-quality business desktop PC which can then be fitted with our individual choice of CPU, RAM, disks, DVD drive(s), monitor(s), etc, and which comes with a three-year on-site warranty. This should allow us to buy machines which are customised to individual needs whilst still being easier to maintain.

Doing this means that we solve any problems related to any particular platform just once, rather than once per machine. It also allows us to buy centrally-funded spare machines that we can swap for any broken machines to get you back to work right away. Finally, swapping your hard disks and peripherals into a spare machine will be hugely helpful for solving those hard-to-diagnose problems.

There will always be requirements such as that can't be met by these machines. That's not a problem provided that whatever we do, including this policy, is science-lead.

Why do this?

If you've never worked out what we were spending on IT support look at the panel on the right. Worse, still, if you've never thought consciously about how much time you spend on IT look at the second panel.

Supporting people, not platforms


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