Identify the needs of your organisation and the users
- Try and group your users into different groups based on how they use their computer and the applications they use. For example: office users; home workers; field sales staff; production line staff; drawing office/designers; and managers. This will help identify which groups thin computing will be a good solution for.
- Are there any particular requirements that a particular group may have? For example: do the accounts team have a special printer; do your reception staff use a webcam to take a customer’s picture for a security badge; do your production line staff need to view health and safety or training videos. Make sure you identify these needs and include them in your questions to potential suppliers. Don’t take anything for granted. Don’t assume that because your current system has a particular function, your new thin computing system will have the same capability.
- List all the applications your users need. If this is a major task, ask a potential supplier if they have some software tools that can help do this.
- Are there other technology solutions that you are looking at? For example, if you are looking at a voice over IP (VoIP) phone system, it may make sense to look for a thin computing solution that can work with this.
What benefits do you want to achieve?
- Thin computing can deliver a range of benefits. Make sure you understand what your priorities are. For example, do you handle sensitive customer data so security is critical; is cost saving most important to you; or will your business stop if your PCs don’t work – so reliability is very important?
- If cost savings are important, how much do you expect to save? Where are you expecting to save money? Is it in reduced hardware costs or through lower support and maintenance?
- How much is your organisation currently spending on technology? Have you analysed the cost of your current system including annual maintenance, support costs andsoftware licences and how does that compare to a thin computing system?
What do you need for your new system?
- What equipment will I require? For example, you may still need to retain your PCs or Macs for graphics.
- How much will it cost?
- How much will it cost to maintain and support?
- Can I utilise any existing equipment?
- How much more (if at all) bandwidth will I need? This may be because with all your terminals accessing the central server for processing capability. Many applications use large amounts of bandwidth, for example if you are sending emails with large attachments such as presentations, but it is advisable to check that your system can cope.
- At what cost?
- You will need to ensure that whatever you purchase now will be able to meet your future requirements.
Identify the right suppliers.
- Use Conjungo’s ‘Find a Thin Computing Supplier’ search facility.
- Who has the experience of working with a company of the same size and profile as yours?
- How many similar installations have they made?
- Ask for references – ensure that the company is capable and reliable.
- Ask to speak with a couple of their customers in order to see what benefits have been gained.
- Get a credit check to ensure that they are financially stable. You can get this directly from the supplier details found from your Conjungo search.
Request a proposal from three or four of your preferred suppliers
Select a proposal.
- Who best demonstrates that they understand your business and your requirements?
- Is the solution flexible and scalable and therefore able to meet future demand? You don’t want to find out later that by investing a little more money now will save you money later.
- Is it cost effective? Have they shown how and where you will save money?
- Does it demonstrate clearly the functional benefits – rather than telling a list of particular features, does the proposal clearly show what the benefits are? There is no point on spending money for system with features that are of no benefit or that you will never use!
- Does it clearly outline what hardware and other costs are involved?
- How much will the software (licences) cost?
- How much will software support cost?
- Can any savings be made by agreeing a multi-year contract for support?
- How will your potential supplier support and maintain your system afterwards?
- How much will this cost?
- Have you spoken to a couple of your preferred suppliers customers?
- Agree on financial terms – you may be required to pay a deposit but do not pay the whole amount in advance of delivery.