Among the least forgotten items to consider when opening a new office, are computers and mobile devices. While they are the easiest to remember because they are used daily, it is a component that is often overlooked as to its importance. Buying a new computer is not as easy as running down to the nearest big box store and picking one off the shelf. While that might work in the short term, it really is best to put a little thought into what you need now and what you may need in the future.
Do you plan on using mobile devices in addition to your computer? A tablet or a smartphone, perhaps? What types of things would you like to be able to do on that tablet or phone? Just check & send emails? Or do you have special software that you plan to use with a mobile site or mobile app? Or maybe it just has the ability to sync to your device. Do you have that mobile device already, or do you need to purchase it? Talking to your IT consultant can help you determine how much you can do with the particular device & software in question and if you haven't purchased it yet, can help determine which model may work best for your needs.
First of all, where do you primarily work? Where do you WANT to be able to work? If you would like to be able to work outside of the office, a laptop with some special peripherals might be just what you need. If you just come into the office to work, a desktop would be better. And if you do special graphic work, you might need a desktop anyway, since graphic design is so resource intensive.
What software do you need? Is it primarily cloud based or is it all on CD's? What types of files do you save? Are they large? Are they stored on the cloud, or on your local machine? Knowing the answer to questions like this will help your consultant determine the appropriate amount of hard drive space and RAM necessary, as well as the processing power required.
Do you need special peripherals? Printers, scanners, speakers, microphones, accessibility devices or anything else that hooks up to your computer? And this is where its nice to know about those mobile devices, too. It pays to have the right ports on a computer to begin with.
Way back in the day when I first left home and went to college, I purchased a laptop for an obscene amount of money ($2500 almost 15 years ago). Without knowing anything about computers, I picked a machine that had the most ports, memory, biggest hard drive and newest OS that I could scrape up the money for. It ended up being the best machine I ever owned -- I never wanted for ports or needed PCMCIA cards and the only upgrade I ever did to it was to add RAM. It worked fabulously for well over 5 years in the days when a newer, faster processor came out every 6 months and it ran for 10 before it stopped running entirely.
I'm not saying all computer investments turn out like my first laptop. After all, hasn't everyone driven a lemon? But the odds are much greater that spending a little extra for a higher quality business class machine with some room for growth would help get you there. Wouldn't you like to be able to recall the awesome investment you made on a great computer that lasted for years instead of the one that broke monthly or made you angry every time you sat down to work? For more tips for opening a new office, see all the articles in this series:
Jen Steed writes about technology, travel and more. You can find her writing for various online and print publications. To talk to Jen or see all of her articles as they are published, you can follow Jen on Google+.
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