Planning for Technology Replacement; Is it Possible?


Replacing computing equipment before it is obsolete is a daunting challenge. Many institutions have a plan to replace desktop computers on a periodic basis. Other institutions utilize a process whereby users request new resources against an annual budget or a periodic stream of irregular funding. When IT management steps back and looks at all of the activities resulting from these processes, many problems become evident. The replacement/upgrade processes are inherently costly, labor intensive for technical support staff and too frequently disruptive for users. Such plans also rely on decision-making processes that are often politically charged and too heavily weighted toward individual goals or departmental goals rather than institutional goals. In an attempt to satisfy as many needs as possible, IT organizations have created processes that are often a burden to all involved. In many cases, institutions have based their decisions on a set of long-standing assumptions that should be reconsidered. Is there a better way? This paper reflects on the variables involved in technology replacement within a context of constrained resources in an attempt to vastly improve the process of computer installations. As a practical example, the Academic Desktop Computing Replacement Plan of Bucknell University is presented for consideration.

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