Are your IT policies seriously hampering your company’s productivity?

With the introduction of Windows 64-bit operating systems firmly behind us, many business owners and IT managers are still a bit confused and still wondering what this means for them. And in the case of IT managers and support staff, do they really need 64-bit operating systems on their PCs or their users’ PCs, or do they really need dedicated CAD workstations?

While many balked at the advent of commercially available 64-bit systems because of driver support in Windows XP, now that Vista is firmly established (there’s no getting around it), IT support staff and business owners really need to understand what this means for their Power user means rather than ignoring it, which many still do.

This doesn’t come as a blow to IT support staff in general, as typically when managing an enterprise or even a small business environment, they are more often driven to provide efficient IT management across the board for a tight budget, which can be counterproductive.

Rarely are they commissioned or tasked with increasing the productivity of the company. Therefore, in most cases, hardware supply is aimed at the office user level, and when an employee’s needs are greater, requests for better equipment are ignored!

I can say this from years of experience noting this lack of understanding in IT support departments in both small business, multinational and government organizations and even some very large IT support companies.

Where there is understanding or even a willingness to listen, there is often a lack of interest in doing something about it, as this would disrupt the status quo or put additional strain on the unforeseen IT budget.

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Mention CAD to your average IT support engineer and you’ll see them mumble something technical and walk the other way.

Unfortunately, that’s an understandable reaction as the support staff, no matter how knowledgeable, rarely have an understanding of specific software and hardware requirements, and in fairness it’s also a little unreasonable to expect them to know it unless they are exceptionally familiar with the environment.

I’m not going to gain support here for what I’m about to say, but it needs to be said.

The IT department is there to support the needs of the business, not throttle its potential productivity, by strictly adhering to IT policies and protocols, which in many cases, while appropriate for most business needs, Massively restrict specialist departments and go far from meeting their true needs.

When a user makes noise, they obviously see issues that need to be addressed, and in some cases talented design professionals seek alternative employment when their pleas are not heard.

This can have devastating effects on a company, especially if it only has a small design department.

In most environments, getting a project to market a week or a month early can impact success, if not thousands then tens of thousands become net profitable.

Even a delay of as little as a week can result in serious and costly contractual penalties for many companies.

If your business, or the business you support, is involved with Digital Content Creation (DCC), Mechanical CAD (MCAD), Electronic Design Automation (EDA), etc., then it matters (if it matters to you) that the competition to beat) that you understand your IT policy can seriously undermine the productivity and effectiveness of the company.

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Any good business owner will understand the return on investment that brings them an increase in productivity or a reduction in costs and penalties. And with reasonable justification, why wouldn’t they want the business to become more profitable?

If you have specialized users in the business and haven’t already done so, you need to split the IT budget between the needs of two very different types of users to ensure you can support the business effectively.

So why do so many companies expect performance from their designers and specialists when they’re limited to using hardware that, in many cases, isn’t as powerful as the one their kids use to surf the web?

Quite simply: With company bosses it is often a matter of simple incomprehension or a lack of information!

If IT support staff are often told that there is nothing else in the budget, they will accept that and do their best given the constraints. But remember, their focus will then be on minimizing costs (which can sometimes be a bad thing).

If you tell them that there is nothing else in the budget unless there is a justification for investment, then naturally IT support staff will focus on providing the most efficient and productive IT environment and will not be afraid come up with positive and productive ideas ..

If you have business users in your organization and have not made any special arrangements for them, here are some important points to consider:

1. Investing in proper CAD workstations is rarely absolutely justified, you just have to find out how much.

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2. Minimum requirements mean just that: minimum productivity, minimum lifetime, minimum performance. The question you have to ask yourself is what is the best specification for the software applications that this cad workstation will be running in the next 2 years.

3. Enlist the help of your software specialist, they have first-hand experience of your needs and should be your trusted advisor. Heed the advice, because your business will get far more out of your investment than the small return it gets from hardware these days. And finally try to limit your desktop refresh to 2-3 years maximum if that is reasonable for your power users.

Your workstations can be effectively redeployed within the company and still have a good life as an office-based machine, allowing you to achieve further ROI on your business hardware.