Deploying New Computers — What to Ask and Why

Who will prepare and deploy your computers?In most libraries, the in-house IT staff deploys the computers, but if your IT department is understaffed, you can always hire a third party to help you. The computer manufacturer or reseller can handle part or all of the preparation. Finally, to a limited degree, library staff can assist if they’re savvy enough.
How will you install the operating system and the core software?Disk-cloning is the easiest way to do this when you’re dealing with more than a handful of computers.
Do you need to install any special software or make other tweaks?Disk-cloning programs will help deploy a core, standard configuration. However, some librarians work with special applications. For instance, one person needs accounting software, while another needs graphic design software. Also, certain settings are unique to each computer (e.g., computer name, IP address, SID and mapped network drives).
Is there any special hardware that you need to install and deliver along with the computer itself?For example, circulation computers often need barcode readers and receipt printers, and some users need their own local printer or scanner.
Do you need to migrate data from the old computer to the new computer?In the best of all possible worlds, library staff save their files to a server, and the IT department backs it up on a regular basis. However, some users insist on saving their data to the desktop or the local hard drive. Before you swap computers, make sure the user has backed up all his or her data to a secure location.
When will you deploy the new computers?Timing is especially important if you’re replacing computers for an entire department or library branch. For larger installations, you should ask the IT department to do their work at night or on the weekend.
Did you get what you paid for?Consider spot-checking your new computers to make sure you received the components and software that you actually ordered. Run TechAtlas’ inventory tool or Belarc Advisor to see how much memory and hard disk space your computer has. Did you receive the processors, network cards and graphics cards that you requested? Are any programs missing?
Should you document all the decisions you’ve made previously?Deploying new computers is a complex process. Even if you’re the only one involved, it can be difficult to remember all the steps. If you’re working with multiple staff members and/or multiple organizations, you need to write it all down. Be especially careful to note what software and hardware you’ve included with each new computer. Though you can use a word-processing document or spreadsheet for this, you should also consider some sort of asset tracking software.

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