GUIDELINES FOR COMPUTER REPLACEMENT POLICY PURSUANT TO
“THE ARKANSAS COMPUTER AND ELECTRONIC SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT ACT”
As required by Act 1410 of 2001, all State agencies are mandated to implement an agency-wide policy that ensures the management and sale of agency surplus computer equipment and electronics in accordance with the Executive Chief Information Officer's policies for review and replacement of computer and electronic equipment.
The purpose of these guidelines is to help agencies establish and implement a computer and electronic equipment replacement policy best suited to their agency. It is mandatory for agencies to create a replacement policy.
For purposes of this document, the following definitions apply:
- COMPUTER AND ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT - devices utilizing electrons and electric circuits such as personal computers (PCs), printers, file servers, routers, etc.
- LIFE CYCLE - the usefulness of a computer or electronic equipment to the agency, from its initial acquisition through its disposal. A life cycle is determined based on end user needs, technology changes, and the cost to support the technology.
- REFRESH RATE - the percentage of computer and/or electronic equipment to be replaced within a designated timeframe (usually annual or biennial)
Developing A Replacement Policy
An agency needs to determine the reasonable point around which total cost of ownership, performance obsolescence, warranty expiration, parts availability, market technical support, budget criteria, and future reliability converge to favor equipment replacement. Establishing a life cycle for computer and electronic equipment gives the agency a tool to control budgets and to present a strong business case and justification for benefits to the agency. Funding for a computer and electronic equipment life cycle must be cost effective and show how establishing a life cycle will improve an agency’s ability to conduct its business.
In general, larger agencies are usually able to support multiple computer and electronic equipment configurations, allowing for the best fit between users and their tasks. Small agencies without in-house Information Technology (IT) expertise may find it more cost effective to have only one or two different computer or electronic equipment configurations in order to reduce the costs of the outside contractors that maintain the equipment. Larger agencies with dedicated IT support staff will find it easier and less expensive to perform upgrades than smaller agencies that must contract for technical support. Also, larger IT departments are expected to have the resources to investigate and test alternative configurations to determine the most cost effective computer and electronic equipment for their needs. For very small agencies, however, especially those that rely on contract help for their PC maintenance, the cost of replacing PCs might be less than the time and expense of researching and testing possible upgrades. For those agencies that have leased computer and electronic equipment, replacement is dictated by the lease contract.
The determination of how long a computer or electronic equipment is useful and cost effective to an agency must be made with a complete understanding of agency business needs and should be part of the technology planning process. Agencies are encouraged to use any of the following decision points to assist in the development of their agency’s replacement policy. Each agency should pick items that are most relevant to their specific needs, but are not limited to the criteria in this list.
Computer and electronic equipment replacements should be established on the basis of the actual needs of the users and should not be based solely on technology development cycles. A life cycle requires knowing how to gauge whether technology is meeting the existing agency needs within current budgetary constraints. Here are some of the things you need to think about in that regard:
- What are the user’s computing requirement needs, both current and future?
- Are the users able to get work done with the existing equipment?
- Would a cascading policy be effective to increase the life span of the computer? For example, three years in primary service (standard type user) and two years in secondary service (telecommuting, home dial in).
- Can the current equipment be upgraded economically rather than be replaced?
A warranty requires the vendor to provide a quality product and insures the user against unexpected additional repair cost throughout the product’s warranty period. The following should be considered to determine if your agency can support computer and electronic equipment after its warranty expiration:
- What is the cost of support staff (whether available within the agency or by contractor)?
- What is the time spent by support staff on maintenance/troubleshooting after warranty expiration?
- What are the quantity and type of configurations and platforms supported and the varying staff expertise required to manage multiple versions of hardware and software?
- How will you address lost user productivity and cost for repair downtime as hardware reliability lessens?
- What would be the cost of required training for users and support staff of new equipment?
Replacement of equipment may be considered when software migration or hardware element upgrades become necessary (upgrades to operating systems, desktop software, etc.) Changing business practices, new technology, and new software applications often dictate the level of technology necessary for computers and electronic equipment. An agency should consider the following to match actual agency needs to the available technology and to plan for acquiring new technology at its most cost-effective point:
- What is the cost of the upgrade(s) and on-going support of older hardware and software?
- What is the cost of purchasing new hardware and software?
- What is the cost of training users and support staff?
- Will advances in PC operating systems or in other PC software allow for more useful or efficient ways of performing tasks which current equipment cannot adapt for?
- Is this a one-time event that requires a change in the hardware? Due to the level of time and expertise required to juggle all the variables involved with extensive changes, only those agencies with in-house expertise in the full range of computer or electronic equipment should perform some intricate upgrades. The overall expense may be too high to make this an effective upgrade option, so some agencies may also choose to replace the computer or electronic equipment in this scenario.
Minimum Computer and Electronic Equipment Configuration Standards
Some agencies may wish to establish a minimum computer and electronic equipment configuration that would normally be capable of meeting all the agency performance needs for the foreseeable period of their primary use. An example would be to have a standard PC configuration that would perform adequately when running the agency’s standard operating system, Web browser, word processor, spreadsheet, desktop database, and Oracle simultaneously. A replacement schedule would be determined for those PCs that fall below these minimum configuration standards.
In establishing a refresh rate, an agency executes a computer and electronic equipment procurement replacement strategy that minimizes the total cost of ownership and when possible, works to level capital expense across budget cycles. Agencies can use the following criteria to help assess the benefits of establishing a refresh rate.
- What is the amount of money spent on PC hardware and software equipment annually (breaking out the cost of replacement and upgrade parts)?
- Will consolidation of purchases leverage volume discounts?
- What is the cost of replacement equipment and equipment maintenance?
- What is the time spent on the IT procurement process by staff (including financial and property management staff who perform the paperwork, and equipment disposal costs)?
- What is the time spent by support staff on computer and equipment maintenance/troubleshooting (measured overall, by end user group or by equipment type) ?
- What are the number and types of platforms supported, and the varying staff expertise required to deal with multiple versions of hardware and software?
- What would be the average annual savings (measured per PC, per user, or per support staff time) if a refresh rate was established?
- Would there be increased productivity for users?
- Would this process ensure that users have the necessary tools to perform their job?
- Would this lessen PC maintenance calls and associated downtime per user?
- Would this allow time to deliver needed technology to a user?