State of Alaska

Department of Administration

Division of Administrative Services

Alaska Department of Administration, Administrative Services
Administration >  Administrative Services > DOA-IT > Why Standards?

Why Standards?


What is the difference between the Dell laptops(Inspiron vs Latitude) and Desktops (Dimension vs Optiplex)?

Are we paying more for the Latitude or Optiplex?

Why can't I buy off the shelf from Costco?

Why can't I get what I want?

Features of the Latitude laptop and the Optiplex desktop have been pre-configured as a standard to meet a minimum 3 year lifecycle demand of our business units. Every department has the opportunity to review, suggest changes and approve our standards. The Latitude or Optiplex contain more baseline features than the home market Inspiron or Dimension. Components, features and configurations of the Latitude and Optiplex lines change every few months. Price drops on a regular basis. Prices, components, features and configurations of the Inspiron laptop and Dimension desktop vary widely from week to week. It is highly unlikely that we could get a single better PC and price in the Inspiron or Dimension lines than through our Latitude and Optiplex standards.

When compared component by component, which we've done several times every few months, price comparisons have favored the more rugged, better performing and more reliable Latitude and Optiplex lines.

The establishment of standards on contract award provides the State with opportunities to save money in several areas besides the initial capital outlay.

Initial Costs

- We get a better price (volume or enterprise discounts) for better performing equipment and "free" shipping. We become eligible, in some cases, for enhanced value-added services such as discounted or "free" maintenance contracts and extended warranties.

Technical Support

- We have less software, hardware and maintenance issues to resolve as standard PCs are deployed. Cost savings and asset utilization improvements via enhanced technical expertise - fewer products and more folk who know them. Speedier problem resolution.

Administrative Costs

- savings from a streamlined process which reduces employee time associated with research, multiple reviews or signatures, procurement overhead, training and both vendor and asset management issues such as license compliance.

End User Operations

- the costs for your time - less downtime from unique PCs and software with unique needs or problems. Savings through enhanced business productivity and reduced capital and opportunity costs from rapid project turnaround - development, conversion and integration time on new projects is substantially reduced.
(The above is usually referred to as Total Cost of ownership or TCO)

Depending on where you get your research, Gartner, Forrester, Compass, Fortune, The Economist or elsewhere - best practices indicate that average annual support costs can range from $5,000 to $10,000 per PC or $15,000 in potential support costs for each non-standard $1,000 PC. Past records indicate we buy over 4,000 PCs and laptops each year. Using the smallest estimate, that represents a potential $60,000,000 in soft dollar support costs over three years.

Research by General Services indicates that we are saving at least 8% on the initial purchase price. Research organziations indicate that buying standard PCs on a 3 year lifecycle will help us to reduce soft dollar costs by as much as two thirds or $10,000 per PC over three years. That represents a potential annual $13,200,000 in soft dollar savings for support, administrative overhead and downtime. It is too early to realize these saving but we will begin to see them sometime within the three year lifecycle. Will each department really have an extra $860,000 per department to spend each year? No, but it is clear that we will have savings, avoid some mistakes and pay soft dollars for things we WANT to do rather than "tread water" to support our existing equipment IF we take clear steps to standardize and manage our IT purchasing, infratructure, staff focus and support processes.

So, as we build the State of Alaska IT plan, we'll create an enterprise IT architechure which will address technology design, component integration, methods, practices and principles as well as technology standards. Standards are and will be selected based on our risk tolerance for new and emerging technologies as well as the individual component's fit within architectural guidelines.

We know you want to get the best deal and biggest bang for your agency buck. You are responsible! That is one of the reasons State Employees are such great folks. We hope our note above helps provide you with a sense of teamwork and the answer to your question. We are working together to be diligent on behalf of the State. Buy from our State contracts and feel good about saving the State money while getting the best deal!

Revised 8/8/2012