The Software Vendor will provide minimum specifications to run the System but will usually offer little guidance on the optimal specifications. For example: The Vendor may state that the software runs on Microsoft SQL (or similar database), Windows Server, and a current Microsoft desktop operating system. As long as your systems are able to run those Microsoft products, the Vendors’ software will run properly. The Vendor will prefer that you look to Information Technology Professionals to determine the best configuration.
The Vendor shirking their responsibility to help you properly determine the best hardware configuration for their Software is a potential for failure of adoption and long term use of the new system. If the hardware is underpowered and that causes performance and usability issues, productivity will suffer.
There is a significant difference between “minimum” and “optimal.” You can watch a movie on a Smartphone (minimum), a Tablet (better), or a 60” Flat Panel TV (optimal.) The experience is completely different.
It is critical that the Software Vendor provide real world computer configuration recommendations based on the number of transactions expected for your Organization instead of just “minimum requirements.” Even selecting the right infrastructure software can have a big impact on the equipment portion of the budget. For example, Microsoft SQL comes in a variety of flavors: Express, Workgroup, Standard, and Enterprise. If your company is doing just a few hundred or even a few thousand transactions a month, the free version of SQL Express may be more than sufficient and requires significantly less computer horsepower than if you are processing tens of thousands of transactions per month. If the volume of activity requires one of the higher end versions of Microsoft SQL, that could add thousands of dollars of computer equipment, “infrastructure” expense.
The hardware vendor will only submit a proposal based on the minimum requirements provided by the Software Vendor. Understand that hardware vendors like to sell built in obsolescence to insure faster computer replacement cycles. There is no incentive for the hardware vendor to do otherwise since they only make money by selling more equipment, more often.
The Software Vendor may purposely specify minimal hardware requirements to keep the overall budget as low as possible or so that more of the budget is available to spend on Software, Options, or additional consulting.
This is where a Business Process/Systems Implementation Consultant plays an important role. Unlike the software and hardware vendors which take a myopic view of “just enough equipment to make the sale,” the Consultant will have the long term “Big IT Picture.” This includes the planned growth rate of the System and the desired lifespan of the computer equipment. The Consultant will insure that any budget considerations are not at the expense of long term performance.
In summary, when considering the Technology Requirements for the System, it is critical that all parties be at the table: Software Vendor, Hardware Vendor, Internal or External IT Staff that will be responsible for the on-going maintenance of the System, with the Business Process/Systems Implementation Consultant as the moderator of the Conversation.
Remember, the Business Process/Systems Implementation Consultant is the only truly independent person whose sole mission is to represent the best interests of you, the Client.