Sorry if topic title doesn’t do a good job explain this topic. This topic has to do with staff that have a preference for certain IT hardware that is outside what normal hardware they would receive for their job. Our church has a mixture of Macs and Windows based machines. For work that does not require Mac hardware or software, the staff member receives a Windows computer. Having a Windows computer integrates much easier into our current Windows domain in terms of shares, security, group policies, etc. Additionally, a Windows computer works much better for us in terms of cost and help desk support.
So, I was wondering if anyone out there has a similar experience. If so, do you have any IT request guidelines or forms you use to keep the decision making as objective as possible for each purchase. I would like to see what forms/guidelines you use as I am about to make some of my own.
We give a choice of a MacBook Pro or a PC Laptop to most staff members and it is their choice as to what they want. Most choose Mac (we are 95% Mac excluding check-in stations). If they have wants outside our base laptop and external 27" monitor that we provide, they have to pay for the extras out of their budget. Also even though I purchase the laptops and desktops for our media and communications team, they come out of their budget rather than the IT budget. Media and communications is the only department that pays for their machines. All others come out of IT. Hope this makes sense and helps some.
Our users don’t have a preference. Everyone uses PC (Windows) unless they are willing to spend out of their own budget. We don’t have a paid IT department either, though- we are all volunteer. Interestingly enough, that gives me (and the small team I manage) a lot more pull. We tell them what they can have, and we manage our IT budget.
A couple of people have got iPads for themselves, and one person got some kind of streaming device (a Roku, IIRC), and we’ve hooked them up, but they are low priorities. We generally expect the purchaser to be tech-savvy enough to operate it if they purchase it out of their own budget.
Yeah, I realise I have it really good.
Welcome to the consumerization of IT
I’ve been in Church IT now 13+ years. If people (staff and vols) are our greatest asset as an organization, should we not strive to equip them to be as productive as they can?
So before looking at any technology decision, have you addressed the follow questions?
What’s the mission of IT in your organization? What is your Ministry? Who’s your primary ‘customer’ and what do they value? What are your core strategies to drive the prior questions?
Now you have a filter for making decisions easier/better.
FWIW, here’s something my team put together several years ago:
The TechOps Department exists to equip the staff and members of GCC to be efficient and effective in the fulfillment of the Great Commission by providing relevant and strategic information, technological tools, technical support, and training. In our service to the body of Christ, we seek to be positive, humble, approachable, responsive, and solution-oriented.
And about 6 months ago we refined the following constructs with the help of our executive pastor … we’re getting ready to review and update it again later this month:
By not offering some form of platform choice, I think you’re missing a great opportunity to equip and value your staff/vols … let alone what are you doing about new staff/vols that have never touched a PC, which we’re seeing more and more
It really needs updating, but here’s a 6 part blog post I did a few years ago on our journey to platform choice http://jpowell.blogs.com/jason_powell_church_it/2013/04/addressing-the-consumerization-of-it-aka-gccs-transition-to-macs-and-mobility-part-1.html
This topic comes up occasionaly, and each time I strongly encourage folks to really wrestle with the idea of IT being an equipper when at all possible. Oh and don’t make these decisions alone … get your senior leadership involved.
Three years ago we arrived at a dollar amount for computers. For 2016 and 2017 it is $1500. Mac or Windows does not matter as long as the final cost with taxes is $1500 or less. This means we can buy a user a refurbished MacBook and add a 27" monitor, or buy a ThinkPad X1 Carbon and a tablet. Anything over $1500 comes from the ministry’s budget.
This simple plan for technology expenditures along with the personalizing a user’s access to apps and equipment has made a huge difference. This means that instead of requiring our videographer to sit in front of a desktop machine, they can take the church provided MBPr along with them. They are more creative and productive because they can do their job in the manner that works for them. The same can be said for desktop users. We have a supply of Mac, Windows and Chromebooks that they can use for meetings or take home. When user machines are replaced, the user has more say in what they get to use. This makes happier staff.
This topic is quite interesting. What do you do with the computers that the previous staff member had? Let’s say you have someone start and 6 months later they leave and you rehire for that position. Do you still spend the money to buy them a new machine if they want something different?
Thanks @jpowell for the picture of your ministry and strategies. That is helpful.
I’m thinking about going to a $1500/computer model. We currently average about $2200 per computer for staff since most want a 15" rMBP, TB Dock, Keyboard and Magic Mouse/Trackpad. I can just imagine someone asking why they only got $1500 when 6 months ago someone got about $2200. Still, I think this is a direction we probably need to go in.
$1500 is about 207 hours (5ish weeks) at minimum wage. Honestly, if someone’s on board for only 6 months getting them the tools so that they can get up to speed the fastest probably outweighs the cost of being stuck with some hardware that needs to be recouped (resold, etc.).
This is actually one of the things I’m super excited for with USB Type-C and Thunderbolt 3.1 reaching standardization and maturation. Being able to re-use your dock, monitor and installation costs between platforms is going to be a big win, especially with moves and adjustments over time.
I wanted to thank everyone for their contribution to this topic. It has helped me to see what other churches are doing so I can better equip our people to do their ministry. What I’ve learned in all of this is I need to ask my leadership what they want to allow staff to use and what they are willing to do to support it. Right now the decision making is a bit conflicted because on the one hand leadership is asking IT for a decision (which takes founded more upon the idea of “this is what I can support”) but they also want to make the decision themselves (which is founded more upon “give the people what they want”). And as a staff we really don’t want it to be an us vs. them mentality (which can happen all too often in any church).
All great information guys and thanks Jason Powell for the white board notes!
Jesse, about your question of "If a staff member leaves and the new person wants a different machine (platform), we will purchase a new machine on the platform of choice.
We work really closely with all of our ministries and can usually redeploy the surplus machine to fill a need in another ministry. A 6 month old machine is a new machine for someone who needs that platform.