But, how do you know which option is the best approach for your situation? Is there one approach that is more effective than the other when it comes to making your work portable?
We all know that nonprofit dollars are limited, and you want to get the most out of your purchase. In order to do that, it makes sense to spend a little time strategizing before you go out and make your purchase. It may be tempting to buy the latest, slickest gadget; it’s much more practical and economical to work with some criteria in order to make the right choice.
Some Helpful Criteria
Function: One of the most important considerations in making your choice is what exactly you need the machine to do. Are you primarily looking to receive email, to do research online, or to write documents and manage spreadsheets? Each type of device has different areas in which it might be preferable to the others. By making a list of the most commonly performed activities, you set up some solid reasoning upon which to base your decision.
Software: This is a really big consideration. You need to take a look at the kind of software your organization depends upon and make sure that you are choosing devices that are compatible. For example, if your accounting software doesn’t support tablet use, then it doesn’t make a lot of sense to set your accounting department up with iPads.
Cost: When it comes to making buying decisions in the nonprofit world, price is certainly a big concern. That said, laptops and desktops are running fairly even in pricing these days, as long as you’re willing to put in a little extra effort in hunting down a bargain. Really, tablets can now be found in a similar price range, too, so for once, cost is less of a concern than many other factors.
Extras: An area the is easy to overlook is that of what types of additional equipment and accessories each device is going to require. For example, will you need a spare battery for your laptop, a protective cover for your tablet, or a printer with expensive ink cartridges for your desktop? The type and variety of accessories available today is pretty impressive, so you may need to make a list of what you need versus what just looks like it would be fun to have.
Abilities: Fortunately, most people these days are fairly tech savvy. Still, technology is continually changing, and it takes some effort to keep up. You may need to assess your employees’ abilities and skill level before determining what type of devices are going to work for them. If you have a dedicated IT person (or departments) they can probably offer really valuable insight and recommendation based on their interactions with your staff.
Reviews: If there’s one thing the Internet has to offer when it comes to shopping, it’s lots and lots of product reviews. From the manufacturer to the end user, everyone is able to leave their two cents’ worth on the web. Use this to your advantage by thoroughly looking through reviews to get a sense of what people are saying. Since they’ve actually used the products your considering, their insight is pretty valuable. Organizations like Consumer Reports can also provide some great input.
Look at the Pros and Cons
Now that you’ve got a good set of criteria, you should be able to narrow your options pretty nicely. As an extra precaution, however, you really want to consider the various pros and cons of each type of device. For example, the most obvious drawback of a desktop is the fact that it’s just not portable. Laptops can have their own problems, as well, however. For example, it’s much easier for them to go home and be used for personal use. As for tablets, the lack of a standard keyboard can be a major inconvenience depending on the type of work that needs to be done.
On the other hand, tablets are super-compact and portable. If you don’t need to input a lot of data (other than through a touch screen), then these can be a great option due to their size. They also seem to work really well for presentations. Still, it’s worth comparing their functionality to that of a laptop to really make a choice that works for what you need.