Desktop / Laptop Purchasing Standards

June 2016

NIU has contracted with Dell to provide standard configurations for low, medium, and high power versions of both desktops and laptops.  Purchasing from the list of standard equipment will save your department money while greatly reducing the time to approve, purchase, and deliver your computer.  There is an exception form that requires justification and approval for those who cannot make use of the standard systems.  

Purchasing Standard Models

For nearly fifteen months, IT directors from around campus have worked to reach agreement on how to configure, purchase, and maintain desktop and laptop computers.  There are many advantages to having standard configurations: improved vendor support, increased availability of parts, reduced purchase cost, reduced support costs, and allowing for more efficient software distribution. Our negotiated rates save over 20% on the unit cost of the equipment and should save almost $100 per machine each year in staff time spent supporting the equipment.

The Division of Information Technology (DoIT), members of the IT Planning Council  and Procurement Services collaborated on the Request for Proposal, and subsequent negotiations led us to select Dell as our preferred vendor.  Dell will provide four models for desktops and four more for laptops.  Desktops and laptops will have low, medium, and high power variants with the medium class machines having two options.  These models will be revisited every year as Dell updates its technology options.

With these new purchasing standards in place, all orders will still follow the normal procurement process which includes requisitions and processing by the Division of Administration and Finance (Finance). Departments who have a multi-year refresh plan approved by the Vice-President for Information Technology and who are purchasing standard equipment will not have their decision to purchase held by Finance to evaluate the necessity of the purchase; rather, Finance will only verify the availability of funds. Units who do not have a documented refresh schedule should work with the DoIT and their local budgetary authority to prepare one.  

Exceptions to the Standards

Exceptions to the standard model are expected and allowed in many instances and the justification for these exceptions must first be approved by the local IT department and the local budgetary authority. The IT Planning Council will review exceptions annually to inform the selection of future equipment models and options.

More Information

For questions about how these new standards affect your department, please contact your local IT support person. For more global questions on the procurement or contracting process, please contact Procurement Services and Contract Management at 815-753-1671.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I see DoIT’s multi-year refresh plan?

2. Can I use a PCard to order a standard desktop or laptop?

3. How do I order the standard model?

4. How do I prepare a multi-year refresh plan for computer purchases when my unit doesn’t have the budget to purchase computer equipment except on an ad-hoc basis?

5. How do I purchase an Apple desktop or laptop?

6. How do I submit the exception form?

7. What if I don’t have a local IT support person?

8. What is a local budgetary authority?

9. Why does Finance still approve my purchases even when I have the money in my budget?

10. Will I still go through my internal requisition process before submitting a desktop or laptop purchase to Procurement?