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Computer Standardization FAQ

What device types are included in the policy?

"Computers,” in the context of this policy includes traditional laptops, desktops, and full-OS tablets like Microsoft Surface Pro. It does NOT include iOS or Android tablets or smartphones which may be addressed in the future in a separate policy.

When should I purchase a new computer?

If you purchased your current computer, please consult with your department's financial and IT representatives to decide when to purchase a new computer. Individuals with leased computers should not purchase until the end of their current lease term. 

What should I do with my leased computer? 

All leased assets must be returned to IT for disposal at the end of your lease term once you purchase a replacement computer.  

Who decides if I should get an low end or high computer? 

Departmental budget and IT should advise you on which standard computer to purchase based on your needs and the budget available within your department to purchase computers. 

Can I purchase a tablet and a computer? 

The Computer Standardization Policy does not govern the purchase of tablets (meaning those personal computing devices that use a mobile OS like iPads). As long as your department approves the budget to purchase a tablet in addition to your University machine, there are no barriers to purchasing a tablet in addition to your computer.

Can I purchase a Microsoft Surface?

The Microsoft Surface runs the full Windows Operating System, meaning it is viewed as a computer and not as a tablet. Purchasing a Microsoft Surface requires an exception request.

How long will it take to receive my new computer?

The time it takes for computers to ship from the manufacturer varies throughout the year. While we expect to complete delivery sooner, you should plan on 6 weeks from order to delivery of a full configured machine. The IT Business Office will update you about the status of your order throughout. We will focus on reducing the time to delivery as the year progresses, and we get more data about OU’s needs, vendor timelines, etc.

Can I buy more than one monitor?

You will be shown recommended OPTIONAL accessories, including monitors, mice, and docking stations, at discounted rates during your purchase process. This policy does not currently restrict the purchase of those items. You can buy accessories, including monitors, in accordance with existing purchasing policies. 

What if none of the standard configurations meet my needs?

Users or Departments requesting computer equipment that deviates from the Computer Standardization Policy must complete the Non-Standard Computer Equipment Request form below providing at a minimum: mission-specific (academic, research, administration, etc.) justification, provision of the requested computer equipment, and available price. Please see the computer standards page and policy for more information.

This process enables OU IT to maintain an asset inventory for risk mitigation, security, support, and compliance purposes and also facilitates future planning of standard offerings. 

Can I buy a consumer grade computer that is cheaper than the standard models?

Standardized computing programs have proven successful because they lower the total average cost for everyone across the entire organization in return for larger volumes and less variability. While consumer grade machines are less expensive at the time of purchase, they introduce variability and increase total cost-of-ownership for lifetime support, management, and security. 

Additionally, the lifespan of these machines is shorter on average than business grade, meaning they will need to replaced sooner, making the total annual cost more comparable to our standard machines. 

Exceptions for low-cost consumer grade machines will not be approved. 

Do I have to return my current computer when I purchase a new one? 

In most cases, you should return your current computer when you purchase a new one for a few reasons:

  1. One of the primary goals of this program -- and the purpose of the published lifecycles for each of our machines -- is providing every faculty and staff member with a quality, functional computer. Keeping computers past their warranty period and published lifecycle means reduced quality and supportability. 
  2. Computer should be properly disposed of to ensure that unmanaged or out of date computers do not become a security risk for the University. 
  3. Every additional computer owned by the University requires management, security, and IT support, which increases the University's overall costs for computer purchases. 

However, we do recognize that there are use cases for retaining a computer after purchasing a new machine. For instance, faculty might need to transfer that machine to a graduate assistant or might retain the computer for use in a field or research lab setting. 

As we mature our asset management capabilities, we will provide options to transfer ownership for this purpose, ensuring that individuals do not violate the 1 computer per person requirement. 

Who has the financial authority to order a standard computer?

The Standardized Computing Program does not replace any required communication, budget checks, authorization to purchase, or other departmental procedures already in place. Before requesting a standard computer or submitting an exception request, please consult your department business office, financial approver, and/or technology support to ensure you meet all departmental requirements.

Do I have to purchase AppleCare for my Apple computer?

The OU Computer Standardization policy states that all computer equipment must have suitable warranty or support options to reduce premature replacement costs.  Apple Care does provide suitable coverage for Apple devices, but is not required if a departments has a substitute plan in place.

What about computer purchases for a lab?

All university computer purchases are subject to the standardization policy, including computers that are to be used in lab or research environments. However, the Computer Standardization Policy does not limit the number of standard computers that can be purchased for lab use, and these computers cannot be directly attributed to an individual, so no exception is needed to purchase more than one. Purchasers at each campus will still be subject to existing purchasing policies and procedures. Purchases for non-standard lab machines must go through the exception process.

Can I keep my computer past the published lifecycles? 

The published standard computer lifecycles are intended to ensure that faculty and staff have a machine adequate to do their daily jobs. We recognize that, in certain situations, computers can last longer than the posted lifecycles and that many departments pass on computers from faculty to graduate assistants to save money. 

This is an acceptable strategy, so long as the computers remain useful and are not deemed a support liability or a security risk. As our asset management capabilities and program data grow, we will be able to provide more detailed lifecycles for these machines.

Can we buy general use laptops for our staff with desktops? 

The policy is flexible enough to allow for general use computers, like computer labs for student academic use or research lab spaces. However, those use cases must be documented during the crimson corner purchasing process. 

General use machines for check out to staff as described does not align with the one computer per person requirement and would require an exception prior to purchase -- even if those general use machines are standard machines. If staff members need laptops for travel work, they should purchase a laptop, docking station, and monitor rather than a desktop. Where individuals require a desktop for research purposes, the department still needs to fill out the exception request form for the general use machine.