Advice on new systems, but without the hard sell

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 May, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 20 May, 1997, 12:00am

My company computer network has about 30 PCs running Clipper DOS. When I get quotes for a system upgrade from consultant companies I can't help but think that they are trying to sell us a system we don't really need to boost their commission on sales of hardware. Who can give independent advice on a small business computer network in Hong Kong? We want a gradual upgrade in which training can be introduced slowly as the new system is phased in.

We did have a systems expert, but he left about six months ago and nobody else seems to know what to do.

NAME AND ADDRESS SUPPLIED At the risk of taking flak from those consultants who make themselves out to be 'totally independent', I would wager that every consultant you see these days has an agenda of some sort - although some might not even know it.

It is something you have to accept. I don't know any technology consultant who is completely independent.

While consultants with affiliations to particular hardware and software companies may recommend their partners' systems, this does not necessarily mean you are being ripped off. In many cases, they may well be able to get you good discounts on systems, so the knife cuts both ways on this one.

If you're afraid of being ripped off, you should do things yourself, or at least do some research and get several competitive quotes.

Start by deciding on the operating system and computer platform you're going to use. As you are using PCs now, you will probably stay with them.

And unless your business requires the use of proprietary, custom-made applications that must run on DOS, I would move on to Windows.

I would give companies looking to move on to new systems the same advice I would give individuals.

You want to upgrade because your old system is simply not adequate anymore - so get the best equipment your budget can handle and resign yourself to the fact that it will be obsolete before you get it set up.

It's just the way of things in the world of computers today. Although you might not think you need Office 97 or other applications your company has not used before, if they come as a package deal, take them.

You will eventually find a use for most office software. And even though your system may come with 15 different programs on board, this does not mean you need to train all your staff to use all these applications in one go.