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I was reading the following note in this topic (Quote box) about a hardware, software buy and cell phones.  

Quote

Our office decided to update all the employees with top of the line equipment including new state of the art mobile phones and lightweight computers.  The purchase of the new equipment was approved and the contracts awarded.  Once the equipment was delivered, the software was considered.  The equipment sat in a warehouse for more than a year before it was sent out to the workforce.  Meanwhile the "state of the art" moved on and the equipment was no longer top of the line (Iphone 5 well after the introduction of the Iphone 6 models), when it was received by the user.  The software is also more than a year behind, and we cannot even access our own agency webcasts because the browsers (IE and Chrome), are both so out of date they will not allow access to the webcast system.  Trying to get those programs updated is not automatic and requires the user to contact the help desk and request the upgrades.  That creates another problem when the upgraded program no longer works with existing printers, scanners and the like.  Also, the new computers did not come with DVD players/writers, which some offices still use, so each office had to buy their own separate DVD player/writer for each user.

I want you to help me perfect my agency's requirement and then tell me how you would buy it using the FAR.  

My agency--about 20,000 people around the country--wants lightweight laptops with some (tell me how many we would need) external DVD R/W drives.  I want MS Excel and Word to be installed in the laptops when they are delivered. I don't want MS IE since it was abandoned by MSFT now that it is pushing its new browser--Edge--to Window's 10 users and Edge won't work on earlier Win operating systems.  I have plenty of printers compatible with Win 7 and I am concerned about compatibility issues with Win 10.  However, I want a free Win 10 upgrade if we go with Win 7 Professional as the operating system.  If we go with Win 7 as the operating system, make sure it is Win 7 Professional.  I want cell phones with the android operating system and I want to be able to download the free apps from the Google Play Store on my phones.  I don't want apple or Ios.  Remember IBM?  I want state of the art items.  My laptops should have the 6th Gen Intel Core i7 Processor with at least 8GB of memory, 17" screen and at least 1 Tb of solid state drive.  I want a wireless mouse and separate keyboard with each laptop too. 

I want you to begin installing the laptops on my desk and the phone in my pocket within a month after you award the contract.  Can you do this for my agency while avoiding the problems quoted above?

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Guest Vern Edwards
12 hours ago, bob7947 said:

I want state of the art items.

I'll help you perfect your description of your requirement.

You're using the phrase "state of the art" as an adjective, so it should be hyphenated: state-of-the-art. You must explain what that adjective means to you.

As defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, state-of-the-art means:

Quote

Belonging or relating to the latest and most sophisticated stage of technological development; having or using the latest techniques or equipment.

The state of the art is the state of furthest advance. It is the frontier. According to FAR 35.001, it is the product of applied research, as opposed to development. When used in this formal sense, the "state-of-the-art" technology is not suitable for commercial sale, because it has not been developed for commercial use. I doubt that you want state-of-the-art anything for ordinary office use. I doubt you could afford it.

When used informally, the term is marketing jargon that suggests "newest on the market," "best available," or "most commercially advanced," but is devoid of specific meaning.

I don't want to bicker about the meaning of the term. I'm just pointing out that it is vague (very controversial in product liability cases) and is not suitable for use in a requirements document. Be specific about what you want. If you don't know what you want, do some market research.

 

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Guest Vern Edwards

How many people in your organization still use DVDs? Why not an external drive? They're cheap, and you shouldn't need one for every laptop user. An internal drive adds weight and cost.

And how about a solid state drive instead of a hard drive? They cost more, but they're faster, quieter, and sturdier. 

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This is so sad and funny at the same time. I remember having this same discussion about 20 years ago with Dee Lee (not that she would remember me). I tried to explain how simple it could be, based on how tech companies did it. I could not get through.

Let me know when the time is right for me to post "how it's done in the real world" because I don't want to spoil the thought exercise.

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Are there any other software products you want? For example, Microsoft PowerPoint? Are there any organizational specific software products? For example, contract writing systems, financial system system, etc. Does the organizational specific software need to be pre-installed? If pre-installed, does it go on all computers? What type of post delivery support is required? Do you want laptop bags?

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So here's how it works "in the real world" (or Silicon Valley tech companies if you prefer).

1. A standard configuration is decided-upon by IT in conjunction with finance. The standard configuration is stratified by job level and function. For example, a mid-level manager gets [blank] but an engineer gets [blank+]. Everybody gets Windows 10 (unless everybody gets Apple's IOS because the company is standardizing on Apple products). Cell phones options are similarly mapped to employees by job level and function. And it's not like there's only one choice. There are options but the options are limited. If an employee believes they should have more than the standard that goes with their stratum, then they can request a deviation and, if the right level of management signs-off, then they get it.

2, A supplier/distributor is chosen -- could be multiple based on what the configuration options are. A per-each price is negotiated. Could be the current catalog price discounted for expected volume, but could also be the Dell or Lenovo or whatever catalog price already offered to the entity.

3. Steps 1 and 2 are all done in the background. When an employee shows up for the first day of work (or in this case it's the first day of the technology refresh) then they go to a website and they enter their employee information and the pre-selected choices appear. The employee clicks the appropriate boxes for hardware, software, and phones. The checkout process involves routing any requested deviations to the appropriate management level. Approval/rejection for requested deviations is obtained via check box. It takes the employee less than 15 minutes to check the boxes and there is a delay of maybe a day if management deviation approval is requested.

4. The choices are routed electronically to the vendor/distributor, who fulfills the order (including loading requested software on the laptops) and who then drop ships to the employee (or the local IT group) at the employee's location. Ideally, the employee opens the package and plugs-in the laptop, and voila! If necessary the local IT support, supports.

Application of the foregoing to Bob's situation:

My agency--about 20,000 people around the country--wants lightweight laptops with some (tell me how many we would need) external DVD R/W drives.  I'm not telling you how many you need because the demand will be established as the employees order what they are pre-approved to order. For pricing purposes, let's assume all 20,000 employees get everything. In any case, we'll only bill you for what is ordered by the employees. The website will track who ordered what, and when. Also when it was delivered. Each confirmed delivery will generate a unique invoice. You've used Amazon, I presume? Just like that.  I want MS Excel and Word to be installed in the laptops when they are delivered. I don't want MS IE since it was abandoned by MSFT now that it is pushing its new browser--Edge--to Window's 10 users and Edge won't work on earlier Win operating systems.  Each employee will be able to customize the software load for their laptop. We'll bill based on the individual loads. I have plenty of printers compatible with Win 7 and I am concerned about compatibility issues with Win 10.  Don't be worried. Let us introduce you to Windows Printer Driver wizard. However, I want a free Win 10 upgrade if we go with Win 7 Professional as the operating system.  If we go with Win 7 as the operating system, make sure it is Win 7 Professional. You get Windows 10 because everything is Windows 10 these days. I want cell phones with the android operating system and I want to be able to download the free apps from the Google Play Store on my phones. Yeah, no problem. If you can get WiFi you can download. I don't want apple or Ios.  Remember IBM?  I want state of the art items.  My laptops should have the 6th Gen Intel Core i7 Processor with at least 8GB of memory, 17" screen and at least 1 Tb of solid state drive.  I want a wireless mouse and separate keyboard with each laptop too. If that's the standard configuration we pre-load on the ordering website then that's what you'll get and that's what we'll price and bill.

I want you to begin installing the laptops on my desk and the phone in my pocket within a month after you award the contract.  Can you do this for my agency while avoiding the problems quoted above? Yeah, we'll install everything before it leaves our site and your employees can just plug in the laptops when they get them. Order fulfillment takes about 2 weeks. We'll work with your IT group for local support and we'll also establish a customer service hotline call center for your employees (actually we already have that but we'll give your employees a special number because it won't cost us much and it will make you feel special).

[And that's where my head is at.]

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My make-believe agency doesn't need any other office software on these laptops.  We will need some type of communication software but I don't know what.  The organizational software will be installed by the agency IT group.  Need 1-year warranty.  No laptop bags.  If they travel, we have bags for travelers to carry wireless mice and keyboards.

I don't know how the wifi carrier is selected with the cell phones.  I guess we need a wifi carrier.

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Bob7947,

We acknowledge receipt of the solicitation amendment. Here is our response.

1. You get the software you want. No more, no less. Options are pre-selected for each employee stratum.

2. Internal WiFi cards are no problem. We'll install them in the factory before shipping.

3. I don't know what "organizational software" means but we'll ship directly to the IT group that's associated with each employee. You will have to identify the IT Group that's associated with each employee and provide a shipping address. Government acceptance will be deemed to have taken place not later than 7 calendar days after the IT group receives the equipment.

4. 1 year warranty is standard and already priced-in. If you want an extended warranty period, it is available but will cost more.

5. We only ship what is ordered. If you don't want bags, let's not make them an option for your employees to order.

6. No I don't think you will. Either the building has it already or else GSA can provide it. Or the employees can go to the local Starbucks and get it for free.

We look forward to executing the contract and equipping your workforce with the equipment they have told you they need.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hello Bob7947,

Assuming you have time to refine the requirements before the make-believe FY closes.  Why go with the Microsoft/Intel brand-name?  GSA has been using Chrome and Google Docs for some time (in addition to MS) and is working much better (in my opinion) than any Windows system I've worked with before; and fits FAR Part 39 requirements.  By using the Google environment, we are able to access our drives and documents from any computer or mobile device, plus is very easy to share documents and collaborate on documents.  Both Microsoft and Google offer to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars reward to anyone who uncovers a major security issue.

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David B:

What is the operating system--other than Apple's--that is better than Win 7 Pro?  I'm not defending any system since I would be happy to switch operating systems.  I suspect that Win 7 will be abandoned by its creator in a year or two and I am looking.  However, I'm not ready for all the new opportunities with Win 10. 

boricua:

If Google manufactures a PC and laptop with a microprocessor as fast or faster than Intel's Core I7, Im listening.  

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Hello Bob7947,

The beauty of the Chrome OS is that they don't need a faster processor, they are a whole lot faster than any PC (try them and you'll see they boot in a few seconds and they don't slow down like a PC); Chromebook does not need an antivirus program; the OS is updated automatically (I had to restart the computer once); a $200 Chromebook works just as well as a $600 one; almost every commercial application is now cloud-based so you can use MS software in Chromebooks.

Take the challenge!  Try a Chromebook and you will thank me...

http://chromebookvswindows.com/

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Is TAA required? If so your chromebook is out... Do you require US based support? Do you have energystar or EPEAT requirements? Does your agency have an approved products list? Are Operating Systems other than Microsoft approved for use ? 

 

This isnt easy in the commercial area either, but the questions are more defined and the chain of command is smaller. 

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What type of support do you need?  Standard in the industry is that you complete an Return Manufacturer Authorization (RMA) via an online form, then mail your device back (at your expense) and a few weeks later you get a refurbished unit back.  Have important PII on your hard drive?  Too bad, you do not get to keep it.  Want to speak to a real person?  Good luck with that.  Did someone drop the laptop into the toilet (yes, it has happened)?  Sorry, that is not covered.

It would be important to identify things like:

* Length of warranty;

* Telephone support hours and location of call center;

* Method of warranty service (depot versus on-site);

* Acceptable methods to report warranty issues;

* If depot maintenance, responsibility for shipping costs;

* If depot maintenance, whether replacement shipped in advanced of receiving failed device;

* If on-site, security clearance requirements;

* Return to Service Times (time from reporting warranty issues to issue being fixed);

* Control of hard disk drives; and

* Accidental damage coverage.

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On July 18, 2016 at 4:36 PM, bob7947 said:

David B:

What is the operating system--other than Apple's--that is better than Win 7 Pro?

Styrene makes my point in a straightforward way.  I've been out of the game for a couple of years, so maybe things have changed, but how do you support all your implicit make-and-model requirements?

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