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I get numerous requests from executives and users for new smaller laptops for travel purposes. Most of my evaluation is based upon whether or not it can run certain applications. Mainly lotus notes, office, and video. Most of the laptops include windows 7 OS, and are fully loaded with ram, a high-end processor and a integrated graphics card.

My boss whats me to document the usefulness of the laptop and performance. I'm just a little confused on how to setup a document that can be used by members of the IT department for future evaluations.

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You might want to reconsider keeping evaluations for any long time. Most manufacturers produce a laptop for about a year, and a newer/better/shinier model will come out 6 months from now. I find it most practical to simply evaluate what is available at the time I'm looking to buy. –  Chris S Jun 8 '10 at 14:12

2 Answers 2

Have you considered a wiki? I've worked in organisations that used TWiki/FosWiki (runs on Perl) and this seemed rather practical. Also used confluence (runs on Java) but personally found it restrictive. A popular choice is mediawiki (runs on PHP).

By using a Wiki you can set up a template, a number of pages with your evaluations, and future staff can edit and add pages with their evaluations; previous revisions of the pages will be kept and so if one rogue staff member makes malicious changes to the page it is easy to restore to a previous version.

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+1 MediaWiki is what we run for our "Documentation Server". There are many, many extensions available to add new functionality, per-user CSS/Themes, etc. –  jscott Jun 8 '10 at 14:11

I suggest setting the document up as a table of evaluation criteria. It would have (at minimum) two columns, the first a list criteria that you, key users, and others in IT agreed were good to meet or measure. Then the second column is the assessment of how successfully those criteria are met by Laptop X. If you have a look at any recent PC magazine, you should see a "shoot out" or product comparison that gives an example of this.

Some criteria you would probably include are:

  • Price less than $X
  • Weight less than Y
  • Minimum battery life of Z hours
  • Time to reach full battery charge from empty
  • Removeable media bay optical disk
  • Number of USB2 ports
  • Wireless standards supported
  • Bluetooth capability
  • RAM supplied / Max RAM capacity
  • Hard disk type/speed
  • Time taken to open Application A and test document 1
  • Compatibility with Product A
  • Time to transfer test file 1 over test wireless network to test server
  • Windows 7 system rating
  • Time to run benchmark X
  • etc etc

If you were keen you could score these on 1 to 5 scale and add them up... Whatever suits the boss.

A wiki as PP discussed is one way you could collect the eval results, but copies of a simple template document (eg in Word if that's your standard tool) would do. Run up an example in 15 mins and show the boss to see if you are on the right track.

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