Squeeze More Work Out of Your Computers

Robert HobermanManaging Partner, Hoberman & Lesser CPAs, LLP

That computer sitting on your desk can do five times more than it’s doing now if you set up PC sharing among your employees.

Let’s say you have one employee working a morning shift, and another working in the afternoon. In theory, you don’t need two separate computers and can save some money. But there are several issues to take into consideration.

The first rule of computer sharing is: The PC isn’t personal property. Employees have to understand that the computer isn’t meant for playing their music, browsing the web or playing games.

Once that’s clear, another problem you need to confront is maintaining confidentiality and privacy. when you have part-time help doing sensitive work, such as working on payroll, business development or storing sales leads in a spreadsheet, you don’t want anyone else getting into those records. Even something as simple as using Outlook Express can get tricky since not many people want colleagues going through their mail.

The best way to address this issue is to give each user a unique log in and password. Among the advantages of this are:

  • Stronger security. Information on need-to-know basis is the lifeblood of any company.
  • Sense of privacy. A sensitive approach to employees’ privacy leads to a better working environment. You don’t want employees to feel they have no privacy at all.
  • Lower costs. You leverage fewer machines, so you save money. And with those savings you could add more features or buy some bigger monitors. However, there are still costs involved with computer sharing, as described in the right-hand box.

When you start computer sharing, you need to set up profiles that control the applications each user will be able to use. One employee may have all the bells and whistles, while others could be limited to email and word-processing applications.

Of course setting up profiles, passwords and log-ins adds to the burden of IT management. If your business is like most, you are already outsourcing to an IT administrator, have a service retainer set up and are getting support from your PC equipment suppliers. Simply add computer sharing to the list of tasks your vendors are already performing.That will help you save on hardware expenses and gain on productivity.