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The PC Replacement Decision

More companies are replacing all their PCs at once, rather than in staggered cycles; benefits include reduced maintenance costs
ParadigmHealth Inc., a provider of health-care-management services, eventually may move to a single-cycle PC upgrade schedule, says Tom Hagan, executive VP and CIO. But he doesn't believe the advantages of that approach warrant significant changes to his operations in the short term.

ParadigmHealth has grown quickly over the past few years with two acquisitions that have divided the company into three divisions that are rotated yearly for PC replacement. The company, which originally specialized in providing on-site nursing support to acutely ill patients, three years ago acquired Padios Health Management Services Inc., a provider of similar services to premature and other newborns that need intensive treatment, and last year acquired PersonalPath Systems Inc., a provider of disease-management services. ParadigmHealth employs about 250 nurses, most of whom work out of home offices and perform their actual services in either patients' homes or hospitals. In all, the company has a workforce of about 450 employees.

ParadigmHealth isn't rushing to one replacement cycle, Tom Hagan, executive VP and CIO, says.

ParadigmHealth isn't rushing to one replacement cycle, Tom Hagan, executive VP and CIO, says.
Because of the acquisitions, ParadigmHealth has yet to synchronize on a single replacement cycle. Last year, it took what Hagan says may be the first step when it decided to standardize on IBM PCs. IBM has since sold its PC business to Lenovo Group Ltd., although the new company continues to use the IBM brand name.

"Because we have three separate divisions that have slightly different business requirements, there's a logical segmentation," Hagan says. "They do have slightly different footprints from an application perspective, but we have standardized on the hardware and operating system."

Hagan says he can see advantages to getting the entire company on a single replacement cycle, and he's evaluating how it might be best accomplished by either accelerating or delaying a divisional cycle. "I really don't see where we sit today to be a major problem," he says. "There can also be an advantage to not having to time all your expenditures in one year. [The staggered cycle] can smooth things out."

And other factors are just as important as the PC replacement cycle. Says Hagan, "It's more important to have a single manufacturer for our desktops, operating system, and service packs, and to keep the platforms on the same release levels."

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