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Frustrated scientist: Research delayed by long delivery times for new computers

IT service — Peter Brodersen ordered a new computer via the UCPH IT department and was notified that the delivery time was 5½ weeks. Not good enough, he says: Researchers work under time pressure. But according to the deputy director of IT, it cannot be done any faster, as UCPH has opted not to keep Apple computers in stock.

The timing could not have been worse.

Peter Brodersen’s research group at the Department of Biology had just returned from a Christmas holiday and were about to make a crucial research article ready for publication when his postdoc’s work computer broke down.

She had to deliver an important section for the article, and as they knew that a French and a Chinese group who were in process with the same research project research project were about to share their results, they needed to act quickly if they wanted to be first.

He immediately ordered a new iMac for his postdoc via the UCPH IT department on 8th January. They then waited. And waited.

 

It is important that the organization understands that we scientists are working under time pressure.
Peter Brodersen

 

5½ weeks delivery time

After a week, they sent an e-mail to the UCPH IT service and asked where the computer was. But only on the 23rd, after contacting the University of Copenhagen’s IT department for the second time, did they get an answer.

The computer could only be delivered on 12th February – about 5½ weeks after it was ordered.

Peter Brodersen wrote back that they could not wait as long as this, as it would delay their work. He wrote:

“This situation has led to frustration and a considerable loss of time. It was beyond the scope of our imagination that we would have to wait for such a long time to have a computer delivered.”

Peter Brodersen asked whether there was not another model that could be delivered faster.

There was, but the UCPH supplier would not cancel the first order, came the response. Brodersen’s group could buy both machines if they wanted a faster delivery.

Researchers working under extreme time pressure

Peter Brodersen emphasizes that he finds no fault with the individual IT employee who did his best to help.

The computer was also suddenly delivered without prior notice on 1st February after 3½ weeks. But he still reckons that the system is not working.

As an IT department in a government institution we are bound to act in accordance with the government’s, or our own, agreements that are concluded under EU regulations for public procurement.

Klaus Kvorning Hansen, Deputy Director of IT at UCPH

“We often hear from university management and politicians that we need world-class research. It is well known that research is a competitive affair and that one of the keys to success is being able to move fast and avoid unnecessary time wasted in the project’s implementation. So it does not help to have these unnecessary obstacles placed in the way of our work. It is important that the organization understands that we scientists are working under time constraints,” says Peter Brodersen.

Apple can deliver on the next day

He reckoned that it would be possible to deliver a standard iMac in one week, so he asked at the local Humac store that sells Apple products how long their delivery time would be on a similar computer.

He could get it right away, and if the machine was not in stock, and had to be ordered from Apple, there would be a one-day delivery time.

In very rare cases, two weeks would pass if the product was sold out, says Peter Brodersen.

A call to the Apple sales department confirms the short delivery time of an iMac with a similar configuration.

If ordering on 7th February, the computer will be delivered by 9th February with free standard delivery. With DKK 93.75 express delivery it will be delivered on the following day.

The salesman explains that it may take a few days or up to a week if you want a particular configuration or in very rare cases, when it is a brand new product in high demand, delivery time may be up to a few weeks.

Deputy director: It cannot be delivered faster

Klaus Kvorning Hansen, Deputy Director of IT at UCPH, is of a different opinion.

He writes in an e-mail that Apple processes all orders as special orders with delivery within three to eight weeks.

As the order is sent directly to production upon order delivery, it is binding. Production time depends solely on Apple’s capacity, so neither the UCPH IT department nor the supplier can provide a delivery date, writes the deputy director.

“Experience tells us that it is approximately 5 weeks, including the IT department’s preparation. There is a difference in how this is communicated. In some cases, the order pages state that delivery time cannot be guaranteed, nor influenced. We are looking into how this communication can be made better,” writes Klaus Kvorning Hansen.

He adds that it is possible to request a standard PC and that the UCPH IT department will be helpful in ensuring that the researcher can access their network drives and programmes from other devices while they are waiting for their order.

Bound by agreement

Apart from this, Klaus Kvorning Hansen says that the delivery time comparison with Humac is unfair, as the store is the only one in Denmark that is an Apple Premium Reseller that can order directly from Apple’s warehouse.

“As an IT department in a government institution we are bound to act in accordance with the government’s or our own agreements that are concluded under EU regulations for public procurement. This is an essential requirement and means in this case that we can procure cheaper, but not with anyone. And not with Humac,” writes Klaus Kvorning Hansen.

UCPH is part of an agreement that gets them a 20 per cent discount and 4 years of on-site warranty instead of the usual 2 years of warranty.

UCPH has no stocks

He says that UCPH has chosen not to have Mac computers in stock, as Apple is known for changing models and thereby causing a loss on the stocked goods – without prior notice.

In addition, Mac users are much more likely to require special configurations, making it difficult to have a comprehensive stock, he says. However, the UCPH IT department plans to have a smaller stock of 2 to 3 standard Mac models, which can be delivered within 5-7 working days, says Kvorning.

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