One of the best things I budgeted for this year was a new projector for my team. For some reason we require anyone who wants a projector to reserve one at least 24 hours in advance for a specific conference room. Maybe I don’t have a lot of patience, but I found I was constantly begging for a projector the day of a meeting and feeling guilty about it. It was really a pain.
My predecessor obviously felt about the same way as I inherited a projector when I arrived. One small issue was that it only worked on rare occasions and was out of warranty. Fixing it was possible, but easily it could be the same cost as buying a new projector.
So I budgeted for a new projector this year and had one of my developers research and buy one in October. I knew we’d get enough use out of it in my group alone to justify the cost from using it for demos to unit testing seminars. The elimination of the hassle was reason enough.
My general philosophy is to share even if some item came out of my cost center. I also think the idea of trust is really important so I just stow the projector in my old office and not under lock and key. I think the hassle of having to lock up things and have sign out procedures generally means things get a lot less use. Not too different from the idea that requiring a lot of paperwork and receipts for small expenses ends up costing the company more in tracking costs then just setting a per diem for incidental expenses.
As people have discovered I have a projector they often just stop by and ask to borrow it. I happily lend it out no paperwork involved. The projector gets a lot more use, and I generate extra goodwill by making things easier for people. Of course the obvious downside is that someone might, gasp, steal the projector. I think positive effects far outweigh the possibility of some really dishonest employee walking off with it. If your company has theft problems you generally have a much bigger issue on your hands.