Whilst I’ve posted this in business radio context, it’s just as true a thing to consider in ham radio use with differing focus (and a lot more inventive usage) and at a more central group leader/steward/controller focus in organised leisure activity applications too.
Given that that last item and business use can be intertwined in some BR requirements, there’s crossover in thinking in all three group types of use.
However, long term cost and derived value of the ultimately bulk purchase actually is important for BR users and buyers rather than a costly mistake or bargain for other groups of users.
So why buy higher end features spec DMR stuff (substitute DMR for PDC/PTSC and similar essentially interoperability spec system gear)?
Well, for a start - you may find that the base cost of a limited set that needs reprogramming to suit changing operational needs is at least (man hours wise or cost if you use commercial services to configure your gear) a bit of a money pit that could (with due consideration and planning) make slightly more expensive items with vast channel presets and zones capacity etc actually worth having even if, initially, it’s under utilised.
If I was, with time of ownership and very long term use in mind, choosing a system and gear for a smaller group (say between 5-30 units, where 5 was the normal frequently used number) would actually favour the higher spec gear even in essentially locked down form for actually common end users and a more comprehensive setup for controller/supervisor/team leader use.
This is because large zoning and contact and TG capacity makes it possible to hold, by means of specific activity based use of zoning, flexibility to keep lots of usage profiles in one codeplugs.
So, where ‘leader’ roles aren’t necessarily persistent assignments or maybe temporary assignment to leader status comes into play, it’s not necessarily a bad thing if every radio is configured with dual or multiple user IDs and multi zoning to suit use for a given programmed user ID (which could even be two or more).
So given where there is fairly cheap certified gear out there, and maybe IP rated rugged gear isn’t so essential, it’s quite feasible to see how higher spec gear from the outset is actually a sane move due to inherent scope it provides.
Similarly where large group with sub groups comes into play at higher organisation and business usage, the same reasoning could be valid - especially where you exploit gateways and networked usage to link local groups under Tier 2/3 licensing provisions.
But at the other extreme, and it can be universally true with all three target group uses, if you can’t see much more than CB/PM446 style basic use with a few units but digital with analog fallback and interoperability with PMR446 FM use has value or essential need use, then many high spec feature sets will only make sense if the cost per unit for say 5 active radios with a spare unit each for contingency (ie damaged units) means you value cheaply replacement gear over absolute bombproof IP rated rugged gear.
But typically for CB style digital PMR446 type radio system use, true rugged and fairly restricted capacity isn’t necessarily a necessary evil if it means you get the kind of rugged gear, of limited feature set spec, that’s very in line with the most common need.
So it’s entirely a matter of perspective, need and what ultimately matters that’ll bring a close focus to such things.
One aspect of the make up of any gear, any system, you definitely want to give thought to is ease of use, especially where zone swapping to suit use or user available mode settings (such as dropping to low power or setting to high power if at extremes of range, or enabling ‘talkabout’ use of existing preset repeater based presets matters for inter-user comms when out of repeater range but LOS range still is there). On many systems, gear has some degree of softkey onscreen quick function access or though programmable side keys. But there’s always some need to navigate on screen (display enabled gear) and navigate menus - so here, ease of use and familiarity common to many different examples of the kinds of sets in use helps no end, so picking gear with very strong commonality of function navigation where maybe you even use gear that bridges two or more systems is a case.
That’s one area where I definately find Wouxun gear to be solid - as the navigation is about as universal between open pro gear and restricted/specialised variant gear as you get - and where user presetting is wanted, storing of presets is a single common system on their gear as is two key or one key long press sub function access. Just mentioning it because that brand and commonality of usage of feature access definitely shows what can be simple yet flexible that many other manufacturers could learn from. The Wouxun method reminds me of a brilliant, but long redundant, key sequence access method employed a few decades ago on early NEC cell phones - where things almost became a matter of muscle memory development and unconscious ability to just get what you needed enabled/disabled/hotkey dialling etc. Such ease can actually be more beneficial than often is given fair consideration to.
But if it’s all too confusing and looking like a case of overanalyzing the devil in the detail then maybe simple stuff like PMR446 or DPMR or even PM446/LPD dual spec analogue could be just the ticket depending on why you want digital or analogue in preference.
Likewise, for other radio systems in other regions, similar consideration can rapidly determined if higher spec gear is an investment in flexibility or simply unifies a diverse requirement within the boundaries applicable choices of systems to the region permit.
If even that’s too much like feeling like overanalyzing things, well there’s always mall outlet bubble pack gear - where if there’s a vaguely redeeming quality, it’s only a trip into town to get new units sold in pairs etc.