Hardware Investment Strategies: Optimizing Technology Infrastructure

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Hopefully, you aren’t using your Mac Plus to run your accounting software. Having the right tool for the job is always important. If your employees are using the wrong or outdated tech tools for the job, work becomes an inefficient and expensive chore.

Employees are 26% less productive working on computers that are 5+ years old, and the average cost to their employers is $12,495 per year in lost productivity.

Here are some strategies to help you proactively plan for hardware purchases and upgrades to reduce your poor productivity, risk of downtime, security issues, and high-cost break-fix situations.

Create a Lifecycle Sheet for All Hardware

It’s always a good idea to have an inventory of all your IT hardware in case of damage or theft. You can also use this to map out a hardware replacement cycle that rotates expenses for timely replacements.

List equipment such as:

  • Desktops
  • Laptops
  • Mobile devices
  • Servers
  • Routers
  • Networking hardware (switches, cabling)
  • Firewalls
  • Printers/scanners

Track the purchase date and the desired replacement date, using industry-standard lifespans according to Netgain.

Then create a schedule that works for your budget to replace hardware before it reaches the end of its useful lifespan, rotating the replacements to make the most sense for your budget. For example, you may choose to spread replacement and/or new equipment purchases throughout the fiscal year, or timed with high sales cycles.

Planning for hardware investments and reinvestments ahead of time can ensure your staff is not slowed down by tech breakdowns and you don’t get any budget-busting surprises.

Squeezing More Out of Old Tech?

The average life for a desktop PC is about 3.5 years. For laptops, it’s about three years, and for servers, the lifespan is between 3-5 years, according to Netgain.

Eking out a few more years for your office desktops is not always a good idea. Repairs for an older computer (4+ years) cost companies an average of 42 work hours each year in lost productivity. According to a global survey of 736 small businesses, the cost to repair a 4+-year-old PC is 1.3 times greater than that of a newer PC; an upgrade cost is 1.6 times more.

Upgrade or Replace?

Before you jump into upgrades, it’s best to do a detailed cost/benefit analysis that includes the cost of lost productivity for an older system vs. gains a tech investment can bring.

An important question to ask when dealing with older equipment is whether you should upgrade or replace it. Sometimes an upgrade (adding more RAM to a laptop for example) can help you gain more capabilities from a current device. If it’s too close to its end of useful life, however, you may save more money by replacing it.

Review Security Needs & Major Updates

Another consideration beyond lifecycle that you need to think about when replacing hardware are security requirements and whether outdated equipment can keep up. If you have a server that’s no longer able to get critical security updates, then you are putting yourself at risk of a data breach and may be in violation of data security guidelines.

For example, anyone owning a Windows 2008 R2 server is facing the end of support and regular security upgrades on January 14, 2020. You want to ensure you are upgrading well before the age of your hardware causes major security problems.

On the other hand, big updates often enhance security and make it worthwhile to gain new benefits. A good example is the new Wi-Fi 6 routers with the soon-to-be-released WPA3 security protocol that is a big step up in wireless security from the current protocol.

What Does Your Team Say They Need?

You can gain some great insights into new hardware investments by surveying employees to see what could be holding them back in their work. Discover which tech improvements could help streamline their workflows or improve outputs.

Do you have employees stuck waiting for the printer to get free? An investment in a new network printer or two could eliminate wasted time and frustration.

Could your sales team benefit by having tablets to access quotes, product videos, and other sales tools while out in the field? Including your employees in your hardware upgrade and investment process can help you zero in on the tools they need.

Another tech consideration is recruiting new staff. Prospects often look at your tech investment when making a job change decision. If you don’t have the best technology, you may not be in the position to recruit high-quality employees.

Ensure Your New Hardware Lasts

When you’re investing in IT hardware, you want to make sure you’re getting the most out of it and it doesn’t suffer from a shortened lifespan due to neglected maintenance. Schedule regular checkups for all hardware, just as you would for yourself, to stay on top of upkeep issues.

Contact us today to help you put together your hardware investment strategy. Call 563-441-1504 or contact us online.

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