When you’re buying new IT equipment, it can be hard to think about how it will affect your business in the future – especially if you’re making an emergency purchase to replace broken kit
However, your business will have to manage every piece of computer hardware you buy – no matter whether it’s a cheap keyboard or a super-expensive server. So remember these key items when you’re hunting for new business IT.
- Stick to your budget – It’s amazing how many businesses take the "when it’s broken I’ll replace it" philosophy. With no IT budget in place, this approach isn’t cost-effective – especially if it means waiting days for new equipment to arrive. You must plan ahead, especially when it comes to key equipment like servers, which cost thousands of pounds to replace.
- Match IT to your business needs – Your business needs should drive your IT requirements. Don’t buy the latest equipment because it looks cool – buy it only if you need it. You can easily waste money on technology without realising it, so get advice from a good IT supplier to ensure you buy appropriate kit. As a side note, Microsoft found that the second highest activity for a computer after email was having it sit idle!
- Think about maintenance – Many businesses spend about 75% of their IT budget on maintaining their existing IT, and only 25% on investing in new solutions. Usually, a large proportion of that 75% is wasted by poor implementation and understanding of the equipment. Get it right first time, or you’ll pay for the consequences over a lengthy period. Again, expert help is a good place to start.
- If you’re outsourcing, go for managed services – Most IT support companies and suppliers offer ‘managed services’, which means they take care of all your day-to-day IT management. If your business can’t afford a dedicated IT team, having your IT externally monitored and managed properly will stop lots of problems occurring in the first place.
- Consider financing options carefully – Financing IT is no different to financing cars or sofas. Similar choices are available: instalments, delayed payment, etc. What’s right for you will depend on your circumstances, but nowadays many businesses opt for a complete solution package. This means you buy hardware, engineering time, project management and support from one company, and pay a fixed monthly cost.
- Look ahead to when your hardware will need replacing – Maintaining an IT inventory can help you spot in advance when IT is likely to need replacing. This can help you plan your IT purchasing in advance and help you ensure you have budgeted for all likely costs such as purchase, installation and training. You also need to consider how you will dispose of your old equipment. The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive governs how you can dispose of IT equipment. Reputable suppliers will offer a disposal service – taking away your old equipment when they deliver your new pieces of kit.
- Keep an eye on new developments – Keep your ear to the ground in the run-up to a big new IT purchase. For instance, it’s easy to assume that you should replace your server with another server, but maybe you could switch to cloud computing instead, replacing a costly and complex piece of hardware with an external service and a manageable monthly cost. IT moves fast, and new technology can give you a competitive advantage. Ask your IT supplier for advice, and speak to other businesses to see what new technologies they’ve adopted.
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