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When should I change my company’s computer systems?

This is a question we get asked allot.

In business you will have predictable daily use. Typically you may run Microsoft Office, a CRM package, Project, Accounting software, and perform internet banking etc. A few drivers can be software upgrades by vendors, the hardware age itself, the operating system, and may be standardisation across your business.

Try to look at a 3 to 5 year life span for business use. If you are a small SME then in 3 years your use and the technology needed can have radically changed. Consider the financial implications with your accountant. A rolling program of replacement and write-off’s works well, and means you can make business savings.

Key factors are: warranty, reliability, standardisation, long product life cycle and maximum compatibility. Most vendors supply PC’s in this market sector. They use tried and tested technology and will either come with or allow purchasing of manufacturer backed warranties.

For a 3 to 5 year business buy, always put mid-range business grade or higher in the mix. It may be twice the price of the £299 deal you’re seeing online, but pays dividends.

Here’s a typical example with very conservative estimates that will put a different perspective on it. Buy 20 PC’s at £300 each. It costs £6000 over 3 years. You can also buy 20 mid-range business PC’s at £600 each. They cost £12000 over 3 years. So where is the saving?

OK – The budget PC’s typically run a bit slower and age faster. So over the 3 years the average member of staff takes 5 minutes longer each day to switch on the PC, to login, do tasks – “ohh it’s taking too long again, I’ll go and make coffee!”etc. For 20 people over 230 working days per year, that’s 383 hours not worked a year because of slow PC’s. If your average person costs £12 per hour (that’s wage, NIC’s, holidays, and very basic pro-rata business costs) then that’s £4596 per year in a direct costs as a result of loss in productivity.

In summary over 3 years: Budget PC’s + lost productivity = £19788. Business PC’s + no loss in productivity = £12000. That’s a saving of £7788.

I know that’s an over simplistic exercise, and does not factor in software, deployment costs and possible warranty downtime, but you get the point. Once you factor in extra support costs for aging equipment, your costs for not replacing escalate significantly year on year.

Start applying that to other areas of IT in your business – internet to slow to do a task – taking 10 minutes longer than it should? Ask why? Is there something you can do? How much is it costing you not to do something?

So when should I change my company’s computer systems? – Look out for the tell-tale signs. Things are taking too long, ones are complaining about the slowness of the PC or about parts of their job. Get the systems looked at and confirm your issues. Do the maths. Then formulate a plan as it could be costing you far more than you think.

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