IT Upgrade Cycles and the Small Business
by Robert McNicholas on August, 02 2017
Everything has a life cycle. Remember your first car? Unless you’re quite new to driving—or quite lucky—your first car is now nothing more than a memory. It had a life cycle, a point-of-no-return, when maintaining it was more expensive than replacing it.
We’re used to replacing our cars every two or three—or ten—years. But our computers? They too have a life cycle. In the past, three years was considered about average for a piece of PC technology. For budgetary reasons, this rarely meant replacing every single piece of equipment once every three years. Some larger companies adapted the three-year-life cycle principle by rotating out the most worn of their stock, replacing about a third of it each year, give or take.
But wait! Why on earth get rid of a perfectly good laptop or desktop just because it’s three years old? For a couple of reasons. One is that the machine specs (the memory and processing power) do eventually become obsolete.
Another is the simple wear and tear of everyday usage on the machine.
And third, there is the all-important operating system life cycle. Prior to Windows XP, it was almost de rigueur to have the latest version of Windows. Fall too far behind in the cycle, and you would risk program compatibility issues.
Re-Examining the Three-Year Upgrade Cycle
Now, the three-year life cycle is starting to be re-examined. One reason is that technology is changing at a much faster pace than before—and the risks and problems that go along with it are growing just as quickly. Staying up-to-date and meeting security compliance regulations is a must for online retailers, as well as those in the medical and legal fields.
Another reason is the advent of cloud-based, instantly updating software applications. Instead of buying, for example, the latest release of Microsoft Office every few years, many people are opting to simply use a monthly subscription to Office 365. This means that everything Office-related is automatically updated for them as long as they maintain their subscriptions. That, in itself, is changing the game somewhat.
And there are the problems that come with updating your technology. We don’t just mean from a budgetary standpoint. We’re talking about the learning curve of introducing your staff to a new system. (Right now, we’re remembering the initial transition from Windows 7 to Windows 8. Yeah, that was tough.) You can read more about the trials of installing a new OS in this post and in this post.
IT Upgrade Cycle Options for Small Businesses
Basically, when it comes to your upgrade cycle, you have four options: do nothing, maintain, borrow, or rent.
- Doing nothing is a bad idea.Technically, yes, it is an option. But it’s a bad option. Don’t use it.
- Maintaining your existing equipment can work very well. You may choose to outsource this to a managed IT company like Techsperts, or you may take care of it in-house. In time, you probably will need to replace aging or broken computers, printers, routers, and the like. If you include some room in your budget for this contingency, simple maintenance can be a very cost-effective option.
- How can you borrow your IT? Well, allowing your employees to use their own devices, particularly mobile devices, is somewhat akin to borrowing it for work purposes. There is a certain amount of caution that needs to be exercised if you do this. Will the device be secure? Will the owner be compensated for their device’s business-related use? These are things to consider.
- You may also be able to rent your computers and other technology. In the long run, this can be quite expensive, but it could also be an adequate solution for a temporary upsurge in activity around the office. When everything is said and done, you’re going to need to upgrade your IT at some point.
But from where we sit, there’s no need to do a complete change out every few years. As long as your IT is meeting your needs and staying up-to-date and secure, it’s fine to just go with it.
Need an assessment of the current state of your IT? Contact Techsperts Services today!