Things to think about when choosing computer equipment for your business
With so many options available, choosing computer hardware for your business can be difficult. Some things to keep in mind are, your current and future hardware needs, potential compatibility issues, security concerns, and your long-term IT strategy.
How to assess computer hardware needs
To assess your needs, look at how you intend to use computers in your business. For example, consider the tasks you plan to keep digital like record-keeping, payroll, invoicing, advertising, and any point of sale needs. You will also need to consider basic business requirements you need for your staff to perform their functions like networking equipment, operating systems, and any specialized operations or design software. You may also need industry specific equipment like web servers for a large e-commerce businesses.
Different types of businesses will generally have different computer hardware needs. A personal computer may be enough for a small start-up, but a growing business may need a more advanced hardware set up to meet its evolving business needs. As businesses grow, most transition from managing services and hardware internally as an extra duty for an owner, partner, or employee to a managed service provider. IT support gets complex as organizations grow, and every growing business is faced with the decision of when to outsource to prevent a stall in business capability.
When choosing hardware, make sure that any new or replacement components are compatible with your existing computer equipment. Look carefully at the overall costs, including if it might be cheaper to install a new system rather than upgrade existing components. Compatibility mistakes are some of the most common for those businesses that manage IT internally. Including a deliberate hardware upgrade timeline as part of the growth plan is key to ensure compatibility and avoid the wasted money and lost efficiencies when systems and equipment don’t work well together.
Theft of computer hardware from businesses is a risk. Laptops and other portable devices are easier to steal, but internal storage devices (such as hard disk drives) can also be at risk for the business data and personal information they contain. It is important to protect both hardware and data. Hardware protection is more straight forward than software protection in most cases. Almost all hardware meant for business use comes with a mechanism or optional accessory to secure the equipment to a desk or the floor. It is also advisable to include office and building security measures in the plan for computer hardware security.
Software and data security is a bit more complex as the list of threats can be very long. This subject is its own blog article, but includes anti-virus and malware protection, individual employee behavior best practices, and physical security.
Long-term IT strategy
You should have a long-term IT strategy that takes into account any future changes in your market, your employees, and your products or services. If possible, integrate hardware refresh and software rollout strategies in the business growth timeline. When choosing new hardware for your business, one of the major factors in long term strategy is hardware cost vs capability. This is specifically applicable in physical manufacturing examples where a key piece of hardware can bring a significantly increased production capacity or error reduction. These kinds of hardware are subject to cost benefit analysis to ensure purchase and implementation timing best supports the business goals.
Hardware life expectancy
Most individual use computer hardware has a life expectancy of three to four years with servers lasting five to six years. A typical hardware replacement timeline for businesses sticks to this life expectancy. Getting ahead on hardware replacement and planning this in advance is key to avoiding lost time due to hardware malfunction.
Disposal of old hardware
You should dispose of old hardware in an environmentally-friendly way. In some cases, the manufacturer can arrange free collection from you. Retailers or suppliers may charge you to dispose of the equipment, while managed service providers like ABN Savannah take care all of this so that their clients don’t have to worry about disposal.
When disposing of old computer hardware, it is important to delete any confidential or sensitive data, by either securely wiping the data or removing and physically destroying the hard disk drives or other storage media that contain this data.
Every business must decide the hardware plan, timeline, and service level that best fits the business plan and growth strategy. Most businesses find that as they transition from start up or small business status and become more stable within their market, a managed service provider with solutions like ABN Savannah best serves their hardware needs and takes the stress of planning and managing hardware and IT off of the business.