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As any small business owner knows, your IT set up can make or break your operations. Old and outdated hardware is a recipe for disaster, leaving you vulnerable to security threats and slowing down your business.
If you’re working with the same tech as when you started your business, chances are you might need some upgrades.
You don’t want to waste money upgrading equipment when it isn’t strictly necessary. So, how do you know it’s time for an IT hardware refresh?
We’re taking a look at the signs letting you know it’s time to invest. We’ll also explore how to budget and create a strategic roadmap for your IT hardware needs.
What is IT hardware?
Before we get started, it’s worth clarifying exactly what IT hardware is. As it covers so many items used by small businesses, it might surprise you how much IT hardware you’ve got.
IT hardware refers to any internal or external devices helping your IT systems operate. It’s essentially the physical components of a computer. Hardware contrasts with software, which is the instructions telling physical components how to execute commands.
IT hardware can include:
- PCs and laptops, including monitors, keyboards, printers or the mouse.
- Internal computer components, like RAM (temporary memory storage), the CPU (central processing unit) or hard drive.
- Tablets, smart phones or cameras.
- Microphones, headphones or speakers.
- USB flash drives or memory cards.
When is it time to upgrade your IT hardware?
There are a few signs to look out for, letting you know it’s time to upgrade your businesses’ IT hardware.
Consider the following:
- Speed: If your staff are consistently waiting for computers to start up, access files, load applications and perform tasks, it’s a major sign your IT hardware is outdated.
- Reliability: If your hardware frequently freezes, crashes or simply doesn’t work as expected – ask yourself, is it helping or hindering your business operations?
- Your business needs: Your business will evolve over the years and your IT hardware should move with it. If you’ve made changes to your business model, experienced growth or downsizing, or expanding into new markets – is your IT infrastructure still suited to the task?
- Security risks: Old hardware is a major security risk, leaving you vulnerable to malware and viruses. If your business works with any form of personal data, you must ensure it’s adequately protected.
- Compatibility: As new software and apps come out, your old hardware might not keep up. If your machines can’t use the latest updates, you’ll miss out on features and functionality, as well as leaving your business open to security risks.
- Storage: If you’re battling with low storage space, this can impact your business’s ability to grow. Could more modern devices and cloud-based storage solutions solve the issue?
- Hybrid working: We’ve seen a fundamental shift towards remote and hybrid working patterns in recent years. If your hardware can’t support flexible working, it’s time for an upgrade.
What are the dangers of failing to invest in your IT?
By thinking about the signs it’s time for an upgrade, you’ve probably got an idea of the consequences of failing to invest in your IT hardware.
Without a strategic plan for IT upgrades, slow and inefficient machines can have an insidious impact on your business’ productivity and staff morale. This can negatively influence client and consumer perceptions of your brand. Old tech makes your business seem old fashioned and unreliable, leading to a reputational headache and losing the edge over your competitors.
As slow performance leads to lost productivity, this will all steadily impact your bottom line and hinder business growth.
Outdated hardware can also leave you open to compliance issues. If you look after personal data or work in a regulated industry, you’ll need to have security measures in place. If you’re working with old machines vulnerable to security threats, you might face substantial fines or other penalties.
How can you budget for IT hardware upgrades?
IT hardware is a significant investment for any business. So, what’s the best way to plan for these costs?
As a rule of thumb.
Think about replacing your IT hardware roughly every five years. It’s worth considering a rolling approach, replacing 20% of your tech each year. You can then build these costs into your annual operating budget, so you’re not hit with a major shock.
Smaller businesses operate on a tight budget, so cloud subscription-based services are great for reducing large “one-time” purchases. Because cloud-based solutions are flexible, you only pay for the storage and services you actually use. This could result in massive savings in the long run.
Monthly recurring charges are also much easier to work into your cash flow. With so many cloud-based services on the market, for instance Amazon Web Services, Microsoft 365, Adobe Creative Cloud and Google Workspace (with business plans starting from as little as £4 or £5 per user/month) … there’s plenty of options to suit all business needs and budgets.
The importance of an IT strategy roadmap: seeking professional advice.
Given the costs involved with IT hardware, professional advice will help you avoid expensive mistakes.
If you’re unsure about the best tech for your business, professional IT support services (like us at Ohso Technical) will ensure your organisation remains agile, reliable and secure. With expert input, you’ll know your IT hardware is right for your business – now and in the future.
As part of this.
Advice on establishing an IT strategy roadmap is crucial. This involves creating a plan for your year ahead, with a clear upgrade path based on your unique IT requirements. This will help you strategize future upgrades and ensure your IT infrastructure is always up to date.
When thinking about an IT strategy roadmap, consider your current needs, future goals, budget and timelines for upgrades. If you’re planning major projects such as new server installations or large-scale data migration, this should include plans for fully functional backups – before making any big switches.
Factor-in upskilling your workforce to use any new tech (if necessary) and plan rollouts in stages. This will reduce risk and help you assess the impact of any new IT hardware on your operations.
Thank you for taking the time to read our article.
We hope that you found the above information and guidance helpful. However, if you have any further questions, then don’t hesitate to get in touch for a no-obligation chat with our super friendly team!
With over 20 years’ experience, we’ll ensure your business has best in class IT services and solutions at a cost you can afford. You can contact us through one of the following ways:
Call 020 3963 5533 for a no obligation chat with a friendly IT expert and discuss your IT upgrade requirements in further detail.
Complete the user friendly online contact form below and a member of the team will respond to your enquiry to you very soon.