You depend on IT to run every part of your business. You need people to access your website for sales, your workers need to get tasks done. Nowadays, you depend on IT to run meetings for your remote teams.
Some estimates show that 1 minute of downtime can cost a business $5600. That’s $336,000 an hour.
If you and your team are running into productivity issues because of technical problems, it’s time to consider upgrading your IT equipment.
Sure, you don’t want to spend money on IT, but it’s going to cost much more if you do nothing about it. Read on to discover when it’s time to upgrade your IT equipment and the steps you need to take to get it done.
Think Like an Enterprise Architect
An enterprise architect is one of the most valuable positions in an organization. They straddle the line between business strategists and IT experts.
They’re the ones that map out your IT infrastructure to make sure it’s efficient and it supports your business. They see the big picture of the business, rather than focusing on bandages to fix small problems.
That’s because those bandages and hacks will eventually create a dysfunctional IT system.
Your company may not be large enough to need an enterprise architect, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from them.
The technology exists is to support business goals. Never lose sight of that fact. If you do lose sight of that, then your IT strategy will be all over the place. This is what enterprise architects understand so well and it’s the one thing you can learn from them.
The Goals of the Business
The other lesson to learn from enterprise architects is how to align your IT department with the goals of the business. It’s not easy to do.
The starting point to align your technology and business goals is to know what your business goals are. These should be short term and long term goals.
For example, your short term goals are to reduce operations expenses and increase communication between departments.
In the long term, the business goals are to increase online sales by 20% and website traffic by 50%.
Once you have your goals, go back to your company roots, and read the vision and mission of the business. Do the goals align with them? This is a simple top-down approach that ensures you have the right strategy in place.
How Does Technology Support Your Business?
Where does technology fit in with your business goals? That’s the next question to ask yourself.
Using the examples above, the marketing and sales teams would largely be responsible for website traffic and online sales. You’d want to meet with those teams to find out what tools they need to meet those goals.
You’d also want to meet with other departments to find out if they need anything to communicate better. You want to know what’s preventing them from communicating now. It could be cultural issues within the business or they don’t have the right tools to do so.
Audit Current Technologies
There may be IT equipment issues that could prevent those teams from meeting their goals. For instance, a business that wants to increase website traffic and sales needs to have servers that can handle the increase. Similarly businesses which focus on cutting operational cost have an option to switch to some of the cloud accounting solutions like QuickBooks Pro Cloud Hosting and Hosted Desktop etc. to save money.
Otherwise, the hard work the marketing team does to increase traffic will go to waste. People won’t be able to access the site and make a purchase.
You’ll want to run an IT audit of hardware and software in the business. This is when you go through your entire IT asset inventory and note what you have and the condition of the hardware.
This includes mobile devices, laptops, desktops, and servers. The asset audit is a huge help to your accounting department because it helps them calculate depreciation.
You should list the device, the date of purchase, cost, upgrades, and date of upgrades. You can then determine what devices need to be upgraded and why.
Develop Metrics of Success
You’re going to need to show ROI for your IT equipment upgrades. IT is expensive, and business owners are reluctant to spend money on things that they can’t see the benefits from.
You’ll need to prove the value of the IT purchases by creating success metrics. For example, one server upgrade could speed up
One communication tool can increase communication between departments by 20%. That improves efficiency because employees aren’t waiting for answers over email.
Employees spend roughly 5 hours a day checking business and personal emails.
By proving that your upgrades cut down on this time because the employees get instant answers, the more likely your upgrades will get approved.
Are you ready to go shopping for IT equipment? You should already know what your needs are, so it does become easier to purchase upgrades.
Of course, you want to get the most out of your purchases, so you need to know where to shop.
Computer brands like Lenovo are getting ready for the end of year sales such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Check out the models they have on offer and get more info here.
Plan and Implement the Upgrade
Before you install your new equipment, make a plan to do it seamlessly. Create a rollout plan that details what is being replaced and when.
In small organizations, these changes can be done in one shot. In large organizations, rollouts should happen slowly. This allows you to test for issues before proceeding to the rest of the organization.
You don’t want to create new issues for your workers, so make sure that you have backups of the data on the hardware before you proceed.
Training and Education
After you install the IT upgrades, you’ll need to educate employees. They need to know what the changes are and how they are impacted.
You also want to inform them of the benefits of the IT equipment upgrades. This will get buy-in from employees, especially if it makes work easier.
Software upgrades will require more training because that’s how the employees interact with computers.
You can create ongoing IT training to make the upgrades last as long as possible.
Create a Disaster Plan
About half of all small businesses experienced a cyberattack in the last year. Successful attacks do enough damage to put a company out of business.
You could be hit by malware or there could be a power outage that you have no control over. Without a plan to reduce the impact of these disastrous situations, you will lose a lot more than just downtime.
Recycle Old Technology Responsibly
Once you wrap up your upgrade, you need to figure out what to do with that old technology. The most responsible thing you can do is recycle it.
The worst thing you can do is to dump it without clearing the data from the devices. That data can be recovered, even if it’s been sitting in the trash. That would put you and your customers at risk.
The other issue with throwing away hardware is that it’s toxic. The toxins can leach into groundwater and cause a lot of damage.
Wipe off the data of your devices and then make a visit to a local electronic recycling center.
Repeat the Cycle
Technology doesn’t sit still. It always evolves and your business has to evolve with it. Doing one upgrade now doesn’t mean that you’re off the hook.
It’s good practice to run an IT audit every 6 months or so. That ensures that you keep your IT infrastructure up to date. You also know that your staff isn’t losing precious minutes on slow technology.
If you do discover that you need to upgrade IT equipment, then run through these steps again.
Set an IT budget for the year that’s large enough to cover these upgrades. How much should you set aside? It depends on your business needs and industry.
The average company spends about 3% – 5% of revenue on IT. This varies by company size and industry, but it’s a good guideline to start with.
IT Equipment That Won’t Let You Down
If you have any hope of having a thriving business, you need to make sure that your IT equipment is fast and efficient. A slow computer or an outdated program could cause a lot of headaches and security risks for your company.
When you look at IT upgrades, you need to start with the goals of the business and make sure that your IT infrastructure supports your IT goals. You can then start the long process to assess your needs, purchase equipment, and install it.
Your IT department has to be vigilant in detecting changing business needs and be ready to adapt at a moment’s notice.
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