Q: How often should we replace our company PCs?
It’s a common question asked across many industries – medical, legal, engineering, etc. Many business professionals are simply unsure how long they should keep their company computers.
In most cases, the question is born out of a desire to stretch the capital investment in those machines as long as possible. It’s important to remember that there is a fine line between being frugal and costing the company more than the price of the PC in lost productivity.
Thankfully for small to medium-sized businesses, the Fortune 500 has already put in the hard work of figuring out where the sweet spot lies in giving you the best chance for a good return on your investment.
IT professionals generally agree the best practice is to replace your business’ fleet of PCs every three to four years. This isn’t an arbitrary number. It’s backed by the industry’s collective knowledge of the unstoppable march of software updates and carefully collected statistics.
PCs three to five years old or older often face the following problems:
-Have twice as much downtime
-Lose three times as much data
-Have three times more security problems
-On average experience 5 to 10 hours or more downtime incidents per year
With these stats in mind, the financial implications of keeping a PC too long begin to become clear. Some simple math shows that if an employee, who makes $20 per hour, is disrupted for 50 hours of their work year, $1,000 in wage cost is lost, not to mention the opportunity costs. Add in the amount of time it takes to
replace lost data and that cost quickly rises.
By dividing the fleet into thirds or fourths, funding replacements is much more manageable. For example, let's assume your fleet consists of 120 computers and each replacement cost is about $800. Replacing all 120 machines in one year hits a hefty total of $96,000. By splitting this up over three or four years, the annual expense drops to $32,000 or $24,00 respectively. This ensures that all workers have current technology without having to bear a massive budget spike every three or four years.
Now that you have a plan for getting new computers, what do you do with the old ones? Don’t be like other companies with piles of computers tucked away in a corner storage room.
Here are some options for device disposal:
-Make a donation. Local charities will often resell or repurpose used computers.
(Tip: Be sure to wipe the hard drive and reinstall Windows or current operating system).
-Recycling: There are many companies that specialize in recycling used computers for businesses. They know how to keep the heavy and toxic metals or plastics out of the environment. And, believe it or not, they can destroy a hard drive by shredding it!
(Tip: These companies will provide a certificate, ensuring your data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. This is especially valuable to companies subject to medical or financial regulations.)
The bottom line is you need a plan for managing your company’s computer hardware. With a little forethought and preparation, the process of replacing your company PCs will be a smooth, uneventful, and save your company time, employee productivity, and money.
TekLinks' Technical Account Manager Kyle McClain shares tips on Best Tech Practices for business in this monthly column. Connect with Kyle on Twitter @kylemcclain or on Linkedin.