With IT accounting for 19% of small business expenditure it’s crucial that business owners get the best value possible when kitting out their offices with computers.
It can be tempting to go for the latest, greatest and most expensive computers available, justifying these costs through the centrality of IT to everything in our business and the longevity of more expensive machines.
While IT expenditure is an investment, very few of us actually use our computers to anywhere near their full functionality. In short, most companies overspend on hardware. Careful consideration of your IT needs can see you avoid wasting money in this way. Here are the key things that you need to think about.
Processing requirements - CPU and RAM
CPU and RAM dictate how fast computers run, and how many applications they can run in parallel before the computer in question starts slowing down. CPU refers to the processing power of a machine, whereas the amount of RAM refers to it’s working memory (workspace).
Computers with faster processors and more RAM can, therefore, allow people to work more productively.
A key point about the relationship between CPU processing and RAM is that RAM constrains CPU processing and that RAM is far easier to upgrade than CPU.
It is therefore often good practice to purchase computers with relatively powerful CPUs and less RAM and then adding more RAM if necessary. You just need to make sure the computers in question have the capacity to take on more RAM.
If your IT needs are relatively simple, such as word processing, internet usage, and the occasional use of cloud-based software, then the processing requirements of your computer may be less than you need.
It could be well worth taking a look at the system requirements of whatever applications you use to avoid overspending, just don’t forget to take into account your need to run applications in parallel.
As a general rule of thumb, a quad-core processor with 1.3GHz of CPU and 2-4MB of RAM should be enough so long if you are only having to work with documents and databases rather than creative and other heavy-duty softwares.
If you are unsure about what your IT needs will be in the long term, shorter-term leasing on machines can allow you more flexibility to upgrade your IT equipment in the future.
Laptops vs desktops
The obvious advantages of laptops are their portability. This allows companies to offer flexible working to their employees and can allow for a more collaborative work environment.
Laptops are, however, more expensive than desktops, assuming that their specifications are the same. They are also more difficult to upgrade and modify.
Desktops are probably going to be the way to go, unless travelling around to meet clients is a big part of your role or you are dead set on offering flexible working options to employees.
The fact that common software is increasingly becoming cloud-based (compare Google Drive to Microsoft Office for example) means work has become more portable even if desktops are your computer of choice.
Memory (hard drive)
As technology advances, the amount of hard drive space required is becoming less and less. This is largely due to the emergence of cloud storage and external hard drives.
High-resolution images, graphics and videos take up relatively more memory than written documents and databases, meaning that if you don’t have a need to store the former type of information your required disk space could be far less than you might imagine. 500 GB of disk space is more than enough for almost all business computers.
Although having wireless internet at home is a given, if your office runs on desktops, wired internet is the way to go. The infrastructure to support wifi may even be an unnecessary expense.
Assuming that portability is not an issue, wired internet is still far more consistent, faster, and more secure than WiFi. While WiFi gives you the luxury of being able to use laptops and other portable devices if you so wish, it’s not a requirement for every office.
Desktops should, therefore, have the capacity to support ethernet connections (both ethernet cards and inputs) but having top of the line wireless network cards is not necessarily a requirement.
Displays, monitors, and other user interface
Even if you don’t work in a creative or design-based industry, larger monitors can increase productivity.
This is particularly important if you are kitting out your office with laptops, a 15 or 17-inch screen is likely to increase employee performance.
Second monitors are often worthwhile investments, especially as computers get older and switching between applications takes more time.
Maintenance and upkeep
Maintaining your computer is essential to making sure you get the most use out of them for your money. The maintenance of hardware has three key elements.
Having a solid manufacturer’s warranty (when purchasing computers for commercial use you should be angling for a warranty of at least 3 years if possible). Upgrading your machines whenever necessary.
Taking the best care of your computers as possible.
It’s generally easier to make desktop computers last longer than laptops. This is partially due to the fact that their portability means they are more likely to get knocked around, but also because they are less easily upgradable.
The easiest, and often overlooked, way of making your computer last as long as possible is by turning it off when it is not being used. Constantly being on puts strain on a computer’s components and can cause it to overheat. The more downtime the better.
As far as upgrading and troubleshooting your computers go, this can be an expensive endeavour, especially if you outsource all your IT support.
Leasing IT equipment might offer a solution to keeping up to date with technology, and be more cash flow friendly. For each computer that you look to update, you should budget roughly £1000, now if you have a handful of employees, this is only a few thousand pounds, however, if you are a growing SME, with a 100 employees the bill becomes eye-watering.
To foot this £100,000 and by considering leasing you can spread this significant cost over 5 years. This could result in monthly payments of a few thousand pounds, which your cash flow will definitely be thanking you later for.
Why not speak to one of the team today to find out how our It and Office Finance packages could be of benefit to you? Contact us today!
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