What device replacement strategies do you use?

Last month I was requested to sit in on a server replacement project. Sitting down with the CEO asking pertinent questions, we soon discovered that the initial project budget was way off target, the cost of the hardware was 1x, cost of the software migration (platform that was hosted on this server was 1y and then the ancillary project costs was 1z).

1X + 1Y + 1Z amount to 80% above the initial project of simple hardware replenishment cost, imagine that, an IT Project going over budget, before the equipment was even ordered.

This brought me back to why is it necessary to replace staff IT Equipment. There are many factors that should be factored in when considering this project.

A prudent CEO will ask from their IT leader to define and implement an equipment replacement strategy for devices that people in the organisation use, such as phones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers. The goal, of course, is to make sure each staff member has the appropriate tools for their tasks. And, ideally, to make sure equipment doesn’t become a problem or barrier for people as they attempt to do their work.

But different infrastructure replacement strategies make sense for your staff according to their roles and requirements and that of your business.

  • Replace to maximize performance

Staff sitting around waiting for the IT system to report back. Have you ever just thought how long does the creation of a report take, creating that video clip or rendering code into a software program, now multiple that time across a year, and what does the cost of a new model look like?. Newer equipment typically are faster than last years model. Replacing these systems can make sense, replacing systems to maximise performance, minimise sitting idle ties.  Especially for highly paid employees, it can make economic sense to replace a device when a faster system becomes available. Sometimes that is why the CEO or CFO get the high spec machines,

  • Maximise Mobility

Mobility, can be defined in many terms, longer battery power, life time of a device. It makes sense that your sales staff or those who are non office based to have the maximum batter time available to them.  Over time, the life of smartphone, tablet and laptop batteries tends to decline. The exact decline in performance varies by device and usage patterns.

Decline in battery performance may force people either to plug in devices, spend time off the road in coffee shops/hotels to keep mobile devices functioning. Replacement batteries, cost anywhere from €50 to €200.

What is the hourly cost of having a sales rep or mobile staff member in the field, what’s the €200 cost to their weekly performance?

Again, newer devices many times are lighter in weight, with new innovation and product offerings. Those that are pedestrian around a city, would they not appreciate carrying less load, being more fresh when they arrive at meetings and perhaps winning that new client?

So what is the cost of their performance

  • Your 5 year replacement schedule

Many organisations work off a 5 year replacement schedule and 5 year depreciation schedule. Hey it keeps the finance dept happy, you have regular, scheduled and budgeted expense or capital cost for infrastructure. When you deploy a device, you also assign it an expected number of months (or years) to be in active use before you replace it. For example, you might plan to replace desktop computers every five years (or 60 months).

Smart phones, how often do you replace them. Remember above, the average battery life of the phone decreases significantly after 2 years.

Laptops and tablets every 4 years and desktop pc’s every 5 years.

Extending this schedule, you many annoy staff with slower equipment, and again as to the first option, what is their cost, surely they are worth every penny and performance of a decent laptop/desktop pc to do their work.

  • Cost of Repair

Some business prefer to use and repair systems until the cost to repair a device would be more than either the value of the device or the cost of a replacement system. This approach often occurs in organisations where people use computers for fairly mundane tasks, such as email, web browsing and basic office applications. Speed and hardware improvements typically don’t matter much for these types of tasks. Instead, the organisation seeks to minimize the amount spent on equipment and therefore keeps equipment in use as long as possible.

  • Replace when vendor support stops

Today I was onsite with a client, there is no support with a main customer engagement platform contained on a laptop. Pointing this out, it is now time to both replace the laptop and the software contained up on it (it would only work on a windows 8 device, not working on Win10)

Microsoft has a finite support shelf life, similar with infrastructure suppliers. From a risk perspective and cyber security, an organisation should replace equipment when system and security updates for a device are no longer available from the vendor. At that point, unsupported systems can represent a security risk

Suppliers many times, are not able to support long standing legacy products, either for cost of components, staff training costs or otherwise support discontinued products. While you may be able to find third-party options after a vendor ends support, the prudent path of action at this point would be to buy new equipment.

What device replacement strategies do you use?

  • What criteria do you use to determine when to replace a phone, tablet, laptop or desktop?
  • Does your organisation replace devices on a standard schedule?
  • Do the replacement plans at your organisation ensure everyone has devices appropriate to their needs — or do people struggle with equipment that is no longer optimal for their tasks?

Equipment always wears out, it is your choice to what is purchased, is it the latest and greatest or best suited to the needs of the staff member. There is the balance between cost and performance.

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