You don’t have to be an IT professional to know when it’s time to upgrade the office computers. All you have to do is watch how efficiently your computers operate, and how long it takes to perform routine business tasks.

If the office staff complains about download times, difficulty accessing the company server, and daily digital glitches, listen to those complaints. They come from the people who use the company system each work day.

So, do you upgrade? Buy all new hardware? Call in a network professional to juice your office systems? Or do you keep plugging along with outdated equipment that slows down your daily operations?

Before you upgrade, consider the hidden costs. Sure, buying new computers and a big old office server is going to cost the company money, but there are more costs to consider when weighing options to upgrade, buy new, or stay with what you have.

It’s going to take time – time to research different desktops, laptops, tablets, and other digital hardware – and in any business, time is money. How long will it take for you and your IT consultant to determine what needs to be done? How long will it take to implement the changes? How long will it take to fix the glitches? And how long will it take for employees to become proficient with all that new hardware and software?

  • Add learning curve time to the total cost of a total upgrade.
  • How much is that IT consulting professional costing per hour?
  • How long will it take to securely migrate existing data on existing hardware to the new server and work stations? Add it up. It could be expensive.

One simple rule of thumb when weighing options for upgrades, or a new purchase, is to buy only when the cost of not buying is greater than the cost of a new office network. If productivity drops because of outdated hardware and software, it may be time to upgrade, or purchase new hardware and software to boost workplace efficiencies.

Upgrade and save. You don’t have to buy all new equipment. You can upgrade existing office equipment with additional RAM chips that simply plug into your existing system, making it faster and, therefore, more efficient.

You can purchase an outboard hard drive to upgrade an older computer, or add an HD flat screen monitor to improve performance. Sure, new gear is fun, but if you can save with a simple upgrade, it just makes sense to upgrade instead of buying all new equipment.

Before upgrading hardware, consider upgrading software, as well. If your team is using software from the last century, it’s probably time to buy a license for new software. Also, technology changes quickly. Most of you had not heard of cloud computing when you bought the equipment used in the office today, so make sure your software upgrades will work on older hardware.

The warning signs that it’s time to upgrade will show themselves every day. For example, if your old hardware isn’t mobile, employees on the road each day are at a disadvantage – a disadvantage that competitors can exploit.

Today’s laptops, tablets, and smartphones perform well under a variety of circumstances, and can sync up with the desktops back at the home office. If your office system components don’t work together, chances are, it’s time to upgrade – even if it costs money at the outset. Over time, you’ll recoup the expenses associated with upgrades with a nice boost in employee productivity.

Another sign that it’s time to upgrade? The office computer is slow, clunky, and requires numerous “workarounds” to deliver productivity value. Many small business owners wait to purchase new equipment, and only buy when the desktop starts spewing smoke out of the cooling vents.

Don’t wait for a computer, or other digital device, to stop working altogether before buying a replacement. You may lose critical data, not to mention having to deal with unexpected downtime.

Upgrade when your business software is two or more versions behind the latest iteration of the newest software. Example? In April, 2014, Microsoft® stopped supporting Windows XP, which was first introduced in 2001. No more updates. No more security patches. Hackers had a field day, going after older systems that still used Windows XP. If your business happened to still use Windows XP, your data was put at risk.

One final sign that it’s time to upgrade, or buy new, is when you discover what your competitors are using. If your software is 10 years old, and there have been numerous upgrades made to that software, chances are your competitors have the newer software, with improved service delivery and increased productivity. One example is client relationship management software, or CRM. CRM has been around for a while, but today’s versions do more, and do it more simply, than earlier versions of this business management tool.

Keep up with the times and the technology. If employees complain, or if the local competition is poaching your client base, look at the hardware and software you use.

Update, upgrade, and see an upturn in your company’s bottom line thanks to new, improved hardware, software, and digital connectivity.  


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.