We’ve all seen it somewhere… the PC that’s been at the company longer than any of the employees.  Its’ clumsy, beige case sticks out against the new, sleek black models.  Employees give sympathetic nods to whoever gets stuck behind its keyboard.  And although that PC may seem like a badge of honor for resiliency and cost savings, it can actually be costing you money.

At the CeBIT Global Conference (March 2010) in Hannover Germany, Intel VP and CIO Diane M. Bryant spoke about Intel’s PC replacement schedule.  She noted that based on their data collection, after 4 years support costs on machines rise dramatically.  This includes hardware maintenance and IT support. There is also a productivity cost in that a task generally takes 50% longer on an old PC than on a new one.

Computers are now THE tool that employees use to run your business operation.  Don’t get them confused with the ones at home that you use for Facebook and printing photos.  These machines help you make money and stay in business.  Can you afford to wait until hardware failure for replacement?  If you wait until your hardware kicks the bucket, expect to deal these additional costs:

  • Financial Impact: Nothing speaks to business owners more than money.  Waiting until hardware fails before replacing it causes unexpected spikes in your budget and cash flow problems.  Even worse prevents effectively budgeting to know what it costs to run your business.  Computers are no longer a luxury, they are a necessary tool for business with a finite usable life cycle.
  • Lost Productivity: When a machine goes down a user’s productivity immediately goes to 0.  When you talk about this conversationally it does not seem that bad.  You think, “We could make it work.”  We can tell you from years of IT consulting it is never as easy as you think it is.  Stress levels always increase in the office.  What if the PC that failed processes payroll?  Processes credit cards? Runs one of your business machines?  Other employees are usually affected as computer time is split thereby reducing another person’s productivity. Installing new PC’s for office staff is also an easy way to increase morale and productivity.
  • Technology Sacrifices: When crashed PCs intersect with unprepared budgets, priorities shift.  Purchasing priorities move from what is the best replacement to what can we get for fewest dollars.  This can lead to machines with shorter lifecycles as older technology is purchased for lower cost.  Over time this can lower your ability to take advantage of new technologies if all your PCs are underpowered.

For these reasons we recommend having IT and financial departments work together to schedule PC replacements.

It’s actually quite a simple task, more legwork than rocket science.  The easiest way is to run a report of all your hardware with serial numbers and purchase dates and look at the time in service.  If you are on a TCO contract with HD Tech, a yearly budget review is included as part of our service.

If your PCs are not managed you can do it the old fashioned way with a clipboard, some paper, and a walk around the office.  Machines are coming up on their 3 and 4 year anniversaries should be earmarked for replacement and you can set a schedule for the rest for the next 3-4 years.

Once your schedule is in place you can start talking about budgets, look at the technology available, and determine what will help your company do business better.  Good use of technology always equals better workflow and better profits.

P.S. You can catch a 3 minute video of Bryant discussing PC replacement from CeBIT by clicking Here (Update: No longer published).