The IT department is a major part of any company, but it can be a huge burden to upgrade. We all know that the right technology will save significant time and money. But with the price tags of new devices skyrocketing, it’s nearly impossible for any business to continually stay up to date. Still, there are ways to update your IT without breaking the bank! In today’s post, we’ll give you a few strategies to upgrade your IT department on a budget while securing the technology you need to continue succeeding.
Why Upgrading your IT Department is a good choice for your Business
If you’ve ever tried to upgrade your IT department, you know how difficult it can be. Your current technology might work fine for now, but a new device is almost always going to be more efficient and faster in the long run. Still, the cost of upgrading can add up quickly, especially if you’re looking to upgrade not only your hardware, but software and networking solutions as well.
Don’t let the possibility of high costs discourage you from upgrading your IT department. There are plenty of ways to update without spending a fortune. With these tips below, you’ll be able to affordably upgrade without having to take out a second mortgage on your house.
First things first: When should you upgrade? There are two important factors to consider when it comes to upgrading:
1. The age of your devices: As technology changes and improves, older devices will become outdated, with new ones coming out constantly that are better than anything before them. You may not feel like investing in an expensive device until it’s necessary; but don’t wait too long because newer devices will soon have advanced, not only surpassing those you have in efficiency, but at times, make a more strategic choice for doing what you do. It usually isn’t simply about the age of your device as well. Many older things work just fine for what we require of them. More than this, it comes down to the capabilities of your tools in light of what is currently available and most importantly, how well they allow you to run your business and keep customers happy.
2. Your needs: No matter the age of your tools, the specific needs of your company, take precedence. Older tools may work for some departments or tasks, especially if they have features that uniquely fit the need or solve a problem for you. While newer devices and apps work for other uses, given their upgraded capabilities. It’s important to discuss your goals with department heads, uncover the most important aspects of technology needed, and make a plan to get the tools you need that combine efficiency, workflow, longevity, budget and the unique needs of your business.
3. Your company’s budget: The finer details of business budgeting can often be complex. Myriad factors go into so many of the decisions we make as business owners. What should I invest in? What tools will help me get to the next level? Am I offering my customers and partners the best possible service while still realizing a healthy profit? What are my best choices for upgrades? How can I continue to grow while maintaining a healthy control of my business finances? These are only a few of the questions we ask ourselves when considering growth strategies or significant upgrades. Discuss your finances with your accountant and/or business partners and IT leads. Decide where money is best spent, where it will yield the most fruit for the investment.
If your current networking and other IT tools are slowing you down, if they are keeping you from accessing greater levels of customer satisfaction or credibility within your market, then it’s probably time to make some upgrades. It’s also time to be smart with your investment, making IT upgrade choices that bring the maximum benefit for the most reasonable cost, without overtaxing your monthly budget or borrowing unwisely.
Managing your IT Budget
In order to manage your IT budget, you must be able to keep track of what your IT department spends. This can be tedious and time-consuming, but it’s essential for keeping tabs on what is being allocated. If you have accounting software, it can help streamline the process of keeping track of purchases and expenses.
Many companies use spreadsheets or detailed lists to keep track of their finances. If this is something your company does not do yet, there are many different options for software that will help with this task. Also, if you don’t have a dedicated bookkeeper, outsourcing to an experienced, trusted professional to work part-time, keeping track of department expenses may be the right move.
Network Upgrades on a Budget
One of the easiest ways to keep your IT up-to-date is by investing in a network upgrade. This includes updating your LAN and WAN networks. Typically, with a network upgrade, you’ll need to purchase new hardware, like switches and routers, but these can be pricey. Consider buying refurbished devices, something we’ll refer to a few times in this article. These are still in great condition and often available at a fraction of the cost of purchasing them new. If you must have new gear, look for sales and close out pricing.
If you don’t want to invest as much money into an upgrade, consider switching from one type of technology to another. For example, if you’re using legacy systems now, consider upgrading to newer solutions like cloud computing or virtualization. Ask IT professionals you trust for their best recommendations for budget-friendly network upgrades. Find out what has worked well for other businesses your size and weigh your options.
Device Upgrades on a Budget
Small businesses can’t afford to upgrade their phones, computers and other devices on a regular basis. But what if there was a way to keep your technology updated without going broke? Well, there is!
It’s definitely a recurring theme in this post…one of the most affordable ways to update your IT department is by purchasing refurbished devices. Buying refurbished items could save you up to 60% off of the retail price.
Refurbished devices are returned products that have been inspected and resold for a lower price than new and unused items. They are usually in good condition, with minor flaws that are easily overlooked by customers. Many refurbished devices are also covered by warranty, so you don’t have to worry about damaging them in case you accidentally drop or break them.
Another option is to purchase used equipment. Most manufacturers offer one-year warranties on their used products as well, so you won’t have any worries about spending money and not getting anything back! With either refurbished or quality used devices, you can often obtain fairly new equipment at substantially discounted prices. As we hinted at above, many companies purchase the wrong gear for their work or realize they simply bought too many devices. This means that quality devices return to the market and become available to those companies and business owners who really need them.
Another great way for small businesses to update their IT without breaking the bank is through bulk sales or bundles. For example, you may be able to buy a package of 10 Windows computers for $4,999 or an iPad bundle with various accessories for $1,000. These packages allow you to purchase more than one device at once and get a discount on each one. There are a range of bundle options offered by many companies that just might allow you to refit your current needs while staying responsible with your money.
Software Upgrades on a Budget
The first rule of IT upgrades is to choose wisely. You don’t want to waste your money on new software and end up with features that you don’t need. Give your IT department plenty of time to test out the new software before you commit entirely. New isn’t any good if it doesn’t help your IT department run better and doesn’t really improve your workflow.
One of the most important strategies for upgrading your software is following the tried-and-true method of trial and error. Test multiple programs, explore all features that are available in each one, and compare them side by side. Once you find a program worth investing in, stick with it and make sure all required personnel get the training they need on your new software.
Another addition to help you save money is to take a look at your IT devices and applications, work with your IT pros and see if there are any service subscriptions, devices or networking solutions you may have purchased or signed up for that no longer suit you, or are largely redundant. When managing a business, it’s easy to invest in things that later turn out to not be very helpful. When you’re trying to pull together the funds to invest in the right IT upgrades, do the work first to trim the fat and save cash by doing away with items and services that aren’t really helping you.
Technology is always changing, and upgrading your IT department can be a daunting task. But, it can also be a great way to improve your day-to-day operations as well as your overall customer experience. You’ll want to make sure you have a solid plan in place before you take the plunge. Do the research. Figure out exactly what you need and what you can do without. Find refurbished deals, bulk buys, and applications that maximize workflow at lower prices. Always hire IT professionals who work diligently, not only to maintain your IT department, but keep you informed on important new technologies and ways to save money.
Tech Masters is your dedicated IT solutions pro. We provide companies of all sizes, with the perfect tools and technology to take their business to the next level, while helping them save money and get the most comprehensive and individually tailored industry advice available. Connect with us today to get started.
For quick answers to some of your IT upgrade concerns, take a look at our frequently asked questions below.
How do I know when it’s time to upgrade my IT department?
Making significant changes to your IT tools is a big decision. The best way to know if it is the right time is by being honest about the efficiency and productivity of your current devices and network.. Are you able to keep up with client needs, market demands and stay with or ahead of your competitors? If not, it’s probably time to upgrade. Also, if your employees and IT professionals are finding it increasingly difficult to achieve certain objectives because of older software, poorly functioning apps, or unreliable devices, it’s definitely time to invest in upgrades.
How can I upgrade my IT department while saving money?
There are several ways to save money while getting the IT tools you need most. One of the biggest ways is to purchase refurbished or used equipment. Look for trusted vendors offering newer gear, recently returned, and combined with warranties. This way, you’ll get recent technology at lower prices than with brand new gear and have protection against breakdowns for a while.
Another way to save money is to do some deep-dive research with your IT team and with other business owners. Find out what IT tools are working best for other owners and top-notch IT professionals. Ask them what tools that you’re currently using might be slowing you down more than you know or not offering enough for the money you spend on them. If you can slim down the cash spent by getting rid of under-used or unnecessary devices and subscriptions, this will free up more of your budget for the right tools.
How do I maintain a healthy budget in my IT department?
Budgeting takes focus and diligence. It affords us clarity and enables us to pour resources into the things that are producing the most while slimming down on those that aren’t. It equips us with the information we need to make informed decisions about the future of our business.
One of the simplest ways to budget and keep track of each department is to get a good bookkeeping software like QuickBooks Online or Xero. These programs do a lot of the work for you once you’ve input the right data. Another smart move is to hire a bookkeeper/accountant or outsource to someone part-time to keep a close eye on your budget and each department’s performance.
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