When was the last time you evaluated your office equipment? Many small businesses take the literal meaning of the word evaluation, reviewing an item to attach a value amount to it for resale or insurance. But what about evaluating an item for continued use? How do you know when a piece of equipment is past its prime? (Apart from the obvious and frustrating instance of a total system failure!)
A business technology assessment reviews your devices for performance and can help you determine the right time to upgrade your office equipment. It can often be more expensive to keep repairing the same item than it would be to replace the item entirely. And as in the example above, you don’t want to be in the position of having to purchase a vital and costly piece of equipment on short notice.
A full evaluation of your office equipment helps you identify those pieces needing replacement before a disaster happens that leaves you or your customers waiting.
How do you know if your office equipment needs an evaluation?
All equipment needs to be evaluated periodically, but there are some basic signs to watch out for to see if you need to bump that pending evaluation to the top of your to-do list.
If you have equipment that is performing slowly, that could be a sign of low memory, hard disk space, or the equipment in question is in serious need of an update. If you notice that certain machines are requiring more frequent repairs and calls to IT support, it is probably well past time to replace them entirely. An evaluation can help you identify machines that need to be replaced vs. those that just need a small upgrade to continue functioning.
Service issues are going to be a frustrating interruption not just to your day-to-day work, but to your ability to reply promptly to customers’ needs. Scheduling routine evaluations will keep your small business running like a well oiled machine.
It could be tempting to just overhaul all your systems and purchase top-of-the line equipment, but even if you do have the funds available to accomplish this, you are still going to need to evaluate those items eventually. A new piece of equipment doesn’t stay new forever, so get into the habit of scheduling regular evaluations.
In short, you don’t just need an office equipment evaluation, you need ongoing equipment evaluations.
What office equipment do you need to evaluate?
Well, everything! You need to evaluate hardware and software alike. Equipment such as printers and copiers need to be updated to protect against threats just like your computers do. Devices that are attached to your network need permanent network settings set up. It is easy to make mistakes in that area, mistakes that can be too easily overlooked and lead to headaches down the road.
You should be evaluating your equipment to ensure it is operating properly, because an evaluation can reveal costly maintenance issues that might be more expensive than an equipment replacement.
Sometimes an evaluation can reveal areas of inefficiency. You might find that you have three separate machines whose functions could be fulfilled by upgrading to a single machine (for example, one piece of hardware that can print, scan, copy, and fax.) As technology continues to advance, there will be more and more options for multi-functioning hardware. The price tag of a single machine that provides more than one service will pay itself off in the long run because you will have fewer machines overall to monitor and maintain.
Also know that advancing technology can save costs in other ways after you’ve upgraded to a new system. For example, if you are in an office that relies heavily on printed materials, a newer piece of equipment is likely going to lower your cost-per-page, a small saving that does add up to a significant amount over time.
Monitoring your equipment and staying up to date on your options allows you to make smart money decisions for your small business.
Don’t forget security in your evaluation
Beyond just evaluating your equipment to ensure you are getting your money’s worth, you should take the time to evaluate the security measures that keep your equipment safe. You could have a brand-new, top-notch server, but if it is visible and easily accessible, you are going to have a major security problem on your hands.
Upgrading your equipment doesn’t just save you headaches in the future; it protects your company now by ensuring that your internet-connected devices are secure and protected against vulnerabilities that can be exploited by cybercriminals.
We talk frequently about the risks of cybercrime, but don’t forget that criminals aren’t just online. You also need to ensure the security of your physical items during an evaluation. Do you have a reception area with a laptop? If that device doesn’t have a security cable, anyone could walk in from off the street and swipe it when your receptionist takes a break.
Is your server room visible from your reception area or next to an external door? If your server isn’t behind a locked door, that is a major point of vulnerability for your small business. The threat there is that anybody could walk into your waiting room, wait for the receptionist to step away, and then plug a flash drive into your server somewhere it won’t be noticed. And just like that, your entire business has been compromised.
Because of these risks, evaluating your office equipment needs to be done not just with security in mind, but with a disaster and continuity plan in mind. Let’s say one of the above scenarios does happen; an office laptop is stolen or a server is hacked. What is your plan of action for both recovering your business data and continuing to run your business in the meantime?
As you evaluate your equipment, think long-term about how the equipment you have is going to allow you to keep working in a less-than-ideal scenario. When you look at it from that perspective, you are better equipped to make critical decisions about what items to replace or upgrade, and when.
An equipment evaluation is also a time to consider additional items that can enhance your current security protocols. One example of this is a video camera for your server room so that you can monitor who gains access to that room. Of course adding a video camera means you have one more piece of equipment to monitor, upgrade, and keep secure, but that is the nature of equipment evaluations; it is an ongoing process not a one-time review.
Bonus evaluation: Energy efficiency
An area of equipment that can be easy to overlook are things like lighting, heating, and kitchen amenities (if you’re lucky enough to have one in your office!) Reviewing these systems regularly can also be a way to save money down the line, if you are open to slowly replacing outdated items with energy-efficient models.
For example, lighting is an easy thing to upgrade as you go and there are many options out there to fit your needs, your budget, and save you money over time.
Pay attention to your heating, air system, windows, and other areas where you may be paying more than you need to in utilities due to outdated or old items that sap or waste energy.
Not only will these changes save you money, but they will lessen your environmental impact overall. Consumers are becoming more and more eco-conscious, so updating your equipment with an eye towards sustainability can also translate into more loyal customers.
At Tech Masters, we provide a business technology assessment that reviews your devices for performance and growth. Let us take the headache out of your ongoing equipment evaluations; contact us to get started with your free assessment today.
“A full evaluation of your office equipment helps you identify those pieces needing replacement before a disaster happens.“
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