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Are you looking to upgrade your computer and equipment for your business or home, but don’t really know where to start. There are a lot of options out there when upgrading your computer and equipment.
- Desktop or Laptop?
- How much RAM do I need?
- What is RAM?
- Should I go MAC or PC?
- How much do I have to spend?
By the time you answer these questions (and more!), and you begin looking to purchase a computer and associated equipment the options seem endless!
We feel your pain, we understand that no one wants to have to make all of those decisions (and no one really understands what they are actually deciding).
So we are coming to the rescue, our franchise owners are always available to help you choose the best computers and equipment for your office or home, but there are still things you need to consider.
Below are the 5 things you should do when beginning your search for a new computer and equipment.
- Set a Budget a Stick to It! – There is nothing worse than buying something and getting it home and feeling like you have been bamboozled. This is especially true for business owners. You do not want to over spend. So decide how much money you will be spending per computer and do not let anyone lure you to the shiny, newest and fastest computer on the market.
- Make a list outlining things you will be utilizing – You should know in advance what programs you will be running (even if they are internet based), if you will be using the Microsoft Office Suite, are there any special programs or utilities that pertain to your industry that you or an employee may need. It may even be helpful to have your office staff track all of the programs that they use over several weeks so you can get a clear picture of what they need and why.
- Understand Computer Jargon – Don’t let people confuse you, stay ahead of the curve and prepare. Find out what words like RAM (memory), processor speed, Input Ports and Drivers, Wireless Capabilities, and software packages may be included mean. Not only should you understand what they each mean, but how it impacts you and your needs. Make sure that whoever is assisting you in the buying process knows what programs you need to run, and can confirm that the computers you are purchasing has those capabilities and they can tell if you any of the programs you are looking for are included or if you need to buy them separately.
- Read Product Reviews – There is not a better way to decide if a product is worth buying than reading a review from a person who using that product every day for the same purpose as you and your company. All of the big box stores and online outlets will have products reviews on their website. You should also utilize resources such a CNet (reviews.cnet.com/) and PC Magazine (www.pcmag.com/reviews). These resources will have unbiased opinions and will many times compare several models against one another.
- Protect Your Investment – The last thing to do is make sure you are prepared with a virus and spy ware package. This is possibly the most important part of protecting your computer. It will get attacked at some point and you have to be prepared when it happens. Many have auto-updates, auto-removal or viruses, clean up and renewal alerts. You want to make sure your investment is protected so this is not a step you should skip.
When was the last time your business did a computer upgrade? Let’s be serious, not just a new monitor or replacing something that broke. But a true upgrade and refresh of all of the equipment in the office. Was it a couple of years ago, or maybe so long ago you can’t even remember?
According to the experts, the functional lifespan for a computer and corresponding equipment is five years. Business owners are always looking for ways to control costs, and one strategy is to keep equipment running and functional for as long as possible. After five years though this method can begin to backfire on a business as downtime and the time it takes to complete a task becomes increasingly longer. Employee efficiency decreases, while employee frustration increases – as a business owner this is never a place you want to be!
Reasons to Upgrade Sooner than Later
Here’s a look at some reasons why your business should begin planning for a computer upgrade:
Support Costs and Repair Expenses: Keeping an old computer running is usually a lot like keeping an old car running. It begins with good intentions, but sometimes the repair costs start to overshadow the actual value. It is the same with an old computer. When the costs to keep it up and running exceed the cost of a replacement you probably have a losing proposition on your hands.
Decreased Productivity: Slow, slower, slowest? So your computer can barely reboot anymore, and running a program makes having a root canal look more fun! If the answer is yes, then you are not working smart, effectively or efficiently. A large corporation recently estimated the expense of lost productivity for a four minute boot-up time in contrast to a two minute boot-up at $28 million. That’s a lot of money for people drinking coffee while staring at a blank screen.
Time for a New Operating System: If you are one of the 600 million remaining XP users you should have April 8, 2014 marked on your calendar. Why you may ask. Well that is the day Microsoft formally ends XP’s lifecycle and it will no longer receive updates or support. After the April date if you continue to use this defunct operating-system you will be placing your organization in the path of security hazards. This can also put your small business in danger if you are non-compliant regarding many different regulations. Many businesses are making plans to coordinate the purchase of new computers with the latest operating system just before April 2014. In case you weren’t aware in this Microsoft deadline, be aware!
More Cost Effective to Buy a New Computer or Repair the Old One: If the combined cost of upgraded software and parts for the existing computer is 50% of the expense of a new laptop or computer, then conventional wisdom says purchase new. Given the latest prices on a new computer this thinking can be very practical and affordable. A new computer can be priced as low as $300, and for $800 you can get something near the top of the line. Consumers and companies are always hedging their bets on laptop or computer commitments. “What if something better comes along a couple months?” If your computer is impeding your current productivity, stop looking to second guess it – maybe you need that completely new computer today!
Numerous companies are beginning to utilize Outsourced IT Support, but the fact of the matter is very few people know what it is and how it can help their company. We have leaned on a seasoned franchise owners to help us uncover the answers that surround the questions about Outsourced IT Support and why your company may wish to consider this option.
According to a survey completed by CompTIA 62% of the organizations surveyed planned to make greater investments in Outsourced IT Services (managed services) over the next two years.
Q: What is Outsourced IT Support?
A: Removing the frustration of ensuring your computer, network, and server is functional while ensuring you or your own staff is performing the roles they were hired for and are experts. By allowing an organization that has the expertise and ability to properly support your computers, you can forget about technology equipment except as vehicle to help you in achieving a profit.
Q: How should you evaluate if Outsourced IT Support will be beneficial?
A: If you are spending over an hour a week dealing with laptop or computer issues, if anyone automatically associate technology with various “descriptive adjectives”, if you have more than 3 employees/systems or your needs extend past just one computer, you need an outsourced IT support crew.
Q: What products/services does an Outsourced IT Support model implement as well as support?
A: Anything and everything in the IT world that’s needed to allow you to focus on your organization objectives.
Q: Does this Outsourced IT Support model work better for certain corporations and industries than others?
A: Without a doubt.
Q: What questions should you ask when assessing an Outsourced IT Support provider?
- What is the service guarantee?
- What is included as service?
- Are added maintenance items charged or included in the monthly service?
- Does the provider work proactively or reactively?
- What is the expected response time?
- What is the expertise and skill level of the provider? (Can the support networks as well as servers, etc).
- Can the provider show a listing of clients?
- Can the service provider actually fix things or is it just smoke and mirrors? (try them on a project basis first).
Q: What business indicators can suggest that an organization should consider Outsourced IT Support?
A: An Outsourced IT Support provider needs to be used if:
- The primary machine(s) for the business are not recoverable or properly backed up
- Minor issues linger over time (account details, email, install of Line of business applications and updates).
- If the Infrastructure has not updated or evaluated for over 30 days.
- If anyone person in the company spends more than 5 hours a week on IT issues.
Q: What benefits do your customers find moving to an Outsourced IT Service Model?
A: Less stress, more cost effective, single source of contact to solve issues among multiple vendors, proactive solutions regarding equipment and computer software, reduced time researching problems, difficulties, solutions, accountable historical data such as tickets and reports, reduced worry on moving to various platforms.
Q: Is there a cost savings when moving to an Outsourced IT Support Model?
A: Initially, no. After the first two or three months, the savings begin to appear. The start of agreement may be costly while the IT infrastructure is base lined and brought up to date. Afterwards, the ROI expands because systems demonstrate improved efficiency and reduced down time. As the IT Infrastructure recedes on the “front burner” of issues, the IT Infrastructure produces better return on investment by processing properly and allowing the business to focus on the primary company objectives.
Q: I understand this can be this a proactive method to IT Support rather than reactive, can you explain how that is helpful?
A: By finding issues before they impact the organization, any down time can either become eliminated or moved to non-productive hours (after hours). For example: if a hard drive is failing and swapped out during off hours, the computer is not offline from use and system / data is saved. If the hard drive announces its failure during the day, the organization down time of not having that machine as well the potentially lost files or programs can certainly linger and impact the company for days or weeks (or longer). Presume the accounting laptop or computer is failing: if it is repaired and operating without impacting the organization, it makes money. But if that fails and accounting data is lost for the year (or longer), the impact is felt for a year; especially during tax season.
Q: What should your Outsourced IT support provider actually provide and be the client to establish trust?
A: Honesty: If the provider makes an error, they should admit it and have a plan to resolve the error. Experience & skill: Not measured in years, but in work performance. Responsiveness: The provider needs to respond quickly and work to eliminate the problem quickly.
Q: Once the decision is made to move to an Outsourced IT Support Model what’s the process to convert a business?
- A provider should perform site survey and consult EVERY users for their technology pain points.
- The service provider should detail the transition method, the milestones, and offer regular status updates around progress.
- The client should anticipate a flurry of activity for the first few weeks as systems are base lined (hopefully after hours).
- The client needs to have control of the items being worked on with the service provider. For example the service provider, as well as client, should agree on the resolution plan and timeline before the work begins.