people sitting down near table with assorted laptop computers

Technology has become an essential part of any business’ well-being. Without technology, you would easily fall behind your competitors in the fight for consumers. Tech-savvy companies, on the other hand, are much more likely to attract customers because they can benefit from all the perks technology provides.

There comes a time when your IT equipment will eventually stop meeting your demands, either because your firm has outgrown it, the equipment has gotten too slow, or the technology has become obsolete. Something has to be done, so you don’t lose your competitive edge.

But what if you are on a restricted budget? You can’t afford to buy brand-new PCs and other electronic equipment…or can you?

Here’s how to figure out when—and if—the time is right to update your company’s tech, as well as how to do it while saving money.

How can you tell it’s time for an IT upgrade?

Things in your business are likely to have changed since you first purchased your IT equipment. Your company may be expanding quicker than projected, which is great, but your equipment isn’t keeping up.

You may also be facing a problem that requires you to accomplish more with fewer resources. Or, perhaps it’s time to enhance productivity—both yours and your employees’—by automating certain tasks or enhancing cooperation with access to customer data from anywhere, at any time. Alternatively, your company may now be compelled to comply with new requirements requiring more security and storage.

We could go on with the examples, but surely you get the picture. Upgrading current IT equipment might help fix the problem in any of these instances. So, how do you know when it’s the right time to upgrade? Here are some questions to consider:

  • Are you or your staff putting in additional effort to complete tasks? For example, does it appear like launching apps on a certain PC takes longer? Is the network’s ability to handle normal traffic becoming sluggish? If that’s the case, it’s probably time to upgrade.
  • Is your company utilizing cutting-edge software? If you want to use programs that require a lot of processing power and memory, your PCs will almost certainly need to be updated. Digital video editing, for example, is CPU and memory-heavy and necessitates the use of a big, fast hard drive for storage.
  • Have you added new users to your network, or do you plan to do so? If this is the case, it may be time to upgrade your shared office server’s storage capacity and/or RAM, as well as other network-related equipment to support the upscaling.

The upgrade needs to make financial sense

Upgrading may make financial sense in many circumstances. If your PCs are operating slowly, for example, boosting the RAM can help apps function faster and more efficiently. A larger—and faster—hard disk can also be beneficial, as some older computers feature internal hard drives that spin at 4200 rpm to read and write data. However, you’ll notice a difference if you change to hard drives that spin at 7200 rpm. It’s quite simple to upgrade RAM and hard drives. You’ll have extended the life of a PC and delayed the need to buy a new one for a cost of, say, $400.

There is also the option of adding new tech to old gear, to prolong their lifespan. For example, if a computer or laptop does not have a built-in Wi-Fi network adapter, you don’t need to change the entire system, but rather purchase an adapter and plug it in. It costs no more than $80 and does the job just fine.

If the cost of updating a computer or other equipment is more than half that of purchasing a new one, the latter choice may make more sense in the long term. If you pay $600 to update a three-year-old laptop and a new model with the same features costs $900, the new laptop is almost certainly the better deal. The new machine will almost certainly have functions that your previous system does not, such as a larger-capacity DVD burner. What’s more, you now have the option of the lease to own electronics, which means you lease the device and pay for it until you afford to purchase it entirely. This way, you can enjoy new gear without the need to break the bank all at once.

Contact a professional to do the job

Some improvements are more difficult to complete than others. Processors on desktop computers, for example, can sometimes be updated. This is, however, is just as complex as a brain transplant for your computer, and should only be done by a qualified technician or a super-savvy end user.

Furthermore, certain updates may void your warranty if they are not performed by your computer vendor or reseller. If something goes wrong, the vendor/reseller may not be able to help so it’s better to leave the pros to handle it.

Ask yourself the most important question: Repair or replace?

What happens if a piece of IT equipment malfunctions? Is it more cost-effective to fix or replace it?

Get an estimate on overall repair costs from your certified IT adviser to help you decide. Inquire about the repair’s guarantee, and then compare this estimate to the cost of purchasing a comparable, brand-new replacement. In certain circumstances, the cost of purchasing or leasing new equipment is comparable to, or even cheaper than, the cost of fixing existing equipment. Furthermore, as previously stated, the replacement model may include additional features and capabilities that the older model does not.

Buy for the future, not for the present

If you opt to buy or lease, choose equipment that will require fewer upgrades in the future. To prevent needing to replace your PC later, get one with as much RAM as you can afford. Also, acquire or lease equipment that is adaptable enough to accommodate future advancements. If you’re buying new network equipment, for example, ensure sure it can handle a VoIP or live video call system if you decide to install one later.

To conclude, any IT investment you make, whether it’s an update, a purchase, or a lease, should help you achieve your long-term IT goals. You’re not spending your money sensibly if you don’t do so. Have you considered a long-term IT strategy? If not, talk it over with a trustworthy IT counsel, such as a close friend, family member, or acquaintance who is well-versed in technology.