How Long Should Your Workplace Technology Last?

Timing is everything. At intersections, at the window of opportunity, and when replacing that old projector in the conference room. You know you need to refresh your technology, but when and how should you do it?

Should you do it piece by piece, over time? Should you wait until devices malfunction? How does budget factor into the timing? There isn’t just one way to plan a technology refresh, but it helps to have some general guidelines and to know how other organizations time theirs.

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The Average Technology Life Cycle

The technology purchase lifecycle in one organization will not necessarily be the same as it is for another organization. Many industries seem to follow the same general timelines because their budget processes are similar. For example, education budgets usually follow the same cycle. School accounting systems often assume equipment depreciates 20 percent each year, so its value will be nothing after five years—this is likely when administrators have budgeted for a replacement.

Corporations, on the other hand, are often motivated by the fact that they use technology to interact with clients and want to be seen as leaders in business and innovation. Many such organizations choose to refresh their technology every three years.

How long should you go before upgrading your technology? Hard to say, we know. But, here are some trends we've seen in different verticals.

The Importance of Updated Technology

Customers and employees notice when technology is not on par with that of other organizations. Customers become concerned and may even leave if systems seem slow and outdated.

And employee expectations are changing too. Most millennials say a company’s technologies play a part in their decision to accept a job, and 42 percent say they would even quit if the work technologies weren’t up to par.

It’s All in the Planning

A successful technology refresh starts with a plan. Decide what refresh cycle will work for your company so you can plan for equipment replacement and ensure room availability. By developing a plan, you can not only ensure work continues without interruption, but you can influence upcoming technology purchases and ensure funding is directed toward the investments that will provide the greatest benefit to the organization.

Dave Hatz, application development manager at AVI Systems, said, “There’s a lot of risk in just waiting until something breaks before you replace it.”

“Certainly, you want to receive as much value as you can for it, but you also want to replace it before it completely fails on you,” he continued. “That’s what keeps your end users happy.”

Whether your refreshes are frequent—or even if you have yet to figure out how to time them— there are a few things you can do to make them go smoothly. Here are a few tips:

  • Start tracking usage. The data you collect will ensure you won’t replace technology that doesn’t actually get used.
  • Go wireless where you can. Equipment refreshes are a lot simpler when you don’t have to contend with too many wires and cables.
  • Keep in touch with the users. Don’t wait until the equipment needs to be urgently replaced before you ask users about their work needs. If you maintain an open door policy with your users, you’ll have that information when it’s time to refresh.

Ready, Set, Refresh

The average IT buyer supports 1,142 devices, according to a recent Spiceworks report. It’s not possible to effectively keep up with all that equipment without a strategy.

To avoid productivity loss and wasted maintenance hours, you want to time your refreshes just right. If that timing falls into the range of three to five years, and you are avoiding serious malfunctions and breakdowns, you are on the right track.

If you’re running your technologies longer than five years, have no strategy in place, or experience frequent technology issues, consider a shorter refresh cycle.

Develop a plan that includes what actions to take at the planning, purchase, maintenance, and refresh phases of the technology lifecycle.

A professional assessment can help you determine when your organization would benefit from a technology refresh.

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