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Upgrade solutions: choosing the best and smartest

The prospect of a hardware upgrade is an appealing one now that the GFC is behind us and economies are steadily recovering. Before you make the decision, however, it's important to consider the overall impact of an upgrade on your business, and how you might be able to manage the switch cost-effectively.

Finding your ideal upgrade solution

A 2008 Gartner report titled

To Upgrade or Not to Upgrade: That is the Question recommends any

upgrade or replacement decision be examined from four viewpoints:

1. Business value: Ensure the upgrade provides some meaningful value,

whether in capability improvements, cost reductions or as a positioning

move to gain future capabilities.

2. IT infrastructure needs:

Upgrades that modernise infrastructure should address cost

improvements, system reliability and improvements in the ability to

deliver, as well as keeping current through a general technology refresh.

3. Business

risk: Weigh the benefits and risks of retaining an ageing release

against those of upgrading, particularly when the upgrade does not

provide immediate value to business.

4. Optimal timing: Factor

in the benefits and risks associated with the timing and sequencing of

the upgrade or replacement, particularly if your organisation is in a

growth or acquisition phase.

Once you've assessed whether or not it's worthwhile, you have to figure out how to upgrade most effectively. Here are some tips:

Five tricks to smarter upgrade solutions

  1. Gartner recommends maximum life cycles of three years for road warrior notebooks, four years for office-based notebooks, five years for general office desktops, and six years for task-specific desktops. View these time periods as more of a recommendation than an ultimatum. The maximum life cycle Gartner is referring to indicates the period of time that a computer can serve efficiently as a tool to help your business run smoothly. A roadwarrior laptop will certainly function after these three years, but not necessarily as reliably or efficiently as you need in a small business. 

  2. RAM and hard drive upgrades can offer easy short-term wins for computer life extension. Whilst, overall, hardware does become unreliable after a period of time, a RAM upgrade is the most cost-effective stop-gap between prime years of use and complete replacement.
  3. When extending mobile computing life cycle, keep ‘hot spare' notebooks ready to go to mitigate higher risk of failure. 
  4. When moving to VoIP, consider soft phone installs to remove the cost and maintenance attached to physical handsets. While the handsets will feel more familiar, soft phone programs are the bread and butter of VoIP, will save your business a lot of money. Of course, VoIP isn't necessarily the best choice for every business; at least not yet.
  5. Networked multifunction printers can now act as the office copier/scanner/fax/printer, reducing footprint and maintenance demands. #

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