Technology Lifecycle – How Do You Manage It?

If you’re like most small businesses, you replace computers when they catch fire or someone, typically a vendor or your IT person, tells you that the hardware must be replaced to continue operations.

Shockingly, this is not the most economical or efficient method of managing hardware. The problem is that most people don’t think about these purchases in terms of a lifecycle–you just buy a computer when you need a computer.

That is the mindset that we need to change, not only for financial and productivity reasons, but also for compliance reasons. Every small business should have a Technology Lifecycle policy.

So, what does Technology Lifecycle actually mean?

To put it simply, it is a budgeting plan for technology. No one likes to be hit with unexpected expenses; they always occur at the worst possible times. By implementing a Technology Lifecycle policy, whenever you purchase new technology, you’re looking ahead to when it will need to be replaced and planning for it. Having a budget in place to take care of these expenses is almost as good as not hearing employees complaining about computer slowness or auditors telling you that your old hardware is out of compliance.

I know, we’re talking about replacing technology that was just purchased. It’s not something you want to think about, but you should. Why?

Unplanned downtime. Data Loss. Failed Audits. Unexpected expenses. Employee frustration–the list goes on and on.

Long Term Plan

Aside from the occasional hardware failure, the lifecycle of technology is measured in years. That is one of the reasons many people find it to be difficult, but you shouldn’t. Although most small businesses are looking weeks ahead, not years, you’re still budgeting. Income. Expenses. Overhead. Payroll. Debt. All of it has to be accounted for, and this is where your Technology Lifecycle goes. By adding this to your budget, you’ll be able to stay on top of your businesses technology needs.

How Often Does Hardware Needs to be Replaced
When it comes to how often to replace technology, every small business has their own specific needs, but there are some general guidelines:

  • Mobile Phone: 2-3 years
  • Desktop PC: 5-6 years
  • Laptop PC: 4-5 years
  • Monitor: 8 years
  • Networking Hardware: 8 years or when support ends
  • Printers: 5-6 years (based on usage)
  • Servers: 4-5 years

These recommendations take into consideration factors such as responsiveness, security, end of life support, and increasing chance of hardware failure. By the time devices near the ages listed above, sluggishness is common and data loss or outright failure grows increasingly likely.

Technology Lifecycle Policy

The goal of a Technology Lifecycle Policy is to improve overall business operations and reduce exposure to security risks. It will include the full lifecycle of the device:

From determining need to budgeting to outlining life expectancy, every piece of technology for your small business starts with a Plan. This includes determining the best time to make the purchase, staggered buying equates to staggered replacement.

This is the part where you buy the technology, but there’s more to it than that. A big mistake that a lot of small business owners make is going out and buying hardware themselves. The specs are important, from operating system to number of ports, to compatibility with existing hardware – always consult with your IT team before making the purchase.

Some technology can be added during the work day, others will require downtime, while this should be determined during the planning stage, scheduling is as important to successfully deploying the technology as making sure the hardware is compatible.

Security Updates. Firmware Updates. Software Updates. Warranties. Service. There’s a lot that goes into keeping technology secure and viable. Whether internal or external, consistent IT maintenance will have a direct effect on how long the technology will remain operational.

At some point its going to be time to let that piece of technology go, when that time comes you should have a plan for disposing it. Don’t throw it in the dumpster, all old technology should be sent to a recycling center. And if you have stored ePHI or other types of sensitive data, those devices need to be disposed of in specialty centers to ensure that the data is not recoverable.

If you need help coming up with a Technology Lifecycle Policy, we do that. Let’s talk.