If you want to save the most money, give your clients the most, and help your business grow the most, then you need to get the most out of your technology. What happens though if your technology is slow, outdated, and obsolete? If you’re concerned about whether your computer and mobile assets are delivering as they should or not, it’s time to plan a tech refresh.
Technology refreshes are the periodic replacement of IT assets, equipment, and infrastructure to ensure reliability, improve speed and capacity, and maximize system performance. A regular cycle of updates and overhauls can give your IT architecture, and your business, the optimization it needs.
But where did you start? A tech refresh can be a complicated process. How do you know if the changes you’re implementing will make a difference, or even justify their cost? What should your business worry about? Fortunately, there are a few battle-tested strategies that can help your tech refresh be a success.
1. Evaluate Your Current Hardware
The first step you should do is perform an audit of your current IT systems. Before you spend a dime, evaluate your hardware to determine what is still serviceable, what should be updated, and what needs a complete overhaul.
2. Clearly Define Your Business Needs
It’s best to clarify the goals of your tech refresh early on. What are the objectives driving the upgrade? Improved reliability? Elevated efficiency? Enhanced performance and service?
Answering these questions can help to identify which aspects of your IT infrastructure need the most attention. While sleek new office computers might seem enticing, new POS systems to increase on-the-floor sales might be what your business truly needs.
3. Understand the Costs
Oftentimes, the financial benefits of a financial refresh are in the long run, not the short term. As such, it is important to properly assess your options and budget, so that you can plan accordingly.
It is also critical to understand how to recoup maximum value from old assets. For example, eLoop creates value for their clients by offering quality, convenience, and simplicity through their premier remarketing program for an organization’s retired end-of-life electronics. Turning old hardware into cash flow is a win when planning a refresh.
4. Create a Roll-out Strategy
There are a few different methods for replacing old hardware with new. Will you switch everything all at once? Upgrade in stages and phases? Or put aside money from the budget each year, and save up for a comprehensive overhaul? Each of these techniques has advantages and disadvantages, and will impact how you plan the rest of your refresh implementation.
You should also consider the timing of your refresh. Is certain hardware still under warranty? Do your vendors support the newest technology and programs? Is there hot new software about to hit the market? Just as looking internally is important during the planning process, so too is looking at trends in your industry and the tech world.
5. Plan for the Future
Don’t let this be the first and only time you think about a refresh. Make the next time easier for you and your company by planning ahead. Make hardware updates a part of your strategic conversations, and put your technology refreshes on a regular schedule.
6. Risk Assessment
Part of looking ahead should also involve anticipating risks. This doesn’t mean that you need to spend a fortune on data analytics software or complex research. Studies show that the intuition of project managers or other expert professionals is often more effective than deliberate analysis at predicting risks*. Trust your instincts, and have a contingency plan on the ready.
7. Data Destruction
There is one area of risk that is so significant it warrants its own section. Whether you realize it or not, your IT assets are full of user and consumer data. From addresses and birth dates to social security numbers and credit card information, protecting private information must be top of mind for you and your staff.
In order to protect your firm against fines, bad publicity, and even litigation** related to data breach, find a data security specialist you can trust, and that provides the service you need. Not only does eLoop offer its clients no minimum device counts, but their use of Clarabyte software means that all sensitive information can be completely and irrevocably erased before it even leaves your facility.
8. Communicate the Plan
Share your plan with all of your major stakeholders – it can have a significant impact on your operations, so you’ll want to key-in frontline staff, managers, and patrons, if possible. Invite these individuals to provide feedback or to identify any unexpected consequences of the upgrade.
It is especially important to let your staff know of the refresh well before it starts. Similarly, it is critical to provide training on new assets or software. Internal IT professionals can perform the training, or an outside firm can be contracted, if necessary. Whomever you choose, make sure they provide ongoing support after the rollout commences – there’s nothing worse than paying for training and then being unable to answer questions once the updates are live.
9. Implement the Plan and Manage Change
So you’ve planned the refresh, communicated with your stakeholders, and purchased the upgraded equipment – time to celebrate, right? In many ways, the work has just begun.
Change on any scale is scary, and employees typically react with mental and emotional inertia, resisting the use of the new hardware***. Furthermore, your organization will need ongoing technical and moral support for the refresh to be successful.
Fortunately, there are several strategies that you and your leadership team can use to help your company through the rollout. You should start by communicating the necessity for change (if you haven’t already) and create a sense of urgency. Designate a change management team – a group of professionals that will champion the refresh efforts. Celebrate small wins early on, to build momentum. Change is a process, so be ready to commit to helping your employees over the course of the rollout.
10. Choose the Right Partners
At the end of the day, you may need a helping hand with your tech refresh. Whether its with employee training, internal audits, or data destruction, chances are you’ll need to look outside your company to complete your hardware upgrade smoothly and ethically.
Be sure to work with partners that can help to guide you or remove the pain points from the refresh process. Look for someone that can provide what we call the eLoop Advantage – saving you time, recouping you money, and providing you with peace of mind.
A Refreshed Start
A tech refresh should be just that – refreshing. There’s a lot of work involved, but updating your IT infrastructure can help your company run smoother, provide better service, and be more productive. Ultimately, a tech refresh will optimize and maximize your IT system’s potential – meaning you can get back to running your company.
* Moeini, M. & Rivard, S. (2019). Sublating tensions in the it project risk management literature: A model of the relative performance of intuition and deliberate analysis for risk assessment. Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 20(3), 243-284.
** Melnik, T. (2012). Class actions, federal actions, and state actions: The data breach saga continues. Journal of Health Care Compliance, 14(3), 45-48.
*** Cummings, S., Bridgman, T., & Brown, K. G. (2016). Unfreezing change as three steps: Rethinking kurt lewin’s legacy for change management. Human Relations, 69(1), 33-60.