How long is too long to keep a computer? That answer seems to change with the economy and our budgets. Back in the nineties when companies couldn’t spend money fast enough 3 years was the norm. Later the standard was 4 years, now it seems to be 5 or whenever the darn things breaks beyond repair. It’s understandable but, does waiting too long cost more money in the long run? I think it does.
Why Not Wait?
The first thing wrong with keeping a computer until it can no longer be repaired is it indicates that your company doesn’t have a full technology plan, that you are just winging it. Winging it is cool, especially if you are a fighter pilot or a secret agent but IT managers don’t have that luxury. IT managers require plans. Without plans our employees and users often take matters into their own hands and develop their own policies, independent of each other and management. In other words, without plans we have chaos.
The second thing wrong with waiting to replace computers is the loss of productivity. Every fix requires time. Even simple fixes, like a memory upgrade can mean significant loss of productivity. True, most techs can replace the memory in any desktop or laptop in under five minutes, including finding the part. Except that five minutes doesn’t include the weeks or even months the user endured poor performance before finally getting enough and asking for help. It doesn’t include the phone call or web request to report the problem or the initial visit from the tech to diagnose the problem. Total time loss for even a minor problem can be many hours. Multiply that by the number of incidents for an older computer compared to a new one and it’s not hard to justify the purchase.
So When Already?
Now that we agree keeping a computer too long is a poor choice, we are back to our original question. How long is too long. I think, for most companies, beyond four years is too long. Of course different companies have different needs. If your users are designing computer games or doing research for NASA they should probably get new computers every six months. For most of us though, a three year old computer is probably fine.
Does your company have a full technology plan? If not, take a look at the PRACTICAL IT MANAGER GOLD SERIES. Asset Management can be quite helpful in creating a hardware plan.