When to buy new equipment from employees: 5 possible scenarios


The time it takes to replace employee equipment varies depending on a number of factors. IT managers can reasonably implement replacements by following one of these five schedules.

Illustration: Andy Wolber / TechRepublic

A careful IT manager will define and implement an equipment replacement strategy for devices used by members of the organization, such as phones, tablets, laptops and desktops. The goal, of course, is to make sure that each person has the right tools for their tasks. And, ideally, to make sure that the equipment doesn’t become a problem or a hindrance for people when trying to do their jobs.

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But different replacement strategies make sense for people in different roles. A quick upgrade schedule can reduce the time spent waiting for an encoder, while someone with basic communication needs may be able to use a device until it is no longer supported. charge by the supplier. Consider each of the five distinct device replacement strategies below for people with different needs in your organization.

Replace to maximize performance

Sometimes you want to reduce the time people spend waiting for a system to complete a task. For example, a new system may compile code or process video faster than an old one. Some organizations will replace systems to maximize performance and minimize wait times. Especially for highly paid employees, it can pay off to replace a device when a faster system becomes available.

SEE: Shut Down: 10 Technical and Operational Tips for Shutting Down an Office or Facility (Free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Replace to maximize mobility

If mobility is critical, it may be a good idea to replace the equipment to maximize uptime away from a plugged-in power source. Over time, the battery life of smartphones, tablets and laptops tends to decrease. The exact drop in performance varies by device and usage patterns. But a significant drop in battery performance can force people to plug in devices often or carry extra external batteries. Replacement batteries, depending on the device, can cost anywhere from $ 50 to around $ 200. With this approach, you would replace mobile devices to optimize battery life (for example, replace when a device battery no longer supports eight hours of disconnected use).

The weight of the device can also make you want to buy a new system, as newer devices sometimes weigh less than older ones. However, greater weight gain can be found by changing the type of device used. In other words, if tasks can be managed on a tablet instead of a laptop (or on a smartphone instead of a tablet), switching to another class of devices often offers a reduction in weight. more important than switching from one laptop to another. .

Replace according to a standardized schedule

Many IT managers replace equipment on a schedule. When you deploy a device, you also give it an expected number of months (or years) of active use before replacing it. For example, you can plan to replace desktop computers every five years (or 60 months).

However, the number of years of active use varies by device. At the end of 2021, my standard suggested timeline is to replace smartphones every three years, laptops and tablets every four years, and desktops every five years. You can shorten the replacement cycle if your organization needs access to newer equipment. If you prolong the cycle, you may increase the risk of device failure (eg, storage or batteries) or employee dissatisfaction with old or sluggish systems.

SEE: Equipment reassignment policy and checklist (TechRepublic Premium)

Replace when repair costs exceed the costs of purchasing a new device

Some organizations prefer to use – and repeatedly repair – systems until the cost of repairing a device exceeds the value of the device or the cost of a replacement system. This approach often occurs in organizations where people use computers for fairly mundane tasks, such as emailing, browsing the web, and basic office applications. Speed ​​and hardware improvements usually don’t matter much for these types of tasks. Instead, the organization seeks to minimize the amount spent on equipment and therefore keeps the equipment in service for as long as possible.

Replace when vendor support stops

Almost all organizations should replace equipment when system and device security updates are no longer available from the vendor. At this point, unsupported systems can pose a security risk because the issues are no longer patched or corrected. Additionally, suppliers often refuse to repair or support abandoned products. While you can find third-party options after a vendor’s end of support, the prudent course of action at this point would be to purchase new equipment.

What device replacement strategies are you using?

Keep in mind that when you replace equipment, you can choose which generation of equipment to purchase. If you need to optimize performance, you will probably want the latest, fastest systems available. Typically, you will pay a premium for these. But an equally valid option for many people in an organization is to choose to buy a system a generation before the newer models (for example, buy an iPhone 12 instead of an iPhone 13). I recommend this approach only for devices that remain available for sale from the original supplier. (In other words, don’t buy discontinued models that are no longer available from the manufacturer.) Purchasing refurbished equipment that comes with manufacturer support and warranties is also an option to consider.

What criteria do you use to determine when to replace a phone, tablet, laptop or desktop? Does your organization replace devices on a standard schedule? Do your organization’s replacement plans ensure that everyone has the right devices for their needs? Let me know what approach (or combination of approaches) your organization is taking to replace the equipment, either with a comment below or on Twitter (@awolber).

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