Your small business’s hardware includes your desktop and laptop computers, servers, printers, portable storage devices, video cards and telephone systems. Basically, any type of physical tech product falls into this category.
Since these items can take up a significant portion of your IT budget, it’s important to consider new purchases carefully. Each item will have its own specific set of features and options. But there are some considerations that apply to many of these purchases.
Range of Features
Before actually beginning your search, come up with a list of essential features that your business uses regularly. Each product will likely have different options available. So make sure that your list and the product’s features are compatible.
For example, if your team constantly prints documents from mobile devices, then you need to make sure any new printer you purchase has a mobile printing feature. However, if all of those documents are fairly simple, then it may not be as important for you to splurge on a device that offers color printing options or other advanced features.
Speed and Performance
Most hardware devices have a processor or CPU that’s responsible for the speed and performance of the device. The more processing power available, the faster your computer or hardware device can work. Higher processing power also allows your device to complete more complicated tasks and handle larger workloads.
There are certain types of processors that are meant for specific, high-performance functions like gaming or video editing. But generally, the latest generation processor with decent cores and clock speeds will work for basic business tasks. If you’re not sure about what all the tech jargon means for your business, consider working with an IT consultant to evaluate your company’s needs and find the products that work for you.
Storage and memory impacts a ton of different hardware products, from computers to thumb drives. Basically, this describes the amount of information that a device can store for you to access and use. You need storage for everything from basic documents and photos to complicated programs and applications. The amount of storage you have available can also impact performance. The closer you are to your storage limits, the slower your device may run. So storage and speed often go hand in hand.
When considering a new hardware purchase, you first need to consider how much space you actually need. Look at what you have stored on your current hardware products, if possible. There are also cloud storage options and external hardware options to help you supplement storage on your main computing devices. But with all of those things considered, the amount of storage on your devices needs to be well above what you actually need to keep stored. Storage capabilities are usually measured using Gigabytes or Terabytes.
About 52 percent of employees around the world work remotely at least once per week. Even if you don’t actually telecommute or allow your employees to do so, there’s a good chance that you might travel for business or sometimes have to access work files from somewhere other than your desk.
The hardware products you choose can make a big impact on your team’s ability to work remotely or stay mobile and nimble on a daily basis. If you need the ability to work from anywhere, you might choose laptops over desktops. Or if you need your information to be available in different locations, you might invest in a thumb drive or small external hard drive.
Of course, budget is an important consideration for any small business purchase. But hardware products can be especially expensive. Small businesses plan to allocate about 41 percent of their IT budgets to hardware purchases in 2019. A good portion of that comes from purchasing desktop computers, laptops, and servers. But smaller purchases like printers and telephony systems can also add up.
This doesn’t mean that you should just hunt for the lowest price. It’s important to first evaluate the needs listed above, from essential features to speed and storage capacity. Then you can shop for the best value within that set of qualifications. Additionally, be wary of price outliers. The last thing you want is to invest in a new hardware purchase only to have it break down within months. There are some used or refurbished options that can help you save money. But be sure to do your research and buy from a reputable dealer. For big purchases, try to find options that offer a warranty so your investment is protected.