Everyone has heard the expression: “You have to spend money to make money.” However, when it comes to your IT department, just what exactly should you be spending money on to see the biggest ROI?
Optimizing your business’s IT needs without breaking the bank can be a troublesome task. Here’s the bottom line: if you know you’re going to need it, why not do it right and get a few extra years out of your investment?
With that said, here are the next 5 tech upgrades your business should make to get the biggest bang for your buck.
The Next 5 Tech Upgrades your Biz Should Make for Biggest ROI
Router: The box with the blinky lights that people like to smack when the Internet isn’t working (not advised). Your router takes the Internet and broadcasts it to your entire business, via Wi-Fi or cable connection.
DO NOT trust low-end equipment for business activities. That Walmart grade router isn’t going to cut it (no offense Walmart)! I trust Walmart routers about as much as gas station sushi, and you should do the same.
Routers handle the traffic of your business. If you work out of the office most often, you’re probably going to want a VPN (virtual private network) that allows you to connect to your data, right? (Click here if you didn’t know that was a thing you could do.) If you don’t have an upgraded router, you can count that idea out.
This is only one reason (of like a billion) that you need a nice router.
2. Employee Computers & Workstations
Workstation: Includes an employee’s computer, monitor, and accessories (mouse, cables, keyboard, etc.)
Updating the workstations on your network is an all-around good idea. That doesn’t mean you need to update every machine every year, but having a 3-5 year replacement cycle is best.
Tip: Cycling hardware replacement means you can break it up and replace a percentage of the computers each year. It’s a smaller and more consistent addition to your yearly IT budget. Not to mention, your employees will be VERY happy with computer upgrades every few years.
Switch: That giant box with a ton of ports. Fully connected, it may look like a techno-jellyfish. Your switch provides the foundation network for all of your business’s Internet activity.
Having the right switch on your network can make a world of a difference. If you don’t have the proper switch, some common, easy-to-fix IT issues become VERY difficult to troubleshoot.
What kind of switch do you need? Ask these questions:
How many ports do I need?
What kind of equipment is going to be connected to my switch?
What brand(s) of switches work best with my existing equipment?
Tip: if you have more than 24 ports, a server, or any other kind of special equipment, you should be getting a managed switch. This gives you far more options for controlling the devices connected to it.
Finally, aim higher than what you think you need. There is nothing more frustrating than needing a few extra ports, and not having them!
4. Server (if applicable)
Server: The hardware and software that allows you to do… everything. When your server goes down, your business can’t function.
If your business requires a dedicated server, follow a similar replacement cycle as employee workstations. Servers should be on a 5-7 year replacement plan.
ALWAYS do your homework before buying a new server. Your current and future software MUST BE compatible with it. Always anticipate growth, even if you don’t expect it!
Email: if this needs a definition, you’re in the wrong part of town, friend.
Emails are still a huge part of every workplace. (However, with the vastly growing IT world around us, some IT experts are forecasting its doom.) Your business needs a well-designed email platform in place.
If your company has a website (which it SHOULD, this is the 21st century, if you don’t have a website please get one right now), your email should be hosted from that domain.
Back to the elephant in the room… “What if we don’t have a website?” As much as it pains us IT experts to consider a business without a website, if you’re in that category, your email should be hosted in-house.
Finally, you can’t go wrong with having a cloud-based email provider such as Office 365 or Google Apps. This lets you access work emails from any device or location.