Do you really need to replace that computer?

As an Account Manager here at Virtual IT, a London based, IT support company offering a unique, fully-managed outsourced IT services, I speak to many clients on a daily basis. One of the questions I get asked with ever increasing regularity revolves around when or if the company owner/s should replace a users’ desktop or notebook computer.

Interestingly, there is not a direct yes or no answer to this question and, as I always suggest, unless the computer in question is very, very old and is obviously failing to meet with the demands of today’s IT systems (keeping in mind that come April 2014 Microsoft will no longer support the now elderly but still very solid XP) the replacement of a machine is really then governed by a number of distinct factors; those being:-

  1. will the upgrade of a users’ machine improve their productivity, or,
  2. increase their comfort factor, or,
  3. offer financial rewards or incentives to the organisation.

The first one is quite obvious but the 2nd and 3rd reasons maybe more subjective so, let’s look at them all in more detail:

Increased productivity

Generally speaking, a user will go to work, turn on their personal computer and get on with their daily tasks. These tasks will usually involve checking e-mail through their mail client (probably using Microsoft Outlook) and a mix of a number of other desktop applications (probably centred again around the Microsoft Office suite) and also server or cloud based business applications. Broadly speaking then, a user will only use a small percentage of the processing power of a computer and only, again, a small percentage of the functionality within the applications they use. This is not to detract from the importance of these workers or their efforts; it’s just a known fact! Anyhow, that aside, speaking from experience, I can say that there is a vast range of different machines spread throughout my client base, with some as old as 4 or 5 years and still going strong. However, regardless of their age, they are all running XP so the operating system software is fine. Of course, the operating system is not the be all and end all of a system and so, when looking at the speed of a users’ machine, the processor, installed RAM and general state of the machine must also be reviewed before deciding on whether to upgrade the machine – I mention this as many a slow machine can be cleaned of the ‘rubbish’ that accumulates on it over the time it is attached to a corporate network – this because of the detritus that it picks up automatically or because of the toolbars and such like that users – sometimes inadvertently – install.

Making that user feel more loved

Regardless of the current economic climate, a trained and dependable worker is a commodity that is worth looking after and nurturing (oh and yes, I know, but I’ll leave the reader to draw their own conclusions on these remarks and the possible insinuation that a boss needs to treat their employees like children!!) and so as part of caring for an employee’s wellbeing, providing them with new and shiny tools will both allow them to effectively do their job but also allow them to enjoy their time at work and thereby feel that they are cared for, respected and an important part of the overall picture.

Financial incentives – the bigger picture!

When deciding as to whether a new user should have a new computer, please keep in mind the points raised above. Of course, the decision could be made easier by looking at the financial advantages to the company of buying new hardware. Recently I learnt that the government have increased capital allowances covering IT equipment, so this alone is worth considering when planning for replacing existing PC’s. From the 1st January 2013 the Annual Investment Allowance (“AIA”) on which a 100% deduction of capital expenditure for tax purposes on plant and machinery (which includes computers) was increased to £250,000. What this means is that investments of up to this amount will be fully deductible for tax purposes. This has been put in place for the whole of 2013 and 2014 and will then revert back to £25,000 again. For further information on Capital Allowances visit the following website.

There are many reasons to buy new kit or not and I have outlined above what I believe are the main motivators. That said, if you would like advice on whether you should be looking at replacing your existing equipment or simply giving it a ‘spring clean’ then please contact our IT support team, we would be more than happy to assist.


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