Budgeting for system updates and technology replacement

Vintage Computer Festival (VCF) East 6.0 at the InfoAge Science Center. Photo by Dan Century, Flickr.

Vintage Computer Festival (VCF) East 6.0 at the InfoAge Science Center. Photo by Dan Century, Flickr.

Top Tech Challenges for Nonprofits... This is the ninth and final blog (for now) in a series of articles addressing top technology challenges facing nonprofit organizations. If you have a suggested topic, please email us, and we will try to address that topic in an upcoming article!

Most nonprofit organizations work off of a strategic plan to guide them to achieve their mission. Many organizations, however, have not developed a plan for their technology and how it can support that mission. Instead, they take a more reactionary stance toward hardware and software: if hardware breaks down or mission-critical software cannot run on an obsolete operating system, it gets replaced. However, adopting a more strategic approach to technology replacement can help avoid surprise expenses, save money, mitigate data security risks, and increase productivity.

The recommended life span of desktops is 3 to 4 years. And while it might be tempting to try to get another few years out of that hardware, a study conducted by Techaisle outlines some of the very real costs of maintaining older desktops, including hours lost due to system performance issues. The study reveals that among small businesses with 50-99 employees, the average cost of repairing a 4+ year old desktop is $521 per year which can equal or even exceed the purchase price of some new PCs. The study also reveals that an average of 42 hours is lost due to an older desktop being repaired by either internal IT staff or reseller (or even friends and family). Not to mention that if you are running computers that are 4+ years old, you will find they won’t run the latest Windows or Apple operating systems.

This study only surveyed information about PCs. Smartphones and mobile devices have an even shorter replacement cycle of about 1 year. We recommend you budget for a 33% in hardware replacement annually to ensure your technology is up-to-date. Consider a replacement cycle of 3 to 4 years for desktop PCs and servers, and 1 to 2 years for mobile devices. (Use the Sinu Store as a guideline of what today’s devices cost by going to Sinu Support and click the STORE tab on the far right.)

There is a strong interdependency between the hardware you use and the software your company relies on. Make sure they are in sync and if mobile is your focus, your solutions should be strong on this front. When developing a technology replacement cycle, we encourage our customers to rethink their IT infrastructure and software because most critical applications, including CRM, payroll, and accounting software, have a cloud strategy that was not available a few years ago. Cloud solutions can help relieve capital expenditures by reducing the need to replace obsolete technology, and they typically offer greater flexibility and functionality for your employees.  

Another important benefit of keeping your systems and hardware current is data security. Obsolete technology may no longer be supported and may not receive the latest security patches, leaving your data wide open to malicious attacks.

As you start thinking about next year’s budget, there is no better time to develop a technology replacement plan. Your nonprofit will be healthier, your team more productive and your budget will have fewer surprises if you plan according to the lifecycle now dictated by today’s technology industry. Remember, Sinu has a number of tools and services that can help. We provide a free Business Intelligence report for our customers called My Computer Replacement Plan to help gauge where technology is in its lifecycle. We also offer Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS) as a monthly subscription to make it even easier and more affordable to replace that aging technology. Call us to learn more!