Every part of your IT system has a limited lifespan: a period of time during which it is genuinely useful and beneficial to your company. If you fail to keep up with the lifecycle of your hardware, you may quickly find that your equipment stops working as effectively as you might have hoped, creating a number of potential challenges that could negatively impact your business. This is where IT lifecycle management comes in.
Fortunately, there are a number of steps you can take to more effectively manage your technology lifecycles and ensure that your business keeps running smoothly.
What Is IT Lifecycle Management?
IT lifecycle management is the process of managing your valuable tech equipment throughout its lifespan. It includes the technology’s entire useful lifecycle with your company, from procurement through disposal. Through effective IT lifecycle management, you can better track the effectiveness of all your technology tools. This ensures a higher level of functionality throughout the business.
The Price of Failing to Replace Aging Hardware
Tech purchases, whether you’re buying a printer, a computer, or a server, are not one-and-done purchases. In most cases, you will need to keep an eye on that technology as it ages to ensure that it continues to meet your business goals—and you will need to replace that technology when it is no longer working as effectively for your business as it did in the past. If you fail to keep up with technology replacement, you may find your business paying a high price.
Your hardware can have a significant impact on your security and the risks you will face from hackers and cyber threats. Old hardware is often open to exploits and challenges that newer hardware has already addressed. Furthermore, aging hardware may no longer support the latest updates and technology. This means you may leave yourself open to unexpected cybersecurity challenges.
When you do suffer a cyberattack, it can be more difficult to get your system back up and running again—whether that means removing a virus or restoring a system hit by ransomware—when you’re dealing with an out-of-date system. With cyber threats continuing to rise across businesses of all sizes and backgrounds, it’s critical that you keep up with hardware replacement in order to protect your business.
Hardware Performance Problems
Old hardware is, simply put, more likely to fail. Over time, your system has a higher risk of crashing unexpectedly, which can lead to disruptive data loss and downtime. Furthermore, older hardware naturally runs slower than its newer, faster counterparts.
As new technology comes out, including software updates or replacements that can help streamline business operations, your old hardware may not really have the bandwidth to run it. Unfortunately, that means that you may find yourself behind the times or dealing with more overall system issues.
Increased Support Costs
Old hardware often has higher support needs. Your users will end up calling in the professionals more often as they encounter those problems. This can place undue stress on your IT team. Furthermore, if you use outsourced IT providers, rather than internal ones, you may find that you end up paying a premium for a team that has the resources necessary to support those outdated systems.
As your system ages, you may no longer get support from the manufacturer. You may also find it more difficult to get your hands on vital replacement parts when issues arise.
When your system isn’t working effectively, your employees aren’t able to complete their goals as easily. They may spend more time waiting for programs to load or dealing with system errors. Furthermore, employees are more likely to find themselves contending with hardware issues that slow them down. When you upgrade your hardware, you may find that it substantially upgrades employee productivity and functionality. Thereby, allowing your employees to accomplish more during their shifts.
Rising Employee Frustration
There’s nothing more frustrating than technology that doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do, especially in the workplace. Employees want the technology they need to do their jobs effectively. When they’re working with outdated hardware, from laptops that take forever just to connect to the company network to printers that have to be tapped or balanced a specific way in order to get the job done, they aren’t able to do their jobs.
Over time, that can substantially increase overall employee frustration. It may even lead to higher overall employee turnover as they turn to employers who are able to provide them with the tools they need.
Higher Risk of Unexpected Failure or Downtime
Eventually, your outdated hardware will fail. You may get warnings along the way, in the form of temporary outages and serious hardware issues. In other cases, your hardware may simply fail altogether. Not only that, your hardware may spend more time down in general. That downtime can mean substantial costs for your company, including costs as high as $100,000 to $540,000 per hour. If your system crashes altogether due to a hardware failure, you may have to scramble to get the system back up and running effectively—and you may end up with days of downtime in the meantime.
How to Avoid Extra IT Hardware Costs With IT Lifecycle Management
Do you want to avoid the increased costs associated with aging hardware? IT hardware lifecycle management is the solution you need. With effective lifecycle management strategies, you can ensure that your technology keeps working effectively and that you do not end up paying a heavy price for failing to keep up with updates. That means:
- Less downtime. The cost of downtime can be devastating to your business, especially since it frequently seems to come at the least convenient time possible. By investing in your IT lifecycle management, however, you can decrease those costs.
- Fewer employee frustrations. Not only can employee frustration increase the risk of hardware damage and errors, but it may also cause them to leave your company altogether, which often means factoring in the cost of replacing that employee.
- Greater productivity. The opportunity cost of lost productivity for your business can be immense. With effective IT lifecycle management, however, you can prevent your business from missing out on those opportunities.
Purchasing new hardware can be expensive. However, the cost of failing to replace your hardware in a timely manner can ultimately be much more costly for your business. With effective IT lifecycle management, you can reduce those costs and reap the benefits.
The 6 Steps of IT Lifecycle Management
There are several key steps you must take into account when managing the lifecycle of your products.
The first step in your IT lifecycle management process is the procurement of a new device. That process isn’t always instantaneous. There are several factors that go into selecting new IT hardware devices, including:
- Setting a clear budget. You may need to set your budget upfront before you begin the shopping process. This way, you know how much you have to spend on your new devices.
- Determining your company’s needs. As technology advances, new devices come out with increasing power, storage, and more. You need to know what specifications and functionality you’re looking for in your new device. This includes integrations with existing devices or the ability to handle specific software that your company uses regularly.
- Laying out your company’s desires. While there are many features associated with new devices, there are some that are a higher priority than others. Make sure your procurement team knows what to prioritize on the search.
- Planning for the future. While your new IT hardware won’t last indefinitely, you do want to be sure that it will continue to meet your company’s needs over the next several years.
As part of your IT lifecycle management process, make sure your company has clear policies in place for procurement. This way, you can be sure you select devices that are appropriate to your needs.
The allocation process allows you to put the new technology resources you have purchased for your company into use in the most effective way possible. When you purchase new IT assets, you need to decide how to use them as efficiently as possible and where they will do the company the most good. Sometimes, allocation is obvious. If you have recently hired several new employees, or plan to hire several new employees, for example, they may need new laptops, mobile devices, and other technology to allow them to do their jobs effectively.
On the other hand, in some cases, the best allocation of devices may not be to new employees. For example, you might want to reward a recently-promoted or high-performing employee with new technology in order to reward their performance, rather than allocating those devices to someone new.
As part of your IT lifecycle management process, put together a policy that lays out how new devices are allocated and how technology needs are prioritized. For some companies, this can be a difficult process. This is especially true if you find yourself with limited technology or slowly replacing out-of-date devices. With a clear policy in place, you can avoid disputes and keep employees happier.
Once you have determined where your devices need to go, it’s time to deploy them. For some devices, the deployment process is relatively simple. You set up the device, and an employee is able to start using it. However, the deployment process may include other vital elements. You need to take this into consideration as you select your IT hardware and determine how you will use it.
Do employees need additional training on how to use new hardware? If you’ve picked up new equipment, especially equipment unlike any employees have used before, you may need to make sure that employees are trained on how to use it and how to make the most of its features before you deploy it for regular use.
Carefully consider your IT department and its available resources as you determine how you will roll out the deployment of new devices. If you’ll be updating a large amount of hardware at the same time, does your team have the bandwidth to support all users as they learn how to use the new devices, including troubleshooting any problems with software installation, login, or setup?
Sometimes, you may want to roll out new hardware over time, with different employees or departments getting their new devices on different days, in order to ensure that you have the resources necessary to provide that vital support during the deployment stage of your IT lifecycle management process.
Monitoring and Maintenance
Throughout the usable lifecycle of your IT hardware, you will need to monitor and maintain your systems. From the immediate post-deployment stage to the end of your equipment’s lifespan, maintenance can help keep those systems functioning as smoothly as possible. This allows you to deal with glitches, repair problems, and ensure you can keep it running as long as possible.
Your team may need to monitor for:
- Common problems with the equipment. If there is a known glitch or problem with some of your devices, your team may need to start looking for a solution.
- Signs that the hardware is breaking down earlier than anticipated. While you may have an idea of the expected lifespan of your devices, how your company uses those devices, the conditions under which they use them, and even the specific device you have chosen can all impact lifespan.
- Glitches or challenges. Addressing glitches or problems with your IT hardware early can help you get it back up and running again quickly. However, ignoring those problems may ultimately mean a more serious problem down the road.
Furthermore, your IT team may want to monitor for potential user problems, from users who may mishandle their devices to users who commit errors like eating over a keyboard, which could require additional support and maintenance over time. By conducting regular maintenance on your system, you can, in many cases, extend its lifespan. This, in turn, will help in protecting your company’s assets and productivity.
Once your equipment has reached the end of its usable lifespan, it’s time to decommission the device and take it out of service. For some devices, that process is relatively simple. You can remove the device from your network, shut it down, and replace it with a new one. In other cases, however, you may need to take more thorough steps.
For most companies, critical data is not stored directly on devices. However, before you decommission a device, you should always make sure of any data stored on the device itself and ensure that you have created new copies of it. Keep in mind that some users may choose to store files that they use regularly directly on their devices, rather than on the company cloud. Consult with users and give them a warning before decommissioning a device. This way, they have ample time to copy any important files.
Depending on the type of data your company handles, you may want to make sure you remove it from the device completely before you decommission it. Work with your IT team to make sure that there is no longer sensitive data left on a device that you’re taking out of service.
Once you’ve decommissioned an old device, you’ll need to dispose of it appropriately. Responsible recycling of hardware is critical to protecting the environment. As a business, you may have several options for responsible disposal of hardware.
- Allowing employees to keep devices. Sometimes, a device that is no longer usable for your company may still have plenty of life left in it. In fact, employees may be eager to keep those for their personal use.
- Donating the device. You may donate devices that do not work for your company to nonprofits or other organizations that have a greater need for them but may not have the budget your company does.
- Recycling the device. Contact your city to learn how you can responsibly recycle unwanted technology.
Disposing of your device appropriately is a critical part of the IT lifecycle management process, particularly if environmentally friendly operations are among your business’s key goals.
Benefits of Leveraging IT Lifecycle Management
As you leverage IT lifecycle management effectively, you’ll notice several critical benefits to your business.
With up-to-date hardware, your business is likely to operate faster and more efficiently. That means less time waiting for technology to load or software to generate a response and higher overall levels of employee productivity. Furthermore, effective operational speed means fewer delays for customers, which can substantially increase their overall satisfaction.
Reduced Downtime and Fewer Service Disruptions
Thanks to your updated hardware, you’ll find that you have less downtime and fewer service disruptions. Not only can that decrease costs to your business, but it may mean happier, more satisfied customers who are more likely to trust you with their business or their needs in the future. When your business goes down, customers may not have time to wait. This means they may turn to your competitors for their needs instead. With your new hardware, however, you reduce the risk of service disruption and keep your employees satisfied.
Improved Employee Satisfaction
You may find that simply updating your hardware can go a long way toward increasing overall employee job satisfaction. Employees who have the technology they need to do their jobs effectively are happier, more productive, and more committed to their employers. As a result, you’ll see better morale around the workplace. Not only that, you may note decreased employee turnover, which can also help save your business money over time.
Better Visibility Into IT Spend and Value
IT spending is a necessary component of business operations. Without the right hardware, your company cannot run effectively, and your employees cannot do their jobs. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to simply throw your IT budget at whatever the latest request is without taking the time to look at where that spending is really needed.
With effective IT lifecycle management, on the other hand, you’ll have better insights into where that spending is actually needed and what you’re buying. Furthermore, as you invest more effort into the IT lifecycle management process, you’ll find that you better understand the value of that IT spending and the impact of your new hardware on the company as a whole. This, in turn, can help you determine and allocate that budget more effectively.
Better IT Compliance
IT compliance is a critical element for almost every industry. Whether you must meet compatibility requirements for your payment system due to PCI or you work in an industry like healthcare, which has its own set of stringent requirements in HIPAA, having the right hardware is an essential part of meeting those standards and protecting your business against cyberattacks.
Ultimately, having the right hardware can go a long way toward increasing profitability across your business. When employees have the right hardware, they are better able to do their jobs. This means they can better address client needs and even engage in innovation and creation. Furthermore, as customer satisfaction rises, you’ll find that more business naturally comes to your company.
Not only is having the right hardware more profitable for your business, but in the long run, it’s more sustainable. You cannot keep your business running on the same hardware forever. If you fail to keep up with IT lifecycle management, however, you can end up with significant, unexpected expenses that leave your business struggling to catch up. An effective IT lifecycle management process allows you to identify your technology needs, budget for them, and keep up with changes over time more sustainably.
How NetTech Can Help You Implement an IT Lifecycle Management Program
At NetTech Consultants, we have the tools you need to implement an effective IT lifecycle management program. Whether you’re still at the beginning process, wondering, “What is IT lifecycle management, and how can it help me?” or you’re ready to implement a program that helps you keep up with your ongoing hardware needs, we’re here to help.
We use a combination of software, processes, and experience to create an IT lifecycle management plan for your business as part of our fully managed IT offering. As a result, you will be better prepared to manage all your IT needs. Contact us today to learn more about our managed IT services and how they can benefit your business.