Business technology is designed to make processes simpler, easier, or more efficient – but to manage this, it needs to be regularly maintained, optimised, and when appropriate – updated.
Knowing how often you should be reviewing your tech, and when it should be scheduled for updates, upgrades, or replacements, isn’t exactly an easy task – and it will largely depend on your own individual circumstances, the platforms, apps, and programs you’re using, and when the last time you checked over the hardware.
How Often Should You Check Your Tech?
When we’re talking about business technology, we need to split it into software and hardware, because these generally have very different lifecycles and should not be lumped together in one overview approach.
Handling your Hardware
Hardware tends to last for a considerable amount of time (depending on usage, and correct usage at that). Software on the other hand, tends to need much more frequent attention due to updates, new technologies, and different platforms being introduced which can impact their functionality.
As a general rule of thumb (not always appropriate for every situation), hardware should be reviewed every 4-5 years, this includes your computers, tablets, and telephonic devices. When reviewing your hardware, you should be looking at:
- Most recently released operating systems and what your hardware is operating.
- Wear and tear of the actual device.
- Wear and tear of input and output devices (such as speakers, keyboards, etc).
- Warranties, guarantees, and other documentation that covers the condition of the hardware – if any of these are coming to an end, you need to determine whether you want to continue with the additional coverage, or if there are other more effective (or cheaper) options).
Although we’re not talking about software yet, you will need to consider the programs you use, and whether they are still being supported for the hardware you own – as it becomes harder (and more expensive) to fix problems when you have outdated hardware that isn’t expected or supported to run the programs – the last thing you want is to have to replace all your hardware at once, because you’ve left it for a considerable amount of time and it all stops working or being supported at once.
It is often easier to create a rolling schedule for replacement of outdated tech, this allows for trial and error of new hardware (without it debilitating the company), and for the cost to be deferred over an extended period.
If you take on this method, it is important to create a priority list, and determine which pieces of hardware have the most significance, and which can be replaced later on without a detrimental effect.
Sorting your Software
Creating a schedule to monitor your software is more difficult and irregular than handling your hardware, due to the sheer amount of difference in programs, and the unique needs of many businesses.
You need to evaluate what programs you are using, and look at their individual update history – for example, if you’re using a program that updates on a regular yearly basis, then you would be safe to schedule that for a yearly update; however – if you’re using a platform that’s known for rolling out patches, fixes, and new versions every few months, then it would be advisable to review the update status at least monthly, in order to ensure you’re using the most up-to-date version.
Using a calendar program to plan out your reviews can make the process easier, if you have everything scheduled out, then you can quickly go through your software list, check for updates, and then take a deeper look at any that have updated, and determine whether the update is necessary, or whether it can be scheduled in.
It is important to try and schedule your updates as much as possible, in order to minimise disruption in the workplace.
You might decide to check your software on a regular basis, then have a set span of time (generally 1-2 days) where you upgrade the software in a single instance of downtime.
Remember though, always create rollback and backup points before you conduct your updates – if something goes wrong, or stops working, you want to have a fallback method to ensure your company isn’t halted from work because of the issue.
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Managing Your Business Tech
Having schedules and budgets set for updates and upgrades can make it much easier to handle your business technology, without having to do everything at once. There may be times when a new release or new technology is unveiled that is a better option than your existing set up, but if you’re prepared with a strategic approach, you can capitalise on opportunities, and keep yourself if not on the cutting edge, then comfortable, functional, and profitable.