Upgrading your small- or medium-sized business’s (SMB) IT is critical for keeping up with the competition and shifting markets, but there is a right and a wrong time to do it. If you upgrade too soon, you waste resources on a solution that will be made obsolete soon, or you don’t get a good ROI on a relatively small, incremental upgrade. If you aren’t paying attention and upgrade too late, however, your company could find itself on the back foot and unable to catch up.
Recognizing the need for a tech upgrade
Here are five key signs that it’s time for your SMB to upgrade its tech.
1. Poor IT performance
As technology ages, its performance will naturally suffer as you experience reduced capacity, compatibility issues, and crashes. If you find that work is taking longer to do because your IT can’t keep up or you’re experiencing frequent crashes, that’s a good sign your tech is starting to feel its age. At this point, the problems will compound and get exponentially worse, so upgrading as soon as possible is your best bet.
2. Increased staff complaints
Maybe you, personally, aren’t experiencing a drop in IT performance, but you may not use your company’s tech in the same way that everyone else does, and vice versa. So if you are hearing a lot of complaints from your staff about malfunctioning devices, out-of-date software, or slow processes, that probably means it’s time to upgrade at least part of your IT infrastructure before the problems spread. The people on the ground using the technology will know best when it’s time for a change, so keep your ears open.
3. Increased maintenance and energy costs
Rising maintenance costs and higher-than-average power bills are sure signs that your tech is past its prime. New, more reliable, and more efficient technologies are being developed all the time, and failing to adopt these could mean you are still stuck paying the same old energy and maintenance costs while your competition has slashed theirs.
Compare your maintenance and power expenses with peers or the competition, or bring in a consultant to take a look at your IT to determine if there are more cost-effective technologies you should be leveraging.
4. More frequent security events
Cybercriminals are constantly developing new, sophisticated ways to attack your business and steal your resources. The good news is that cybersecurity companies are adept at creating updated countermeasures to these new threats, but they won’t do you any good if you are still operating years-old security tools.
If you are experiencing more frequent cybersecurity events such as attempted network breaches, excessive spam emails, or data theft, it’s a safe bet your cyber defenses are too old to keep up with modern threats.
5. Lagging productivity or poor efficiency
If your productivity and efficiency are trending down or plateauing when they should be increasing, outdated tech or processes could be the culprit. You can crack the whip over your employees as much as you want, but if they are working with legacy IT and obsolete systems, it won’t do any good.
Talk with your staff and, if possible, an IT consultant to get a better idea of which systems can be upgraded to eliminate productivity bottlenecks. For example:
- Upgrade from taking inventory by paper and pen to a barcode system
- Switch to software specifically designed to be integrated into the IT network you utilize
- Implement remote work capabilities, so employees can get more done securely in the field
- Implement automation and machine learning solutions to free up employee bandwidth
Related reading: Why your business needs to embrace new technology
What’s the next step?
Once you find out that it’s time for your SMB to upgrade its technology, then comes the hard part. Audit your systems and survey your employees to ensure you are only upgrading components of your IT infrastructure that need it, and that you aren’t wasting resources by upgrading everything at once regardless of the state it’s in. It’s also a good idea to speak with your IT services provider, if you have one, or bring in a consultant to ensure this important project runs smoothly and on budget.
Our team at Complete Document Solutions can help you with a thorough IT assessment and provide recommendations for upgrades that will support your business goals and budget. Don't wait until it's too late — contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step toward a successful tech upgrade.