When is a deal not a deal?
It’s Black Friday time.
You’ve got your well-thought-out business IT budget in hand (if you don’t, click here!).
You’ve got your shopping game plan, map, extra-strength coffee, and some protective gear.
Time to go grab some awesome deals on PCs, laptops, and tablets for your business.
Not so fast!
It’s a little-known fact in the business world that buying business hardware from a brick and mortar vendor — even at Black Friday prices — is actually not a bargain.
You can’t meet your business hardware needs at a Black Friday sale
I love a good deal as much as anyone, and I promise they still exist for business hardware purchases (we’ll get there), but there are a few problems with focusing on those unbelievable prices instead of your actual needs.
First, let’s go over the keys to saving money on your business IT:
- Have a smart IT budget
- Have managed IT services
- Buy standardized hardware
Now, how can an innocent post-holiday sale trash your trajectory toward these three key business goals?
Black Friday disrupts your business IT budget
We’ve previously talked about how creating a smart IT budget will give you an edge, as most of your competition isn’t budgeting realistically for IT. You can read more on that here.
But what we’ve come to see with our new clients is that many wait for IT emergencies to arise before they’re willing to invest in their technology and security, which is basically the most expensive way to handle your business IT needs.
The risks of not creating a smart, proactive IT budget are huge:
- Requiring a new credit card to purchase emergency replacement equipment
- Emergency equipment purchases
- Sinking employee morale
- Problems associated with aging equipment (system vulnerabilities, slow processing, incompatibility with new software)
But let’s say you know all this, and you were proactive and created a killer budget for new hardware (here’s a how-to). You can still run into three of these five budgetary sinkholes with Black Friday sales (downtime, emergency purchases, sinking morale).
The PCs, laptops, and tablets you’ll find on a Black Friday sale are designed and packaged with software licensed for personal use (like Windows Home) — which you’ll need to replace with business licensing (like Windows Pro), and your IT service provider will need some extra time to make sure everything is compatible and able to connect to your business server.
That’s two significant expenses you’ll need to squeak into your IT budget, negating whatever savings you got on the hardware itself.
Black Friday makes managed IT services more expensive
Time is money, right?
And the time your IT vendor needs to bring all those Black Friday PCs up to standard for efficient business will cost you initially, and continue to cost you more as the hardware ages.
Having managed IT services is a great economical move for your business (read why here), but as your hardware ages you’re going to run into performance issues that will end up costing you more because of the non-standard services you’ll require for a hodge-podge of hardware you picked up over the last few massive sales.
We’ll look at the money-saving power of standardization in the next section, but basically you can count on standardized business hardware requiring standardized maintenance — which translates into less time and money spent on your IT needs.
Think of it as a “help us help you” kind of situation. We want to help save you money, and you can help us by choosing smart business hardware up front.
Black Friday un-standardizes your business hardware
Buying a hodge podge of hardware pushes you further away from standardization.
The more brands, models, types of licenses, and compatibility variables you bring home along with that steeply discounted Pyrex, the less standardized your business hardware will be.
There’s a cost associated with not only the IT service component of your mix-n-match hardware, but also the software and training it’ll take to get your team on the same page with it.
Tips for standardizing your business hardware
So now that I’ve taken all the fun out of Black Friday, how can you get the best savings on your new business PCs, laptops, and tablets?
Here are a few tips:
- Take advantage of your IT provider’s partnership discounts — We have partnerships that can mean huge discounts on hardware for non-profit organizations, as well as volume discounts for for-profit businesses.
- Use a standardized suite version — Microsoft Office is a good example. If you have the same suite and the same version, you’re going to save a lot of compatibility headaches and training hours.
- Think about what you need, not just about sale prices — This is where it’s good to sit down with a trusted IT service provider and get a good idea of your needs. You’ll need to consider Mac vs. PC, and how many of your employees are (mobile) road warriors vs. how many are (desktop) corridor warriors. Generally speaking, PC still reigns among businesses because backend servers are really built to talk to PCs. But know that if you have a devout Mac user on your team and they only really need to use their hardware for basic tasks like email and notes, some mixing will probably be fine.
Find the best deals outside of Black Friday
Have more questions about how to save money by standardizing your business hardware?
Contact us today to set up a free visit to determine your IT score and gain a better understanding of your business’s needs, and be sure to ask us about our partnership discounts!