If you notice your practice computers are taking longer to boot up at the start of each day and slower at managing basic tasks, it might be time for a hardware upgrade. In a busy practice with constant use, coupled with excessive pet hair and dander, your hardware is likely to last only three to five years; this is well below the five to seven years many practice owners and managers hope for.
While delaying an upgrade may be considered a cost saving initiative, the benefits of upgrading can quickly outweigh the costs of sticking with older computers, which come with their own set of costs including repairs and lost staff productivity.
New hardware boosts practice productivity, efficiency and communication. Upgrading is also a good opportunity to take advantage of the latest operating systems and software, which bring additional benefits and new features of their own.
Four signs that your practice is due for a hardware upgrade
Regular computer issues
Are your computers are doing the following:
- Taking several minutes to boot up
- Slowing to a halt when you have more than a few browser tabs open
- You can type a sentence before a single word appears on your screen
If yes, then it’s likely you’re overdue for an upgrade.
Running legacy systems
When your hardware is no longer supported by its manufacturer, it’s likely you’ll also lose support for downloading the latest software and operating systems. This is because the hardware minimum specifications increase periodically.
Repair expenses exceed replacement costs
Older hardware nearing the end of its life can slowly eat away at your practice productivity and your cash flow, without you even realizing it. Older systems are prone to crashing, placing you at risk of losing critical patient and client data. Downtime also negatively impacts the clients and patients in your practice. Outdated computers cost your practice more money than it would take to purchase a new one.
If your computers are running slow and causing problems for your staff to the point of frustration, this is another signal an upgrade is needed. Lost productivity and poor engagement can impact the level of service staff provide to your clients.
Points to consider when planning upgrade
There can be hidden costs to upgrading, especially when systems are long overdue. That’s why it’s important to include the costs in your yearly budget. Tax deductions such as Section 179 are set up to help smaller businesses invest in items like computer hardware and are definitely worth looking into when planning an upgrade.
It makes sense to plan an upgrade for a time that causes the least disruption; each practice knows their own busiest and quietest times. While performing the update, your system will be unavailable so it is important to plan accordingly.
If your software is behind the latest version release it makes sense to coincide this with a hardware upgrade. Depending on the systems purchased, new hardware systems can be shipped with the latest software and applications pre-installed and ready to be used.
An alternative to upgrading all systems at once is a rolling replacement plan, where one or two of your oldest computers get replaced each year. This helps prevent staff and practice processes from significant changes at one time and can offer more financial flexibility.
Upgrading the hardware in your practice doesn’t have to be complicated. Choosing the right time to upgrade, together with adequate planning, helps takes the uncertainty and stress out of the process.