Every business needs to routinely purchase computer hardware and software, from the smallest startup to the largest corporation. There are a lot of elements to take into consideration, but which should you prioritize when it comes time to make that buy?
The three most important factors to consider when purchasing computer hardware and software are:
- Service after the sale
Because these three points are all related, they should be considered together to ensure the best purchase.
The quality of a product is essentially its goodness or “badness.” You can determine quality by asking yourself the following questions:
- How well does this product meet my specific needs?
- Does it have the features and functions I require?
- How well is it made?
- How long will it last?
Online reviews can help you answer these questions, especially those found on respected sites such as Newegg, which are authored by real men and women in the tech sphere who actually use the products they’re reviewing.
The bottom line: Doing your research and reading reviews is an important component of gauging a product’s quality. If a product has good reviews and comes from a respectable brand, you may be tempted to pull the trigger on your purchase. However, you also need to understand how the product will interact with the technology you already have in place. Getting a second opinion is an absolute must, whether it be from a managed services provider or another type of IT consultant.
Everyone has a budget, but that doesn’t mean buying cheap is necessarily the way to go. After all, if you purchase a product that breaks easily or doesn’t fully meet your needs, you’ll end up needing to replace it, thereby busting your budget.
The bottom line: Keep in mind that the actual cost of a product is only one part of the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) – the sum of all costs incurred over the product’s useful life. In addition to the initial price, quality and service after the sale also impact TCO, reaffirming that buying based on the lowest available price alone is not a smart move.
Service after the sale
Quality and price are both important factors, but you need to consider them alongside service after the sale to get the full picture. Here are a few aspects you’d be wise to look into before purchasing:
- Return policy: If the product isn’t satisfactory, how much will it cost to return, including shipping costs and restocking fees? How much time will your staff waste dealing with a cumbersome return process? Will your operations be impacted by not having a working product in place? Since many IT purchase decisions are made to mitigate costly problems, the financial hits will likely continue until the issue is resolved, so it’s best to avoid returns whenever possible. Most importantly, make sure you can return your purchase in the first place! Sometimes, products are final-sale – especially those that are very low-cost (i.e. used goods or items sold by cut-rate vendors).
- Warranty: Warranties apply to the state of the product when you purchased it. If something is wrong with the product, the vendor will repair or replace it at no charge, as long as the warranty – or subsequent warranty extension – is in effect. Does the seller you’re interested in offer a good warranty, or any warranty at all? Check reviews to make sure the company stands behind its warranty policy and is easy to reach when problems arise.
- Service agreement: When you’re dealing with IT hardware and software, you can expect ongoing improvements to be released and applied in the form of updates and new versions. These updates are made for a variety of reasons, including boosting general performance, introducing specific features, and addressing recently discovered security vulnerabilities. Service agreements are essential for IT products that are critical to business functions because operational losses due to outdated hardware or software can be very costly.
The bottom line: Usually, the more complex an IT purchase is, the more service after the sale impacts TCO. If you’re not careful, the cost of poor service can easily exceed the initial investment.
Combining the 3 factors to make a successful purchase
Many companies without experienced IT departments are often tempted to make price the driving factor in their IT purchase decisions. As a managed services provider with a wealth of experience in hardware and software, we urge companies to evaluate not just cost, but quality and service after the sale as well. And remember above all else, the best thing you can do when purchasing hardware and software is to get a second opinion from a competent IT provider.
The purpose of this blog is to answer the questions you ask! Whether interested in managed services or just needing more information around IT, we encourage you to contact us or check out our resources section. Visit our Budgeting for IT blog section for more tips and tricks around planning and purchasing for your IT needs!