Computer Refresh Planning for Financial Firms

Aug 2, 2022

By James Chiang, Procurement Manager at Abacus Group

Computers are a necessity of doing business, but they are not a set it and forget it asset. Here at Abacus, we provide our clients with hardware inventory reporting via our abacusPortal, showing not only a record of all corporate-owned PCs, but also age and warranty. This information is key for computer refresh planning.

How Often Should Your Firm Replace Employee Computers?

You should plan for a two and a half to three-year replacement cycle for all your firm’s PCs. As much as you may want to try to extend the lifetime of your fleet of PCs, if possible, to even five plus years, we do not recommend this. You are risking increased costs in the long run by not adhering to the recommended replacement cycle. Older PCs will cost you more, for a myriad of reasons.

Unplanned Downtime

Unplanned downtime is the most common issue affecting older computers. Industry studies have indicated that within 1-3 years computers typically exhibit few if any hardware issues but in years 4-5 and beyond, the cases of hardware failures increase which cause unplanned downtime and impact your business.

Reduced Productivity

Over the years of usage, software tends to slow down and reduces user productivity and efficiency which can cause impacts to your business as well. And, over time more features are added to software, or new types of software start to be used which consume more computer resources necessitating the need for better equipment, such as Microsoft Teams.

Employees with poor-performing equipment will be frustrated and have low morale. Newer equipment will allow them to work more efficiently and result in improved job satisfaction, and reduce risks of shadow IT.

Risk of Data Loss

While most data is stored in the cloud, some temporary or working data may still reside on the actual computer, so the risk of data loss is another large concern with a failure of a storage component. Older computers with mechanical Hard Disk Drives (HDD) are dramatically slower, more susceptible to physical shocks, and have more moving parts than newer storage components. These have largely been phased out from business computers.

Solid State Disk (SSD) drives are dramatically faster than older mechanical hard drives and more reliable and robust as they have no moving parts. These are the standard storage technology used these days. SSD’s do have a finite lifespan as the memory can only be written a certain number of times. It is not expected to reach this lifespan limit during normal business use within 4-5 years and there are numerous safeguards to alert users if there is a risk to the SSD integrity.

Hardware Failure: Desktops versus Laptops

Desktops usually have a longer lifespan than laptops, as they have greater airflow and cooling, whereas laptops run hotter due to physical form factor limits. Heat is one of the main causes of strain on components which can cause hardware failure.

Finite Battery Lifespan

Laptops are mobile and have smaller more fragile components which reduces reliability compared to larger desktop computers. While mobile battery technology has advanced since the first widespread laptop batteries in the 1990’s, the current lithium-ion battery technology has a finite lifespan of several hundred cycles. We’ve found that by the 3rd or 4th year or so, most laptop batteries have dramatically reduced battery capacity.

Replace Your PC's on a Regular Replacement Cycle

It’s important to work with your IT service provider to ensure your employees receive the best computers to fit their roles in your firm. At Abacus, we provide complimentary PC procurement consulting for our clients, guiding our clients on computer refresh planning, sourcing PCs with specs to fit specific roles and needs within financial firms.

Purchase Spare Computers to Avoid Supply Chain Issues

While computers within a three-year lifecycle have warranty coverage, it takes time to coordinate repairs. Supply chain issues are also impacting replacement parts delivery with all the main manufacturers, such as Dell, HP, and Lenovo.

We recommend a spare computer configured and stored in each of our clients’ offices to minimize any downtime if there are issues with existing machines, so that users can switch to a spare computer while repairs are being made on theirs.

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