IT leasing is on the rise, leaping 32% in June alone. Clearly many organisations are welcoming more flexible methods of financing their technology than the traditional bulk cash outlay on new equipment every few years.

What many businesses, schools, colleges, universities and public bodies don’t realise is that they can actually generate a significant cash injection when they sell their existing assets to a third party and lease them back for a low monthly rental. You don’t need to wait until you need new IT to benefit from leasing.

Sale and Leaseback

If you need a fast injection of cash into your organisation, you have a couple of options. You could secure a loan using your assets as collateral. This practice is on the rise, with asset-based finance rising by £370m over the past year.

Or you could sell your IT assets for a lump sum, then lease them back for monthly rental. Just like a loan you get a lump sum of money for your business and a new monthly outgoing, but rather than an interest payment it’s just a lease payment on the assets.

Unlike getting a loan against your assets, which may come with some constraints, the sale-and-leaseback approach doesn’t restrict how you spend the cash; you can do what you like with it – hire new staff, use it to develop your business in some way or just return it to your shareholders.

Another benefit is that you won’t need to train staff to use new equipment – they will keep the same IT they always had, the only thing that will change is the way you finance and manage the assets.

Why Lease?

In comparison to leasing, using valuable cash to purchase IT outright may not be the best way to budget your IT spend. A standard monthly rental is generally much easier to budget for than irregular, significant outlays of cash for new equipment, especially considering the standard recommendation is to replace hardware after 3-4 years.

All IT degrades over time, meaning its value decreases after purchase. User experience is also affected; as IT ages and starts to underperform, end user productivity goes down and maintenance costs go up. For schools this can have a detrimental impact on learning, and for businesses it can eat into billable hours and staff productivity. Leasing your IT equipment will give you a regular refresh cycle, which ensures your IT is always up to date.

IT leasing is becoming increasingly common as organisations realise the many benefits of having access to flexible finance. This trend reflects the wider move towards companies wishing to consume their technology ‘as a service’; that is to say, within a package alongside hassle-free management, to keep maintenance costs as low as possible.

Ready for a cash injection? It’s time to let go of your old IT

3 Step IT will buy your assets and lease them back to you for a monthly rental, giving you an initial injection of cash then an affordable, flexible way to access and maintain your IT estate. Get in touch – we’d love to discuss a more effective way of financing your IT.

  1. Do ask for a full breakdown of all the elements of any offering, including the actual interest rate, other fees and payments, plus extension rentals should you choose to keep the equipment beyond the primary term
  2. Do question potential providers about the returns process and the tools and support they offer to facilitate it
  3. Do ask for details about available asset management tools and how they are implemented
  4. Do ask about customer service: What kind of support does the lessor provide? Do they ensure that the asset management register (if available) is updated and assist you with returning assets by the agreed date? What kind of competencies and skills do the customer service staff have?
  5. Do think carefully about what you’re likely to do with equipment at the end of the primary lease
  6. Don’t make your decision based purely on the monthly charge figure
  7. Don’t be fooled by unrealistic residual values
  8. Don’t dismiss the potential challenges of tracking and managing leased assets, even in small numbers
  9. Don’t forget the value of freedom and flexibility, and that your needs can change quickly. Will you have any freedom in the future to choose exactly the devices you want? And what are the potential impacts on your business of a sudden change of brand or supplier on the lessors side?

Learn more about how we can help you acquire the assets you need, when you need them.

It’s good to talk – especially about IT investment decisions. Here are five reasons why CFOs and CIOs should share more quality time together.

1. Better Collaboration between CFOs and CIOs leads to better decisions

IT purchases account for one of the most significant capital investments most companies will make – adding up to one-third of all capital expenditures for many organisations.

A common problem in many organisations is that finance and IT departments often look at IT assets in different ways, which can lead to different expectations when it comes to renewing equipment. For example, IT departments fund some laptops on a three-year lease expecting to replace them after 36 months – whereas finance are more likely to try and get more out of the IT by ‘sweating’ the assets.

While this can reduce capital expenditure, IT departments know that operational expenditure will likely increase, as older equipment needs greater maintenance. Furthermore, poor equipment can result in low staff morale, which can impact productivity.

This disparity in perspective and expectations between departments is very common and can result in IT decisions being made by finance teams without consulting IT teams – which can sometimes mean companies don’t get the IT provision they really need.

If you are not involved in the decision-making process from the outset – through good collaboration with your IT colleagues – there’s a real danger that decisions will be made based on disjointed information, which could lead to the wrong IT solutions being implemented with potentially costly consequences.

2. IT Asset Registers

In 2013 we undertook some independent research, which involved a survey of 100 IT and finance directors. One of our key findings was that many companies still use manual processes to manage their assets. One organisation could only account for 20% of its IT assets because it depended on staff to update spread sheets when it purchased new equipment.

Manual processes leave significant room for error, either through duplicating information, or missing assets entirely. What’s more, we found that finance and IT teams had different ways of recording assets, so asset registers often differ between departments. Again, when the finance view of IT assets doesn’t agree with the IT view of assets there is scope for some serious accounting issues to arise.

Make sure you discuss asset management with your IT colleagues. Agree how you will record your IT assets and look into the benefits of using automated asset tracking tools to save time and improve accuracy.

3. Pay-as-you-go Models: LEasing and Managed Services

Increasingly, organisations are looking for ways to spread their investment costs over the lifetime of the assets. Both IT leasing arrangements and the trend towards managed services enable this approach.

Our research showed that IT teams have a more thorough understanding of the ins and outs of IT leasing than their financial colleagues. However, in the majority of cases, it’s the finance team that have final say on how the purchase is funded. In other words, a finance community where 64% state they have limited, or no awareness of IT leasing makes the vast majority (71%) of purchase decisions. In contrast, 58% of their IT counterparts stated that they were ‘very familiar’ with the concept of IT Leasing. The discrepancy in knowledge between finance and IT implies that better collaboration could lead to more informed decisions when it comes to funding IT investment.

Many organisations are taking advantage of the benefits that managed services bring. This approach also has the potential to change purchasing models from capital to opex, enabling you to pay for IT equipment over its lifecycle rather than as one single up-front payment. This frees up capital for other strategic investment, which can facilitate growth. The move towards managed services is a technical decision that can only be made alongside the business case, so to take advantage of this solution you will need to understand the needs of your IT colleagues and other stakeholders and agree a strategy, as it changes not only how your IT services are paid for, but also how they are consumed.

4.  Understand your IT counterparts’ Priorities – so you can plan budgets

According to The Harvey Nash CIO Survey, as confidence returns to the UK economy, and after five years of cost cutting, two-thirds of IT leaders are talking about prioritising projects that make money for their business. This indicates that more companies are focusing on investment in IT for growth rather than to save money. What’s more, according to the survey, CIOs are more optimistic that their IT budgets will continue to grow, than at any time since 2005, when the survey began, with some 44% expecting more budget increases next year. Will you be able to manage budgets to make this happen?

5. Learn who your IT counterparts are talking to – understand the bigger picture

The survey also found that CIOs participation on the board of directors has increased significantly since the start of the recession with many more IT leaders in a position to better influence other business leaders.

There is another twist – increased attention on the importance of digital marketing has seen marketing directors begin to influence IT decisions. According to the survey 40% of CIOs said the marketing department is now responsible for digital technology, up 7% from 2013, whilst at the same time only 10% of CIOs said IT is responsible for digital, down 2% from last year. Changing times indeed.

Joining your IT and marketing counterparts will ensure that better-informed decisions are made regarding your IT investment, because all of the major stakeholders are involved in the discussion from the outset.

As ongoing digitalisation continues to transform our society, new technologies and tools will replace, even upend, traditional ways of working – from data management to customer service, communications and learning.

Businesses must keep up with the developments, however it is also vital for non-profit organisations to seize the possibilities new technology offers. When you are planning on acquiring new technology, it is always worth listening to expert advice. A useful way to assess your technology needs and acquisitions is to pose three questions: when, where and why?

But what is the most sensible way to acquire new technology? The sharing economy is on the rise. As a result, the traditional purchasing model has been challenged and more and more organisations are opting for access over ownership. The Device as a Service trend is emerging in the corporate as well as in the public sectors. Many organisations are moving away from purchasing and towards leasing IT devices and other movables.

Comparing finance offers – What to consider?

Leasing technology starts from requesting financing offers from different providers and comparing them. The key is to ensure that the offers you have received are comparable. As well as conducting a financial analysis, it is also important to assess how the service provider carries out their service. For example:

1. What exactly does the monthly fee in the financing offer include?
2. What kind of assumed residual value is applied to the offer?
3. What kind of tools does the provider offer for control during usage?
4. What kind of tools or services does the provider offer for the end of the lease period?
5. How do you return the equipment – cost and process?
6. How does the lessor ensure secure disposal of data for the returned devices and how is the data sanitisation carried out?

At 3 Step IT, we have 20 years of experience in offering IT equipment as a service responsibly. As well as superior customer service, we offer our clients financing with best-practice yearly limits and a highly advanced asset register with comprehensive reporting functions for IT and Finance. To learn more, contact us today.