We often hear it’s cheaper to sweat IT assets until they reach end of life. Now before we dive in, by IT assets, we are specifically referring to laptops, desktops, smartphones and tablets. These are the tools that your employees rely on to do their jobs. No doubt you want to equip your employees with reliable equipment, rather than devices that damage and disrupt their work. Pretty important then!

And it raises the question: is sweating the asset the best approach? Based on the experience of over 4000 customers, we have concluded that the optimum period to keep desktops and laptops is 3-4 years, for smartphones it’s nearer 2 years! Any longer and their performance starts deteriorating (see video from one of our customers below)

The video clearly illustrates the issues associated with ‘sweating’ assets. If you only look at the surface and what you spend, as G4S did, you don’t fully recognise and acknowledge total cost of ownership.

So, surely it’s better to find the optimum lifetime for your assets and consider how you can build a life cycle plan for those assets? There is a reason manufacturers only provide a 2 or 3 year warranty. They don’t want to take the risk after this period. It’s not worth it!

Hopefully you can see that the status quo of sweating assets, isn’t the cheap option it appears to be. There are costs, which are either hidden or not truly acknowledged.

1. Maintenance costs – How many tickets are raised by users, which your IT team have to deal with? The operational costs and strain on your IT department will grow as your assets age. This also distracts your IT department from focusing on value add initiatives.

2. Productivity costs – we have all experienced the frustrations when your laptop takes forever to turn on, or is operating slowly, or worst of all it crashes. You lose your work and get disrupted when you’re in the zone. This has a real and significant impact on productivity of your employees.

3. Replacement costs – Well to begin with there are the costs of getting rid of old IT assets, complicated by a miscellany of replacement parts, and… You get the picture. The costs can escalate.

4. Opportunity costs – new equipment works better; Batteries last longer; wi-fi connects more reliably; performance is better. Your employees will work better if you give them better tools.

So don’t just follow the ‘sweating assets is cheaper’ philosophy, just because you have always done it that way. Consider a different approach, a better approach.

By using technology that fuels data about your IT estate, you can manage your assets in a more sustainable way that reduces total cost of ownership and provides your employees with the best performing tools for the job. You can also begin to formalise an idea about when your assets need to be replaced, before they become a drag on your IT department. And if you wrap this around finance that’s designed to allow you to be agile, you can replace your assets more efficiently.

And a final point: you can begin to reverse the old model of users raising tickets when their device fails. By empowering your IT team with information about each device and how it’s performing (start-up time, number of crashes, and number of application failures, etc.) your IT team can be proactive. They can tell the user there’s a potential problem with their device and fix it before it becomes a real issue. Everyone knows prevention is better than cure.

Sweating assets is a reactive strategy and it relies on ‘hope’ that the devices will continue to work well. That would be ‘utopia’… the reality is you need to proactively manage the life cycle of your IT devices and that’s where we can support you at 3 Step IT.

Want to learn more? Get in touch today.  

Managing your IT estate – from procurement to disposal – can be one of the biggest drains on your budget.

Technology has worked its way into the most important processes in your company, influencing everything from your staff’s productivity to the smooth running of business operations.

As such an integral part of your organisation, you cannot afford to skimp on your IT provision, but managing and funding regular refreshes requires significant investment of time and money.

Which IT problems are hampering your company?

We are an IT services company that offers customers a completely new way to acquire and manage IT equipment.

We define our IT lifecycle management services in three simple steps. Some of our clients use all of our services; others need help in just one or two steps.

Step 1.  Funding IT acquisition

Many of our customers prefer to fund the acquisition of new IT through manageable regular payments rather than using cash to fund a capital purchase. Monthly fees don’t eat into your working capital, which can instead be used for investment in other areas of the business.

Here’s how we help:

  • We provide lease finance to fund IT purchases. We promote leasing as we believe leasing, when provided properly, drives the ability to manage a regular refresh policy. This is because the end of the lease acts as the decision point to decide whether to refresh your IT or not.
  • Once the residual value of equipment returned at the end of the lease is taken into consideration, leasing can work out cheaper than a cash purchase.
  • Unlikely many lease finance providers, we’re completely transparent about our charges. We call our approach ‘ethical leasing’.
  • We take care of all of the admin for you. We manage all the supplier invoices, consolidating them on to a single quarterly lease start date.
  • You can enjoy peace of mind knowing that your staff are able to access up to date IT, which will minimise future maintenance costs. You’ll also be able to accurately budget for future upgrades as you replace aging equipment or grow your headcount.

Step 2.  Help manage your assets

Many companies struggle to keep track of their hardware and software resources. New hardware is bought as and when it’s needed – sometimes without going through the IT department; old equipment isn’t ‘retired’ unless it breaks. Without a comprehensive and up to date asset register it becomes impossible to know when equipment should be upgraded to maintain optimum performance and minimise maintenance costs. Keeping track of software licenses can be even more difficult than hardware. Many businesses don’t know when licenses are due for renewal and may be paying unnecessarily for licenses that no one uses.

We will manage the end-to-end lifecycle of your IT, helping to:

  • Management of supplier invoices
  • Create an asset register for both hardware and software, ensuring you know exactly what you’ve got, and when it needs to be refreshed. You’ll have access to our online ‘auto discovery’ asset management tool, enabling you to generate reports in minutes.
  • Automatically update and dynamically track the asset register with new hardware and software purchases
  • Plan regular refreshes of your IT estate, ensuring that we optimise the lifecycle for performance and cost

Step 3.  Disposal and replacement

Disposing of old, unused IT equipment is a significant problem for a growing number of companies. You need to have processes in place to ensure that data is completely wiped (simply reformatting the disk is not enough!), and of course comply with environmental regulations. Many third parties that offer these services want to charge for them.

We will:

  • Value your old IT assets and remove them from your site, usually free of charge
  • If there is residual value in the equipment, we’ll pay you
  • Securely wipe the data from all of your storage devices
  • Provide you with an erasure report and certificate for each asset for peace of mind
  • Refurbish and whenever possible offer your old equipment for re-sale – often to schools and colleges. This is in keeping with our commitment to the principles of the circular economy.
  • If there is no useable life left in the hardware we will dispose of it according to the WEEE Directive
  • Discuss end-of-lease options to replace old equipment with the latest kit.

Get in touch to learn more today.

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.

The learning experience of your students and the teaching experience of your staff are paramount when it comes to getting the results needed to meet Ofsted’s standards – and attracting new students and parents.

As a country we fare quite well, with the second greatest education standards in Europe according to the BBC. IT forms a core part of this success, supporting teaching and learning outcomes.

70% of schools use interactive whiteboards, and most students now depend on PCs, laptops or tablets for schoolwork and homework. Such technologies have been proven to significantly improve student achievement, especially in maths and science, enhancing their learning and even reducing planning time for teachers.

Unfortunately, research has revealed that up to 10% of teaching time is lost due to inadequate IT – which directly impacts students’ learning experience.

Realising the impact and importance of technology, educational establishment leaders reserve a quarter of their budgets for IT. However, some schools get more value from their IT than others, and one way to do this is through ethical IT leasing and lifecycle management.

Source better IT simply and flexibly

Our ethical approach to IT leasing, with expert financial assistance should you need it, gives you full visibility of all the terms of your lease so that you know exactly how much you’ll be paying and over what period of time – with no hidden surprises. Leasing IT helps to avoid unnecessary large impacts on your capital budget. Depending on the type of equipment you need, leasing can be cheaper than buying it outright.

We’ll provide you with state-of-the-art technology and refresh it regularly to ensure your school has up to date working equipment to optimise teaching time and learning experience, and make your school more attractive to prospective students and parents.

Supporting the circular economy

If you have old or disused IT lying around, we could also take that away for you – and even pay you for it. We are committed to supporting the circular economy, which seeks to minimise the consumption of finite resources. We aim to refurbish and re-sell as much as 95% of the IT devices returned to us – returning hardware to landfill is a last resort. When we recycle or dispose of equipment, we provide certification to guarantee that all data is wiped securely.

Why 3 Step IT?

  • We work with multiple educational providers, and we know which kind of technologies deliver the best learning outcomes
  • We pride ourselves on our ethical, transparent approach to leasing
  • Because we support the circular economy, we have access to cheaper, high quality refurbished equipment which we can lease to you at a lower price
  • We will manage the lifecycle of your IT for you, ensuring optimal performance and up to date licensing
  • We will provide regular equipment refreshes
  • We will securely dispose of old equipment

Are your teachers and students getting the most out of your current IT provision?

Contact us to learn more about how we can help you source your school’s IT more cost effectively.