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Hardware and Software: A Guide to Buying Office Technology

April 07, 2014
Hardware and Software: A Guide to Buying Office Technology

Choosing the best computers, software, and devices for your business can be a daunting process. There are so many products out there, and each one promises more than the next. If you’re not well-versed on the ins and outs of computers and technology, the process can be overwhelming. However, if you take the time to truly assess your company’s needs and examine the range of available tech options; you’ll find that buying tech products for the office is a fairly straightforward project. And, the professionals at Crites & Riddell can work with you every step of the way to ensure that you’re spending your company’s financial capital wisely, efficiently, and effectively. Here are some things to consider before you make your technology-related purchases.

Buy What You Need, Use What You Buy

It’s easy to just walk into your nearest electronics store or punch up your favorite tech sales website and buy what looks like the best deal. However, that’s not likely to be the best choice for your business: you may be paying for lots of bells and whistles that you really don’t need without getting some other features that might be helpful. Plot out exactly what your business’s technology needs are, and shop based on that. For example, you may need presentation and graphic editing software, but a Blu-Ray player might not be essential to your day-to-day operations. And again, buying from a tech sales company that specifically caters to the needs of businesses, such as Crites & Riddell, can save you a lot of hassle and confusion.

Essential Hardware

Business PCs are typically built for longevity — more so than consumer products; tech producers and sellers like Crites & Riddell recognize that companies don’t want to spend their resources to upgrade every year. Processors on business PCs, whether desktop, laptop, or all-in-one, should be at least dual core for adequate speed. If your company handles lots of graphics and multimedia, quad core might be your best choice. As for memory, starting out with at least 4 GB is advisable, though with PC towers and some laptops and all-in-ones, this can be upgraded later on.

A fair amount of hard drive space — say, 500 GB — is inexpensive, and you may find that on a business computer, you don’t need as much space as you have on your personal computer. Think about it: at home, you’re storing hundreds of personal photos, your music collection, and lots of other media on your hard drive. At work, you’ve got Word docs, presentations, and financial files, which take up a lot less space. Unless your business is creative in nature and stores many image and video files, an enormous hard drive may not be necessary. The same goes for high-end graphics capabilities: a top of the line graphics card is probably a waste of money if you’re mostly working with text files and spreadsheets. What is necessary, however, is good wireless capabilities. Most computers come equipped with very fast Wi-Fi, but check to make sure before you make a purchase. Bluetooth capacity is also helpful for using wireless devices and peripherals.

Desktop or Laptop? Or Tablet? Or Smartphone?

When considering exactly which devices to purchase, it’s essential to think about how and where your team members will use technology. Desktop towers are, of course, not portable, but they can have tremendous growth capacity. You can add additional hard drives and memory; upgrade graphics cards, and more, which means they can last a long time. They cost more upfront, though. All-in-one desktop models are typically less expensive but not expandable, and may need to be replaced every few years. Laptops are portable, making them perfect for employees who do a fair amount of work away from the office, but they often cost more than less expensive desktop models. It’s also important to keep in mind that some laptops on the market today are the ultra-thin models without optical drives; if that’s necessary for your team members to be successful, make sure the laptop you’re looking at includes one.

Mobile devices are also on the list of many offices’ technology needs. If your employees frequently do off-site presentations, or if they need devices for media displays, it may be wise to purchase tablet computers. And smartphones, once considered a luxury, are now practically a necessity, as they can handle communication in multiple forms plus payments, research, and much more. When considering your company’s specific needs, it may be helpful to talk with a representative at Crites & Riddell for assistance.

Necessary Software

As with your hardware purchases, the software your company buys for its computers depends on what type of work you do. Most businesses use the Microsoft Office suite of programs; Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access are staples in the world of business computing. For keeping track of finances, Quickbooks is highly popular, and for keeping tabs on customer info and sales, many companies turn to SalesCloud. Software for effortlessly accessing company computers from a remote location, such as LogMeIn, is highly helpful, though if your employees are a bit more tech savvy, remote access can be done through cloud servers like Google Drive, Drop Box, and others. After those, you might consider software specific to what your business does. If your work is more creative in nature, for example, you might consider Adobe’s Creative Suite programs like Photoshop and InDesign.

Most software companies offer free trials of their products; these are a great way to decide if you want to buy a program, so be sure to take advantage of free trials when you can. Also, a lot of software is now offered on a subscription basis, meaning that you pay for the software on a monthly basis. When you stop needing it, you stop paying for it. Software subscriptions also ensure that you’re always working with the latest version of the software, which is appealing to lots of companies. As always, if you’re unsure about what software packages you might need, the business tech professionals at Crites & Riddell are happy to help.

Protection and Guidance

The job isn’t done once you’ve purchased your hardware and software. For starters, there’s a warranty to think about. Consider looking into an extended warranty for the computers you purchase for the office. If you plan on using those computers for several years, it may be money well spent. To protect your computers from malware and outside security breaches, antivirus software is also a good idea; a little bit spent upfront to protect your computers can save an enormous amount of time, money, and hassle dealing with a computer virus later on.

Having help on call and when you need it is also helpful, especially if your team isn’t exceptionally comfortable doing their own tech troubleshooting. Consider having an IT person on retainer for everything from computer and network set-up to software troubleshooting. Many small businesses can’t justify the cost of having a full-time IT person on staff, so hiring one on a contract basis may be a sound investment.

Help is Here For You

When you’re purchasing technology products for your office, you don’t have to do it alone. For office supplies at wholesale prices, in the Montreal region and beyond, call on the business technology professionals at Crites & Riddell. With a full range of computers and tech products, plus printing services and all the office supplies you might ever need, they are your one stop for all of your company’s tech needs.

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