“Why bother with maintenance on computers when they’re so cheap? We just replace them when they start slowing down.”

Sounds logical, right? Common sense, really.

Let me set you straight.

I heard the logic above from a prospective client recently. They figured they replaced their computers every two to three years (let’s call it 2.5 years), but they happily spend nothing on maintenance. Our clients typically get at least 4 years out of their computers. So compared to this prospect, we get 60% more life out of our clients’ investments in their computers. For this client and their 15 workstations, that 60% amounts to between $150 to $200 per month. That is a pretty big savings and could buy a LOT of maintenance. Again, food for thought.

The bigger issue here is the “waiting until they start slowing down”. The lack of planning and reactive approach costs way more than people generally realize. It is a tough cost to put a firm number to, but let’s try. We obviously need to make a few assumptions, but the first thing is that the computer doesn’t just slow down to the “break point” instantly. It is typically a bit of a drawn out process. Let’s say, for our example here, that the unmanaged computer degrades by 5% per month for the last 6 months before they replace it. So at first it seems a bit slower, but it is barely noticeable. The degradation gradually increases to the point where it is a noticeable pain in the buttocks. Do some math and we can boil this down to a 3.5% decrease in productivity over the life of the computer. That doesn’t sound like a such big deal.

It isn’t the end of the world, no, but when you multiply that across the bigger costs of the company, namely the payroll (you know, the cost that actually uses the computers), it becomes apparent that this lack of planning costs much more than most expect. For the prospect with fifteen well-paid, busy employees, we could conservatively assume their payroll is over $70K per month. Multiply that by that small percentage (3.5%) and you have an estimated cost of $2,450 per month. Now, I’ll agree that not all of that value is going to be captured by removing the 3.5% with a planned approach – how much is captured depends on how you feel about the potential of your payroll/people. However, can we agree there is room to at least explore the value of proactive maintenance and some pre-emptive planning? This prospect is currently paying their reactive tech guy a bunch less than they’ll be paying Smart Dolphins, but if you look at the bigger picture, we could save them a lot of money.

But computers are really cheap nowadays, right? Why bother with maintenance and planning?