IT Best Practices: Rent vs Buy Technology for Projects?
Jun 09, 2016 by Phil Dunn

Direction choices and decisions for thoughtful businessman with left and right directional arrows

If you’ve ever had to scale up an IT project on short notice, you’re probably familiar with the following dilemma. You need 100 laptops by month’s end, so you tap a national computer distributor for a big, juicy purchase.

You’ll soon be the proud new owner of a mountain of equipment, you’ve delighted the distributor’s sales rep, and it seems like your staff is ready to sit down at the keyboards once the equipment arrives. (The project could be anything, really – like a major document review project at a law firm or a temporary training session. Think Salesforce.com or CiscoÒ certifications.)

Not so fast.  There are lots of important points to consider before deciding which way to go:

  • Question #1: Who within your organization is going to approve $50,000 or even $100,000 of spending on the spot? How is that going to go down, and how many signatures and approvals do you need to make it happen? How long will it take?
  • Question #2: Are you set up to receive 100 laptops? Where will they be stored? Who’s going to manage that?
  • Question #3: Are you ready to image this big batch of machines with the software required for the project? This is not a small task, and you’ll need a lab space and some significant resources and time to get it done. This could easily take one to two weeks.

This is the classic trap companies experience every year. On the surface, the equipment appears to be a real asset, something you’ll want to keep once the project is over. You’ve got an internal IT department, so you’re confident you can take on the extra work of imaging and configuring the equipment. And maybe, just maybe, you didn’t consider alternatives to this buy scenario.

So what is the alternative? Affordable scalability via short-term equipment rental. (Short term could be anything from one month to nine months.)

With a rental option, you can scale quickly with expert assistance and tightly manage expenses in the process. Instead of taxing your internal IT team with a massive new project, you offload the work and allow the rental outfit to become an extension of your team. If you’re like any typical organization, your IT department already has a mountain of work to do anyway.

There are some drawbacks to the rental scenario, however. You need the process to be as seamless as possible. Some rental companies – especially the discount bidders – will just deliver the equipment and hand over the reins. That puts you right back into the position of the earlier buy scenario. You’ve got a full-time job, and coordinating the rental drop-off and configuration process isn’t part of that.

What you need is a national outfit that’s experienced with scaling up short-term projects and keeping the costs within reason. Ideally, you line up one point of contact so you don’t drive yourself crazy, and your equipment is delivered once it’s completely ready for the users to sit down at the keyboards.

This is what we do at SmartSourceÒ. We understand the pressures you’re under, and we’ve seen dozens of instances where clients aren’t aware of these challenges until it’s too late. And remember, this isn’t just about laptops. The above scenario could apply to temporary servers, desktops, scanners, printers, Wi-Fi installations, or any other technology solution that needs to be in place for a short-term project.

If you have a big project coming up, call us today for a free consultation 800-888-8686. We’ll review your project objectives and provide you with a scalable solution that makes sense.

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