Who doesn’t love a deal? It’s the American way to search out the lowest price for that must-have item, especially around the two biggest discount days of the year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. If, however, you are trying to take advantage of holiday discounts when buying for your financial institution, it may not be quite as simple as spotting that low price and clicking the buy button. Even with that irresistible deal you could end up actually spending more money in wasted equipment/software, duplicate configuration time, and accelerated depreciation schedules. So how can you make wise IT purchasing decisions, but still enjoy the shopping festivities? Here are the top five things to consider if you are looking to buy hardware or software for your financial institution during these bargain bonanzas.
Top 5 Considerations for Black Friday Technology Purchases for Banks
Watch the warranty:
Consumer advocates like Clark Howard commonly tell folks to skip the extended warranty when purchasing consumer electronics. This can be a sound strategy for your personal devices where hardware failure may result in a boring plane ride or a less entertaining jog. When purchasing for the workplace, however, downtime costs you money. To ensure that you are minimizing your likelihood of downtime, a warranty that covers parts and labor with an acceptable replacement timeframe needs to be standard. Ideally, it will include covering the labor costs of a technician coming to your site or, at minimum, free expedited shipping for replacement parts or off-site repairs. You don’t want to deal with constantly carting these items back and forth to a retail shop for repairs. Not only can this be frustrating, but it also hampers employee productivity and could potentially open your data up to further risk.
Is it a refurb or special build?
Many of these sales are able to offer lower prices because they are selling refurbished equipment. While refurbished machines have a solid track record of performance there are many other questions to be answered such as:
- Does this item come with any support?
- Which components are actually covered under any warranty?
- How long do I have to determine if the item is working as advertised?
Additionally, many stores and manufacturers create special builds for these large retail events. These combinations of hardware components and software builds are commonly used to clear backlogged stock, so the resulting builds may not always make the most technical sense. In some cases hardware components may be poorly balanced against one another, or one component may be more dated (and fated for faster obsolescence) than the other components. In other instances, bundled deals advertised as having the same technical specifications may have equivalent or comparable, but not identical, internal components per device. When shopping for business purposes, one-offs and small batch builds should generally be avoided unless you have the in-house expertise and administrative leeway to give that equipment the appropriate special attention. Be sure you read through all of the technical information before you make a purchase in order to avoid any surprises.
What’s the return policy?
Make sure that anything you purchase is going to have a return policy that fits with your plans and timelines. For example, if you are going to take on a major PC replacement product mid-1st quarter next year it probably doesn’t make sense to purchase your PCs now if they have a 30 day return policy. You’ll likely need longer than a month just to getting around to test them.
Be wary of close outs.
You can get some really great prices on close out items. Because they are brand new, many feel that this is a better option than buying the newer generation at full price. Well, maybe, but you really need to understand what it is you are buying. How fast will the manufacturer “end of life” the product (i.e. stop providing updates and any kind of support)? Is this a purchase that will have to be expanded later? Will parts be available at that point? If you aren’t careful you can end up with an asset that has a much shorter lifespan than you anticipated.
Home licenses don’t do the job.
Over the years this has been the most common mistake I’ve seen people make when they are in a bind for a PC. Often, they run out to the local big box store and purchase a PC off the shelf, seemingly resolving their issue. Many big box stores are geared towards personal rather than business users, and return policies for computer hardware or software purchases are typically more restrictive than other products. What might seem like minor details during the purchase case add up to a significant licensing cost. A user might unbox and set up their new workstation before realizing that it has a home edition of Windows, or the wrong version of Microsoft Office with “click-to-run” patching. Neither of these products is designed for a business environment, and the store may no longer accept the workstation as a return once it has been used. Often, the only workaround here is to replace the consumer-grade software with the business equivalent, and this can be a nasty added expense. Before you make any purchase you should make sure that all the software running on the device is ready for the enterprise and not simply intended for home use.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday both offer very tempting deals that many consumers, and even some businesses, are looking to take advantage of. It’s easy to get caught up in the momentum of the shopping season and purchase equipment or software after only a cursory glance. If you intend to take part in this annual flurry of commerce, then please make sure to take your time and understand exactly what it is that you are buying. Otherwise, that supersaver, white hot, limited quantities, limited time, guaranteed best price, too good to advertise, blowout bargain purchase may wind up costing you more in the long run.