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Monday, January 31, 2011

How many more miles can I put on these tires?

Isn’t that the approach some of us take with technology? We see the tread slowly disappearing, yet we are determined to get every last mile out of it. Every year we field questions from our customers about whether or not they should upgrade their computers, printers, networks, you name it. We have to ask ourselves these same questions here at Drake and the thought of keeping up with technology can be overwhelming because it evolves so quickly. Below is my first tip on this topic, with more to come in future installments.

Plan an annual review – At a minimum, do an annual review of your software and hardware.

  • Software - Review the system requirements for the software programs you use to run your business to ensure your hardware will support them. You can generally find system requirements in help files, marketing materials and license agreements. Sometimes this will involve inquiring about future versions to make sure there are no surprises.

Ex. Due to security issues, many software companies are discontinuing support for Internet Explorer(IE) 6. Microsoft recently released version 9(beta), but the security issues in IE 6 were addressed in version 7(released in October 2006). If you are still running IE 6, it is time to upgrade.

  • Hardware - Review manufacturer’s warranties for the hardware you use to make sure it will be supported for a reasonable timeframe for your business. With the release of something new generally comes the discontinuation of something old. Make sure your hardware is not in the “something old” category.

Ex. Your printer manufacturer releases a new line of printers and unbeknownst to you, discontinues support for your model. You don’t want to find that out during tax season which is likely when it will decide to stop working.

Since it is January, it is definitely not the time for tax preparers to be reviewing equipment for upgrades. However, I do recommend taking a few minutes to put an ‘annual tech review’ reminder on your calendar for right after tax season. Any issues you may have encountered during tax season should be fresh on your mind and you will give yourself plenty of time to implement any changes that are needed before next tax season.

As always, we are happy to assist our customers with these types of decisions. Don’t hesitate to call or email when the timing is right for you.