Whether you are in the market to replace outdated office equipment or are looking to purchase the latest and greatest in new technology, it’s important to choose the right office equipment for the right working environment. Is a fax machine necessary or is it more cost effective to have internet fax capabilities? If your office sends bulk mail every week, a mail machine might be a good investment. Does your office require a copier or multi-purpose printer that can copy, scan, fax, and print? The point is - proper due diligence is required before making any major equipment purchasing decisions. The perfect solution for your office is out there, you just need to do your homework to find it.
Below are 7 tips to consider before buying new office equipment:
- Price – When purchasing new (or used) office equipment, price is always a major factor. Not only should the purchase price be taken into consideration, but how much will it cost to properly maintain the equipment throughout its lifecycle; how much are replacement parts or consumables; and how does the purchase price compare to other similar makes and models on the market? Numerous websites, for example Nextag or Consumer Reports, compare similar makes and models of a particular piece of office equipment in an easy to read side-by-side chart.
- Environmentally Friendly – If being environmentally friendly is important to your organization, the selection of green office equipment is limited and the product features available may or may not meet your wish list needs. The initial purchase might be more than anticipated; however, the maintenance costs over its lifetime are usually significantly reduced. Check out www.energystar.gov to view ratings of different types of energy efficient office equipment.
- Usage – Another determining factor when considering the purchase of new (or used) office equipment is usage. How often and in what environment will the equipment be used? The scenarios given in the opening paragraph are great examples; the circumstances in which the office equipment will be utilized will help determine the list of product features necessary to get the job done well and in a timely manner. It might be worth taking a quick survey in your office to figure out the true needs of the end-users.
- End-Users – The job functions and skill levels of the employees using the office equipment should be given some serious thought before making a significant purchase. Will the end-users require training on how to properly operate the office equipment to its full potential and is that training provided at no cost? Will the end-users have unlimited access to online usage, maintenance, and vendor performance reports and will those reports be provided at no cost?
- Service Contract – First and foremost, find out how long the manufacturer warranty lasts because it varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. After that warranty period expires, it is extremely important to consider what service contract terms & conditions are available and at what cost. Is the service contract long or short-term; is there an auto-renewal clause; what are the cancellation fees; is there a guaranteed response time; and are parts and travel included in the contract cost? Before entering into any contract with the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) or Third-Party Vendor, it is vital to understand exactly what you are signing. Don’t make the mistake of assuming the contract has favorable terms & conditions. The consumer should always consult an expert before signing a contract, regardless of any resistance from the salesperson at the initial purchase of the office equipment. There are ways to negotiate favorable contract terms & conditions. Furthermore, the consumer’s negotiating leverage is completely lost after the service contract has been signed. Alternatives to the traditional service contracts are available – time & materials, preventative maintenance only, loaner or depot service, or utilizing an Equipment Maintenance Management Program (EMMP).
- Technical Support & Software Updates – Technical support and software updates are often bundled in the terms & conditions with the purchase of an expensive service contract. In reality, both should be included with the initial purchase of the office equipment since consumers have alternatives to the traditional service contract. Technical support should be easily accessed via a toll-free number and software updates should be provided at no cost since their goal is to eliminate a manufacturer malfunction or enhance the overall performance of the office equipment.
- Availability of Parts & Consumables – Decide whether you prefer OEM certified parts and new consumables versus refurbished parts and consumables. The pros and cons for each need to be considered. Are the new or refurbished parts and consumables readily available at prices that fall within your maintenance budget? It’s important to review the language concerning parts and consumables in the service contract or interview possible time & material vendors who can perform the required maintenance on the office equipment being considered.
In the end, your due diligence regarding the above criteria will help determine what make, model, and product features coincide best with the needs of your organization. It’s important to choose wisely when making such a significant purchase; do not rush the process. The final purchase will ultimately come down to the right piece of office equipment that meets the majority of your wish list needs and is the most beneficial to the organization and end-users.
Share your buying experience with us. Did you follow a checklist or make a purchase on a whim? Was the end result what you expected? What changes would you make to your buying process in the future?