Apr 15 2024

5 Questions to Ask Before Replacing a Device

Security, data, recycling and more all factor into a key decision higher education IT departments must make.

Managing the end of the device lifecycle for things like phones, tablets, laptops and desktops can turn what might seem like a basic IT task into a circus of political and financial conversations at higher education institutions. To bring some objectivity to the process, consider these five questions:

1. Has the Device Use Case Changed?

Before simply replacing an older device with an updated model, ask end users if their use cases have changed. A shift from desktop to mobile, or vice versa, may be in the works. Laptops, desktops and tablets can be upsized or downsized, depending on users’ needs and experience. Those with vision problems might require larger or higher-resolution screens. Asking the end user to think about use case changes will help rightsize any replacement.

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2. What Helpful Data Can I Glean from the User’s Device?

Users are a great source of information, but they bring a lot of biases with them. If you can pull information from your device management system — such as which applications are being used, how many hours a day the device is in use, where it’s being used and what kind of mobile networks it connects to — that can supplement, reinforce or even contradict information you may get directly from the end user. This additional information brings context and can point to the most appropriate replacement.

3. How Can I Secure Devices?

Sometimes, users don’t want to upgrade devices or feel that an early upgrade is a waste of valuable funds, especially in a college or university environment. Going along with this kind of thinking is fine unless there’s a security issue, such as an unpatchable operating system or an enterprise application that can’t be upgraded. Software and security may force an upgrade even if users are happy with their current devices.

RELATED: Budgeting best practices for higher ed device management programs.

4. Have Guidelines for Newer Devices Changed?

General device management rules, such as “replace mobile devices every three years,” add structure and predictability to budgets and workloads. However, technology lifecycles — especially for devices with abundant memory and storage — can be stretched much further in 2024 than they could in 2014. Re-evaluating lifecycle and configuration guidelines is a good idea, because even small postponements in device replacement can create enormous savings.

5. Can I Gain Value from Replacing Devices Earlier?

Sometimes in higher education, informal device recycling to prolong life occurs far from the oversight of IT departments. However, IT managers should consider formalizing the process to ensure devices are shifted appropriately downstream. It might be better to accelerate replacement lifecycles knowing that devices with a few more years of life can be provisioned to users who have lower performance demands.

UP NEXT: How IT asset disposition helps improve sustainability.

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