Today's challenging new economy is pushing us to make smarter decisions, to think longer-term, be more efficient—and to be more frugal. This goes doubly so when purchasing office equipment; buyers need to duck, dive and be creative—while not falling into money traps set by vendors that ensnare you into more expensive contracts with upfront discounts, special offers and bundles. And buyers have to do all this while ensuring they get the best tools and technology to empower their users.
Industry insiders and procurement veterans know that office equipment purchasing comes in cycles of 5 to 7 years. Over the course of that time span the technology advances and past decisions are reviewed for effectiveness. The most important changes and advances to the office equipment purchasing cycle are:
Hardware and Technological Advances: Office equipment hasn't escaped the technological growth curve. Like other technologies it has advanced in features and functionalities, grown in processing power and added a plethora of new services.
Changes in Contracts: Nothing hurts vendors likes a bad economy, so to remain competitive vendors/service providers are forced to offer customer-attracting deep discounts. Problem is these losses need to be recouped somewhere in order for the companies to stay out of the red, and the most common place to recoup the loss is in contracts. By changing their terms and conditions vendors are able to rework their service contracts and agreements to make up for losses from upfront discounts and special offers.
Most companies understand the above, but how do you sort through the vendor mumbo jumbo and get a good deal on equipment that will keep your company on the cutting edge? We were wondering too—so we asked the experts (those industry insiders and procurement veterans). Our talks with the pros each yielded the same result, that you need to ask the right questions. And before you ask us “and what are the right questions”...here they are:1. Will you use Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) or aftermarket parts--for the life of the contract--to service the equipment?
This question's motive is self-evident—will the service provider use genuine parts, which can be 30-40% more expensive than aftermarket parts. Using aftermarket parts however can negatively impact warranties/guarantees though, which can cost you more in the long run.2. Who determines when equipment is replaced? Who determines when equipment is replaced?
You can imagine what a monumental difference it is who decides when to replacement a faulty piece of equipment. So ask. Additionally, ask if the warranty/product guarantee is included in the actual Terms and Conditions of the contract.3. What security safeguards are offered?
Security is a hot button these days, and not even your office equipment is safe from security concerns. Ask questions that will help you determine whether this potential new office equipment purchase will conflict with your company's current network security protocols. Also, inquire as to whether single-component or full-system security is offered and analyze what your system's security portfolio will be when complete.4. How will your company's sensitive data be handled?
New office equipment rollouts and on-going security aren't the only concerns when switching over to new office equipment, you also need to concern yourself with how hard drives are swapped in and out, how those hard drives are disposed of and who has access to this information in the interim. Will you, the supplier or a third party handle the removal/swapping/destruction of your company's sensitive data?5. Are there any hidden fees?
While that exact phrasing won't get you anywhere, asking important hidden-fee related questions is the only way to get a good deal and to safeguard yourself against evil fees and/or surcharges. Discussing any and all fees within a contract and keeping your eyes open for all potential cost bombs is important. Pay special attention to these costs, most of which go unnoticed:
- Charges for two 8.5” x 11” impressions for a single 11” x 17” copy or print.
- Incurred shipping charges for the delivery of toner to your office.
- If Property Tax applies who pays?
The above expert-derived tips should be taken into consideration before each and every new office equipment purchase. For a more thorough equipment-buying experience, download our 2012 Office Equipment Buyer Checklist, or watch our exclusive Buyer Tip video series. Do both if you're serious about getting the best deal and the most cutting-edge technology.