If you rent your office equipment instead of buying, you can budget the cost easily and always have the latest machines. (Bigstock)

Computers, phones and other office equipment will stop working at some point.

That’s one truth everyone who runs a business knows, and must battle on a regular basis.

The tech we buy today is not going to last like things used to back in the day. And even if it does still work, its functionality becomes obsolete after a short period of time.

That raises a couple key questions for business owners:

• How often should you upgrade your office equipment?

• Is ownership the best approach, or should rental be considered?

When should you upgrade?

I’ll start with the item most of us use every day at work: Your computer. If a business is buying equipment, I advise replacing any computer that has been in use for four to five years.

You could choose to continue using the machine, but it will be far behind the times in terms of speed and capability, considering the stunning pace of advances in computer technology every year. Also, the amount of maintenance required will grow and reliability will decrease.

Regarding phones, your office phone system most likely can function very well for a long time, but once it gets past five years old, you’re missing out on new features and capabilities that could improve customer experience and help your business grow. So even if the calls come through fine, you are being left behind if that system installed in the 1980s is still sitting on everyone’s desk.

The good news is that with cloud-based VoIP systems, upgrading can be a very simple process.

Rental Replacement

One trend I’m seeing grow right now is rental replacement. This is a service that lets you avoid buying equipment altogether. Instead, a business rents the latest and greatest computers, printers and phone systems, and gets upgrades when they become available.

All technology eventually goes obsolete. If you own everything, the old stuff is now useless, and you have to dig deep in your pockets to replace it all with new purchases. But rental replacement means you can opt to trade up for the newest and fastest models.

It’s also an ease on the budgeting process, as your costs are fixed. Rental fees can be plugged into your budget throughout the year. No worrying about depreciation of equipment, and no more surprise costs to squeeze into the budget when you need to replace a bunch of old equipment and the money might not be there to spend.

Accountants love this option, as rental replacement plans generally even include repairs. And there often are no upfront costs. With tight budgets, a predictable payment is desirable, and rental replacement solves that issue.

Kelly Siegel is CEO of National Technology Management. NTM can be reached at 248-658-0829, and you can email Siegel at ksiegel@trustntm.com.