Buyer Beware! Advice to small businesses considering IT purchase

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Publishers Note:

Manchester Ink Link is proud to welcome a new business partner, Merrimack River Technologies of Manchester  In this space each Wednesday, we’ll provide news and information aimed at small businesses.  As an added feature, we invite your IT questions and we’ll seek to answer them in future columns, please email us at

Please welcome Greg Mason and Merrimack River Technologies to the mix! 

When planning for the needs of a small business, IT upgrades or purchases of new equipment are usually high up on the list of essentials.  At the same time, retailers offer a broad range of sales and discounts throughout the year, which can be tempting.

And while sales and discounts may appear to be a cost-effective approach when seeking an upgrade, in the longer term, those “sales” might wind up costing you.

“Many computer and technology retailers offer what might seem like a great deal for small businesses,” says Greg Mason, CEO and Founder of Merrimack River Technologies.  “But despite something being on sale, if the new equipment doesn’t match up with your company’s needs or current technology, you may get much less than you bargained for.”

Mason advises that before making those purchases, small business owners should ask themselves a few key questions:

Is your planned purchase consumer grade or business grade?

“There are lots of products which work very well in the home setting but that don’t have the capacity or durability for small businesses,” he says.  “There is indeed a significant difference between what is designed for consumer use versus for business use and it is never a good idea to mix and match.  A business also has different security concerns for instance than does the home computer user.”  Mason added that “you’ll also find that retail systems come loaded with games and advertising or ‘teaser’ applications –  all of which tend to get in the way and have to be removed manually before the new system can be made useful, this time and effort can be better spent elsewhere.”

Is the new equipment compatible with your existing equipment and technology?

“The more sophisticated office systems become, the more important it is to ensure that your new equipment can integrate seamlessly with your current needs, such as printers, diagnostic equipment, practice management software and record keeping systems,” Mason says.  “If all of the components don’t ‘speak’ to each other, you may wind up costing yourself valuable time and money.”

Can the new technology “grow” with the needs of your business?

“When you’re purchasing software, are you looking just to meet current needs, or thinking longer term?” says Mason.  “If your business is growing and changing, your IT capacity will need to change as well and to the extent you can, you should plan for that.

“Technology is a snappy business – things move fast!  Buy for the capacity you think you will need in 3-5 years, not for the minimum specifications a manufacturer is recommending today.”

Level of customer service after the sale?

“When making your IT investment, make sure that you have access to customer service with your new purchase,” advises Mason.  “This can be a challenge for you depending on the retailer.  Make sure you understand their customer service capacity should something not work and their ability to provide training if needed.”

At the end of the day, notes Mason, small businesses need to weigh the risk/reward proposition of all purchases and avoid trying to save a quick buck.  “Making the wrong purchase can have a negative downstream impact on a business in terms of loss of productivity for staff, possible customer abrasion and a host of other issues.

“On the other hand, by asking yourself a few key questions in advance of making this important purchase, businesses can ensure that they are truly making a wise investment which can help them grow and prosper.” 

Greg Mason is President and Founder of Merrimack River Technologies, Inc, an IT solution company based in Manchester, NH.  The company provides support for a broad range of businesses including: CPAs, Dentists, Manufacturing, and Veterinarians.  To learn more, please visit: