How to avoid costly mistakes when investing in IT servicesSuccessful businesses need an effective IT infrastructure that works for them and their employees. However, deciding which package to purchase and how to set an IT budget can be a confusing and challenging business

Here are five common mistakes that could leave your company with IT equipment that doesn't meet the needs of your business.

1. Overestimating the lifespan of your equipment

This is actually a very common IT mistake - expecting servers to last for far longer than they actually do. Most servers have an expected lifespan of three to four years, but many companies keep their servers for eight years or even longer. Not knowing when to replace servers and other forms of hardware, and not budgeting for repairs and replacements, can have adverse consequences for your company. Take advice from experts about when to replace your infrastructure.

2. Being tempted to underspend and cut corners

When purchasing hardware and software for your company, it can be tempting to go for the cheapest option. However, this can easily turn out to be a false economy as buying cheap hardware is far more likely to need costly repairs and upgrades. Before investing in IT for your business, seek the assistance of professionals who can offer informed advice.

3. Fall victim to slick advertising

Advertising is a very powerful marketing tool and it can be very easy for companies to be convinced that their organisation really needs the latest technological release. New tech, however, is often very costly. You might find it helpful to clearly define the goals of your business and then ask yourself if the new tech will help to achieve those goals. Before investing in new technology, take the time to ask around - find colleagues who have used the product and ask their opinion or see if you can find some independent reviews.

4. Neglecting to invest in employee support and training

Your team might be extremely tech savvy but they will still need good-quality training to learn how to use the new software effectively. It's also vital that your team fully understand the reasons behind the new software. If your employees aren't on board with the new technology it could end up being a costly waste of time. Outsourcing training and support to a company who understands the key issues and can deliver concise and effective training is highly recommended.

5. Being tempted to go the DIY route

It's a good idea to remember that purchasing IT is very different to choosing a new suite of office furniture or a new water cooler. It is incredibly easy to make mistakes, such as buying products that are incompatible with each other. Trying to install a new system is not as easy as it sounds - even for those who may have built their own home gaming PC. Investing in commercial grade technology, installed, set up and maintained by professionals might be more expensive but will be longer-lasting, less stressful, fully warrantied and generally superior to systems set up by amateurs.

By Kieran Fallon of • IT Force.