How Much Does IT Support Cost?
It’s a question we often get asked; The answer is, of course, it depends. However, that kind of woolly answer is not why you came to this blog. So time for some cold, hard figures:
Fully Managed IT Support from us is going to cost around £35 per user per month. It starts at a £350 minimum.
We also offer “Your Office” an alternative solution for smaller businesses. This includes Windows 10 and Microsoft 365 licences.
Prices we’ve seen quoted go from about £10 per user per month to over £60 a user. I’m sure you’ll find options outside that range.
It is important to understand we are talking only about the IT Support element of your bill. You will pay your IT Support Provider for other things. Microsoft 365 licencing, security tools and backups all add to your monthly cost.
But why is there such difference in the IT support cost?
Strap in this is a long read!
Comparing Like For Like
The reason IT support cost differs is like everything in life; it’s down to quantity and quality.
Two quotes might say ‘IT support’ but what’s offered might be quite different.
Included within pretty much every IT Support offering will be:
- Unlimited Helpdesk Support
- Remote Monitoring and Maintenance
- Some level of Account Management
- Some sort of reporting
And then some or all of the following:
- Unlimited Onsite Support
- Some kind of email filtering
- 3rd Party Software Management
- Regular Technology Reviews and an IT Strategy
- Workshop repairs where economically viable
- Minor installs
Generally, the less in the package the cheaper it will be. Say Onsite Support is not included. If the provider then needs to come to site for any reason you get charged. This will be something in the region of £75-125 per hour typically. If Antivirus isn’t included, you’ll have to get it elsewhere or you’ll pay the provider for that separately and so on. This is the way the lowest priced quotes have a low ‘basic’.
As well as what’s included and what’s not included, there is also the less tangible ‘Quality’ to think about.
Let’s not put too finer a point on it; if your support cost is very low there are likely to be less people solving problems and/or they are less likely to be quite as good at it.
The bigger IT support providers will have the most staff, they will have some of the best qualified staff and so you’ll pay more for their service.
Why Go cheap
Up to £15 a user – Affordability comes into every business decision. You might have a very, very simple IT setup. So you just want somebody at the end of the phone to help out if something goes wrong. A small provider, or an outsourced ‘IT Guy’ may well be enough for you. If he takes a day to get back to you it doesn’t matter. Nothing IT based is mission critical for your business. If he’s away on holiday for a fortnight then any problems can wait until he gets back. In this case then paying £10 a user is perfectly reasonable. Risk is minimal, so the cost/value ratio is about right at this level.
Why you might pay a little more…..
£15 -30 a user – As you go up the pricing scale you get guaranteed response times, so you’re not going to be waiting a day or two for someone to acknowledge a problem. If IT is mission critical then getting it back up and running quickly is a must have. There is a team supporting you, so there is wider knowledge and expertise; this means that problem has probably been seen before and can be fixed quickly. There is plenty of holiday cover – you’ll not get left high and dry when someone is sunning themselves.
A fixed cost with no additional call out charges means you control your budget. That’s good for the accountants in the room.
The provider will have lots of fancy tools they use that make their lives easier, and monitor, maintain and update your systems whilst we are all tucked up in bed at night.
And why you might pay the big bucks……
£30+ a user – A “proper” managed service means more than just supporting the IT equipment and keeping the business systems running. But they will have the very best tools to keep an eye on what’s happening. And the best staff keeping monitoring those tools.
You’ll be looking to see your IT support company more often than just when something goes wrong.
At the Managed Service Provider (MSP) end of the market you’ll get someone who gets to know your business, understands where you are looking to take it and advises on the technology that will help you get there.
You’ll get technology reviews, have deeper conversations about data security and enter into a partnership.
The model of paying for something on a monthly basis whether you use it or not might at first seem strange.
The alternative is what’s called in the trade break/fix. It’s still available if you seek it out. What happens is you have a phone number, if something goes wrong you call that number, somebody fixes it, and you get a bill.
Why this model has largely died out is because it doesn’t work very well for either party. But it’s mainly bad for the client.
Let’s give you an example.
You have a problem with your server. You call out the provider, it gets fixed, and you get a bill for £150. When you ask what the problem was the provider is not very forthcoming, mentions something about drive space and off he goes.
The next month the problem reappears – the same happens. Month 3 same again until at last you move to Managed Support with a company on a monthly retainer. Lets call this company Your IT Department, because that’s what they effectively are, the IT department for your business. (That’s clever, someone should use that!)
Your IT Department set up their monitoring software and see that a drive on the server is 90% full. Any higher and it’ll start to cause that problem you have each month.
They notice that someone has been deleting just enough files each month to get it below 90%. This means it works for a while. Your IT Department talk to you about what’s on the disk, discover there are documents going back 15 years, so help you develop a policy for older files. These are moved off the main server onto an archive drive. Your main server is now only 50% full. The problem hasn’t just been solved for a month. In fact with the archiving policy in place it will be fine for years.
Of course, you now have an IT Department so you’ve got an IT replacement strategy in place and you know that the server will be replaced in 18 months anyway as it’s over 5 years old. Larger drives will be installed as standard.
The Difference Is Clear
The Managed Service Provider has an incentive to fix the problem for good. They are sharing the risk of your IT going wrong with you. They get paid the same each month. If they are just monitoring and maintaining their costs are fixed and they make a profit. But if something goes wrong and they have to send people out to site, or spend hours on the phone then that profit decreases. The break/fix providers makes money when your IT fails, the MSP makes money when your IT works.
We have a slogan, ‘We Exist To Make Our Clients Lives Easier’. We could easily continue that with ‘because that makes our lives easier too and our business profitable’.
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