Often business decisions are as much a case of ‘what can we do without?’ as they are, allocating budget. Any service that attracts a cost, like IT support services, comes under immediate scrutiny as you try to reduce spend and maximise profit margins.
But how much does IT support really cost?
Placing IT costs in their proper context
IT support services are not unlike car insurance – you hope you never need it. But when something goes wrong, you’ll be pleased you paid the premium.
How much would it cost your business to be without email for an hour? Or a full day? What would happen if your network was breached by cybercriminals and you lost the last weeks’ worth of data?
Putting an exact figure on these outages is difficult, but previous history provides some general insights. For instance, Ponemon Research found that lost or stolen records cost an average of $148 (~£112) each in terms of fines, damage to reputation and remedial IT work required to recover data and prevent future breaches. Even more worrying is the claim published in Computing magazine, “Nine out of ten companies that have suffered a serious data centre outage have been forced to close operations.”
In reality, the question becomes how much can you afford to risk by not having adequate IT support coverage?
How much does IT support cost?
The most important, and hardest to answer, question is “how much does IT support cost?” The difficulty arises from many different ways you can approach IT support.
In most cases, running an in-house team will be the most expensive solution. Obviously, you have the benefit of a dedicated group of specialists who are on-site whenever you need them – but you pay for the privilege. As well as the general employment costs (salary, National Insurance and pension contributions, benefits packages etc), you will also have to pay for training to ensure the team are properly equipped to deal with new technologies and security threats. Your business bears all the risk under this model.
Alternatively, your business can outsource some IT support functions. At the most basic (and cheapest) level is an outsourced helpdesk service, allowing you to log calls with engineers on an ad-hoc basis. Many of these services are only available during office hours, which presents a problem in the 24×7 marketplace. Each call is billed on a time and materials basis, like a pay-as-you-go contract. Although a useful option, ad-hoc support makes it much harder to predict your annual IT support costs. Ad-hoc support is also reactive – you only ever get support after encountering problems. You cannot prevent problems in advance, and even with the providers’ assistance, you still bear all the risk when something goes wrong.
Achieving a balance with remote IT support
At the top end of the scale, remote IT support services provide a useful way to access much-needed skills without the overheads of retaining a team in-house. Indeed, with the right partner, your company gains access to a wider skill set than you could possibly hope to employ with a limited IT budget.
Broadly speaking, there are two ways in which remote IT support services work. Under a fully-remote service offering, all troubleshooting and repairs are completed remotely. Whenever you encounter a problem, the first step is to contact the provider’s helpdesk and raise a support call. The helpdesk engineer will try to resolve the issue immediately, escalating to another engineer if they cannot. All troubleshooting is then carried out using remote access tools to diagnose and fix the issue. Importantly, the managed support provider also assumes full responsibility for seeing each issue through to completion, de-risking IT issues for your business.
In most cases, issues can be completely resolved remotely, although very occasionally an engineer may be sent to your office to fix problems on site. In all likelihood, the number of site visits included in your contract will be capped – if you exceed that allocation, any further visits will be chargeable.
The second, and much more effective, solution is managed IT support. Under this system, engineers take a proactive approach to IT. They actively monitoring systems to identify and fix potential issues before system performance is significantly affected – helping to protect your levels of productivity.
Well managed IT support services have one additional advantage over standard remote IT support offerings – unlimited site visits. Although the majority of IT issues can be resolved remotely, the option to have engineers on call when you need them is extremely valuable – and reassuring. Some providers will also offer scheduled on-site visits as part of their offering – ideal for businesses that have expensive resources that require a high degree of monitoring, or who require a visible ‘face’ of IT across their sites. Scheduled visits are integrated with the service desk to maximise value and to prioritise issues that require the attention of an engineer.
Managed IT support pricing
Comparing managed IT support pricing between vendors is not always easy. Most will conduct some kind of survey to assess the complexity of your operating environment and quote accordingly. The factors that will typically affect cost are:
- Number of people.
- Number of PCs and servers.
- The applications you use.
- Response times (how quickly you need the support provider to begin troubleshooting).
- Hours of coverage (8am-6pm, weekend coverage, 24x7x365).
- Site visit requirements.
The more people, computers, applications and operating hours, the higher the final cost is likely to be. You will need to work closely with any potential service provider to define a level of support for your business that will allow you to get the help you need and keep pushing towards your strategic goals. It may be that a blended support package combining off-site resources to complement the capabilities of your in-house IT team is better suited to your budget and needs.
IT support services – an investment in your future
When you compare service contract estimates against the cost of employing your own fully-skilled team and it quickly becomes apparent that the managed IT support pricing is nowhere near as expensive as you might think. With the right partner, your organisation can achieve the holy grail of IT – access to a team of highly-skilled engineers, without the financial overheads of trying to build and manage a similar team in house.
IT support services better protect your organisation against costly outages, downtime and disruption. And with the right partner, they can help to define an IT strategy that will help to grow your business and profits.
To learn more about our IT support services, remote IT support and managed IT support pricing for your business, please contact us below or give us a call