Are You Paying Too Much for IT Support?
Business owners and C-levels want value. They want to feel that they’re getting the very best services for the money they spend. However, IT Support costs seem to be all over the place. How can you know that you’re getting the best deal for your business?
IT Support is like most things. You maximize value when the solution is a good fit for the need and has little waste. So how do we ensure that our IT solution is right sized? Let’s look at our options.
Are You Paying Too Much for IT Support – Hourly IT Support
Businesses that provide hourly IT support are frequently called “break-fix” providers. They’re completely reactive. When something is broken, you call them, and they do their best to fix the problem. They don’t offer much in the way of ongoing services, typically service a lot of small mom and pop businesses and are seen infrequently by their clients.
They set up solutions for their clients, but once they leave it’s typically up to the client to maintain things going forward. They get paid hourly for their time and have no ongoing relationship until the next time they’re called.
This can be problematic for businesses with any level of complexity in their network. Hourly IT providers have no documentation or foreknowledge of the network they’re supporting. This can lead to longer resolution times because they have very little to go off when troubleshooting.
Longer resolution times can be a problem because they bill hourly for their time. This doesn’t provide as good a value as someone that knows the network but can still be the best fit if you have a small simple network.
Hourly IT support is typically a good fit for micro businesses with 10 or less employees that have a simple network. These small shops have a low enough level of complexity that they’re not effected much by the lack of documentation or foreknowledge. Their networks are often small enough that they can get by with very little support and paying hourly as needed is still an attractive option.
Are You Paying Too Much for IT Support – In-House IT Support
Hiring internal IT staff is another option to support your network. There are both advantages and disadvantages to this approach.
The advantages to inhouse IT staff are that they will get to know your network on an intimate level. They will know every computer, every program, and every configuration. This allows them to immediately jump into solving problems efficiently.
The right internal IT staff can also help with strategy and planning for IT. They can give you a roadmap for your technology and help you stay current. They can recommend new technologies that will help the business. Their intimate knowledge of your businesses processes helps them to be effective in this capacity.
There are also several disadvantages to this solution. In-house IT staff can be expensive. Entry level help desk technicians make around 40K a year on average in the US. System Administrators make around 61K a year. IT managers make $115K on average, and CTO’s will pull in 228K. Add to this another 25% or more as a cost of benefits for full time employees. For many smaller businesses this is a cost they simply can’t justify.
Another draw back for full time IT staff is that they are not divisible. If you have a significant amount of complexity to your network an entry level helpdesk technician will not be able to meet all your needs. If you hire above that at the system administrator or IT manager level, they may be able to accomplish some of the more complex tasks that justify their higher salary but will spend most of their time doing helpdesk support. This isn’t a great use of resources. You can end up with underutilized employees, or employees swimming above their depth. Either one of those isn’t good for your business.
In-house IT staff goes on vacation. They get sick. They leave for a new job. Any of these reasons or a thousand more can leave an employer standing in a lurch without an IT solution. In house IT staff are also notorious for not keeping much documentation, so it can make for rough transitions between employees or to a new solution.
To stay relevant a good IT guy also needs ongoing training. This is typically provided by the employer as well, and the cost associated is wrapped into the IT budget.
If your business is 250 employees or more, inhouse IT might be a great fit for your needs. That number could be significantly lower if you have a high complexity to your network or specialized IT needs that require a lot of maintenance.
At this size the advantages of having IT staff in house to respond immediately to needs and prevent downtime start to outweigh the cost. Their specialized knowledge of your network can prevent disasters from happening and provide you with the response times you need for your sizable operation.
Are You Paying Too Much for IT Support – Managed Services IT Support
Managed IT Services is another option for IT support. They are an outsourced IT solution that providers ongoing maintenance and support for your network. Unlike a break fix provider MSP’s offer proactive network maintenance designed to prevent problems from happening in the first place.
In addition, the nature of their ongoing relationship with their clients allows them to take the time to document each network they support. They get to know their clients and understand their needs. They not only provide timely solutions to problems but are active in IT strategy and planning for their clients.
They proactively monitor the network to ensure that regular maintenance is done, that backups complete successfully, and that systems are patched and updated. They typically offer a service level agreement or guaranteed response time to their clients.
Managed services allow you to enjoy many of the benefits of in-house IT staff for a fraction of the cost of a full-time employee. Their time is divisible meaning that you can have access to high end network and security engineers on a need basis. This allows you to have a complete solution with very little waste.
Managed Service providers are generally suited to businesses that have some basic complexity and ongoing support needs. Typically, their customers will have 10-250 employees. Small and medium businesses can enjoy all the benefits of internal IT staff at a fraction of the cost of hiring.
Are You Paying Too Much for IT Support – Does the solution fit the need?
The question of whether you’re paying too much for IT really comes back to looking at the need and determining whether the solution you’re currently employing fits the need with little waste. Most small and medium businesses will find that if they really take the time to break down the numbers managed services will save them money.
This savings is possible because managed service providers can allocate their resources more efficiently and apply the right solution to the need. When you need a helpdesk technician, or a sys admin, or a database administrator you get one for the time needed. They leverage automation to help them be more efficient in how they deliver service.
For larger businesses, In-house IT Staff may be the way to go. For micro businesses hourly IT is probably a fit.
The key factor here is to fully understand the needs of your organization from an IT standpoint, and then match it to a solution that will maximize efficiency and minimize waste.
As always your friends at i.t.NOW stand ready to help. If you want a professional opinion on what solution is right for your business, give us a call today.