Sticker Shock: How Much Does Good IT Support Cost?

IT support costs

It’s a question that stumps every business owner — why does IT cost so much?

The answer is deceivingly simple. Most business owners don’t know how much it should cost to begin with.

If you’re not in the IT field, it’s easy to underestimate the power of a stable, strategic IT environment. Great IT means your business is running smoothly. It’s an underpinning of your operations, so you almost forget it exists.

Today we’re talking sticker shock, including why IT support costs vary so much and how to determine the best fit for your business.

Breaking Down Sticker Shock For IT Support Costs

When you get an IT quote, you’ll almost always be able to find a cheaper option. But cheaper doesn’t mean better. It’s important to know the trade-offs and how they will affect your business.

The Pay-As-You-Go IT Model

Many business owners rely on the pay-as-you-go or break-fix model of IT support.

Rather than a flat monthly fee, businesses are charged hourly for every support request. The average rate for a support technician businesses is $70-90 per hour  but can increase depending on the experience and type of project.

At first glance, it looks like the most cost-effective option. But there are a few issues with this model.

To start, it’s reactive rather than proactive IT support.

If you’re operating on a pay-as-you-go model, there’s a huge gap in services. You don’t get support until there’s a problem — when you’re already experiencing a loss of productivity and downtime.

There’s also no oversight or ongoing management.

Patching is the No. 1 way to protect your IT environment. Threats like WannaCry, Spectre and Meltdown could have been prevented with patches and regular IT maintenance.

The break-fix model also doesn’t account for future IT costs. When an issue occurs, it can cost your business in downtime, productivity and revenue down the road. For example, say you ignore server updates or keep pushing off hardware upgrades. Your IT environment will most likely break down more often and your equipment won’t last as long. Paying for regular maintenance is much more cost-effective than replacing IT infrastructure entirely.

See the difference between a break-fix and managed services company.

The Managed IT Services Model

Sticker shock comes when companies look to transition from a break-fix to a managed services model.

The managed services level contract appears more expensive at first. But it’s a better long-term solution in terms of IT support costs, health and productivity of your IT environment.

Managed IT services is more comprehensive than break-fix IT support. Here’s what you’ll typically get with hiring a managed IT services company:

  • 24/7 monitoring & help desk support: You can stop calling when there’s an issue. 24/7 monitoring reduces network downtime and increases productivity.
  • Patch and update management: We’ve said it time and time again. Regular patching and updates can prevent many common attacks.
  • IT budgeting and vendor management: No more hidden costs or managing confusing bills from all your IT vendors. A managed services company handles everything for a single, straightforward price.

See our article on the VMware patch for Spectre and Meltdown.

  • Backup and disaster recovery planning: Do you have a backup plan if your server goes down? A managed IT services provider will help not only put a plan in place, but also test, improve and execute it to get your business back up and running in the event of a disruption.
  • Virtual CIO consulting: Get access to CIO-level expertise and strategy for your business. Many managed services firms also offer IT strategy and advice, allowing companies access to decades of IT expertise for a fraction of the price.

How Much Does Good IT Support Cost?

Avoiding sticker shock begins with understanding the IT needs of your business. You need to understand what your IT environment looks like today, your IT needs and goals.

Many business owners skimp on investing in IT operations and strategy. Employee support is the most visible, well-known aspect of IT. It’s easy to deprioritize database and server management when you have endless amounts of employee help desk requests. 

Gartner’s 2017-2018 budget predicted IT costs should be 2.3 percent of your annual revenue. If you’re in a heavily regulated industry with strict compliance requirements such as healthcare or insurance, it may be slightly higher at 3 to 4 percent.

IT operations should be around 50 percent of your budget. Employee support such as help desk support tickets and troubleshooting should only be 25 percent.

Understanding Your IT Needs

To manage IT support costs, you need to know what you have. Here’s how to get a comprehensive view of your IT needs.

  • Step 1: Get a complete view of your IT needs with an IT network assessment. An IT audit should include every IT asset in your network — the number of active computers, domain controllers, units, number of users, etc.
  • Step 2: Review the high-risk issues. What immediately needs attention? What can you push?
  • Step 3: Once you’ve addressed your high-risk areas, what’s next? What do you need to support your future business goals? Your IT support costs should not only include your daily workload now but a plan for how you want to grow.

Get a free network and security assessment today.

Managed IT Services for Riverside and Temecula Valley

With Helixstorm, you’ll never have to worry about exorbitant IT support costs getting out of hand. We conduct a thorough IT assessment to create a custom IT roadmap that’s aligned with your business goals, so you know exactly where you’re investing and what you’re getting out of it.

Give us a call today to see what managed services can do for you.