IT support providers are as unique as the organisations they serve. This is a good thing, as it provides choice and variety, with some providers operating is specific fields and specialising in niche technologies, allowing businesses to find a provider with the skills and knowledge to help them fully exploit technology.
Where this individualism is less helpful however, is when it comes to service pricing. IT support providers package and bill their services and products using a wide variety of pricing models. While this also provides businesses with numerous options, it can make it tricky to discern the best value players from those that charge a premium for a meagre service.
Since 2009, Solutions Consultants has helped hundreds of businesses in Berkshire and across the UK leverage the best business technologies to maintain that all-important competitive advantage. Comprehensive IT support forms the backbone of our offering, with a range of managed IT, support and cyber security services available to your business for a transparent, fixed monthly fee.
We believe our managed services offer the perfect blend of value-for-money and quality, but we know you’ll want to weigh up your options when choosing your next IT support provider. To help, here’s our quick guide to the IT support pricing mechanisms you’ll come across on your journey to find your next MSP.
Hourly Rate Pricing
Sometimes referred to as ‘reactive’ or ‘ad-hoc’ IT support, the hourly rate model sees an hourly rate applied to IT support, management and installation services. This type of support can be delivered in-person by means of a technician visiting your premises, but in most cases issues can be resolved remotely using special remote access software.
While hourly rate pricing can be applied to a wide range of services, it’s most often associated with ‘reactive’ or ‘post incident’ support, which seeks to fix issues once they present themselves to end users.
The Pros and Cons of Hourly Rate Pricing
The hourly rate model means you won’t have any rolling cost commitments: you only pay for support if and when a problem arises. This can be an enticing prospect for businesses with very basic IT support needs.
The downsides of this pricing model however, are numerous. Under this arrangement the IT provider isn’t managing your technology in a proactive, preventative manner. This means IT issues only get tackled once they’ve impacted your ability to operate: an approach that could present costs in more ways than one. The IT provider also isn’t working with your business in a strategic capacity, helping you align your IT with the challenges and pressures your business faces. This means you’ll miss out on expert advice and industry insights that could help you harness technology for commercial and operational gain. Lastly, the quality of support provided on an hourly rate basis can be seriously hit-and-miss, depending largely on the skills and expertise of the technician assigned to your support ticket. With no incentive to go the extra mile for your business, hourly rate support could see you suffer poor issue response and resolution times that hamper your business’s productivity.
Pre-paid IT Support
Pre-paid support is another ‘reactive’ support model. The service elements on offer tend to be similar to hourly-rate pricing, only here hours are able to be pre-purchased in ‘blocks,’ typically at a cheaper rate than the standard hourly rate. For example, a standard per-hour fee of £80 might be reduced to £65 if the customer agrees to purchase a block of 20 in advance.
Just as with hourly-rate pricing, this model offers no proactive element and no strategic guidance, unless of course your willing to expend your budget of hours specifically on such services. Again, there’s little incentive for the provider to offer exceptional service, and this could be reflected in sluggish response and resolution outcomes.
Per-incident pricing uses pricing tables to apply a fixed charge to a support request depending on the nature and severity of the issue at hand, and the level of technical ability required to resolve it. This provides some assurance that an issue won’t rack up an eye-watering support bill, as the price doesn’t vary according to the length of time taken to achieve a resolution. The provider will also be incentivised to resolve the issue promptly, as a lengthy fix increases costs for them, rather than for your business.
However, as with the other pricing models mentioned thus far, per-incident pricing is a reactive service that doesn’t deliver the scope and depth of IT support that most businesses need to gain true value from their IT.
Managed Service Contracts
A modern IT system can be a vast, complex, unwieldy thing that requires committed management to achieve security, optimised performance and reliability. A managed services contract provides a range of services that operate across several delivery areas to provide secure, dependable business technology that empowers productivity. As you may have guessed, we’re strong advocates of this model, as it allows the provider to take proactive steps that help improve overall system health.
Managed services contracts are typically offered via a tiered pricing model, whereby carefully curated service bundles are offered on a per-user/per-month basis. Services incorporated into the contract might include:
- Remote network monitoring
- Patch/update management
- 24/7 Helpdesk Support (often on an unlimited basis)
- On-site support
- Managed security services, such as firewalls, anti-virus and mobile device management
- Managed business continuity and backup services
- Strategic consultancy
The exact components of a managed services contract vary across providers and service level tiers, so pay close attention to the inclusions to ensure you get the support you need. Make sure you also examine fair-use clauses and exclusions to determine whether the contract in question truly represents value-for-money.
Managed services contracts provide peace of mind that your IT infrastructure is being continuously monitored, with preventative maintenance being undertaken to reduce the likelihood of downtime and cyber breaches. Under this arrangement, the provider is more likely to prioritise customer satisfaction, and you’re more likely to experience prompt, expert support. Service level agreements provide assurance of certain service quality outcomes, and the provider will be incentivised to provide strategic insights that help align your technology with your business’s objectives.
When choosing an IT support provider, it can be tempting to opt for basic, break-fix support due to the absence of cost commitments and the false hope that nothing will go wrong with your IT. In our opinion, almost all businesses require more than this from their IT support provider, with secure reliable technology so crucial to business success in today’s digital world. Managed services contracts provide a cost-efficient way to leverage a wide range of technical skills and services, providing all the ingredients for the robust IT that modern businesses need.
SolCo IT Support Reading
Based in Reading, Solution Consultants provides IT Support, Telecoms, and Cloud solutions for SMEs across the Thames Valley. We get to know your business, challenges, and goals and deploy scalable and agile technology solutions that make a real difference.
We specialise in simplifying IT, making valuable technology more accessible than ever before. We believe technology has the power to transform your business and open access to new markets.