Selecting the most cost-effective solution for your business IT needs isn’t always that easy, wherever you might be in the UK. Here’s Netitude’s quick rundown on the different ways of buying IT support and UK IT support costs.
UK IT support costs
Costs for IT support in the UK vary a great deal due to a number of factors including location, exact business requirements and required technical experience. IT support costs are typically highest in central London where the need and value placed on skill level are the greatest and reduce as you get out into the sticks.
We will break this post up into the different ways of buying IT support services for small and medium business, how the model works and a look at the various prices you might pay for each model.
The pricing we will discuss is based on certified, and experienced suppliers.
Ad-Hoc IT support – approx. £90 per hour + call out
“Reactive” or “Ad-Hoc” business IT support costs typically starts at around £75 per hour, for on-site work there may well also be “call-out” fees to cover travel expenses. This is the most simple form of IT support and can be delivered remotely or via on-site visit (most often it will be delivered by an engineer coming to your premises). The advantage is that there are no on-going costs, and you only pay for their time carrying out the fix. The disadvantages include a lack of preventative maintenance, no monitoring, a higher effective billable rate, no real strategic alignment with your business needs to name but a few. The sceptic might also say it’s also in the interest of the supplier for things to go wrong, and for things to take a long time to fix. This is our least favourite model, and while we occasionally carry out ad-hoc work, we strongly advise all customers to look at a managed support agreement as a better value for money service.
Pre-paid IT support – approx. £80 per hour (bundled, purchased in advance)
Much like Ad-Hoc business IT support this is a “reactive” service, and typical costs for this model of IT support are around £60 per hour, with 20+ hours purchased in advance. The hours are pre-purchased to allow the supplier to provide a discount on the hourly rate, and perhaps also an SLA to operate under (guaranteed response times). This was probably the most common way IT support services were sold, and the model we see a great deal of our fellow IT support suppliers use. It’s nice and simple for the supplier as they are not at risk of doing more work than they are paid for, they also have the money in the bank up-front. However, for the customer, almost the same risks are still present, with no monitoring of systems, no regular maintenance and no consultation to ensure strategic IT alignment with your business.
Fixed rate IT support contract – approx. £25 per computer, per month
Most if not all IT support companies now offer some kind of fixed rate support service, this is typically charged on a per computer basis. Managed IT Service contracts typically cover the “reactive” telephone and remote support, some kind of monitoring of your servers and sometimes on-site support should someone need to come out and fix something at your business (but not likely at the £20 price point).
Be cautious, some IT support suppliers might brand this arrangement a “managed IT support service” when it’s really not much more than a reactive helpdesk, you are almost in the same situation as buying bundles of hours. With little or no real pro-active tasks, monitoring or maintenance going on in the background you still run the risk of higher downtime, poor security and an IT service that almost entirely reactive.
Fully Managed IT Support – approx. £50 per user, per month
Well managed, secure and high availability IT takes time to manage. Thoughtful effort and strategic awareness of your business must be in place for this to be delivered. A true managed IT service provider will have a number of delivery areas, dedicated to the various aspects that contribute to a well managed IT system.
- 24/7 Monitoring of your entire IT estate. Your IT supplier should be investing in the best possible monitoring systems, that constantly check for hardware faults, software issues, patch management, anti-virus status, backup monitoring and this system should alert your supplier as soon as an issue is detected. There are a huge number of these products on the market, all varying in quality and features. Importantly, these systems take a great deal of effort and understanding to run effectively. They should also be checking your backups and making a test restoration on a regular basis. Your supplier should have a dedicated team running this area, and ideally not outsourced off-shore (a worrying trend in our opinion).
- A helpful helpdesk team. Your IT supplier should have a well-staffed, knowledgeable and qualified helpdesk team. This should be delivered inside a suitable SLA (service level agreement). This team should also have a well-documented record of your systems, with easy access to your details to enable fast resolution of any issues. They should also value your feedback, so customer surveys and a thermometer of customer happiness should be a key KPI. The price should be an “all you can eat” arrangement, as the supplier should be aiming to reduce the number of issues you have, taking time to analyze recurring issues and resolving the root cause. It should also include on-site visits, as the aim to deliver the service at a fixed and known rate – no matter the route to fix.
- Regular pro-active technical visits, administration and auditing. You shouldn’t only ever see your IT suppliers people when something breaks. To stay on top of the complexities of your IT infrastructure and your estate, records need to be kept, maintenance tasks must be carried out and regular cybersecurity audits must be conducted. This is one of the key differences with a true managed IT supplier, and if this only happens in an ad-hoc manner, you are not getting a fully managed IT service.
- Strategic guidance. You should be having regular meetings with your supplier, these meetings should happen at least once a quarter to keep your supplier in the loop and up to date with your business developments. Your IT infrastructure provides the foundation for your digital systems, and therefore your business. If your supplier isn’t making the effort to stay on top of your business requirements, they aren’t keeping your IT on step ahead of your needs. Don’t confuse these meetings with a salesperson or account manager coming to sell you the latest big shiny box. Is your account manager also commisioned to make sales? Perhaps ask that question? (Pssst… Our Virtual IT Directors are not paid a sales commission, and really are only motivated by giving you the best advice and seeing your business grow).
We are of the strong opinion that truly good IT can only be delivered when all 4 delivery areas are working well, pro-actively and pre-emptively looking after your business’s IT requirements, which is why we only choose to work in the true Fully Managed IT Support model.
In Value for Money terms, a fully managed IT service delivers a far higher return on investment. The higher up-front price is justified by a great deal of work in the background that ultimately delivers higher security, higher uptime, higher availability, happier users and your business making the best use of technology.
If you feel our service might fit your needs, or perhaps serve your business better than your current arrangement, please do get in touch, or book a meeting – we would love to talk.