Selecting the most cost-effective solution for your business IT needs isn’t always that easy, wherever you are in the UK. Here’s our quick rundown of the different ways of buying IT support, as well as average outsourced IT support costs across the UK.
How much does IT support cost?
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 goes without saying that IT support costs are typically highest in central London where the need and value placed on skill level are the greatest, and reduce gradually as you get further out into the sticks.
So, how much should you expect to pay for IT support? We’ll break this post up into the different ways of buying IT services, particularly for small and medium business, how the model works, and a look at the various costs you might pay per IT support model.
Sadly there’s no quick and easy IT support costs calculator! The below price list covers averages based on hourly or monthly costs of IT support from certified and experienced suppliers.
Ad-Hoc IT support costs – £90 per hour
(Approx. + call out)
“Reactive” or “Ad-Hoc” business IT support is the most simple model, and can be delivered via on-site visit (most often it will be delivered by an engineer coming to your premises), or even remotely.
Ad-Hoc IT support costs typically start at around £75 per hour, but cost around £90 per hour on average. If calling the provider out for on-site work, there may well also be “call-out” fees to cover travel expenses.
The main advantage of this particular IT support model is that there are no on-going costs, and you only pay for their time carrying out the fix.
The disadvantages, however, are extensive. They 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 by far our least favourite model! While we occasionally carry out ad-hoc work, we strongly advise all customers to look at a managed support agreement – it’s a far better value for money service!
Pre-paid IT support costs – £80 per hour
(Approx. bundled, purchased in advance)
Much like Ad-Hoc business IT support, pre-paid IT support is a “reactive” service. 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.
Typical costs for this model of IT support is 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).
It’s great for the supplier! It’s nice and simple as they aren’t at risk of doing more work than they’re paid for. They also have the money in the bank up-front!
It’s not so great for the customer… It’s a very similar service as ad-hoc support, with almost all the same risks attached. You won’t receive any monitoring of systems, no regular maintenance and no consultation to ensure strategic IT alignment with your business.
Fixed-rate IT support contract – £25 per computer, per month
Most, if not all, IT support companies now offer some kind of fixed-rate support service.
Fixed-rate IT support is typically charged on a per-computer basis, on average £25 per computer. 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 this isn’t likely to be at a £20 price point!).
The service usually covers reactive support, so you won’t be forking out for hidden costs if a problem arises. You’ll also benefit from a fixed rate each month, meaning planning around your IT budget will be far simpler.
Be cautious, as some IT support suppliers might brand this arrangement a “managed IT support service” when it’s really not much more than a reactive help desk. You’re 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’s almost entirely reactive.
Fully Managed IT Support – £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.
This model is typically charged on a per user, per month basis. The average fully managed IT support cost per user is £50 in the current market, with no extra costs whatsoever. 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 they aim to deliver the service at a fixed and known rate – no matter the route to fix.
- 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. 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, and this should be delivered inside a suitable SLA (service level agreement)! This team should have a well-documented record of your systems, with easy access to your details to enable fast resolution of any issues. They should value your feedback, so customer surveys and a thermometer of customer happiness should be a key KPI.
- 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 and important 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 aren’t getting a fully managed IT service.
Want to know more about cybersecurity? Take a look at our cybersecurity resources, helping you to stay safe online.
- 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 one step ahead of your needs!
Note: 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 commissioned 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’re not ashamed to say, there aren’t any! Our only tip is to be wary of the provider you choose, as some, ironically, are not well protected themselves, and therefore effectively cause cyber security threats as they are more prone to hackers. It’s also worth doing your research to make sure you’re receiving the best value for money.
Average costs of IT support for small businesses
If you’re a small business, we understand that the costs of IT support can be a troubling thought. Yet, particularly in the current circumstances, when many of your employees are likely working remotely, IT support has no doubt jumped higher up on your priority list.
Even if your daily operations didn’t heavily rely on technology before, we guarantee that this dependency has increased in the past few months. If this is the case, fully managed IT support offers a far more cost-effective solution to your business IT needs, as it covers remote working costs. If not fully managed, remote IT support is calculated in a different way. With the fully managed model, you’ll receive around the clock support, and across all sites, for a fixed monthly fee.
It’s worth also remembering that fully managed IT support is charged per user, so IT support costs for small businesses in the UK vary greatly. But, this way, if you have a smaller team, you will naturally be paying less!
We are of the strong opinion that truly good IT can only be delivered when all 4 delivery areas listed above are working well, pro-actively and pre-emptively looking after your business’s IT requirements. This is why, at Netitude, 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, no matter the size of your company. 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 and happier users. Plus, your business will be making the best use of technology!