There are many costs involved in running a business and managing the budget is not an easy task. Deciding where and how to spend company funds has a direct impact on how a business is run and how much it can grow. IT spend often falls further down the budget spreadsheet, mainly because it is a more specialised area and there may not be a complete understanding of what is required, yet the cost of insufficient IT infrastructure or support can lead to the greatest consequences.
If the idea of identifying IT requirements and budgeting accordingly has your head in a spin then Managed IT Services may be the perfect solution.
What are managed IT services?
In a nutshell, Managed IT Services refers to having your IT needs managed by an expert third party provider. These managed service providers (MSP’s) are responsible for elements of, if not all of the businesses IT systems. The level of responsibility will be determined by the contract of service in place.
Some of the areas in which these MSP’s can support a business are with IT support, network infrastructure services, infrastructure as a service (IaaS), firewall as a service (FWaaS), managed cloud services, cybersecurity, backup and disaster recovery, hardware support services and more.
Outsourcing these services ensures the best IT solutions for business processes and frees up other resources so that the focus can be kept on the businesses bottom line.
How are managed IT services priced?
Unfortunately, there is no one-size fits all model when pricing IT services. Price will differ due to a number of factors. This can be down to the complexities of the technology in operation, the size of the business, the amount of devices being used, as well as the actual level of support required.
The most common managed IT services pricing models
Break/Fix Pricing – essentially, this is a Pay-as-you-go model, whereby you only pay as you use the service. If something breaks, you pay to have it fixed, but outside of that, there are no ongoing or recurring costs. This is a great solution for businesses that simply don’t have the budget to stretch to ongoing support. The downside, however, is that this on demand style of pricing can prove more expensive than if it was being provided as part of a contracted service agreement.
Per User or Per Device Pricing – this type of pricing allows you to pay for a range of services based on the number of devices or users within the company. This is easy to track and monitor and it also means that the cost of scaling the business and adding more users is clear and straightforward to manage.
Full Service Subscription Pricing – with a full service package you can get full coverage across the entire organisation for all IT needs, for a fixed monthly amount. The flat fee is great for planning and budgeting, but as all businesses vary in requirements, it also may mean that you are paying for some services that are not needed.
Á la Carte Pricing – picking and choosing what IT support services you need is a great way to build a package that is tailored to your business. You will not be paying for any unnecessary services, however, you will need to be clear on what exactly you do need. Your MSP should be able to assist you in making the right choices, in this instance.
The benefits of managed IT services
Managed service providers do a lot more than perform updates and help with password recovery. They protect your company from hacking threats and network downtime that can potentially cost your business thousands of euros. The reputation damage alone from a data breach can be catastrophic.
Outsourcing IT management services could potentially save a business from huge employment costs. Running an IT department in-house can be costly and this is why it is mostly seen only in very large corporations.
MSP’s are also experts in their field and from working with multiple clients across a wide variety of industries, they will have seen it all. They come to the table with a wealth of experience, which is something that may be lacking from an in-house department.
The DIY vs MSP approach
As we have touched on above, outsourcing to a managed service provider versus managing your own IT infrastructure could actually save you money in the long run. The first thing to establish, when weighing up the pros and cons, is how much it would actually cost to Do It Yourself.
When calculating the cost, you not only have to take into account the costs associated with employment (ie. salaries, taxes, insurance, training, holiday pay, sick pay, etc), but also the cost required to buy and build the hardware and technologies needed to manage and maintain the infrastructure.
Added to this, there will most likely be new costs incurred if the business grows and greater demand is put on the infrastructure, which may not be sufficient. Ultimately this will require further investment to upgrade and match to scale.
When you weigh these up, in most instances the savings to be realised and the appeal of a fixed monthly fee where you have everything taken care of is far greater.
What to look for in a Managed IT Services Provider?
When looking for a managed IT service provider, the very first test will be reputation. How long are they in business? Does the provider have happy customers? Look out for testimonials and do your research to ensure you are picking a trusted company.
The provider should also be clear and make it easy for you to understand exactly what they will be doing for you and how. If you don’t feel confident in what your provider is offering, it will be harder for you to monitor results.
Important questions to ask when considering a MSP
Once you have figured out what your requirements are, the key questions will be, what is my budget and can I afford to outsource to a MSP?
With that, however, also comes the question, can I afford to NOT outsource to a MSP? What impact, financial or otherwise, will it have if you don’t? In today’s online world, there are not many businesses who could weather prolonged downtime well and so ensuring your IT infrastructure is managed and monitored efficiently is vital.
Along with these consideration, it’s also important to ask the following:
- What SLAs (Service Level Agreements) do they have in place?
- What will your contracted response times be?
- Will you be charged for follow up callouts if an initial callout should have resolved an issue?
- Who do they partner with? And can they provide solutions from third party suppliers if required?
- What is outside of the scope of their services?
- Do they have a disaster recovery/business continuity plan in place?
- What compliance frameworks do they support?
- What channels of communication are available for your support tickets? Email, phone, chat?
At Calnet IT, we have been providing completely managed IT services to businesses across Ireland since 2003. We tailor our solutions to suit each of our clients’ working practices and specific IT needs and our proactive team is highly experienced and well-regarded for their enthusiasm as much as for their technical ability. Get in touch today on 01 8183272 to discuss your needs.