Today, one of the biggest challenges for small business owners is deciding whether to staff an in-house IT team or to outsource IT support from a managed service provider (MSP).
The current trend is definitely in the direction of outsourcing. And, according to the 2019 Clutch BPO survey, 24% of small businesses cite increasing efficiency as their primary reason for making this choice. But as it always is with running an SMB, comparing the real costs of both choices needs to be an important part of the decision-making process.
In this blog post, we’ll compare the average cost of IT support for small businesses so that you can make a more informed decision regarding the best model for your business.
Outsourcing: Small Business IT Support Pricing & Benefits
Outsourcing IT support is designed to help you save on onsite staffing costs and allows the cost of maintenance, fixes, and upgrades to be easily managed through fixed-price contracts that control costs and provide peace of mind.
Outsourced IT support also brings specialized skill sets to your business that are not typically available to most small and medium sized IT departments. When you outsource, you should make sure that you will have access to a team of experienced IT resources with a wide variety of skills. With this additional bandwidth, you can increase the functionality and scalability of your infrastructure and improve your IT operations – giving your business a competitive advantage.
IT support services can include:
- End-to-end technical support
- Helpdesk services
- Guaranteed response times governed by a customized SLA
- Remote monitoring of system and network devices for security threats
- Desktop and server patching and maintenance
- Training and implementation of new software
Comparing the Average Cost of IT Support for Small Business
The cost of IT support for small businesses provided by a managed services vendor typically averages between $1500 and $3500 per month and depends on many factors. Of course, the costs can also be higher or lower than that, depending on specific circumstances (some of which are described below).
The cost of staffing an in-house IT department is generally higher than this, with the average cost of a single in-house IT specialist, starting at $46,000 USD per year (unloaded).
So, at a high level, outsourcing should be more cost effective than maintaining in-house resources. But let’s take a somewhat closer look at these small business IT support pricing models to see if that holds true:
1. Managed Services: Recurring Costs
Most managed services vendors offer a fixed-price, monthly pricing model.
Under this model, an MSP charges a fixed price for each service or product at the beginning of each billing cycle – usually based on the number of devices or users being supported.
One of the typical benefits of this pricing model is a reduction in cost – and an improvement in service – over ad-hoc hourly services. Services that are covered by your contract are provided on a fixed-monthly fee – while access to non-covered services are usually provided at a discounted hourly rate.
Additionally, a business has the option of subscribing to this type of service in a graduated, incremental fashion; possibly starting with helpdesk support and progressively adding other services as needed, like managed networks, systems and/or security services.
Note that under the managed services model, there are no added costs for benefits or vacation or sick time – and no need to worry about business continuity in your IT department, as that is all taken care of by your provider.
2. Self-Managed Costs
Self-managed IT services are self-managed, just as their name implies.
The average cost for IT support for small businesses using self-managed services usually ranges around $40,000-$50,000 annually (per engineer), with more advanced skill sets costing significantly more. Add to that the cost of benefits – and of managing those resources – and you really start to see the value of outsourcing.
Additionally – there is the lost-opportunity cost of self-management. With internal IT staff, your access to specialized skills is limited to the individuals involved – and with an SMB, that typically means 1-3 engineers (not all of whom are senior). And that means you may not be getting the skilled input you need to make the best IT decisions to support your company’s goals. On the other hand, the best managed IT support services will provide you with easy access to an entire team of highly skilled IT resources – including engineers and architects that are out of the price-range of a typical SMB.
The simple conclusion here is that good managed IT services are generally a better value for SMBs than staffing and maintaining an in-house IT department. But the devil is in the details – and the actual value (or ROI) of any managed services engagement is based on a host of factors – including finding a vendor whose services and business model are a good fit for the needs of your business.
Four Factors That Influence Small Business IT Support Costs
The average cost of IT support for small businesses will depend on several factors, including: your business profile; the number of users and devices; the level and type of support required; the complexity and condition of your current infrastructure; and your business plans.
1. Business Profile
Every company has different IT requirements that need to be considered carefully when determining the right support services package to include in a managed IT service program. For instance, a business that deals with confidential customer information will need a higher level of IT support than one that doesn’t because their cybersecurity needs will be more complex.
Some questions to consider:
- What roles does IT currently play in your business?
- Does your industry have special security requirements or require specific certifications?
- Do you have industry specific business applications that need to be supported?
- Are your users primarily self-sufficient or do they require close application support or training from your IT service provider?
- What are your requirements for disaster recovery and business continuity?
- What response times (SLA) do you require for various classes of IT issues?
- What are your immediate and longer-term growth plans?
2. Number of Users and Devices
When it comes to IT support costs for small and medium businesses (SMBs), two of the most basic metrics for determining MSP costs are the number of users and/or the number of devices being supported. The per-user model includes IT support for all end-users and all their typical computing devices – desktops, laptops, phones, tablets, etc. End-users are tallied during the quoting and onboarding process to arrive at the initial monthly total cost, and regular audits are performed to reconcile user counts and monthly costs.
3. Remote vs On-Site Support
Generally speaking, small businesses can save money on service pricing when they rely on remote IT support rather than frequent on-site visits.
Both remote and on-site options may be beneficial, but understanding each type’s costs upfront can help ensure that you are getting the best value.
4. Complexity and Required Maintenance
An important variable that must be considered is the complexity and makeup of the IT infrastructure that is required to support your business – and what improvements might be necessary to meet those requirements.
For instance, your small business IT support costs may be higher if your infrastructure maintenance has fallen behind and needs a lot of up-front work to make it reliable and supportable – or if you have legacy systems that require a lot of ongoing maintenance and support.
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How ITSco Can Help Control the Cost of IT Support for Your Small Business
At ITSco, we offer world-class IT support for your small or medium sized business at competitive rates.
Our flexible and customizable IT support packages are designed to help you maximize your IT spend, so you pay only for the services you require while receiving effective, reliable, timely support.
Book your free consultation with ITSco today to find out more about how our affordable small business IT support pricing can help your business thrive.
Featured Image Credit: Pexels