You need help with IT and want the most cost-effective IT support and management. For this reason, most small businesses go to a Managed IT service provider (MSP) for help.
Now that you’re looking for a partner, how do you know what the service will cost? It’s easy to find the list of services on most MSPs’ website, but they rarely show pricing. That’s because it depends.
Great answer, right?
Managed IT Services: IT support for a monthly fee
MSPs take on your IT support and management needs so you don’t have to do it yourself. In most cases, your MSP partner acts as your own IT department. Everything from fixing an issue to strategic planning to installing new hardware.
However, some organizations may only want to partner with an MSP in a more limited role. They may already have a person supporting their users and only need help with more complex issues.
MSPs who provide a range of services give you the option to choose what works best for you.
Flexibility means pricing will vary and reflects the types of services provided and the effort required. It’s like going to the car wash – you can pick the base machine wash for $6 or select the upgrade that includes a hand wax and tire shine for $15.
The other factor is you (and your environment). At the car wash, you pay more to wash an RV than a Honda Fit. The RV is bigger and has more features in the interior. It takes more time and supplies. It’s the same for MSPs. They bill a per-user price based on the size and complexity of your organization and its technology:
- Number of servers and computers
- Locations of offices and employees
- Line of business applications
- Communications tools (email, collaboration tools, phone system)
- Backup & disaster recovery requirements
- Cybersecurity tools & requirements
Low-priced managed IT services
With MSPs, the least expensive services will only monitor your servers and computers. With those services, you handle support yourself or you pay additional fees for the MSP to provide support. The real cost of these services is almost always much higher than anticipated and is hard to control. When you need support from the MSP, you will likely pay hourly rates (which can range from $150-$300 per hour).
The right fit for most
Most small- to mid-sized businesses want more from an MSP. They need proactive guidance to avoid issues and help when something does go wrong. Most MSPs will bundle unlimited support services with their monitoring services to create less variability in monthly fees. While the monthly fee will be higher than low-price services, the total cost of the service is typically lower and comes with fewer headaches. With these plans, MSPs will also work with you to create one and three-year strategic IT plans so you can focus on growing your business.
The most expensive options
At the top of the price range are packages that combine monitoring, unlimited support, and cloud-based services. The MSP manages your systems in the cloud – they host your servers, applications, or your computers so you truly only have a monthly fee to budget. It’s an excellent option for organizations that want as little variability in their monthly IT expenditures as possible.
Knowing what you get
Once you get quotes, it’s essential to know what services the proposal includes. When you are comparing providers, look at services AND pricing. Most competitors do not include the same services or support. Here are some questions to ask:
- Do calls get answered by a live person?
- Do you have support after business hours?
- Where is your help desk located?
- Can you send someone onsite if needed?
- What does “unlimited” mean? What can you expect to bill additionally? At what rate?
- Do you provide hardware or software as part of these services? What are those?
- What is the term of the contract?
- How quickly can I expect to get a response to a ticket? Do you have written guidelines for service expectations?
- What do you do internally? What is outsourced?