People are used to buying their IT support on a “pay as you go” basis – – you need 3 hours of support to fix an issue, you pay for 3 hours of consulting time. Seems pretty reasonable to me. But, for many companies, it’s actually a very expensive and inefficient way of getting your IT support. Here are just some of the possible issues with paying for support by the hour:
- Unpredictable monthly costs – Sure, some months you might only use 3 or 4 hours of support and your bill looks nice and low. But then, surprise, you have a serious server or network issue and your monthly bill hits a few thousand dollars. That hurts when you’re not expecting it.
- Staff are reluctant to call for assistance – This is the ancillary cost that most people don’t account for and we’ve seen it so many times. Let’s say you are paying an employee $50,000 a year. That’s roughly $25/hour for a full-time employee. Now, let’s say they have a recurring issue with their computer that causes them to lose 15 minutes a day in productivity (between troubleshooting it themselves, rebooting the computer, etc.). However, they don’t call about it because they’re ok “just living with it” and they know that a support call costs the company money. And you can commend them for trying to be a good, fiscally responsible employee. But, that 15 minutes per day is 1.25 hours per week of lost productivity which costs the company $31.25 per week for that employee (not to mention any lost revenue due to reduced customer service, sales, etc.). That $31.25/week is $125 per month – – and 1 Point’s unlimited support would have only cost $69 for that user for that month. The math just doesn’t work when employees are losing productivity.
- Internal staff are occupied with providing IT support – We have seen many companies try to use non-IT staff for IT support. Every company has that person that’s “pretty good at this IT stuff” and they try to help with the basics. This can work for small companies but only to a point. In almost every one of these cases, that employee gets overburdened with the IT support needs and loses the ability to focus on their primary (non-IT) responsibilities and then both aspects suffer – – employees get frustrated and that staff person gets less productive. Also, these well-meaning staff people are not trained IT professionals and they often don’t recommend the optimal solutions or know of better technical ways of doing things. We have even seen professional services companies that use billable employees to provide IT support in order to try to save some money but their employee’s billable rate is higher than the IT consultant’s hourly support costs. Again, that math just doesn’t work.
- Older hardware is too expensive to try to fix – If you have a 4 year old laptop that needs to be repaired and the consulting time to look at it is, say, $125 per hour, it will seem like it’s just not worth troubleshooting. People will do the math and just decide to buy a new laptop for $1200 instead of putting $250 or $375 into an old laptop that might not ever work again anyway.
- Regular maintenance seems too expensive – When you are paying by the hour, it can be very hard to accept the costs for regular maintenance. But what happens to your car if you don’t regularly change the oil? Your desktops, servers and network are the same – – they need regular maintenance for stability AND security reasons.
When you add up the additional costs in dollars and lost staff productivity, the monthly support plans often are actually less expensive than the a-la-carte support option.
Now let’s sum up the benefits of being on an unlimited support plan.
- Predictable monthly costs – Each month, you know what your monthly IT bill will be. The only time it changes is if you add or subtract employees (since it’s done on a per-user basis).
- Staff will be more productive – There’s no longer any reason for staff not to have every technology issue resolved in a timely manner.
- Internal staff are freed up to focus on their actual jobs – You no longer need to have an individual, who just happens to be good at figuring out technology stuff, spend significant parts of their day helping co-workers with quirky computer issues.
- Extend the life of your computers – If a computer is 4 years old but had been doing fine up until now, let an engineer spend a few hours solving the issue instead of just throwing up your hands and buying a new computer. That said, we will be honest and advise you when it really IS time to replace that troublesome computer but only when it’s the right time.
- Proactive maintenance and technology planning is included – On an unlimited support plan, we also include the monthly maintenance of all of your equipment as well as full-time monitoring so we can help predict and prevent potential issues. We will come on-site on a regular basis to make sure everything is running optimally. We will also put our entire team at your disposal to plan for the future and make sure your technology and your business are in sync.
As you can see, there’s a lot more that goes into calculating what it takes to keep your IT running costs than just the hourly rate you pay a consultant to fix things. Lost employee productivity is expensive, office downtime due to a preventable network or computer failure is really expensive. If you take into account everything that’s truly involved in the equation, you can see the value of an unlimited support plan.
These two sayings seem to have been written with IT support in mind:
- An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure
- Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish