When you’ve decided that managed IT services are a good option for your business and you’re evaluating different companies, you need to understand what’s included and what’s not included in their monthly fee. Evaluating managed services provider (MSP) costs isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison, so having questions to guide your conversation about what to expect as far as costs is imperative.
Before we go any further, let’s identify a range for managed IT services prices. In general, you can expect to pay between $75 and $250 per user per month. That’s a pretty wide range, so you can see why you need to dig down a little deeper to find out exactly what you’re getting.
What’s NOT Included in MSP Monthly Fees
First, let’s cover what is not typically included in a managed IT services monthly fee. Even with all-inclusive managed IT services, you’ll still have some items to pay for separately. They just shouldn’t be surprises that appear on your monthly invoices. The time to find any hidden costs is when you’re still in the evaluation stage of your decision to pick a managed IT service company.
As you’re getting started with managed IT services, there’s a lot of upfront work that the MSP has to do to get set up to support your IT environment and people, so it’s common to have an onboarding fee. This fee can be equal to what your monthly fee is going to be, or it could be a little more depending on the size of your business and network. Expect a minimum of about $2,000 for a small company for onboarding fees.
Hardware and Software
Costs for replacing hardware or software are not included in your monthly fee. The MSP should help you to manage your hardware and software assets, but it will be up to you to invest when it’s needed. In fact, part of your role in the relationship will be to commit to moving down a path of IT improvement and that will include keeping hardware and software up to date.
IT Infrastructure Projects
Along the same lines, network improvements won’t be included in your monthly fee. Again, the expectation is that you will commit to making investments that improve how your technology functions. With the guidance of a virtual Chief Information Officer (vCIO), you’ll be able to plan and budget for those improvements. (We’ll talk more about vCIO services in a bit.)
When you work with an MSP you’ll still have to pay for things like your phone and internet service, as well as software licensing and web services. You can ask, however, if the MSP will work with your other technology vendors on your behalf when there are problems or changes that need to be made. There may or may not be limitations to what they’re prepared to do. Even if there are limitations, your MSP should be able to help you manage vendor relationships.
Understand What’s Included in Managed IT Services Monthly Costs
As you’re discussing what you’re going to get as part of your monthly fee, you need to understand how the MSP approaches managed IT services. What you’re looking for is a mixture of proactive and reactive services that both prevent problems and takes care of issues when they happen.
Help Desk Support
You want to be assured that when your people request support that they’re going to get it, so ask if there are any limits to front-line support services. Ask if there are a set number of hours allotted to your company. Are there extra charges for off-hours help? What about on-site support? Will someone come to your facility if that’s what is needed? While you’re asking about support, enquire about response time to make sure that fast response doesn’t mean extra charges.
Sometimes there will be issues that take more time and expertise to solve, so ask if escalated support is included. If it’s not, this could be a big add-on. Additionally, in the event of a disaster or cyber-attack that takes your network down, will your issue get priority without incurring extra charges?
Proactive IT Management
A major reason to work with an MSP is to get proactive IT management. This usually includes monitoring and maintenance as well as identification of potential issues. Find out if the MSP is setting up customized alerting to monitor your environment? Additionally, get an understanding of what’s included with IT management, and when the solution to a problem might turn into an IT project, which as we discussed would not be included in your flat fee.
Support for All Your Business Applications
The managed IT service provider should be able to support your business applications including your main line-of-business software. However, there may be some limitations if your application is extremely specialized or customized. The MSP should be able to manage your vendor relationships and communicate with them on your behalf when needed, taking you out of the “tech speak” conversations.
While costs for storage are going to be customized for every company, depending on the amount of data being stored and requirements for recovery time and point, the overall management of your data backup process should be included in the MSP’s monthly fee.
Having access to the services of a virtual Chief Information Officer (vCIO) is a huge benefit to working with an MSP. First find out if this is included, then determine how often you’ll meet and how they’ll work with you to create your technology strategy.
Cybersecurity Strategy and Tools
While you can expect an MSP to provide baseline cybersecurity, that may not be enough for your organization, especially if you have compliance needs or requirements for security accountability to your customers or vendors. The cybersecurity strategy that’s right for you may have additional fees.
Pinning down exactly what these costs might be will depend on how detailed the MSP’s discovery process is. Additionally, the cybersecurity landscape is evolving all the time so if changes are needed in your cybersecurity strategy, your monthly costs will change too.
Even if you have a robust cybersecurity strategy, it’s still possible to have a cyber-attack, so find out how far the MSP will go to remediate an intruder event. There may be extra costs depending on the severity of the event, but cyber insurance may pick up the bill.
The Bottom Line for Managed IT Services Costs is Value
When it comes down to it, partnering with a managed IT service company can actually bring your company more value because the outcome of their work is that you’re better able to utilize your technology. You might even find that it’s less expensive than what you’re doing now when you add up all of your IT expenses and costs associated with inefficiencies and downtime.
Ready for Cost-Effective IT?
If you’re done with wondering how the money you’re spending on IT is helping your business, it’s time to make a change. At Bellwether, you’re going to find that all-inclusive managed IT services bring you everything you need to use technology as a strategic driver for your business success.
Get in touch to explore what that might look like for your business.