How much should you be paying for professional I.T. services?
One of the most common complaints outsourced I.T. service providers receive is "your service is just too dear". People often question how I.T. professionals justify hourly rates of $150 or more, our usual response used to be 'When you hire our services for one hour you are not just paying for that hour, you are paying for the years of training and decades of experience that we have in order to be able to complete this job in only an hour' (not to mention all the overheads of operating a business). People forget to consider efficiency, sure you could hire a fresh-out-of-school computer whiz kid for $40 or $50 an hour but how long will it take them to complete that so called one hour job? Longer than us I'd be willing bet, much longer.
That was what we used to say but now there is a game changer - fixed price I.T. services also known as MSP, and it really is a game changer. As an MSP (Managed Services Provider), our customers pay a fixed price each month and in return we look after all of their I.T. needs. Of course there are the obvious benefits such as having better control over your budgets by knowing what your I.T. spend is going to be, a reduction in administrative burden for our customers because we take care of the lot and have end-users report faults directly to us rather than filter I.T. problems through their office managers; not to mention the peace of mind that comes with knowing that someone else is taking care of it for them. But there is an even greater benefit that most people don't realise and it really is a game-changer.
With the old way of doing things, with an hourly rate, it can sometimes be a challenge convincing a customer to let us spend a few hours fixing some I.T. problem that isn't really causing them any significant issues, or perhaps there is a work-around that mostly solves a problem and they can't justify spending hundreds or sometimes thousands of dollars fixing something this isn't particularly important to them at the time. The trouble with this attitude is that small problems have a habit of snow-balling in to big problems and big problems often require much more effort and therefore much more money to fix. This is where the benefits of an MSP really start to pay dividends, you see in the fixed-price MSP model it is in the service providers best interests to fix all those small issues to prevent them from becoming bigger issues in the future. This too has a snow-ball effect by helping our clients businesses operate more efficiently by being proactive rather than reactive. To chose an MSP over a traditional I.T. provider is to choose to be proactive instead of reactive.
There is a misconception that MSP's are more expensive than traditional I.T. service providers but it really isn't true, sure it might cost a bit more than an old-fashioned maintenance program but when you put it all together and do the sums over a 12 month span an MSP customer spends about the same as a comparable hourly-rate customer, the difference is the MSP customer has far less computer downtime and much happier staff, factor in the MSP customer's productivity gains and MSP is going to be cheaper every single time.