The world of IT support, pricing can be perplexing to the uninitiated. With a range of pricing mechanisms available, and the tendency for IT companies to package their services in quirky, novel ways, it can be a challenge to make a judgement on value for money.
Here at Centarus, we offer a range of managed IT services designed to help SMBs across the San Francisco Bay area reach their true potential. We believe our pricing offers the perfect blend of SMB-friendly value and quality of service, but we want you to understand the main pricing structures in use so you can choose the option that best suits your business. To help, we’ve assembled this brief guide to some of the most common IT support pricing structures to aid you in making sense of the small print. Let’s begin…
Hourly rate pricing
Hourly rate pricing – sometimes referred to as “ad-hoc” pricing – sees an hourly charge applied to support and services, including post-incident support, installations or routine maintenance. This type of service is often associated with entry-level IT support, and tends to suit organisations with fewer endpoint devices and simpler networks.
For a small business, this model can be enticing as a low-commitment option that carries no lengthy contract of monthly retainer. However, should an incident occur, the costs of resolution can be high, and with no incentive to expedite the process you could find yourself waiting longer for an outcome than you would on a managed support contract. Additionally, the quality of the support you receive will largely depend on the expertise of the help desk operative assigned to your support ticket.
Block Hours Pricing
Block hours pricing bundles hourly charges into discounted blocks that are purchased in advance of use. For example, an IT support provider that offers reactive support at $150 per hour, might offer a block of 10 hours for $1200, representing a saving of $300 for 10 hours of support, maintenance or project work.
As with standard hourly rate pricing, this option contains no proactivity, strategic guidance or ongoing management. Instead, you expend your budget of hours on support activities in a reactive fashion. Again, this model provides little incentive for the provider to resolve issues with urgency and you won’t benefit from a support agent who understands an issue within the broader context of your infrastructure.
Per Incident Pricing
The per incident pricing model sees fixed charges applied to each support request, based on factors such as the nature of support required and the expertise necessary to provide a fix. Unlike hourly pricing, the length of time taken to achieve a resolution doesn’t come into play: the cost will be the same whether the fix takes 10 minutes or two hours.
The main advantage of this model versus hourly rate pricing is the reassurance that an awkward, time-consuming resolution won’t run up an eye-watering bill. The provider will also be under greater incentive to provide a speedy resolution.
Managed Services Contracts
Managed service contracts deliver a range of services and support functions typically for a fixed monthly or yearly fee. The cost depends on numerous factors such as the complexity of the IT infrastructure that falls within the contract’s scope and the services being provisioned, but the main variable that influences cost is the number of devices the contract applies to.
Managed service providers often offer tiered support packages positioned to suit a range of budgets. Premium offerings typically include post-incident support, proactive maintenance, a range of managed security services, a managed backup service and a degree of strategic consultancy, typically on an “unlimited” basis. An entry level contract on the other hand might just include post-incident support and proactive maintenance, with other services available subject to additional charges.
Unlike the pricing models we’ve talked about thus far, managed services contracts involve a minimum commitment, typically no less than one year.
On the plus side, a managed service contract provides you with an IT partner who’s incentivized to provide your business with the best possible service. They’ll be motivated to take preventative action to avoid issues escalating to the point of crisis, and they’ll likely add value to your IT in the form of strategic guidance.
It’s worth noting that while some providers favor a particular pricing model, most combine different pricing mechanisms where practical. Typically, ongoing support, network monitoring and maintenance and some cyber security elements will fall under the scope of a mainstream support contract, while additional services such as advanced issue resolution, software development and project work will be subject to additional, pre-agreed or hourly charges.
While it can be tempting to opt for the lowest priced option, you should carefully consider whether basic, entry-level support will create more problems for your business in the long run. For businesses with anything other than extremely basic support needs, we’d recommend a managed services contract that covers network management and maintenance, help desk support and managed security.
We help San Francisco businesses leverage technology for maximum reward
Operating from the heart of the San Francisco Bay area, our multi-talented, 20-strong team has the skills and experience required for the most ambitious projects. Our strategy-driven IT support is guided by our extensive experience helping organisations in some of the most technically challenging and compliance-laden sectors, with a desire to allay operational challenges, address regulatory hurdles and overcome commercial constraints central to everything solution we implement. Get in touch today, and find out how proactive, strategic IT support from Centarus could transform your business.