6 Hidden External IT Support Costs To Anticipate
Important purchases demand due diligence. When purchasing a new vehicle, for example, you know the manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) and what options are included. But there are usually fees that aren’t included in the MSRP.
Known as hidden costs, these expenses can come as a surprise.
If you are financing a vehicle, there will be finance charges and interest rates to consider. If you are leasing, there will be costs and penalties to think about. And, then there’s the sales tax, registration fee, service plans, documentation fee, delivery cost, and any extra protections you may want.
Hidden fees are often a surprise no matter what product or service you are purchasing, including IT support.
In this article, we’ll explore the hidden costs of external IT support, so you will know what they are, why they exist, and how to plan for them.
I’ve been in the IT industry for more than 30 years and have seen a variety of cost structures.
I’ll tell you what to look for so that you can have all of the information you need to confidently decide whether or not external IT support makes sense for your organization.
What Is External IT Support?
While there are exceptions to every rule, there are two basic options for IT support. Read this article to learn the difference between traditional break/fix and managed IT support solutions.
6 Common Hidden External IT Support Costs
While there may be additional hidden costs depending on the provider you choose, here are 6 of the most common:
1. Paying For More Than You Need
One example of paying for more than you need is licensing fees.
In working with customers, I’ve noticed that many providers don’t stay on top of the number of licenses each organization is using.
When an employee leaves, many organizations still pay for that license. When a new employee joins, they add on another license to cover the new employee.
Best practice is to review the number of licenses and users at least annually to ensure that you aren’t paying for more licenses than you need.
While each license is a minimal expense, if you have 20 licenses you are paying for but not using, that unnecessary cost can add up over weeks, months, and years.
Related article: Why Is It Important To Align Technology And Business Strategy?
2. Not Using Everything You Are Paying For
This is more of an inefficiency than a hidden cost, but you may not realize that you aren’t taking full advantage of everything you are paying for, which in my mind is a hidden cost.
One example of this that I see quite often is multi-factor authentication (MFA).
We have customers come to us looking for MFA solutions and they often don’t realize that these are already built into most systems available on the market today and it is simply a matter of turning it on.
(For older systems or to configure MFA to do something special can be more difficult. Read this article to learn the truth about 3 common concerns with MFA.)
Related article: Benefits of MFA: Security For A Network, Simplicity For End Users
3. Service Charges
Some IT providers offer unlimited calls to the service desk.
Others charge a base rate for a certain number of calls.
Still others charge per call.
Some may charge a different rate for remote vs on-site service.
Other providers charge a minimum for each service call so that whether the repair takes 30 minutes or 2 hours, you pay a minimum 2-hour charge for every service call.
There different approaches to how providers charge for service. Make sure you know the details of your service contract so that you can compare apples to apples when making your IT decision and so you know what to expect.
4. Mismatched Skills
You may find once you engage with an external IT support provider that they don’t have all of the skills you need.
For example, maybe you really need help with cybersecurity, but they don’t have that expert on staff. Maybe you need help with a project such as cloud migration or a new server install.
Make sure the IT provider has the resources available to provide one-stop shopping as it will save you time and effort in the long run.
The last thing you want to have to do is cobble together (and manage) services across multiple providers.
Best practice is to have one provider who knows the intricacies of your IT environment and can use that knowledge to develop fast, effective solutions for any issues that arise.
Related article: Why Is It Important To Provide Security Training For Employees?
5. Unexpected Set-Up Fees
Many times, I find that people are surprised when we mention set-up fees.
Every IT provider does things a little bit differently and may use different tools for things like monitoring or infrastructure protection. New clients may need to be installed. Your network may also need some cleanup or maintenance.
Customers are sometimes under the impression that the provider’s basic fee covers everything and, while that may be the case moving forward, there may be set-up fees involved.
Most IT providers will be upfront about these costs, but some may not. It’s important to ask about additional set-up fees, so you know what to expect.
6. Project Fees
The cost for project work often falls outside of any other support agreement with an IT provider. This means that there should be a separate contract for this service detailing the details of the project, a timeline, and an estimated cost.
Some examples of projects include: installing a new server and migrating to the cloud.
Related article: Should I Outsource IT Project Work? Advantages & Disadvantages
What’s The Bottom Line?
There is no right or wrong way to approach this issue.
The important thing is to make sure you understand all of the nuances. Most IT support providers will communicate the full cost of their services, but it is always advisable to be an educated consumer.
After reading this article, you have the information you need to be able to ask about hidden IT support costs.
You know about avoiding paying for more than you need, fully implementing the functions you are paying for, and asking about how the provider handles service charges.
You will watch out for mismatched skills, unexpected set-up fees, and project fees. At this point you are prepared and know the hidden skills to ask about.
Based on the answers to these questions, you will be able to make a fully informed decision about whether external IT support is right for your organization.
If you are just beginning to explore external IT providers, read this article to find out the differences between break/fix and managed IT support. Learn what managed it includes and what it costs in this article.
Further on in your journey and ready to interview providers? Read this article to learn 10 best questions to ask every IT provider.
If you are interviewing external IT providers we advise you to check out several to make sure you find one that is the best fit for you. We believe so strongly in this advice that we’ve done some of the legwork for you.
Check out this article to see an honest comparison of our services with those of one of our competitors: Whalley Vs. Kelser: Which Provider Is Right For Me?
You may wonder why we publish articles that compare us to our competition. That’s a valid question. As consumers ourselves, one of the first things we do is search the internet to find out our options. We assume you do the same thing.
We know that choosing an IT provider can be a daunting task, so we’ve pulled together publicly available information from our websites and put it all in one place to make your job a little easier.
The reality is, there is enough business for everyone in the IT industry and the most important thing to us is that you find a provider that is the best fit for you. This is just one of the things that makes us a little bit different from our competitors.
While we are confident in our comprehensive managed IT services, we know it isn’t right for every business. We are committed to providing the information business leaders like you need to make the best IT decision for them.
You may have noticed that we've linked to the same article twice within this blog post. Why? Because aligning your technology and business strategy is key to achieving your future goals. We're attaching it again below, just to make it super easy to access it! It's must read material, so check it out!
Related article: Why Is It Important To Align IT And Business Strategy?
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