Why is IT support often so expensive?
Recently we started working with a new client who had moved to us from one of our competitors. As part of the on-boarding process, we were given exposure to some of the IT costs with the old supplier. We realised that switching to us would save them literally tens of thousands of pounds per year. A nice situation for us, but not nice to be told that you have been overcharged for several years.
Whilst this may be an extreme example it’s certainly not unusual for us to be able to save clients very significant sums of money when they switch to us. But why is IT support getting to be so expensive these days?
There are a number of reasons why you may find that you’re paying more than you need to, particularly if you have been baffled by the techno-jargon that many IT companies may have to use to get to where you want to be. Whether intentional or not, explaining some modern IT solutions can be difficult enough for IT staff, much less a customer that just wants a working system.
Do you need enterprise-level solutions?
Larger IT support companies often default to recommending enterprise-level solutions across the board. That means that companies can find themselves paying for the very top level of Office 365 licenses which can be upwards of £24 per person per month – costs that can really add up very quickly – when they may not actually need all of the enterprise-level features that come with this level of license.
As an example, Microsoft (in common with many providers these days) offers multiple levels of subscription – Microsoft Business Basic, Business Standard, Business Premium and Apps for Business or Enterprise – and it’s really worth taking the time to make sure that you’re only paying for the features that you actually need.
Do you need to opt for the biggest brands?
There’s a well-known saying in IT: “nobody ever got fired for buying IBM”. In practice what this means is that IT support companies often default to recommending the biggest, best known brands because there’s a perception that those brands offer guarantees of quality. They’re an easier sell to clients.
But following this strategy can often mean that you end up paying more than you need to. And whilst it may be true that big brands offer quality, it certainly isn’t the case that small brands don’t. That’s why it’s important to work with an IT support company that’s ‘brand agnostic’ and can recommend options from across the market rather than simply opting for the big brands by default.
It’s often the case that smaller brands offer products that are just as good, if not better, that those larger brands and which are much better suited for smaller organisations’ needs (as well as more attractively priced for their budgets).
Is your IT support company defaulting to the more expensive options?
IT companies tend to get paid a commission on the licenses they sell, so it’s more profitable to recommend an enterprise-level Office365 solution at £24 per user per month than it is to suggest a small business license at £9.80 per month.
Whilst I wouldn’t want to suggest that companies are exploiting their customers by deliberately recommending higher priced options than they need, I think it is true to say that many IT support companies are geared up to deal with larger clients and have less experience with implementing smaller scale solutions so tend to naturally opt for an ‘all bells and whistles’ solution when perhaps it’s more than a smaller client actually needs.
Similarly, sometimes clients might push for the big brand solutions because that’s what they’ve heard of and feel safe with, so the IT support company has an educational role to play in helping their client understand why it’s not necessary to pay for the big brand solution, whilst reassuring them that they won’t be disadvantaged by opting for something cheaper.
How to avoid paying more than you need to
So how do you avoid this happening to you? How do you make sure that you’re not paying more than you need to? To start with I’d recommend always asking your IT support company to explain why they’re recommending a particular solution, and ask them to explain this in layperson’s terms rather than technical terms. If you feel like you might be paying too much don’t be afraid to ask if there are cheaper options available, or whether a lower level subscription might be suitable.
Ask your IT support company if they have particular solutions that they default to or whether they really do select from the whole of the market. It’s perfectly reasonable to ask if there’s a cheaper way of achieving the same result. Sometimes the answer might be no, but at least you will have had a dialogue on why you need that product.
A good IT support company will also encourage you to regularly review your IT product suite to ensure that it’s still the best option for you. Requirements change over time. Perhaps your staff numbers have changed or you have many more people working from home now that you used to, and hence perhaps your IT requirements have changed too. A regular review enables you to check that you’re still getting the best support and solutions for your particular business’s needs, adapted to those needs as they change over time.
Make sure you are getting value for money from your IT support. You must consider what compromises on price you are prepared to accept, to deliver the solutions you need. Don’t accept responses that you don’t understand. A good IT company takes time explaining solutions to ensure you understand them, so you know what you are getting and can justify the costs. Keep in touch with them, even if they don’t with you. It’s good to talk!
Get in touch to talk to us about whether we can help reduce your IT support costs.