Pay-By-The-Hour IT Support? 5 Reasons to Consider an Alternative Approach

by Michael Anderson

September 20, 2010

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Many companies without their own IT staff use an outside technology support company, and pay them an hourly rate for service. On the surface, hourly IT support appears to make sense as a ‘pay as you go’ solution; however, there are good reasons why it may not be in your best interest. Here are 5 to consider:

1. Hourly IT Support is Difficult to Budget

Companies who pay for technology support by the hour can see dramatic changes in their support costs from month to month. While support can remain stable for a period of time, any major issue (network outage, hardware failure, data loss) can result in large, unbudgeted support bills. Managing these peaks and valleys can be difficult.

2. Hourly IT Support Rewards Inefficiency

If technology support is not your primary business, it can be very difficult to gauge how long a specific support task should take. Combine this with a support model that rewards technicians for taking longer to resolve a problem, and it’s easy to see how this can work against the customer. This is not to say that all support vendors are intentionally inefficient – but rather, that a ‘pay by the hour’ approach generates more revenue for the vendor if: a) the customer has more issues; and b) those issues take longer to resolve.

3. Hourly IT Support Places the Performance Risk on the Customer

Your IT support company comes on-site to resolve an issue, only to have it reoccur 3 weeks later, or a new issue appear as a result. When they return for a second visit, it’s another bill. Sound familiar? Under an hourly support model, it is most often the customer that bears the performance risk, or faces the prospect of disputing individual invoices.

4. Hourly IT Support is Reactive

Because ‘pay by the hour’ IT support companies don’t generate revenues until they’re on the clock, their support takes a reactive approach. The onus is on you, the customer to report problems, and there is no incentive for the support company to put preventative maintenance measures in place. New support models include monitoring & maintenance tools to alert your support company to issues before you know about them, and before they impact your business.

The focus on billable hours also prevents hourly IT support companies from taking a forward-looking, strategic view of their clients’ technology. Having regular discussions about your technology, its business impact, and your future technology plans should be an essential component of the technology support services you receive.

5. Hourly IT Support Introduces Hidden Costs and Delays

When businesses pay for IT support by the hour, they wisely put measures in place to control the amount of support being billed. The most common is having all IT issues triaged by a designated employee, prior to being reported to the IT support company. Concerns with this approach are:

i. The triage person is actually a hidden IT support cost. In addition to their ‘real’ job, they are now spending their time (and associated labour expense) responding to IT issues.

ii. Employees may neglect to report smaller issues, knowing that they will not be forwarded for support, or hoping to avoid the expense of a support call. As we know, small issues have a tendency to become large ones if left unattended.

iii. Even when issues are reported, the need for a triage delays support when compared to the ability to report issues directly.

Is there a better way? We think so. By offering comprehensive IT support for a fixed monthly rate, we’re able to deliver proactive services, respond quickly to issues, and share your goal of a stable, reliable network.

Learn more about how 365Care+ delivers Worry-Free IT to our clients here.

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