IT departments can always use more ammunition to reduce monthly IT support costs.
If you’re paying an MSP a fixed monthly fee to monitor, manage, support, and secure all of your IT systems and users, you deserve accolades for prioritizing and delegating.
The stage is set to improve business outcomes.
MSPs have evolved over the last 10 years to become much more than reactive break-fix providers. When businesses used to have most of their infrastructure onsite, they required more frequent manual, onsite intervention.
The clock was always ticking, anxiety ran high, and there was too much dependency on firefighting.
These days, forward-thinking MSPs apply strategy and budgets to IT solutions that reinforce sustainable standards and repeatable best practices.
Setting Up Mutual Wins
The client win is maximum uptime. The MSP win is also maximum uptime. Now both parties can focus on their core businesses without delays and avoidable expenses. The stage is set for mutual success.
If it costs your MSP less to keep you in peak operating condition, they should charge you less.
If it costs them more, it’s critical to examine the root causes.
When you’re done reviewing the following four tips, you should be able to make your MSP an offer they can’t refuse.
(Or at least figure out where you can stand to make some changes.)
#1 – Reduce IT Support Costs by Phasing out Legacy Customized, Proprietary Software
A few special line of business applications that only work on a bare-metal server can impact your operating stride and cost structure for years.
Do you have any custom software from an individual or small business that doesn’t have a larger audience for the technology? They wrote the code for you in 2005 and for some reason, it’s still around.
Your challenges will compound as you try to make various system upgrades in your network. You may want to expand your cloud footprint, but this application only works in a client-server setting.
All Band-Aids are Temporary
You may even have a few workarounds in place. However, all band-aids will eventually fail.
When disruptions ensue, your team can’t work so they open support tickets with your MSP. Your MSP then must engage with the boutique software vendor and other entities to create new APIs.
Each troubleshooting episode involves multiple parties and can add twenty extra hours of engineering time and vendor management per month.
This unfortunate situation is a mutual black hole of inefficiency, perpetual cost overruns, and missed opportunities.
Learn More: 5 Legacy Software Cybersecurity Risks
#2 – Reduce IT Support Costs by Moving to Microsoft 365 Business Premium
My enthusiasm for this multi-faceted productivity suite is personal. I started in the MSP business when Microsoft Office and Microsoft Exchange reigned supreme.
It was 2003 and my cubicle was adjacent to the technical support department. The ongoing chatter about renewing service and maintenance agreements for physical servers, upgrading operating system licenses, and client difficulties accessing email from home are still alive in my head.
Onsite file sharing and storage were also commonplace which made both of these applications overly reliant on Internet access. If you were working from home and AT&T, Charter or Comcast were having issues, you were not logging into the network anytime soon.
I not only used the technology and found it limiting. Every day, I listened to engineers talk to clients who also found it limiting.
Say Goodbye to Expensive Site Visits
And who can forget the need for truck rolls? This technology frequently required physical interaction in the form of expensive site visits.
None of these concerns are relevant to Microsoft 365. They’ve not only upgraded the classics, but they’ve also added new services and bundled everything into one package: Outlook, Word, Excel, Teams, PowerPoint, OneDrive, and SharePoint.
Benefits include any-time access to the network, enhanced collaboration, video conferencing, enterprise-grade security, 1TB of storage per user, automatic backup, file recovery, and more.
All of this comes with lower administrative overhead and fewer geographical constraints for both you and your MSP.
Learn More: Microsoft 365 Business Premium
#3 – Reduce IT Support Costs with “Managed” Infrastructure Solutions
The word “managed” is very significant whenever MSPs make recommendations about firewalls, data backup appliances, switches, wireless access points, phone systems, and anything else connected to your network.
The term typically signifies the device is purpose-built for remote monitoring, management, troubleshooting, and implementing updates.
Whoever is managing the device also has greater control over customizable settings and security features versus an “unmanaged” option.
I recall working with a multi-unit restaurant operator who had a consumer-grade (unmanaged) Wi-Fi network that frequently malfunctioned when trying to process credit card payments – at all three of their locations.
None were properly secured which gave each site elevated PCI risk. Plus, our team could not manage the access points remotely.
Life is too Short for Flimsy Wi-Fi
Oddly, everything else in their network was up to par. The flimsy Wi-Fi was the only outlier. I’m glad it was never breached because their entire corporate network was vulnerable to infiltration.
Until the Wi-Fi network was replaced at each location with a managed (and compliant solution), their business suffered from delays that slowed their time to revenue and frustrated diners who were anxious to close their tabs and leave.
During this time, Integris had to regularly send engineers on-site, outside of standard business hours. This required us to pass along the higher support costs we were shouldering.
Do you have any weak spots in your network? If so, you are your provider will incur additional costs in troubleshooting vulnerable endpoints.
Learn More: Managed Network Solutions
#4 – Reduce IT Support Costs by Fine-tuning and Promoting your Acceptable Use Policy
Are you enforcing your acceptable use policy? Is it up to date? A document like this can be very effective in instituting small behavioral changes that can have a dramatic effect on improving your IT operations.
And by “improving” I mean, getting more work done, with fewer interruptions, and lower costs because you curb bad habits that can snowball into major episodes over time.
While group policy updates can be set up by your MSP, everyone must respond to automated updates, when prompted, to execute a few mouse clicks and restart their machines. The same is true of minor daily updates. I get notifications at least three times per week.
Not everyone is a fan of procedures that break their work stride, but even the most impatient of us (personal confession from the guy writing this article), can be groomed to adopt a few extra steps to avoid weightier business-impacting consequences.
Some Personal Habits are Difficult but Not Impossible to Reset
Other relatively easy-to-adopt suggestions include not using workstations or email boxes for file storage. Everything that needs to be referenced and retained should reside in a centralized and secure location rather than scattered silos.
Laptops can be stolen, and important emails are not automatically backed up and archived by default. Email storage can also bring your network down to a slow crawl if several people have adopted this bad habit.
Many of today’s most successful MSPs use sophisticated ticketing systems to track user support requests by category.
Support teams will create reports on demand that classify every encounter by the employee, support matter, and business impact, ranked on a scale of one to four.
They’ll charge you more if your team requires extra support resolving the same ongoing performance and data loss issues every month.
Following a standard set of best practices is clearly a better path.
Learn More: vCISO Consulting Services
Ready for some numbers?
I’d like to leave you with two recent cost-saving examples from actual Integris clients.
The first is a 30-person professional services firm, that ditched a premise-based file server and switched to Microsoft 365. They lowered their monthly spending by $350.00.
The second is a 200-person renewable energy recycling company that migrated most of its file shares and databases to Microsoft Azure and decreased its monthly fees by $5,000.00.
That’s not a typo. We’re talking $60,000.00 per year!
Integris may be getting $60,000.00 less per year, but we’re also spending a lot less to support the account. We’re all in!
Thanks to one minor and one major network design tweak, both organizations are supercharged with powerful, quiet systems that allow each to better focus on their core businesses – without IT distractions.
This is strategic IT at its best.
If you have any questions about ways to reimagine your business technology and cost structure, the Integris team has decades of experience, and we look forward to guiding you.
We can also get much more specific about one-time project costs and ROI timelines.