Our engagements include:
…And more, tailored to the needs of your business. If you have questions about our IT services, click here to schedule a 15-minute discovery call.
If you’d like to learn more about IT support in general, read on. We’ve built this page to provide insight and answers toward some of the most common IT support considerations. We’ll walk through questions like:
Let’s start with the basics.
The phrase may seem self-explanatory, but let’s make sure we’re not building on a foundation of jargon. It’s helpful to define our terms so that we have a base-level understanding.
Let’s start with the first half of the phrase. “IT,” an acronym for “information technology,” was first noted by Merriam-Webster in 1978. It’s lost some of its specificity over the years, but, originally, information technology was “the technology involving the development, maintenance, and use of computer systems, software, and networks for the processing and distribution of data.”
TechTarget adds a bit of further clarity: “Typically, IT is used in the context of enterprise operations as opposed to personal or entertainment technologies.”
The second half of the phrase is the word “support,” which means, as MacMillan Dictionary notes, “to help [a thing] be successful.”
So, taken together: If a thing is collecting or sharing data for a business purpose, it’s IT. If it requires service, that’s IT support.
In a practical business context, IT support takes the form of a team or department associated with an organization that provides services like:
Again – if it’s business technology, any service it requires is IT support.
You can expect IT support for professional services in Charlotte to cost between $1,500 per month and $12,000 per month. This price ranges because it’s accounting for a broad range of factors.
However, it is possible to narrow things down somewhat. At a more granular level:
These numbers don’t directly reflect our prices at Complete Network – and there are other factors to consider, as well – but they should give you an idea of how much IT support might cost for your business.
At the end of the day, though, asking how much IT support costs is like asking “How much does a house cost?” The answer depends on the house.
To get an accurate representation of the cost for your needs, we recommend getting a custom quote.
At Complete Network, we offer free quotes for Charlotte IT support. Get in touch with us here or give us a call at 877.877.1840 and we can walk through your IT needs to provide a clearer estimate of where your business will fall.
If you’re not ready to move ahead with a quote – or if you’re simply looking for more information – keep reading to learn more about the factors that impact IT support cost.
There are many factors at play on both sides of IT service – some relate to the client (you), and some relate to the vendor.
These factors include:
For the numbers we referenced at the beginning of this article, we worked under the assumption that support would be delivered via a managed service delivery model.
This model (where services are delivered at a fixed monthly rate, no matter what) provides flexibility, cost-efficiency, and access to wider and deeper expertise. Consequently, it’s increasingly the most common. But there are other models of support, too.
Let’s take a look at cost considerations for two alternative models of IT support:
Internal IT support (hiring an employee).
Generally, choosing internal IT support tends to be significantly more expensive than outsourcing IT support.
Let’s quickly run the numbers to show why. First, internal IT support personnel are most often salaried, and Glassdoor’s data shows that the average IT support employee makes $42,000 per year at the helpdesk level while the average qualified single internal IT guy is in the $90K+ range (non-entry-level folks fall on the upper ranges of the spectrum). If you factor in the cost of benefits (things like insurance, vacation, sick time, payroll tax) at a conservative mark of $10,000 per year, you end up at a total cost of over $100,000.
On a monthly basis, that will run somewhere in the vicinity of $8,000+ a month.
Also note that this scenario hasn’t accounted for any additional training, like certifications on new technologies. It also hasn’t accounted for any technology that the IT employee might need to do their job, like a helpdesk platform or antivirus or antispam. If these things are needed, the cost goes up.
In the end, the moral of the story is that internal IT support can be an expensive solution. We recommend pursuing this solution only in specialized cases – contexts where constant onsite support is needed, for example, or where a single skill is the only requirement. It’s also worth noting that internal IT can often benefit from supplementation via an outsourced provider.
Break-fix IT support (hourly rate).
Traditionally, the industry worked under the break-fix IT support model. The name of the model is self-explanatory; businesses pay for support when things break. IT providers get paid at an hourly rate.
This can seem appealing to smaller businesses, who may prefer to avoid recurring payments or who believe that they’ll have few IT needs. If you opt for this model, you’ll work under the hope that support will rarely be needed – and that, if it ever is, it’ll be delivered quickly and comprehensively to avoid recurring issues.
The bad news is that this is almost never how things work in real life.
Break-fix models can work well for very small businesses for a time. But they make cost projections next to impossible, because, since support isn’t proactive, you can never predict when and what will break under this model. And when things do break, the costs can be incredibly damaging.
Let’s say your IT company has a (generously low) rate of $60 per hour. You may go three months without a major issue only to have a ransomware attack happen in month four. After three days with two techs onsite, you’re looking at a bill for $2,880 – before any restoration or new technology costs are factored in, not to mention any costs from downtime.
This is not cost-efficient, it’s not at all predictable, and it actually incentivizes providers to do shoddy work, since they’re only paid when things break.
Aside from the model of IT support, there are a variety of other factors that will impact cost. Most of these are related to the context of the business itself.
This includes considerations like:
These questions are a good starting place – but they’re still only a start. So, again, the cost of your business’s IT support can vary greatly. If you want a more meaningful idea of what IT support might cost in your context, your best bet is to get a free consultation.
First, to understand how to set a budget, it helps to frame things in a proper light: your IT budget is an investment, not just an expense.
That distinction is important, because it’s tempting to view expenditures in the short term, without factoring return on investment into the equation. But that’s shortsighted, and ultimately inaccurate, because it doesn’t capture true value.
Better IT can increase productivity and minimize downtime. It can give you operational advantages on your competition. For most businesses, it’s quite literally the way that work happens.
So, consider your IT budget an investment.
The next question is: how do you make it a good one?
The reality is that there is no set-in-stone standard for IT budgeting – the needs of businesses are too varied for that. That’s why, at Complete Network, our vCIOs work with clients to strategically set budgets that reflect priorities and business needs. With that said, though, there are a series of general factors that should be considered during budget allocation.
Is your IT budget going to be composed of capital expenditures, or operating expenditures? Capital expenditures represent the acquisition of assets that could be beneficial beyond the current tax year. Operating expenditures, on the other hand, are expenditures that keep a company running on a day-to-day basis.
As IT moves to the service model, more businesses are choosing to budget IT as an operating expenditure. The value of operating expenditures, of course, is that they tend to come with less risk (and less upfront cost). Due to those factors, they may also be easier to pitch during budget meetings.
Tactically, one of the first factors to consider is the level of security that will be needed for your organization. Questions to ask:
It’s important to note that just meeting the minimum security standards is often unwise; the costs of a ransomware attack or data breach are far greater than investing in better security mechanisms.
Another factor that will influence budget is capacity needs. Storage requirements can vary greatly based on a host of considerations:
The size of the organization is one of the more straightforward IT budget considerations to make. Generally, bigger organizations entail more complexity, because they have a greater number of system components and workstations. However, as a percentage of budget, larger organizations may actually require slightly less spending on IT.
A very general guideline is that mid-sized businesses spend 6 to 7% of their budget on IT, while large companies spend 3 to 4%. Again, though, those numbers are nowhere near set in stone and will vary across businesses and industries.
A few considerations:
Last but not least, future needs are essential factors in allocating IT budget. It can be tempting to budget for the short term, allocating only toward immediate needs – but it’s unwise. As an investment, IT needs must be considered in the long-term.
There are two main long-term considerations to make: technology and business growth.
There’s a common misconception that technological infrastructure is a once-and-done investment – meaning, once you purchase a laptop or server, you’re set for six or seven years.
The reality, though, is that technology changes quickly. We recommend refreshing hardware components every 3-7 years. Software also changes quickly, and updates need to be accounted for in IT budgets.
If your business is growing, the IT solutions that fit now may not fit next year. Failing to plan for growth can result in having insufficient systems for work as your IT struggles to carry a burden it wasn’t designed to.
We’ve witnessed small businesses go from six people to 25 within the span of a couple of years. We’ve witnessed businesses go from 25 to 200 in a few years, too. The reality is that the systems they start with (like consumer versions of cloud applications) simply can’t carry a business past a certain point.
So, don’t limit budget considerations to the immediate context. Make sure to consider future needs.
IT policy is another common area of consideration for mid-sized businesses. At Complete Network, we’ve guided IT policy for businesses around Charlotte for years.
Every good IT policy has these components:
The first thing to iron out is the purpose of the IT policy. That may seem obvious or implied, but different objectives can shape the content of a policy considerably. Are you enacting a policy to comply with a certain set of standards – HIPAA, for example? Are you enacting an acceptable use policy? Is it a general IT policy, or a policy created to reduce the risk of a data breach?
A clear statement of purpose will help to shape the standards contained in the policy.
It’s also essential to determine which users the policy will be targeted toward. Is the IT policy meant to apply to all network users? Do standards differ for system administrators? Will there be multiple levels of users?
Clearly identifying the audience will increase the relevancy of the standards.
Additionally, any changes or updates to the policy should be logged in a location that’s easily accessible from the policy itself. This isn’t quite as formative as the selection of a purpose and a target audience, but it can help to maintain the relevancy of the policy. After all, you don’t want to include redundant or non-current standards. A history of revisions can also help affected users to keep track of progress and note any changes.
This is the crux of any IT policy: the standards for user practices. Standards are written regulations meant to guide practices and behaviors. Standards don’t refer to the entirety of the IT policy, but a policy will necessarily include IT standards.
Standards must be tailored to the needs of your organization, because each organization will have unique needs that must be addressed on an individual basis. These will typically be driven by the factors outlined above: objectives and audiences.
That being said, here are a few common issues that IT standards will nearly always address:
Having appropriate standards for these and other relevant IT issues is vital in creating a good IT security policy.
Policy administration is where the rubber meets the road.
Having someone in charge matters. A class without a teacher is chaos. Similarly, a team will struggle to enact a good game plan without a coach to hold them accountable; players will do what seems best to them.
Administration is needed. The question is, though: who’s in charge?
Buy-in From the Top is Needed
Common thought may suggest that the IT department or outsourced provider should be in charge of IT policy administration. While that’s understandable (the IT department will inevitably help to shape and carry out components of the policy), the truth is that ultimate accountability for an IT policy needs to come from the executive levels of an organization.
Company culture is always set from the top. Holding an IT department accountable for the administration of an IT security policy means segregating the priority of security to IT. Following the policy becomes something that “the IT guys” want users to do, when it needs to be something that the entire organization expects users to do.
It’s easier for a user to brush off the continual requests of an IT person than it is to brush off the demands of their organization.
Depending on the size of the organization, this may mean that ultimate accountability for policy administration falls on the CEO, the CIO, or a CISO. Regardless of the exact role, though, administration accountability needs to lie with organizational executives.
Finally, with content and administration settled, the final component to the success of an IT policy is in consistent practice – in the way the policy is carried out.
As we’ve discussed, practice does flow from administration, but there’s more to it than that. While accountability for an IT policy should come from the top levels of an organization, its enactment will nearly always be carried out by the IT department.
Successfully carrying out an IT policy generally involves:
With proper practice, an IT policy can be truly effective.
As you may have surmised during the above review of IT policy, user behavior is an incredibly important factor in technology optimization and maintenance.
The same principle is true in cybersecurity. For all of the technical ingenuity that goes into protecting digital assets – the firewalls, the levels of encryption, the access controls – the biggest potential danger to a system is often the behavior of the people using it.
For too many networks, the weakest link in security isn’t the technology; it’s the user.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. If users are trained in and aware of best cybersecurity practices, they can move from being the weakest links in network security to the strongest assets.
First, a caveat: how aware should users be? – and what does user awareness even mean?
When it comes to assigning users responsibility for awareness, there are two ends of the spectrum. On one end are those who claim that users should have no responsibility – that is, secure systems should be designed so that users aren’t capable of compromising them. If user action (clicking on a malicious link in an email, for example) causes a network breach, then the fault is in the design of the system or software.
On the other end are frustrated IT professionals who bemoan every security breach as “user error.” Systems would stay secure if only people used them correctly – and, accordingly, a breach is always the user’s fault.
For our part, we believe the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. It’s true that IT systems should be designed to be as secure as possible, and that means following the principle of least privilege, ensuring software configurations are customized to fit your environment, etc. But, it’s also true that no technical construct can truly safeguard against the many permutations of user error. The average user is not a security guru always on the lookout for potential vulnerabilities, and we can’t expect them to be.
The best path, then, is to design networks to be as secure as possible, while giving users as much awareness of best practice cybersecurity standards as possible, too.
So, user awareness means continued training to understand industry standards and avoid common mistakes.
Here are five things users need to know that IT support can help with.
Many people are simply unaware that cybersecurity is a real risk. It is simply something that happens to those big corporations.
One report found that 72% of respondents in the U.S. feel safe from IT security threats. That’s in spite of the fact that more than half of Americans have had personal data compromised within the past year, not to mention that researchers estimate machines are attacked every 39 seconds.
Users are not to blame for this incongruity. It is our duty to educate them on the risk. What common attack vectors are used by hackers? What are warning signs to look for in an email?
So, make sure that cybersecurity training includes an emphasis on the real, practical risks of unsecured networks. A proper understanding of that risk is the foundation for good practice.
Users don’t need to know the technical intricacies of IT; they don’t need to know what SD WAN means, what content protection system architecture is, or the history of managed SOC.
But they should know the basics of cybersecurity, both in a general sense and in regard to the software they’ll be using. That includes:
Obviously, that’s not an exclusive list, but it does exemplify the type of general knowledge that users should have.
It’s difficult to keep up with every patch and update that comes out, even for dedicated IT people. But, at the same time, staying updated is important. Most hacks exploit known vulnerabilities.
Average users, of course, can’t be expected to stay on the cutting edge of cybersecurity news – they have other priorities. But IT support should do their part to notify users of any major vulnerability that could affect the company.
If there is a critical Microsoft update, do your best to let users know. The same goes for other widely used software platforms. Yes, it is the responsibility of IT to manage system updates. But making users aware of the risks helps – it can expedite the update process and minimize the risk that a user will be affected at home.
Users should also be aware of general hacking trends.
This is, often, a cause of frustration for IT staff. After all, shouldn’t users be aware that it’s best not to click the link in that spammy email? Shouldn’t they understand that clicking downloading files from sketchy sites is an activity best avoided, or that the old, useless apps on their phones represent a security risk that should be removed?
Well, yes – users should be aware of those things. It’s best for them and for IT systems if they have that knowledge.
But that knowledge isn’t innate. Each behavior is learned. Avoiding common hacker techniques will be easier for users if they have an understanding of what factors contribute to the likelihood of a hack.
Support better user behavior. Don’t leave the front door open. Security is important – and that means it may be worth dedicating time to strengthening the people who use your technology.
For healthcare and professional services firms, determining when to outsource IT support can be a complicated decision.
You may have an internal team in place already. You may have industry-specific technologies operating in your environment. You may not be sure what the future of your technology looks like, especially in the wake of COVID-19.
But, with the right information, you can make the right decision. Let’s unpack what that looks like.
First, should professional service firms and healthcare companies in Charlotte outsource at all? Or, put another way, why not hire internally for all IT needs? The answers lie in the three main benefits to outsourcing: cost-efficiency, high-level expertise, and better availability.
Outsourcing is more cost-efficient than hiring internally. Hiring, as we’ve noted earlier in discussing IT costs, requires accounting for benefits and ongoing HR costs like training and tools. Outsourced IT support is generally priced below the salary level of a comparable internal role – and that’s before the add-on costs associated with a new internal hire are considered. Outsourcing wins on cost.
Outsourcing IT offers access to high-level expertise. When you hire internally, you get the expertise of one person. No single person can be an expert in network design and workstation support and Microsoft solutions and AWS and antivirus, etc. When you work with an outsourced IT provider, on the other hand, you get access to the expertise of an entire team.
Outsourcing IT provides better availability in support. Internal hires take vacations or get sick. Outsourcing IT ensures that support is always available and that there are no knowledge silos.
So, in general, Charlotte organizations should consider outsourced IT support. But there are two scenarios when outsourcing becomes even more beneficial:
Many mid-sized companies start and grow without a dedicated IT resource. They may have someone internally who wears “IT support” as one of many hats – maybe the head of operations or the office manager. Or they may work with an IT provider on a break-fix basis (calling for occasional service when it’s needed and paying an hourly rate).
But, if they’re growing, they eventually reach a point where IT management is simply too complex and time-consuming to be handled internally without a designated team. In other words, the lack of IT has become costly.
This is when outsourcing makes sense.
The clearest indicator that your IT has become costly: Your organization deals with too much downtime or ongoing issues. Slow computers, virus-infected email accounts, misconfigured computers, continual network issues, and broken connections between applications are some of the red flags that the current IT solution is not able to proactively maintain technologies and enable staff to be focused on work.
Organizations that have strong, dedicated internal IT teams already in place may still encounter situations where outsourcing some aspects of IT support makes sense.
Outsourced IT can supplement internal IT in two ways:
Outsourced IT can supplement tactical support. Growth and change can increase the amount of tactical support that’s needed. For example, the implementation of a new ERP system may increase the level of support that’s needed. Or sheer growth could lead to an increase in tickets that the existing internal team is hard-pressed to support.
Either way, if additional tactical support is needed, outsourcing can be a cost-efficient solution. Helpdesk support can ensure that issues are taken care of quickly and that the internal team is able to maintain their areas of focus.
Outsourced IT can supplement strategic expertise. An internal team might require assistance in an area where they’re lacking strategic expertise. As mentioned, no single IT person is an expert in every IT area.
Outsourcing these types of needs is typically cost-effective in comparison to making an additional hire. And often mid-sized Charlotte organizations simply don’t have the internal expertise to be able to hire a person with the right technical qualifications for the role. At Complete Network, our C360 Flex offerings fill gaps like these to perfectly complement internal resources.
In these situations, outsourcing makes sense.
With the value of outsourcing clarified, let’s take a look at two common modes of IT support to evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of each: onsite support and remote helpdesk support.
Which service does your Charlotte business need? Almost certainly, both – here’s our analysis.
First, it’s worth noting that we’re examining outsourced onsite support as a solution. Internal onsite support has its own array of benefits and drawbacks, but this analysis is purposed toward helping organizations select ideal third-party services.
With that definition in mind, the benefits of onsite IT support include:
Onsite support offers relational service.
Onsite IT support is inherently more relational than helpdesk support, because it’s face-to-face and it’s not always directly utility focused. In other words, users call the helpdesk because there’s an issue; you might see an onsite engineer and just say hey.
Although this may sound like a soft, intangible benefit, relational service can play a large role in effective IT support: it establishes trust and proximity, which lead to proactive communication. It can alleviate substantial issues before they cause damage and create greater efficiencies that would otherwise go unrealized.
For example: if end users have a relationship with an IT technician and see that person onsite, they may bring up an issue that they’ve been dealing with (say, that the network has seemed a bit slow over the last week). These kinds of issues might not get reported to a helpdesk but resolving them can improve efficiency.
When relationships aren’t in place, issues are more likely to go unaddressed until things break – at which point damage has already been done.
Onsite support offers more strategic service (i.e. project implementation).
Secondly, onsite IT support is more likely to be strategic than remote helpdesk support. This flows partly from relationship and proximity: because onsite support personnel are familiar with users and their needs, they can better recommend strategic plans.
Additionally, many of the strategic elements of systems design are simply better understood onsite – to understand hardware, you often have to see it. For these reasons, project implementation usually requires onsite support.
Onsite support can address hardware issues.
We noted this under the previous section, but it’s worth breaking out: perhaps the most tangible benefit of onsite IT support is its role in solving hardware issues. Remote support is great for software or operating system issues, but when a server or laptop needs physical attention, somebody has to be there in person.
While onsite IT support offers several advantages, it also comes with two drawbacks:
Onsite support is more expensive.
This is fairly straightforward: outsourced onsite IT support requires paying for somebody to be there in person. This involves costs for travel, time, and, often, higher levels of strategy and service.
Onsite support is less available.
Additionally, outsourced onsite support personnel tend to be less available. They’re not always onsite. Even when they are onsite, they’re limited in how much they can tackle at once. Usually, engineers are fixing dedicated issues, not responding to many things at once.
Additionally, when there is a travel disruption or the support personnel takes a vacation, the onsite support may not have a backup team fully versed in the client’s issues.
Next, let’s take a look at helpdesk support. Here, too, we’re analyzing the benefits and drawbacks of an outsourced solution (as opposed to an internal helpdesk).
With that in mind, the benefits of remote helpdesk support include:
Helpdesk support is cost-efficient.
It’s simply less expensive to access a helpdesk than it is to pay to have ticket support onsite.
Helpdesk support offers greater availability.
Additionally, helpdesk support offers greater availability than onsite support. While onsite personnel likely aren’t available every day and at all hours, helpdesks are available more often – at Complete Network, for example, we’re accessible via phone from 7AM to 6PM every day.
And helpdesk services also allow multiple users to call in simultaneously; if three users need support, each can talk to a helpdesk technician right away.
Of course, helpdesk support also has its drawbacks:
Helpdesk support is less relational.
Whereas onsite support personnel are able to develop relationships with end users, helpdesk personnel are less present – they aren’t onsite, so they aren’t delivering support face-to-face, and they’re less likely to be consistently dedicated to an organization, meaning that users are less likely to speak to the same helpdesk personnel each time they call.
Consequently, this mode of support is less suited to uncovering inefficiencies and hidden problems.
Helpdesk support is less strategic.
Cultural knowledge and physical premise familiarity tend to inform IT strategy, and helpdesks are poorly suited to building both.
The reality is that helpdesks aren’t meant to be strategic. They’re not geared to implement technology initiatives. As a mode of support, helpdesk services are meant to be reactive – the desk is available when users call. Strategy, of course, requires a proactive approach.
Helpdesk support isn’t able to address physical hardware issues.
Again, the most tangible drawback to this mode of support is that when issues are physical, more than a helpdesk is needed. After a fire or a flood, it’s probably not worth your time to file a ticket.
So, with all of these things considered, most Charlotte organizations can benefit from a combination of helpdesk and onsite IT support. The two modes of support are complementary to each other.
Strategic initiatives often require engineers onsite. Physical issues – or more complicated issues – require onsite support. Helpdesks, though, provide accessible support for tickets and allow users to remain productive.
As you consider how to move forward with your technology needs, here are a few companies that have established a solid reputation for IT support in Charlotte, NC.
Before we get started, here’s a quick framework for evaluating IT companies: we believe that strategy, industry expertise, and locality are three crucial components in providing quality IT. We think of them as three boxes to check. Each of the companies below is presented with that framework in mind.
With that in mind, here are a few of the top IT support companies in Charlotte.
Sure, we may be biased, but we wholeheartedly believe in our ability to serve Charlotte businesses with great IT.
We’re strategic and highly responsive. We provide all of our clients with access to vCIOs who are world-class consultants with decades of proven success leading successful IT strategies at firms like yours. Our service consistently ranks in the industry’s highest percentiles – over 98% of our customer service reviews are positive.
We believe we check all three boxes to great IT support. You can learn more about our company here.
With the name of the city in the name of the business, you know these guys are local. They describe their approach to IT this way on their website:
“Our company prides itself on providing top of the line technical support and consultation thanks to the extensive experience of our specialists that spans multiple decades and continues to grow and evolve. Charlotte IT Solutions is able to provide you with the immense benefit of a time-tested infrastructure and problem solving protocol that is easy to follow.”
It’s worth noting that they have a bit broader service focus – they serve manufacturing, healthcare, and professional services, and they serve regions throughout North Carolina in addition to Charlotte.
This company also has a broader service area with a presence in Charlotte.
Here’s how they describe their approach to Charlotte IT support on their website:
“At neteffect technologies, we are proud to be one of the Carolinas’ top providers of Managed IT Services. In business since 1991, we’ve always found it as part of our responsibility to provide Technology Managers and Business Executives working in the Charlotte Small/Medium Business community access to the latest and most innovative and proven technologies, traditionally accessible only to larger organizations.”
Note that they also provide business phone systems, so they’re not simply focused on traditional IT support.
Congratulations – you’ve gotten this far. Hopefully, the information presented here has been helpful as you consider an IT support engagement for your Charlotte business.
If you’re asking this final question, you’re ready to take the next step toward better Charlotte IT support. Let’s talk. We’re proud to provide local businesses with IT that gives them an advantage, and we’re confident we can help you.
Let’s completely transform your business technology with strategic IT support that gives you a clear roadmap to follow, takes IT off of your issues list, and makes your users happy.
Get in touch with us to talk through your IT support needs. Let’s take the first step toward better IT.