Flat-rate pricing is central to the managed IT services model, but not all flat-rate solutions are designed the same.


Hiring a managed IT services partner (MSP) is a delicate, important task. The MSP is going to have a long and involved relationship with your company, working closely with your staff to resolve technology problems, manage cybersecurity attack, and recover from disaster or network downtime — all moments when your team is feeling most vulnerable.

While we see MSP partnership as an investment in the health, morale, and competitiveness of your organization, we sometimes encounter people who have questions around how an MSP prices its services. Let’s dig into the MSP pricing model and see what you can expect to pay for IT partnership.


The MSP Relationship is Built on Flat-Rate Pricing

A central concept of the MSP offering is flat-rate, monthly pricing. This proactive IT support model is a departure from the standard IT support relationship, known colloquially as “break-fix” in the IT industry, where you pay for support as needed.

Flat-rate pricing provides a few important benefits:

  • Budgeting Predictability
    Receiving the same bill every month, regardless of how much support your business needs, means an end to unexpected IT support charges. This enables your business to budget with greater assuredness and plan future technology investment, free from concerns of unexpected charges.
  • Vendor-Client Alignment
    Businesses that pay for hourly IT support will inevitably face concerns of overcharges, hidden fees, and inflated costs. By charging a fixed, monthly rate for all support, the MSP pricing model helps your business feel confident about your relationship, as the MSP will have a natural desire to keep your network running smoothly.

But within that flat-rate model, you’ll still encounter variability. Some MSPs will choose to price their services per user, while some prefer to use a per-workstation or per-device pricing. Each of these models has unique benefits.

User-Based Pricing Device-Based Pricing
This popular model is comprehensive and straightforward, providing each user with full support as they work on all their devices, including PCs, mobile phones, laptops, and servers.

This all-inclusive model is ideal for businesses that expect to add more users, want their users to use any network device with confidence, or want to ensure consistent performance on all devices.

This flexible model is popular with many IT service providers, as it allows them to set prices based on the specific needs of a team.

But per-device pricing doesn’t scale well as your team adds new computers or mobile devices, leading to management and accounting complexity, and possible contention with your MSP over your changing bill.


Understanding the Service Level Agreement

Flat-rate pricing isn’t the whole story. What exactly are you getting for that flat-rate, monthly fee? To understand what level of support an MSP will provide, you must dig deeper into what’s known as a service-level agreement, or “SLA.”

The SLA outlines exactly which services they’ll provide, which metrics you’ll both use to gauge the quality of their service, and what penalties apply if the MSP fails to meet the requirements. In the MSP relationship, the SLA often describes the response and resolution times of both onsite service calls and remote service, such as help desk support.

Standard features of an SLA that are always built into a MSP’s standard pricing include:

  • Guaranteed System Uptime
    An MSP will guarantee a certain level of network uptime and availability, after they’ve performed an in-depth audit of your network technology and remediated any existing issues. The guarantee of optimal uptime — often 99.9% (known as “3 nines”) allows your team to work with confidence that their technology will be functional outside a very small window of routine maintenance.
  • Help Desk Support
    Another central feature of the MSPs standard offering is guarantees of help desk service. This includes first time to response (FTR), which tracks how long it takes to reach a person at the MSP, first contact resolution (FCR) rate, which measures how many support tickets addressed on a single call, and customer satisfaction score (CSAT).

What features of a service level agreement may affect the price of a managed IT service solution?

  • 24/7 support. While most reputable MSPs provide unlimited support, the amount of after-hours support a business needs can affect the price of an MSP solution. The need for fast, around-the-clock help desk support, for example, will increase your costs, as the MSP will need to arrange for more engineers to service after hours support requests.

Worth noting is that the SLA is unique to the managed service model, as break-fix providers usually include a “best effort” clause in their service contract which indemnifies them from any damages or wrongdoing if they’re unable to properly address your problem.

The Price of Additions Outside the Core MSP Offering

Most MSPs will provide important network management tools in their standard offering, such as network monitoring software, password management tools, and enterprise anti-virus software. They may also offer services and levels of protection that go outside the boundaries of the standard package, allowing businesses to add “a la carte” options as needed to meet specific IT management goals.

Advanced cybersecurity protections are an area where many organizations choose to make these strategic choices. Your MSP may charge extra for these services, depending on the size and complexity of your network environment.

Security Operations Center (SOC) service
Vigilant, 24-hour protection from a team of cybersecurity experts gives your business a level of security confidence that goes far beyond traditional defenses. Armed with a security operations platform for detecting, investigating, and analyzing threats, SOC personnel will watch over your network 24-hours a day, ensuring the highest possible level of manned protection.

According to cybersecurity firm FireEye, 76% of ransomware infections occur outside normal business hours.


Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
Employing a second factor of authentication, such as a time-based one-time password (TOTP) or biometric verification is the simplest way to boost your security. By enforcing 2FA on each of your network endpoints, you reduce the chances a hacker of accessing sensitive information, better protect your organization against phishing attacks, and mitigate the risk of lost or stolen passwords.

Are you aware that up to 65% of the passwords on your network are being reused or duplicated by staff on multiple systems?


Learn More from a Trusted Technology Partner

Businesses trust Complete Network to streamline their technology management and discover new IT confidence, for a flat, transparent fee. If you’d like to learn more, reach out to our friendly team any time at 877 877 1841 or [email protected].

How To Supplement Your Internal IT Team.

In an ideal world, technology would be a consistent source of competitive advantage and benefit for small and midsized businesses. The reality is that many fail to realize that confidence.

Without the right resources and support, even a highly skilled technology team can become overwhelmed by the growing list of technology management duties. When important tasks get neglected, it creates ripple effects throughout an organization that damage productivity and efficiency.

The co-managed IT services model solves these problems by providing your existing IT team with all the support and resources they need to successfully plan, manage, and defend your network technology.

This guide covers:

  • • Aligning technology with business goals
  • • Reducing churn while preserving institutional knowledge
  • • Empowering your staff to maximize productivity
  • • Achieving the highest level of cybersecurity defense

Download it for free by filling out the form here.