I’ve run or owned various different businesses over the past 10 years and one thing I know from my own painful experience is that IT Support can be the bane of every business owner’s life. With hindsight the amount of time and money I have wasted on the latest “must have” business computer technology is extraordinary. On second thoughts, not extraordinary, but depressing!

However, I’m glad to say it wasn’t completely wasted. I’ve learnt a lot of important lessons and it inspired me to start my own IT Support Company to deliver the IT Support Services that I wanted to buy, but couldn’t find. Of course there were plenty of IT Support Companies around; it’s just that they never seemed to deliver the kind of service I wanted to buy!

IT Support Does Not Need To Be Painful

My experience has taught me that IT Support does not need to be painful. And while you will always need to invest in your computer systems the cost can be contained to more reasonable levels.

Can You Really Get 20,000 of IT Support For 1,000 Per Month?

Yes, unbelievable as it seems, you can. The secrets I’ve learnt over the years are actually quite simple. Any business owner can use them and I’m happy to share them with you today. If you follow these simple rules you have a good chance of saving tens of thousands of pounds every year. Money that can go straight back into your pocket or into the development of your business. You choose what you do with the savings.

Here’s How To Reduce Your IT Support Costs:

Let’s assume for the purposes of our calculations that you have 20 PC’s, 2 servers and Microsoft Exchange email. You can scale the savings up or down accordingly. Here are the top 6 most expensive mistakes that you can easily avoid:

Mistake # 1 – Doing IT Support yourself – cost 4,500. IT Outsourcing is a well established principle, but I’m still surprised at how many small companies insist on diverting some staff from their main role trying to fix IT problems. Part-time-IT’ers just won’t have the experience. As a result it will take them a lot longer to fix the problems than a professional and the problems are much more likely to recur.

In my experience those who do a bit of IT Support “on the side” actually spend about one third of their time on IT Support issues. Assuming that the total cost of employing them (salary, NI, unavoidable overhead, etc.) is 30,000 and that they spend a conservative 15`% of their time on IT then the cost of this is 4,500 per annum.

Mistake # 2 – Paying for your IT Support by the hour – cost 1,200. Don’t fall into the trap of paying for IT Support by the hour. The IT Support costs will soon mount up and if you have a significant problem the IT Support bill costs could be huge. An hourly paid IT Support company will have no incentive to get to the root problem and stop it recurring again.

Many IT Support Companies offer a fixed price unlimited IT Support service now. In my experience on a computer network of this size this will save you 20% on top of your fixed price contract, but let’s say 10% – a saving of 1,200.

Mistake # 3 – Paying extra for network security licences – cost 1,400. Make sure that the vital network security software is included in your IT Support Contract. Nowadays you can get your IT Support Company to pay for all your anti-virus, anti-spyware and anti-spam as part of the all-you-can-eat fixed price IT Support package.

If you don’t negotiate their inclusion you will need to purchase the network security licences every year. For a computer network of this size they would be 1,400 per annum. Therefore this will save you 1,400 per annum.

Mistake # 4 – Don’t take the risk on a single internet line – cost 1,000. Most businesses are so dependent on their broadband service that they cannot allow it to be the single point of failure. I would advise you to get a second internet connection. This sounds counter intuitive – it sounds like a cost increase for businesses that only have 1 line.

These days no internet often means no business. An extra business grade internet broadband connection with IT Support bundled in will cost you about 60 per month. We support about 200 broadband connections for our clients and our experience says that you will have at least 2 days of outage every second year – an average of 1 day a year. How much will this outage cost you? Ultimately only you will know the lost sales, additional overtime costs, or any other waste. If it costs you a very conservative 1,500 in lost business and/or additional overtime costs then taking the additional broadband costs into account it will save you about 1,000 per annum.

Mistake # 5 – Not including data backup monitoring in your IT Support Contract – cost 400. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can monitor the backup yourself or that your data backup doesn’t matter. Make sure you get your IT Support Company to throw this in as part of your Fixed Price IT Support Service.

Why is this a saving? Well about 10% to 15% of backups fail every night. Think about that – it means that there is a high likelihood that your backup is not working correctly unless it is proactively monitored.

It’s difficult to say how much money this will save you, but say you have a disk failure and the backup doesn’t work. To get the data forensically extracted from the broken disk, as the police do when a crime has been committed, is at least 2,000. If you needed to do this once every 5 years you would save 400 of direct costs to say nothing of the disruption to your business.

Mistake # 6 – Continuing to use old technology when new Cloud Computing can save you money – cost 1,000. Cloud Computing can save some businesses money. You could use it for backup, hosted email, hosted applications or even rent server space at a hosting centre rather than purchasing a server.

Some claim massive savings of 20% to 40% of your entire IT budget for Cloud Computing, but I’ve yet to see those massive savings myself. I’m sure they will come in time. In the meantime you should be able to save 1,000 on hosting some part of your IT service – backup or email being the most likely in the short term.

How the IT Support Savings Add Up

Let’s also assume that you have negotiated a fixed price IT Support contract. If you shop around you should be able to get a fixed price IT Support service for about 750 per month. Throw in a few inevitable site visits for and calls over an d above the fixed price IT Support Contract and we’ll call that an average of 1,000 per month.

Getting 20,000 of IT Support Services for 1,000 per month implies an annual saving of 8,000. Remember all of these savings fall straight to the bottom line. It can go to you as the business owner or back into the business to drive growth.

If you didn’t make the top 6 mistakes listed above the savings add up to more than 8,000 per annum – 9,500 in fact. But let’s be conservative again and reduce it by 15% to 8,000. So as you can see – these very simple secrets will allow you to drive down your IT support costs significantly – it’s worth asking!