What every Small business owner in Canberra should know about IT support costs
Let’s face it. The IT services world can be a confusing place for small to medium businesses. The terminology is unfamiliar. Systems go down for no apparent reason. And it’s difficult to get a clear understanding of upfront and ongoing IT support costs.
If you’re a small business owner, it’s probably safe to assume that you want three things:
- Reliable IT systems that don’t go down.
- A transparent pricing structure that makes sense and helps you do business more effectively.
- No extra products or services that cost money but don’t add value.
In this post, we will outline the four key costs to consider when budgeting for IT services. We’ll also provide a rough estimate of how much you can expect to pay, depending on your business’s size and requirements.
A domain name is a website address that is unique to your business. Technowand’s domain name, for example, is www.technowand.com.au.
While you can set up a business website without a domain name (for example, www.examplewebsite.wordpress.com or www.examplewebsite.squarespace.com), owning your domain name makes your business appear more professional. It also makes it easier for customers to search for and find you online. In future you will also be able to easily register for a Trademark / IP.
When you register a domain, you can choose from extensions including:
- .com.au and
- many more.
For best results, we recommend that Australian-based businesses choose the .com.au extension. You should also host your website files in Australia, but we’ll cover that in more detail below.
You can register any .com.au domain for up to two years, and it is easy to renew at the end of the expiry period, too. Our friends at Canberra-based Go Hosting can help you register your domain name for a small fee.
Once you have registered your domain name, you need to make sure that visitors can access website and email content from your domain. This means updating your domain name system (or DNS) so it knows to push visitors to your website content.
Google describes DNS as “the phone book of the web”. While a phone book translates a name like ‘Technowand’ into a phone number to call, “the DNS translates a web address like ‘www.google.com’ into the physical IP address… of the computer hosting that site.”
Updating DNS is done through the DNS management console. It usually has two important elements – the A record and the MX record.
The A record points users to where your website files are hosted.
The MX record decides where emails will be handled.
If you’re new to IT services, you might not know that websites are hosted on computers called servers. When someone visits your website, their computer connects to your server and delivers your web pages on their screen.
As Canberra’s Office 365 set up, migration and support experts, we prefer Office 365 for email hosting for several reasons:
- It is cloud based – so you don’t have to worry about paying for expensive mail servers
- It saves on Microsoft Office licensing costs
- It is subscription- based to assist small businesses with cash flow.
Alternatively, you can use Google Apps for Business for email hosting.
Desktop support is responsible for troubleshooting hardware and software problems, fixing network connectivity issues and assisting with product updates. Every business – no matter how small – should factor desktop support into their IT services budgets. The estimates below are indicative only. Your costs may vary depending on your specific business needs.
1 to 5 users – $1000 to $3000 average annual cost
Small businesses often choose ad hoc desktop support. This means that when an issue occurs, they call a mate or third party company to come in and fix things. This is a reactive approach, and it can be an expensive one. The hourly rate for ad hoc support can range from $75 to $225.
Rather than suffering from productivity losses (how much money would you lose if your computers went down until a technician arrived?) and expensive fixes, we recommend engaging a single desktop support provider to call on when things go wrong. You’ll get support from a dedicated team who understands your business, without breaking the bank.
In addition to ad hoc support, your desktop support provider can also manage:
- Regular updates and patches to reduce down time during business hours
- After hours back ups
- Fixed fee support
5 to 15 users – $3000 to $9000 average annual cost
Could you afford for your IT systems to go down for weeks or more? While this is rare, it does happen. Spare a thought for the Australian businesses that have had to pay overseas hackers thousands of dollars to get rid of the cryptolocker virus in recent months. Some of those businesses were at a stand still for weeks.
It’s threats like the cryptolocker virus that lead most businesses with five or more users to choose a desktop support option that solves problems fast.
The price will depend on whether you choose:
- Ad hoc support
- A retainer agreement
- A fixed fee desktop support package.
No matter which desktop support option you nominate, we recommend engaging a local IT managed service provider. If things go wrong, nothing beats having a team of experts just around the corner, taking care of your systems and ensuring minimum downtime.
15+ users – in-house technician or third party IT services company
By the time your business has 15 or more IT users, you probably want to consider one of the following three options:
- Outsource IT services to a third party.
- Hire an in-house technician to support your systems.
- Use a combination of outsourced IT services and in-house support.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, cost is one of the most important considerations for a business of this size. According to salary research website PayScale.com, the average annual salary for a desktop support technician is AU$52,228. And that doesn’t include costs like:
- Equipment repairs
- Entitlements including leave, superannuation and bonuses.
In addition, most businesses use software products from multiple vendors (i.e. Microsoft, Xero, Atlassian, Slack). It’s unrealistic to expect one or two dedicated in-house technicians to be experts across a range of product sets.
A third party professional IT support company can provide expert support for all of your systems – without the expensive overheads that come with hiring extra employees.
How much can I expect to pay?
This table shows how much an average small business can expect to pay for IT desktop support in Canberra*.
Some estimates are one-off fees, while others are ongoing annual expenses.
|1-5 Users||5- 15 Plus Users||15 Plus Users|
|Domain & DNS||$ 300||$ 300||$ 300|
|Desktop Support||$ 1,000 – $ 3,000||$ 3,000 – $ 9,000||$ 10,000 ~|
|MS Office||$ 229 – $ 399 per user||$ 229 – $ 399 per user||$ 229 – $ 399 per user|
What’s included in Technowand’s desktop support plans?
Our desktop support options are designed to be flexible and offer maximum convenience. You get everything you need to keep your IT systems running, without unnecessary – and costly – bells and whistles.
|Project Work||By Quotation||By Quotation||By Quotation|
|Hardware & Software Procurement Service||By Quotation||By Quotation||By Quotation|
|Per User Monthly Fee ex GST||$21||$32||$59|
” It’s no secret that price is one of the main considerations when evaluating IT services. But there’s more to finding the right IT services provider than settling for the cheapest option.”
A great IT services company should be proactive to ensure that machines are up-to-date and secure. They should fix issues before they occur, and offer fixed fee support services so that clients stay within budget.
Are you ready to work with an IT services company that delivers on all of the above? For a no obligation, free quote and complimentary network audit, call Technowand today on (02) 6100 2135.
* Estimates exclude server support costs, as pricing varies between clients. In addition, all figures are estimates. Final pricing will be confirmed after performing a network audit for your business.