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IT Solution

We are looking for a solution for IT. We don't currently have an internal IT department and it wasn't a big deal before now. We have close to 100 computers spread out across several counties. We had a company install a diagnostic tool and sent us a performance report with a quote to provide monthly monitoring and assessment of findings. From that report, we can choose to have issues resolved internally or contract with them to do it. The quote was between $9 - 14k annually depending on if we include anti-virus and maleware software.

I like the idea of having the PCs monitored and the status reports, however that seems costly when I can replace a PC for $400. To hire someone would cost more than that; but that position would also be able to help with other administrative duties, as the IT would not be a FT position at this time.

Looking for advice on shopping other vendors or suggesting other methods. 


Topic Expert
Bob Scarborough
Title: CEO
Company: Tensoft, Inc.
(CEO, Tensoft, Inc.) |

It is a good question - and a topic most SMB companies don't give the right level of attention to. In truth most companies underfund or under-support IT - and compensate by treating the PCs and the applications that go with them as disposable.

One thing you could start with is your cost model. I would suggest it is too narrow in a few key ways:
1) It doesn't consider your whole IT framework. Most companies with 100 computers would have servers (significantly more than $400), networks, backup devices, and software applications that run on these machines. The investment / value associated with your IT infrastructure is usually significantly more than the desktop machines.
2) Focusing on the replacement cost doesn't consider the organizational impact of downtime, virus infiltration, data theft, or personal productivity related to the computers. What is the real impact of being down for a week - if say a virus spreads or your active directory management system goes down taking down all of your servers at once.
3) The focus on hardware and systems doesn't focus where the value is - which is the data / systems / processes located on your PCs. What is the value of that? How do you ensure it remains owned by the company (if say a sales person leaves with their notebook or loses their notebook)?

A first step you could consider, prior to looking for a service, is a full accounting of your IT infrastructure and what it is doing for your company. That would let you analyze where your vulnerabilities are, where any IT maintenance service would add value, and what would be best to do internally or through an outside service.

Bob Scarborough

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

Was that $9-$14K just to monitor all 100 PCs, with no corrective actions?

Then you are right, it is too expensive. But, if it also includes some aspect of on-site work, then you are probably getting a bargain, because one IT Tech will cost you a lot more...

Also, you made the typical CFO error of equating a computer with the hardware cost only. You have a software cost and a Technician cost. Even if you were to ghost your PC's, it will still take someone time to perform that operation.

So in reality, a PC will cost you much more than $400 each.

Topic Expert
Lee Andrews
Title: P/T CFO, Business Consultant
Company: Pacific Bag, Inc./Other Clients
(P/T CFO, Business Consultant, Pacific Bag, Inc./Other Clients) |

Agree with Wayne -- those costs just to monitor seem high. IT service does not just involve the discrete PC costs. You also have the main server maintenance, new software installation, virus-killing, maybe even phone system service. Having IT or phones go down can cost big time in lost business. The technology sure ain't getting any easier, and good IT service demands an increasingly high level of knowledge/certification.

At some point in a company's life cycle, an employed, dedicated IT dept will be the way to go, but you can get a long way these days with outsourced IT services. The costs will depend on the business complexity, staff needs, social media involvement, sales dept needs while on the road, etc.

I'll just throw out a couple of cost examples from previous consulting clients -- 42 person company spent about $90k a year on an outside IT guy (no benefits/FICA, etc.) and that covered PC support, fixing, installing, email issues, server maintenance, phone system, installing new company wide software, etc. Everything 24/7 available -- and he does a good job. He is current on his Microsoft certification at a fairly high level and I'm guessing he probably handles 3-4 clients during a week, with this company being a main client. Another company has just 11 employees, and spends about $30k per year for the same. So for small companies I see $2k to high $2k's per employee per year for full IT support (excludes hardware costs).

(Agent, JKS Solutions, Inc.) |

Christie, the price point of $9k - $14k a year for both monitoring and corrective actions seems resonable compared to the cost of hiring a tech to do the same.

Outsourcing the support for just the IT solution you need to the right provider will save you headaches and cost over time... it's not just PC hardware you need to measure for cost. You could go purchase new equipment to remedy an existing problem and have the same issue occur on the new gear.

As Wayne mentioned, corrective action should be included, but don't forget preventive measures for your plan either.

Let's say it's $12k a year for 100 computers. That's $1000 a month, $10 per computer or $2.50 per week to have each PC secured, monitored and corrective actions in place. Not a bad deal.


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