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IT Cost Breakdown for Architecture Firms

It is time for another episode of Design Under Influence!  

Today we are talking about the prices and costs of Information Technology. It is going to be a juicy episode, as sometimes this topic is overlooked by architecture firms.  

We are breaking down pricing models for IT firms that you can bring in to help your architecture and design firm manage its information systems!  

In the current marketplace, there are predominantly two service models that stand out for small and medium-sized architecture and design firms.  

The first pricing model is the Hourly Model.  

With an hourly model, your IT provider works with you and then bills you at the end of the month depending on the amount of time they have spent with your firm.  

This can be done in 15-minute increments or hourly increments, but anyway you slice it, you will likely get charged down to the minute.   

On average, these external IT firms charge about $175 per hour. For more intensive technological projects that require experts, this fee could be even larger.  

There are variations to the hourly model that might better suit your particular firm’s needs.  

For example, there are pre-paid hourly models where you can purchase blocks of time at the beginning of the week/month which can lead to reduced prices.  

For companies with 30+ people who might manage IT internally, much of this outsourcing of IT services can be off-loaded through in-house solutions.  

The second pricing model is called the Manage Services Model. 

This model gives you a team of people that help your organization run all of its technology for a recurring nominal fee.  

You get Level 1 and 2 service desk people who will solve issues for your users.  

You get a project engineer who is assigned to help you take on bigger projects & tasks.  

And if all that wasn’t enough, you get a virtual CIO to provide strategic guidance to ensure that you are investing properly.  

In the last couple of years, organizations of all sizes have begun to trend towards this model as opposed to the hourly billing method.  

As technology becomes a bigger part of the architecture and design firm processes, business owners are seeing the value of the Manage Services Pricing Model.  

This model is priced in several different ways. It can be priced by the number of servers, per-device model, or per user model.  

Most of the pricing, however, comes from the riskiness of the business. With the Manage Services Pricing Model, the IT company takes on a share of the risk. They quite literally become a partner in your business.  

This makes IT as invested as you in your business. If something doesn’t work properly, they have to expend more labor. Because the architecture firm pays a flat rate, continuous problems can make the IT company lose money.  

With a Manage Services Model priced on a per-user basis, architecture and design firms can expect to pay anywhere from $100-$300 per person in their firm.  

Special projects can be included or not included, based on the comprehensiveness of your plan.  

If you need some examples of potential pricing, check out some of our models here.  

So how do you choose between an Hourly and Management Services Model? Let’s go through some of the benefits and drawbacks of each plan.  

As a business owner, an hourly model can tamper with the up-front costs of IT services. Especially for smaller firms of 5-6 people who may not need a ton of IT support, this might be the most cost-effective route.  

However, there are real drawbacks to this pricing model, even for smaller firms. You have to take not only the cost of services into consideration but also the cost to your business.  

If you use an hourly model, your ‘IT guy’ will have other clients, and may not always be available to you.  

This delay in response time could slow your business way down, causing you to lose productive hours. You want to be working in the business, not on the business while fiddling with IT solutions.  

Critical issues could go on for 2-3 days. This makes the hourly model a big risk, as your business could suffer from the lost time.  

Manage Services Pricing Models reduce this risk. These models usually have people that can be deployed at any given moment to go to work in remotely fixing your IT issues.  

Besides, Manage Services providers are constantly monitoring and maintaining your systems. Remember what we mentioned earlier: these providers work with you to reduce risks, as they have a stake in the game.  

You should also take into account off-boarding issues when you let employees go. Is your company secure? Is that individual locked out of all systems?  

Rather than dealing with this yourself or calling in your hourly IT person, a Managing Services IT firm does this work for you, saving you time, money, and stress.  

Manage Services IT models have a checklist that goes to work for you. You can focus on the parts of your business where you’re an expert, while your IT partner takes care of the technological aspects.  

You want an IT provider that is:  

  • Responsive  
  • Proactive  
  • Strategic  

If your current IT provider isn’t checking those boxes, it might be time to look for alternative solutions.  

Going with an IT firm that is industry-specific to architecture, design, and engineering firms can be a highly productive relationship, as the tools that these firms use are so unique and specific.  

You want an IT firm that is literate in the systems you use. Architecture, design and engineering firms deal with a lot of complexity, and your IT team needs to understand these tools for strategic input.  

Looking to learn more about how a Manage Services IT Firm partnership can make technology your firm’s competitive advantage?  

Reach out to us at ArchIT!  

We’d love to hear from you and talk further about IT solutions that can go to work for your company.  

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