It is difficult to give a concise answer to what IT services will cost because every client is different and IT companies offer different services and different models of service delivery.

Read this article for a description of the different service delivery models.

Companies offering a Break/Fix model usually charge an hourly rate. Since clients their services on an as-needed basis, they can expect to pay the “rack” rate for these services. Depending on where your business is located, this rate can range from $85 to over $300 per hour.

Clients who purchase Block-Hours from an IT Service Provider (ITSP), will typically pay a discounted hourly rate depending on how many hours they purchase. These discounts may run from 5% to 20% off the “rack” rate.

Some clients require a more full-service IT arrangement; others simply want to ensure their systems are secure. Many IT companies offer maintenance or Managed Services agreements where they charge their clients a monthly flat rate to maintain their systems.

For these services, IT companies will charge a flat rate per computer, per person (user), or for the entire network.

Typically, there will be a bundle of services that comes with the maintenance package. There will be security services such as antivirus, web and email protection, backup, and possibly password management. There will be maintenance like patching and monitoring.

Each of these services is usually monitored by a human being. When a technician monitors these services, that cost is included in the package.

Labor is often included in these packages. Depending on the package, a service provider might include remote support or all remote AND on-site support. The more services that are included, the more the package will cost. However, your monthly bills are likely to be more consistent and you should experience less down time. Good ITSPs invest time, money and their knowledge of the industry in building the right packages and consulting their clients as an outsources, or virtual CIO.

IT service companies typically have a formula that also takes into account the age of computers, the network configuration, the technical ability of the client, and (believe it or not) how needy they think the client will be.

When a new client is on-boarded, it is important for the service provider to spend time and effort getting to know the how the client does business, and how they use technology. This is why service providers usually ask for a multi-year agreement. Service providers typically spend the first several months gaining the trust of the client and becoming an extension of their team. Over time, as trust is built, both the client and the ITSP will begin to reap the benefits of the relationship. In fact, built into this model is the expectation that there will be some months that the service provider will lose money. ITSPs take the long view on these agreements and try to build them so they are fair over the term of the agreement.

The cost of these maintenance packages can vary greatly even within the same IT company. You may see a security-only package for $50/user/month and a remote and onsite labor package for over $250/user/month, depending on what is included and where you are geographically. Most of these packages will include a discount of the provider’s hourly rate for any project that is out of scope of these agreements.

Typically, these maintenance packages make sense for businesses with more than four or five employees. In order help smaller companies or startups, IT companies may offer other packages that are built for the needs of a smaller or growing business.