Outsourced IT, or managed IT services, means placing some or all of your information systems in the hands of an outside technology consulting firm (or Managed Service Provider). In many cases, associations will outsource when they simply don’t want to handle their IT needs in-house, or if they need a more expansive technology resource than they could reasonably sustain on their own (as technology is often mission-critical).
 
When it comes time to consider outsourcing, one of the first questions to come to mind—across all industries—is how much it is going to cost. It’s a question we at Optimal have encountered over and over again over the past two decades, and one we’re always happy to explore.
 
As you can imagine, there are a number of elements to consider when it comes to figuring out what an association’s specific investment will look like—especially given the software and member communication needs that are particular to associations.
 
Below we will walk you through the main components of your outsourced IT investment, along with the costs that are associated with each piece.
 

What are the components of outsourced IT for associations?

As a general rule, managed IT services are billed on a usage basis; this means that you pay for the services you’re actually being delivered, and that your provider is responsible for delivering those services to you.
 
Here are the main components of outsourced IT for trade and professional associations:

1. Infrastructure Maintenance/Management. This includes server monitoring and alerting (including patching and health checks), workstation protection (including patching, anti-virus, anti-spyware, and so forth), firewall management (including configuration backups and firmware updates), and managed backup and disaster recovery

2. User Support. This can be on-site or remote, and delivered on an unlimited or hour-by-hour basis. When signing on for a support package, check to see if the engineers you’ll be working with have experience with your software solutions and what they mean to your operations; you know how critical it is to be able to communicate with your members, but does your provider?

3. Cloud Services. Cloud services can include file backups, hosted Exchange, or a full-on hosted desktop solution that removes both the capital expense and support burden of servers altogether; your provider will be the one responsible for the actual computing, security, and maintenance elements of your network.

4. Strategic Consulting. In some cases, an organization will engage a CIO-level consultant to help vet and implement a new member management solution, to coordinate with multiple vendors for large-scale upgrade projects, and to generally help align their technology decisions with their association’s trajectory.

 
Generally speaking, managed service providers will allow you to subscribe to whichever services you need on an “à la carte” basis; if there are only certain gaps that you need to fill with outsourced support, you need not sign on for the entire spectrum of services.
 

What is the average cost of outsourced IT for associations?

What you invest each month depends wholly on the level of service that you subscribe to. Here, we’ll use a 50-person association as a benchmark for what your costs may look like:
 

Association Profile:

  • 50-person association
  • 2 physical servers
  • 1TB of data
  • YourMembership for member management
  • 2-person internal IT team

 

Service level:

  • Complete infrastructure maintenance (2 servers, 50 workstations, 1 firewall)
  • Comprehensive backup and disaster recovery (all 1TB of data)
  • Remote user support (all 50 users)
  • On-site support (2 full days per month)
  • Strategic consulting (1 full day per month)

 
Likely Monthly Investment: $9,000
 
If this same association were to opt for a fully-hosted environment with an on-site component, they would be looking at closer to $11,000 per month for a hosted desktop solution that includes a dedicated virtual server for YourMembership (but without any more server upgrade projects to worry about…ever).
 
The price range is rather large, but so is the range of possibilities as far as service combinations and level of depth. Fortunately, we outsourced IT firms will remove the guesswork and provide you with a customized quote that details the services we recommend to suit your needs, and exactly what they will cost you each month.
 
Just ask!
 


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