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The hidden costs to businesses of poor IT support.

Article by Simon Heath in Benefits of Outsourcing IT Services, Business on Dec 9, 2021

Piggy bank in a maze


You might be tempted to control IT support costs by looking for as low a monthly fixed-fee support as possible. On the face of it, that seems sensible. 

However, that approach might push up your overall costs. How? 

Buying support below what you need and what you can afford isn’t in your own best interest as hidden costs increase your total cost of ownership, so you are paying more.  

These hidden costs usually occur in three areas: 

  • Day to day helpdesk queries that fail to smooth out bumps in your productivity. 
  • Project work intended to develop your capabilities. 
  • Security risks that are neglected until significant costs and damage are incurred. 

Hidden Costs of an Under-Performing Helpdesk

Every help desk is different, but poor help desks tend to display similar characteristics that cost you time, effort and money.  

  •   Repeated problems  

Keep having the same IT problem? Even if you are on a fixed-fee helpdesk support contract you pay extra in terms of lost productivity, frustration and eroding goodwill when your staff have to call repeatedly for the same problem. It should be in the IT provider’s best interest to fix it once and for all, but that requires them to be aware of the pattern before they can implement any root cause analysis and stop it permanently.  

  •   Poor Communication 

When a problem is handed over it costs your time and attention if you aren’t updated properly, or escalation teams are unreachable or need to be told repeatedly about the problem.  

  • Sloppy processes  

Processes that should be simple and smooth, such as the technical steps taken when someone starts or leaves your organisation, aren’t. They waste your time as you verify items are in place. In addition, this can have reputational costs, such as a new starter getting a bad impression, as well as being unproductive. Or can lead to security risks, such as leavers still having access rights that should have been revoked.   

  • Stuck on script  

Your helpdesk is unable to deviate from their set script. Intelligently bypassing several steps to solve your problem quickly and easier is not an option. They must follow every step, every escalation, every required response to the T, but that wastes your time and effort.  

  • Working around IT problems  

If your IT isn’t fit for purpose, staff work around it and become their own IT department. Data is siloed, rather than being used collaboratively and security is usually impaired. The costs can be significant.  


The Hidden Costs of Failed Projects

IT projects are intended to move your business forward, take away pains and ultimately get results. Staying competitive, improving customer service, increasing efficiency are important investments.  

But if your IT projects have historically failed or been abandoned or under-delivered, that investment is a waste of time and money. 

If something goes seriously wrong, e.g., you face a data loss, then it can cost something even more valuable – your reputation. Will you still be considered a trusted partner?  

A question that brings us on to hidden security costs. 

Hidden Costs of Lax Cyber security

Two persistent myths often stop small and medium-sized businesses from spending on security.  

Myth 1. My business is too small to be targeted.   

Myth 2. I am unlikely to face a cyber attack.   

Forget both these myths. Because your business is extremely likely to be targeted by cyber criminals and face some form of breach.  

This is a conclusion overwhelmingly supported by a growing body of cybersecurity research. Here are just a few alarming statistics that convey the level of risk businesses faced in 2021.  

  • A survey by Egress found that 94% of organisations faced data breaches in the last year.
  • Thycotic, in their State of Ransomware study for 2021 found that 64% of companies were victims of ransomware in the last twelve months.
  • Cybersecurity Ventures predicted in 2021 that ransomware attacks on businesses will occur every 11 seconds, with an overall cost of $20 billion.  


You will face a breach. And those breaches cost: 

  • Loss due to fraud, like ransomware 
    Data from Statista  found that in 2021 a data breach cost medium to large businesses on average £3,930 with small businesses facing costs of £2,600.  
  • Productivity loss when recovering from a breach 
    In our experience, even a data protection issue as simple as a Digital Subject Access Request can take 40 hours of senior management time just to formulate a response. 
  • The cost of reputational damage 
    If you are having to explain a breach to a client or the ICO they won’t care about your intentions. They will want details of what actions you took to mitigate the risk.
    If you can’t speak confidently on this, you are going to lose your client's trust. If you can’t speak competently about it, you will pay the next cost. 
  • Fines for non-compliance with data protection law.  
  • Loss of business or inability to acquire new business if clients and prospects assess your security as inadequate 
    As more and more clients move away from businesses that fail to protect their data, this is not a situation you should take lightly. 41% of UK consumers said in a recent report by Hiscox that they would never return to a business post-breach. 
  • In certain cases, breaches result in the closure of a business.  

Nobody wants to spend on security, but leaders do because it’s prudent and they want to fulfil their legal and moral obligations to staff, clients and stakeholders.  

How to Avoid Hidden Costs

Picking a company to provide IT support to your business is not a shopping expedition many of us look forward to. It’s easier to scroll through the proposal to the costs at the bottom, check for any contract gotchas and consider the job done. 

But ignoring the hidden costs could lead you to shop for a new provider earlier than you wanted as you face up to the hidden costs.

Evaluating providers on their ability to add value, keep you productive and competitive, enable your growth and mitigate your biggest risks will pay you back in the long run.  

Here is our guide on the five factors we think will help you evaluate IT providers who add value to your business. 

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