MSPs research time

MSPs continue to face a huge dilemma on what to charge for complicated and time-consuming challenges. This is mainly because every industry has to consider the factors that determine their adherence to anti-trust laws.

Marketplace commoditization is one of the stickiest points for developing a pricing strategy that can work for every MPS’s service delivery model. The shift from break/fix services and the constant evolution of cybersecurity threats has removed any room for complacency when addressing your client’s concerns.

This means that at times it becomes necessary for MSPs to spend loads of billable hours on researching the best way to combat a specific threat. This can affect revenues since it may look like a waste of time to some clients.

Our team at EasyIT, a Columbus IT services company weighed in with some insights.

Why Is Research Necessary in Combating IT Threats?

Back in the days of dial-up connections and the golden modem age, an antivirus was sufficient in dealing with cybersecurity threats. However, those days are long gone. Now, hackers, botnets, and other cybersecurity threat actors have come up with a bag of new tricks.

At times, an MSP encounters a threat that is not currently in any virus definition database. This forces IT, professionals, to spend billable hours on researching the best way to address the challenge. It’s not easy to justify such an amount of time spent on just a few aspects of an MSP’s services delivery.

So, MPSs need to find fairer ways to charge their clients for the time spent on researching specific issues. This all starts by looking into the other factors that affect the pricing of managed IT services.

What Factors Affect Pricing?

Currently, MSPs don’t have a unified standard for service delivery and pricing. This has afforded them a little flexibility and ingenuity when it comes to justifying the profit margins. However, such there’s always a risk involved with every business opportunity created by such uncertainties.

So, MPSs need to look at the following factors to effect a fair pricing model:


The cybersecurity threat horizon is continuously expanding. This has created a need for IT professionals to diversify their skill sets to combat such threats. As more MSP firms open shop, the competition is not only based on getting the most clients but also providing the most comprehensive services.

So, spending on research becomes necessary in displacing the competition while providing value to your customers. Adding such value to your client’s invoice makes it harder for MSPs to undercut you on the pricing.

Technological Complexities

MSP firms offer industry-specific services. Working MSP services into the unique business processes and the machines behind them becomes more challenging without spending more time on research.

For instance, cloud-computing services were only a backup measure a few years ago. But, they’ve become an acceptable business convention. This thanks to the research done by IT professionals from various industrial backgrounds.

Industrial Specificity

The specific client base an MSP target is essential to the pricing and procedure employed in dealing with technological challenges. Each industry has a set of IT compliance measure they must adhere to standardize their approach to technology. Therefore, an MSP may need to research how adding even a new component can affect their client’s compliance.

Related Costs

MSPs face the need to research operational costs so they can deliver value without losing revenues from signing on new clients. However, there has been a downward pricing trend because more MPS firms are setting up shop.

So, it may be wise for you as an MSP to find more effective ways to improve or at least optimize your operations to break even in such a flooded market.


Research is key to developing a standardized approach to scalability and standardized pricing. This can prevent an MPS from stagnating due to the effects of downward pricing because of a long client list. This presents a challenge when offering a definitive pricing model for all your clients.

Sometimes even dealing with vendors can create issues for clients that need to scale up their operations. An MSP then has to offer some on-site support. Consequently, spending a lot of time and money conducting conclusive research to provide lasting solutions.

What Can MSPs Do to Factor in Time Spent on Research into Billable Hours?

However, how to justify such an amount of time spent on research is a complex issue for an MSP. How does one even quote such a figure on the invoice? Well, you could always stick it on the billable hours. But then that’s an even more complex issue.

But, let’s look at how you can continue to add value and justify the time spent on research.

  • Keeping track of pre-sale hours can help MSPs calculate the actual value of research when negotiating billable hours in supplementary service agreements.
  • Documenting every change order should also account for time spent on research to eliminate any technical ambiguities from your client’s invoice. If you leave such a measure to chance, then all that time spent on research should automatically go into non-billable hours.
  • Taking the legal approach; Lawyers and other professionals charge a fee for the hours they spend on research. As a highly-skilled professional, you should also value your time. This is challenging in such a crowded industry. Therefore, you should focus on conducting thorough consultations with your clients and chalk them up as justifiable invoice entries.

In Summary

MSPs lack a standard service and costing model. However, adherence to competition authority standards means that they can’t simply charge what they feel is appropriate. Spending more time on research can be a learning experience. You can take advantage of such a background in your future client engagements.

But, that’s not enough. We still need to find other ways to charge of that time. We hope what we’ve touched on can help your MSP firm come up with effective ways of charging your clients for the time spent on research please bookmark our blog and follow us on social media to get more insightful tips.