How Do MSPs Keep Track Of Billing Per User With Shared Accounts

Most MSPs bill their services per user or the number of supported devices. What if your organization has several users working across different gadgets with shared accounts? How is billing per user tracked — or is it even possible in such a scenario?

Outsourcing an MSP to handle your computer networks comes with the promise of enhancing efficiency while cutting on costs. Therefore, you expect that their prices should be value-driven, and every penny must be accounted for. This is why it’s essential to have some background information on the billing process.

How Do MSPs Bill Their Services?

The ideal billing structure envisions each user having their personal O365 accounts and being tied to their workstations. However, many firms are increasingly adopting open workspaces to expand workforce collaboration and enhance productivity. In such modern work environments, employees share user accounts and move from station to station, logging in using EMR only. This makes it almost impossible to trace and bill users via O365 accounts, as is the tradition.

So, do MSPs still bill per user and pull user numbers from the EMR? This was the subject of discussion in one Reddit Blog Chat, which forms this article’s basis.

Here are some constructive responses that we singled out:

1. How Can You Sync Users From Pax8 Based on M365 User Count? While explaining this structure, ernestdotpro, an MSP practitioner in Oregon, says that “If a user logs into a computer OR and needs to call the support desk for help, they get an M365 license.” Each employee logs in “as themselves via the EMR separately from Windows.” Instead of using stations and O365 accounts, the MSP tracks and bills specific users within ORs based on their logons, e.g., OR1 for the first user in that room, and so on. Sometimes they may not even use the license, but it helps with tracing logins and user activity. This aids in keeping track of individual users even if they operate through different shared accounts. Besides enabling reliable tracking of billing, having generic users per OR makes it easy to ensure that they all have proper licensing for Office desktop apps.

2. What About Protection of PII? Safeguarding users’ personally identifiable information (PII) is a forefront topic for any modern-day organization. You might have realized that having your employees access different computers via EMR (using shared accounts) makes it challenging to control access privileges. The solution, according to computerguy0-0, is “to protect PII with an individual login. So if no PII is accessible from the main computer logon and requires a secondary login into the software that holds the PII, then it’s HIPAA compliant.”

3. What If You Have More Gadgets to Support Than Users? Let’s say you have eight desktops with four users:

  • Calculate your total service bills — software licensing for all the PCs, BDR, server, and any additional hardware maintenance costs.
  • Spread the aggregate amount across the eight desktops.

If they reduce their desktop count to four/add more costs per employee, but not exceeding eight users, it’s still cost-effective to bill per user.

If not, the MSP should allow you to pay for services per device. Others will strictly bill per user, but any additional support costs (machines, excessive server support, backup costs, etc.) are summed up and used to increase the rate.

Whatever billing structure is used, it must be straightforward and easy to use. One last thing, you must agree on the terms and conditions before signing the contract.