What is Co-Managed IT?
Co-Managed IT refers to the collaboration between a Managed Service Provider (MSP) and a client’s internal IT department. It is common among MSP’s that serve larger businesses with in-house IT teams. It is less common, but not unheard of, for MSPs serving small businesses.
Some internal IT departments can be reluctant to consider Co-Managed IT. This is because traditional MSP models and managed services agreements would often want to take over control of the entire IT stack, thus rendering the internal IT department redundant. But this is a common misconception and Co-Managed IT is not as extreme as that. In fact, Co-Managed IT can offer an internal IT department a number of benefits. Sharing IT responsibilities takes some of the administrative burden off internal IT departments, who are often swamped with work and need help.
Research indicates the market is definitely shifting towards a Co-Managed IT approach with a recent survey showing that 63% of SMBs in the US use at least one IT service provider even though they also have dedicated, in-house IT staff. Plus, closer to home, UK businesses are more likely to have both internal and outsourced support in comparison to France, Netherlands and Germany. So the move to a hybrid Co-Managed IT model is definitely an option.
Let’s take a look in more detail at how Co-Managed IT can benefit an internal IT team.
Benefits of Co-Managed IT
- Strategic Focus – research shows internal IT teams in larger businesses face challenges in implementing their IT strategy across their organisation and may use an MSP to manage the process. A 2019 report indicates larger SMBs believe IT helps their business succeed; therefore they are likely to contract with an MSPs for strategic reasons. In essence, this means outsourcing some routine tasks to an MSP, so that the internal IT team can focus on higher level technical challenges. Chief Technology Officers, IT Directors and Heads of IT can then focus their efforts on IT strategy and mission-critical activities rather than mundane Network and User Support. In fact in a recent survey by IT industry trade association CompTIA , 31% of respondents said they opted to work with a service provider on a Co-Managed basis to ‘free IT staff to work on strategic projects’.
- Expertise – many businesses choose to work with IT providers on a Co-Managed basis because the MSP has expertise in a specific area of IT. For example 38% of respondents to a survey in the US and 28% of respondents to a survey in the UK said they adopted managed services for “enhanced security/compliance”. MSPs have deep technical knowledge in specific disciplines of IT. For example Core Team One has extensive experience of Next Generation Firewalls through our alliance with Fortinet and is highly skilled in the deployment of Multi-factor Authentication to ensure networks are protected against security breaches. We are also adept in the deployment of Microsoft Teams and SharePoint applications for improved business productivity. Our partnership with Veeam also allows us to provide clients with the best solutions for Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery. Ask yourself, does your internal IT department really want to start from scratch researching, testing and deploying such solutions when they can get ahead of the game by co-managing with an MSP like Core Team One?
- Save Time and Money – MSPs can initiate new projects and implement new technologies quickly. They have the resources and flexibility to get projects off the ground, which might ordinarily take weeks or months in-house using an overworked internal IT team. MSPs work with a wide variety of clients with different IT needs and are therefore uniquely equipped to take on complex IT projects. By Co-managing the process MSPs can use their vast experience troubleshooting products to resolve any issues quickly and cost effectively.
- Automation of Tasks and Enhanced Monitoring – MSPs have access to expensive, sophisticated monitoring tools that can be deployed to co-manage a network on behalf of an internal IT team. Protecting company data through backup and restore has long been a pain point for companies of all sizes. By co-managing with an MSPs, internal IT teams can ensure their company is fully protected using automated, monitored, verified and granular backup processes. Likewise, ongoing monitoring and software management provided by MSPs can ensure software is automatically patched and up to date to protect against security breaches. Automating tasks like this gives internal IT teams more time to support their Users.
- A hybrid IT department – companies with multiple sites spread out geographically can realise benefits from Co-Managed IT. If the internal IT team is concentrating on a project at one particular site, the remaining sites can be covered by the MSP to ensure they keep running. Through a co-managed approach the MSP can be familiar with the client’s environment and cover the IT whenever necessary. In addition, internal IT teams often don’t have the time to do research and put together plans for deploying new technologies, so it can be helpful to have an expert outside perspective; an MSP can help here too.
Co-Managed IT – The way forward
In conclusion, a collaborative working relationship with an MSP can provide internal IT teams with real benefits. Businesses can offload a number of difficult or time consuming tasks, allowing their internal IT staff to focus on mission-critical activities. The ongoing infrastructure monitoring that managed service providers deliver can help internal IT teams avoid IT issues, data loss and downtime. IT teams face budget and time constraints that make it difficult to deliver the level of monitoring an MSP can. Or, if your current IT team is running ragged, perhaps you can offload some difficult IT tasks. MSPs can help keep you focused, and keep you safe.
Richard Payne – Senior Consultant