Over the last couple of years, we witnessed a significant transformation in the way organizations manage their technology assets. This was driven by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, where enterprises across industries scrambled to adapt and secure work-from-home environments.
While the pandemic might have emphasized a severe lack of agility (from a technological perspective), organizations must now efficiently manage the downsizing IT departments and carefully navigate through the great resignation.
Together, all these circumstances highlight the critical need to augment existing IT teams to improve agility and scalability. As such, we’re witnessing increasing partnerships with managed service providers (MSPs).
In this scenario, organizations access cutting-edge technologies (including automation tools) and technical expertise from an external provider to support internal IT teams. It’s important as we’re now moving towards a new normal with hybrid environments (with both remote and office-based working) that introduce more complexity.
Co-Managed IT Services Defined
Co-managed IT services allow organizations to easily customize which IT services to keep (or manage) in-house and which to outsource (to a co-management partner). This approach provides a unique opportunity to optimize efficiency by pairing in-house IT professionals with the convenience and up-to-date resources of an external managed services provider.
Co-managed services can be highly cost-effective and help deliver enhanced end-user experiences with the latest technology. You can also pick and choose the resources you need and use them only when needed. This IT model helps improve your business offering and helps take some of the pressure off already overwhelmed internal IT staff.
In contrast to fully outsourced or managed IT services, co-managed IT solutions follow a true partnership model. In this scenario, your MSP will work closely with your internal IT department to achieve common goals.
Rather than on a project basis, co-managed IT services are delivered under a long-term agreement and can take on a myriad of forms. So, you can easily mix, match, and customize it to your organization’s specific IT needs.
Who Should Use Co-Managed IT Services?
Co-managed solutions are suitable for all types of businesses and industry verticals. Although it’s best suited for small and medium-sized enterprises, even corporate giants can reap the benefits of co-managed services.
Co-managed IT services are perfect for:
- Understaffed and overworked internal IT departments. In this case, organizations can use a managed services provider like a “relief valve.” They can help fill the technology and skills gap effectively whenever there is a spike in demand.
- Businesses unable to hire additional IT staff. Whether it’s due to the great resignation or the tech talent shortage, MSS can help fill the gap. The same is true if you’re dealing with a lack of resources or temporary IT support needs. Whenever organizations follow this IT model, they benefit from supplementing existing in-house IT departments without the same level of ongoing commitments, HR headaches, or overheads.
- Budget cuts and limited resources. Cost savings are the primary benefit of fully managed and co-managed IT services. For example, the average Help Desk Technician commands a salary of $59,200 in San Diego, California. That number doesn’t include the cost of hiring, employee benefits, onboarding, and so on. In contrast, outsourcing IT functions like ticketing, escalations, routine maintenance, and help desk services comes at a fraction of the cost with co-managed IT services.
- Enterprises that need to improve security. As hybrid and cloud environments grow more complex, cybersecurity becomes increasingly challenging. Co-management of IT and security protocols help reduce complexity while boosting security. For example, businesses can allow external security teams to monitor networks, infrastructure, and hardware that support applications like Microsoft Office 365. The MSS provider can also help avert potential downtime and prepare a disaster recovery plan to ensure business continuity.
Service level agreements (SLAs) can stipulate anything from on-site technical support services to remote monitoring and management. You can also include strategic advice, security training, and the management augmented staff. Basically, whatever your MSS has in their stack.
Co-Managed IT Services: Advantages and Disadvantages
The benefits of adopting co-managed IT services are many, but companies must also keep a few considerations in mind before committing.
Key Advantages of Co-Managed Services
As alluded to above, cost savings are the primary benefit of co-managed IT solutions. For example, businesses won’t have to deal with hiring and relocation costs, can accomplish more with less staff, and quickly get a return on investment.
However, there is much more to this IT services model. Some other advantages of co-managed services include:
Retain Complete Control
When your IT infrastructure is co-managed, you retain total control of administrative access and all the tools provided by your MSP. IT teams can quickly choose what parts of the operation to streamline with a third-party IT partner and what can be maintained by the in-house IT team.
Around-the-Clock Help Desk Support
When you follow a co-management IT model, you get to offer help desk services, and IT support 24/7. Organizations that adopt this approach can also depend on their co-management services partner for support when staff members get sick or go on vacation.
By implementing cutting-edge technologies quickly, enterprises can rapidly innovate and accelerate time to market. They also don’t have to waste time looking, interviewing, hiring, and training new staff for a one-time IT project. Co-managed IT services also provide external experts who can offer insights into which software products and technologies will help cost-effectively achieve short and long-term goals.
Boost Employee Morale
With valuable real-time insights and improved strategies, businesses can foster a positive and healthy culture within the IT team and across the organization. By providing the necessary tools and resources they need to do their job successfully, you cultivate a healthy and proactive working environment that’s better focused and primed for longevity.
Boost Security Protocols
In the current threat landscape, it’s safe to say that everyone on the planet is a live target. This makes it critical for companies to fortify their cybersecurity posture by leveraging best-in-class tools and processes. This includes the deployment of security information and event monitoring (SIEM), endpoint detection and response, vulnerability management, and much more.
Enterprises that work with an established MSP will also stay up with the latest security and emerging technology trends without any need to expend additional resources. Whenever co-managed IT operations run smoothly and quickly, IT staff also have more time to focus on what’s important—your business goals.
Key Disadvantages of Co-Managed Services
Like anything in life, co-managed solutions also have a few cons to consider. Some of these disadvantages include:
Identifying the Right Co-Managed
It’s critical to find an MSP or IT co-management partner that is established and supported by a strong track record. They should also complement your business and operations model. Successful IT co-management requires the right tools, skillsets, experience, and agility to meet your organization’s unique business needs. It’s also important to find the “right” co-management services partner as your organization may have to navigate through a lengthy transitional period and onboarding cycles.
Although the primary benefit of managed services is cost savings in the long term, businesses must contend with upfront costs in the short term. But the good news is that most MSPs allow some cost control as you only pay for the resources you need and when you use them.
Compatibility and Flexibility Challenges
Before committing, it’s crucial to carefully go over the organization’s software requirements and compatibility needs to ensure a smooth transition and business continuity. Exploring compatibility challenges early will help avert potential delays and expenses a few months later. Flexibility is also critical to provide uninterrupted services as the environment evolves and scales.
With the right co-management IT partner by your side, you can transform your operation, take some of the pressure off IT staff, as well as meet and exceed your business goals. Your organization will also be agile and able to adapt to a rapidly changing market quickly and efficiently to maintain a competitive advantage.