Properly managed IT services are essential to any business and organization, regardless of the industry. As technology continues to advance, there will be many new opportunities presented to businesses and organizations. However, these advances in technologies and solutions can make IT a little more difficult to manage in-house.
When this becomes the case, many businesses and organizations will look to outsource their IT help desk to improve their business operations. However, there is more than one type of outsourced IT: Managed IT Services and Co-Managed IT services. Managed IT Services and Co-Managed IT Services both have their advantages and disadvantages, as with any service or platform, so it is important to understand the differences so you can ensure your MSP offers the best service to fit the needs of your clients.
For managed service providers (MSPs) that want to grow their business or take advantage of new streams of revenue, you may want to consider co-managed IT services. If your MSP has grown accustomed to serving every IT need your client has, you have the opportunity to broaden your service offerings with Co-Managed IT services. Co-Managed IT services take place when an MSP partner with an internal IT team to achieve one or more IT goals.
When you offer Co-Managed IT services, your MSP can also expand its reach and attract a broader target audience beyond the businesses and organizations that outsource their IT needs and utilize the skills of an internal IT team. For example, you may have a client that has its own internal IT staff to manage IT needs but uses the service offerings you provide for business continuity and disaster recovery planning or cloud management.
What Should You Consider Before Offering Co-Managed IT Services?
Before offering co-managed IT services, an MSP should ask itself the following questions:
- Is your MSP equipped to offer co-managed IT services?
- What services do you plan to offer?
- What value will you promise to deliver to your target market?
- Will your service offerings be affordable?
When offering Co-Managed IT services, you will need to have an incredible amount of discipline and dedication. It is important for you to have a clear understanding of what qualities will make a business a ”good client”. Even if you know businesses and organizations need your services, every business or organization will not be a great match for your service offerings. You will need to understand what a potential client needs and what you can offer. Sometimes it may be best to pass on a client, and this is why it is important to know what will make a good client for your MSP.
Benefits of Co-Managed IT Services
Different types of customers can benefit from Co-Managed IT services. For example, a small business may have its own dedicated IT person who does not always have the time, resources, or tools to handle every task or someone who has other responsibilities, on top of the IT responsibilities.
There is an expectation that internal IT teams and the resources they have should have a better understanding of the value-adds for the business or organization better than an MSP. Even the businesses or organizations that partner with an MSP have difficulties in the contract when there is an expectation, and that expectation is not fulfilled.
However, MSPs still have an understanding of the technology and the overall industry in the majority of situations. Putting all the talent and expertise together can create something incredible.
The best partnerships in the industry are made when an internal IT team understands what their weaknesses are and seeks help to address those weaknesses. Co-Managed IT Services offerings work best when the MSP can guide an internal IT team and train and educate them on best practices so the IT department can be more efficient and productive.
Challenges of Co-Managed IT Services
One challenge of Co-Managed IT services is ensuring your clients follow your guidelines procedures. Unfortunately, clients are not always thorough when it comes to putting in help desk tickets or using the procedures that have been put in place to track information. MSPs want to know if clients are having issues with software or issues with hardware. Sometimes MSPs do not get all the details. The availability of the internal IT team and how quickly they respond (if they respond at all) will typically depend on the leaders ensuring it happens. Communication with the client, vendors, and staff is also another challenge that can get in the way of Co-Managed IT service offerings being a success. Everyone needs to be aware of what is going on at all times.
How Do MSPs Feel About Co-Managed IT Services
We asked MSP leaders on an online forum about Co-Managed IT Services to get their perspectives on the services and what value the service offerings could bring to an MSP and its client base. Here are some highlights from the insights:
”I am trying to get to the point of only having clients with internal IT or qualified staff that can do mundane tasks. I help with plans, project-based stuff, and even some hardware sales.”
”I’ll provide access to my tools and ticketing system for them (limited RMM access) and they will handle all the mundane stuff. …. I will also train as we go since the more they can handle on their own, the better for me. ….On the days an employee is not available (sick, vacation) then my company will handle the tier 1 issues.”
”We’re 95% co-managed, and like others have said, it’s mainly larger clients (500+ seats in most cases) who prefer this model. We currently don’t even provide helpdesk or desktop support since these larger clients have that in place in most cases. We’ve also developed different levels of service so the clients can also mix and match how much we help based on the gaps the client has in either expertise or coverage in the various expertise areas of IT. We prefer this model as well for all the reasons mentioned about working with IT people who “get it” and know we’re there to help them not replace them. They can mold our support team, our DevOps/tools team, and our management platform to fit their gaps and better their overall IT delivery to their business.”r
Succeeding at offering Co-Managed IT services can be its own challenge for MSPs. First, you have to ensure internal IT teams that you are not attempting to make them look bad or to take their jobs away. You will also have to explain to business owners why they still need to have an IT leader even if they use your services. To succeed at offering Co-Managed IT Services, there needs to be understanding, communication, and other factors that will equate to a successful partnership.