Co-Managed IT vs. Traditional Managed Services: Choosing the Right IT Service Model for Your Business

Co Managed IT Vs. Traditional Managed Services

Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and business managers are faced with two rivaling IT service models that have had a strong influence on the enterprise landscape as we know it; traditional in-house IT departments and fully outsourced, fully dedicated managed IT services. However, a third option exists. Co-managed IT offers the best of both worlds, bearing the flexibility of a fully-managed IT service and the dedication of an in-house IT department.

While both setups are perfectly viable options for most businesses’ IT needs, choosing the right provider isn’t just about selecting a provider; it’s about choosing a partner that sits flush with your organization’s goals in a way that maximizes productivity, adds value, saves money, and minimizes risks.

What are Traditional Managed IT Services?

Not that long ago, business managers would prioritize fixing only what’s broken. This break-fix approach quickly became unsustainable. With the rising cost of equipment, IT staff, and enterprise infrastructure as a whole, it quickly became clear that proactive issue detection and resolution would be necessary for network security and performance.

Traditional managed IT services are increasingly replacing break-fix IT strategies. Managed IT providers are external (third-party) IT companies that oversee and maintain your IT infrastructure to ensure its optimal performance and security. This arrangement is important for business owners who want to focus on daily activities uninterrupted by the technical and redundant aspects of IT.

Here, managed IT providers cover:

  • Network monitoring and performance optimization
  • Hardware and software upgrades
  • Data backup and disaster recovery
  • Virus and malware detection and removal
  • Helpdesk support
  • Strategic IT consulting

One inherent benefit of most traditional managed IT services is their proactive approach to IT management. Break-fix solutions are no longer feasible or practical for small businesses. Managed IT services in Charlotte continuously monitor your systems. They’re always on the lookout for suspicious activity and respond promptly in a bid to minimize downtime and disruptions to your business operations.

Who is the Traditional Managed IT Approach For?

To be fair, not all businesses benefit from a traditional managed IT approach. You can expect to pay a few hundred to a few thousand dollars on average for managed IT; a cost determined by the size of the business, number of users and devices, and coverage. Most providers operate on a subscription-based model where they charge a flat monthly rate.

Small and medium-sized businesses in retail, manufacturing, transportation and logistics, healthcare, non-government, legal, and finance make some of the biggest beneficiaries of managed IT services. These companies can delegate significant or entire portions of their IT hurdles to a third-party provider.

While this can cut down the load on your internal team, it may also limit the delivery of customized solutions or the ability to make quick changes to your IT environment. Regardless, building and nurturing a partnership with a managed services provider means access to a team of skilled professionals with specialized expertise, constantly watching over your IT.

And, because managed service providers charge a predictable monthly fee, small and medium-sized businesses can always budget their IT spending and focus on getting the most value out of their investment.

What are Co-Managed IT Services and What Do They Cover?

Shared responsibility between in-house IT staff and an outsourced IT provider is the driving force behind a successful co-managed IT partnership. As the name implies, a co-managed arrangement is collaborative in that IT tasks are shared between an organization’s in-house IT team and an external managed service provider.

This IT service model supplies the in-house IT department with additional support during peak seasons and specialized expertise in the quantity needed. Such an arrangement allows your internal IT department to focus on strategic deliverables while the outsourced team assists with the day-to-day.

Co-managed services cover the following aspects of IT:

  • Network infrastructure installation, monitoring upgrades, and management
  • Cybersecurity and compliance risk management
  • Data backup, disaster recovery, and business continuity planning
  • Cloud services monitoring and management

Clearly, there is an overlap between the coverage offered between fully managed and co-managed IT services.

Who is Co-Managed IT For?

Co Managed IT Vs. Traditional Managed Services blog images

One key aspect of co-managed IT is the flexibility it offers. Organizations can tailor the level of external engagement based on their internal specific needs. This means that during peak times or when specialized knowledge is required, the external provider can step in to fill the gaps. What’s more, co-managed IT offers greater transparency compared to a fully managed IT framework. The result is a more cohesive and efficient IT environment.

If balancing control over your provider’s involvement and deploying specialized expertise are important to your company, then co-managed IT is definitely worth consideration. With a co-managed IT provider, you do not have to disengage your internal IT team.

Instead, your internal IT team works alongside the managed service provider (MSP). Consequently, you retain a hand in decision-making processes, resource allocation, and strategic IT planning. The resulting collaborative environment could further see your internal IT department learn and achieve more from the outsourced experts.

It’s worth pointing out that despite its many benefits, co-managed IT comes with caveats that decision-makers should beware of. Sometimes, over-reliance on the outsourced team may overshadow the internal team and their role. What follows is an unbalanced distribution of resources and possible fierce resistance from the in-house team.

To mitigate further risks, SpectrumWise advocates for a comprehensive needs assessment first, to identify existing gaps. Delivering the exact professional help that your in-house team needs for onerous or bulky projects is our priority.

Between Co-Managed IT and Traditional Managed IT Services, Which Model is Better?

Traditional managed services are generally preferred for their proactive approach to IT management. Proactivity can make all the difference, particularly when you’re faced with unexpected downtime or untimely disaster.

Round-the-clock monitoring, maintenance, and support are additional key elements that make traditional managed IT services not only suitable for small and medium-sized enterprises but for larger organizations with hundreds of users and devices. With fully managed IT comes increased system uptime, reinforced cybersecurity measures, greater system performance, employee productivity, and compliance with industry regulations.

On the downside, traditional managed services can sometimes lead to a widespread misunderstanding of your company’s goals. Standardized, generic solutions plague managed IT delivery and delays in issue resolution with a non-responsive MSP could bring even more harm.

Co-managed IT can solve these drawbacks. As part of your team, they’re intimately familiar with your company’s unique challenges and needs. Still, communication challenges could wreak havoc on the collaboration further down the line. That’s why it’s essential to weigh your needs and evaluate your ideal provider before signing on.

What to Look for in Your IT Network Management Partner

When evaluating between co-managed IT and traditional services, it is crucial to carefully assess your organization’s specific requirements and your IT service provider’s operational capabilities. Think along the lines of:

  • Scalability – Given the dynamic nature of IT, business managers find it more cost-effective to hire IT providers that adjust their service offerings with the company’s needs in sight.
  • Level of control – Do you need greater or less control over your IT processes? Fully managed IT providers uptake all IT duties and require no additional resources. However, you retain limited direct control over the outcome.
  • Cost structure – Some IT service providers charge hourly rates for one-off projects and full service. Hourly rates can be difficult to keep up with for small businesses with diminutive IT budgets and spending. If this describes your situation, consider hiring a provider with a fixed monthly rate.

The trade-off here is between having a hands-on approach with co-managed IT or relinquishing control for more streamlined operations with traditional managed services.

The SpectrumWise Approach

No matter which service model you go for, at the end of the day, maximizing your IT performance and protecting your most vulnerable assets is what we’re all about at SpectrumWise. 

It’s important that we weigh these crucial requirements against the backdrop of additional resources and time your internal IT team may need to dedicate to working alongside our co-managed team. Otherwise, collaboration with lesser players in the field could impose hidden – and unnecessary – costs in the form of additional employee hours spent not coordinating with the external team. 

On the other hand, our fully managed IT services offer a more hands-off approach, potentially reducing the workload on the existing (if any) internal team and allowing your staff to focus on revenue-generating initiatives.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does job security differ for your company’s staff under managed and co-managed IT?

Managed IT seeks to provide a fully-equipped team with specialized experts in various facets of IT service delivery. As such, external outsourced teams handle all the requisite IT-related activities. With co-managed IT, internal staff retain their role in the company while the outsourced team fills the existing gaps.

What are the typical response times for managed and co-managed IT providers?

Outsourced managed IT providers often respond within minutes. The specifics of the expected average response time are outlined in your service level agreement. Co-managed IT typically achieves faster response times since your internal team can escalate issues directly.

Can clients request specific IT technicians with either model?

Both managed and co-managed IT service frameworks allow clients to request specialized skill sets, which allows for personalized services. Technical issues can be resolved faster and with precision with the specialized experts from both arrangements.

What are the exit costs associated with co-managed and managed IT?

For providers with a commitment requirement, typical exit costs are calculated from a percentage of the remaining term fee. Early termination of the contract may attract penalties but this is not always the case. Review your provider’s terms to understand any contractual obligations and commitment requirements beforehand.


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