Over the past two years, organizations have recognized bottlenecks and risks in their IT operations. Supporting a remote/hybrid workforce requires different tools and processes than supporting onsite users. Migration of on-premises workloads to the cloud requires new skill sets. An expanded attack surface and increasingly sophisticated security threats demand more resources than organizations have in-house. These realities are driving the increased adoption of co-managed IT services. In a co-managed arrangement, an IT team shares responsibilities with a managed services provider (MSP). More of a partnership than a typical outsourcing arrangement, co-managed IT enables in-house staff to offload some tasks while directing the activities of the MSP.
In a recent survey by technology market research firm Canalys, 60% of respondents said that co-managed IT arrangements have increased since the onset of the pandemic. A BCG study found that 89% of organizations face IT staffing challenges and plan to increase their reliance on IT service providers.
There are several ways to structure a co-managed IT arrangement. Some organizations opt to outsource help desk support. This can be particularly beneficial with today’s work-from-home models. Qualified MSPs have well-defined methodologies and enterprise-class tools for delivering remote support. Some MSPs offer after-hours or even 24×7 support for users in different time zones.
Other organizations keep user support in-house and outsource remote monitoring and management of the IT infrastructure. The MSP’s monitoring tools can issue alerts when certain thresholds are met, making it possible to address issues before they cause downtime. The MSP will also ensure that patches and updates are applied promptly, reducing security risks and relieving in-house IT of a significant burden.
Some MSPs provide onsite IT personnel on a full-time, part-time or as-needed. They have experts on staff with the training, certifications, and experience to hit the ground running, eliminating the need to find, hire and retain qualified staff.
Despite these benefits, there are persistent myths about co-managed IT. Some organizations assume that partnering with an MSP is expensive, even though it tends to be cheaper than hiring full-time staff and providing ongoing training. Others believe that co-managed IT is for large enterprises, but many MSPs can scale their services to meet a wide range of requirements.
Often, the most considerable pushback comes from in-house IT staff. It’s natural for employees to become concerned whenever outside help is requested. That’s why it’s important to involve IT staff in structuring the co-managed agreement. Management should take the time to understand the IT department’s pain points and make it clear that the MSP is there to help relieve those pain points.
By offloading tasks such as day-to-day troubleshooting, IT staff will have more time to work on projects that impact the company’s operations. They’ll have less stress and can take time off without being on call. Ultimately, co-managed IT can improve morale and job satisfaction and decrease turnover in the IT department.
Some organizations think all co-managed IT services are alike. While there are certain commonalities across MSPs, there can be significant differences in skill sets and responsiveness. The MSP should sit with management and IT staff to discuss business requirements and structure service-level agreements accordingly.
Best-in-class MSPs have executive-level consultants who can aid in the development of IT strategy. They provide specialized skills such as cloud management or cybersecurity services. The third-party perspective can be valuable in determining ways to improve performance while reducing costs.
More organizations are taking advantage of co-managed IT services to address increasing IT complexity, the shift to remote work, and changing customer demands. Co-managed IT gives organizations access to expertise and resources in a flexible and scalable model.
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