Managing the complexity of IT networks, system requirements, industry regulations, cloud computing, cybersecurity, VOIP, application updates, software licenses, hardware replacements, and more, is a lot to expect from one employee. Co-Managed services is an IT model that blends the convenience and strategic framework of an internal IT team with the support and comprehensive knowledge of a managed-service provider.
What Is Co-Managed IT Service?
Co-managed IT is an IT management service model that allows businesses and administrators to customize which IT services to keep in-house and which to partner. It gives businesses a unique opportunity to pair the convenience and up-to-date resources of an external IT management service with their own in-house specialists to optimize efficiency. With co-managed services, you can pick and choose the resources you need and when you need them. IT co-management is an opportunity to create a partnership to supplement, enhance and support your existing IT team.
How Does Co-Managed IT Work?
Many businesses need help or additional workforce from external IT management services, outsourcing IT operations entirely does not make sense for their business. That’s where the co-management model comes in. When you establish a co-management approach, you:
- Analyze your existing IT department’s needs, skills, resources, tools and abilities.
- Determine which services or resources you need to meet department or organizational goals.
- Partner with a third-party organization to supplement those needed services.
Co-management looks different for each business. For example, some companies may rely on their in-house IT department for helpdesk support while depending on an external partner for large-scale strategies and security, or vice versa. It’s also important to note that co-management is flexible — as your needs or resources change, so does your co-management strategy.
Who Uses Co-Managed IT Services?
Co-management is the ideal IT solution if you meet one or more of the following criteria:
- Your IT staff is too small or overworked: IT departments can easily become overworked if there is a spike in demand, a new and more demanding projects on the horizon or employees on leave. While businesses do have the option to hire additional staff, the process can be costly or time-consuming — and sometimes not worth the budget and time spent if there is only a temporary need for support. Supplement your existing department with a third-party co-manager to get the benefits of outside help without the same level of ongoing commitment.
- You’re taking on a new project: Get critical IT projects done without compromising already stressed business resources. Co-managed IT is what you need to work alongside your staff to create smoother transitions or maintain operations while your business adjusts.
- There’s a knowledge gap: Even the most gifted or experienced IT department may find that a specific task or issue lies beyond their skill set or training. In these situations, an outside party with specialty experience can supplement the gap in knowledge to help your team accomplish more in less time.
Many orgnaizations — including schools, health care, manufacturing, law firms, accounting offices, banks and financial institutions — are grappling with these issues and could benefit from a co-management IT model.
Pros and Cons of Co-Managed IT Services
There are numerous benefits of co-managed IT, but also a few considerations to keep in mind before selecting it as your management model.
Advantages of Co-Managed IT
Co-management offers much of the same benefits of total third-party IT management while allowing you to keep control of chosen tasks and let your IT team focus on their areas of expertise. These are a few reasons you should consider a co-management model for your business or department:
- Retain control over operations: Your IT team retains control of all administrative access – and even gets access to tools and services provided by Morefielld. Choose which areas of operation you want to streamline with third-party input and direct the rest toward in-house staff.
- Less responsibility to manage: Keeping your operations running smoothly and working faster with third-party help means there’s less responsibility to manage on your own. Compared to hiring a new staff member, you aren’t responsible for training or guiding a third-party expert. You have extensive access to diverse IT professionals with a range of experience to help you develop or implement strategies, give valuable insight and boost your day-to-day.
- Keep up with trends: Keep up with IT trends, like security, software and technology, without adding the extra time and resources required to train your in-house staff to use them.
- Offer around-the-clock support: One of the biggest advantages of using a co-management IT model is that you can offer around-the-clock support, including after-hours support, an essential quality businesses who don’t just operate 9-5. They can also help cover things like sick or vacation time so you can take time off and know that the network and systems are still being supported!
- Get instant implementation:No more spending time finding, hiring and training new staff for a temporary or one-time project — co-management means instant implementation for new strategies or projects without the commitment involved with hiring a new employee.
- Save and reallocate hiring costs: By supplementing your existing IT team with an external specialist, it allows your department to accomplish more with fewer employees and on-site resources, translating to cost savings for you and the IT budget. Outside experts can also provide insight into which product upgrades or technologies may better serve your specific business, resulting in more long-term savings and benefits.
- Build employee morale: Business insights, improved strategies, quicker response times, professional consultations and decision support are empowering tools that can help to foster a more positive employee culture among your IT team. By giving them the resources they need to be successful, you’re creating a work environment that promotes longevity and better focus on the task at hand.
- Get increased security: Bolster your current cybersecurity posture with our best in class tools and processes. Implement vulnerability management, security information and event monitoring (SIEM), mobile device management, endpoint protection and more with our partnership.
Disadvantages of Co-Managed IT
- Choosing the right partner is essential: Choosing the right IT partner is critical to finding success with the co-management platform. They must have the tools, experience and flexibility to meet your specific needs. Depending on the partnering company, you may also have to navigate lengthy onboarding or transitional periods.
- You could encounter compatibility issues: Always check with your chosen IT partner regarding software requirements and compatibility needs to keep operations running smoothly throughout the partnership.
- There are upfront fees: While there are cost savings associated with co-management, you are responsible for paying the upfront fees for your new partnership. However, you do have some control over these costs, as you only pay for the resources you need and how often you need them.
How to Choose the Right IT Co-Management Partner
Before you begin your search for the perfect third-party to help you manage your IT, it’s critical that you audit your existing operations. Consider which services and skills you already bring to the table, then compare that to your goals to see what resources you’re missing. This will give you a clear picture of what you need, what you can afford and what to look for in a partnership.
Once you’re ready to move forward, consider the following attributes to make the right choice for your business needs.
Different third-party IT management companies have different co-management models that may include varying resources, technology or time commitments. Research each option carefully and consider what’s best for your budget, team, project and business.
Pay close attention to the following:
- Contract details:Consider the details of the contract, including its duration, the services included and the division of responsibilities and duties. The idea of co-management is flexibility, so you can find the help you need, whether it’s temporary assistance for a one-time project or ongoing supplemental support.
- Services included: In addition to the types of services offered by the third-party co-management company, consider the scope of those services and what tools, technology and equipment they use to complete tasks successfully. What is their plan of action should there be a system error, power outage or environmental disaster? What sort of data backup and security features do they offer?
- Communication method: Frequent, open communication is the most critical component of successful IT co-management. Before you partner with a company, both your IT department and the third-party manager should discuss their plan for communication, including the method — phone, email, video conference, in-person meetings, etc. — as well as the frequency and emergency protocols.
- Mission alignment: Finally, review the company’s mission statement and objectives. How does it align with your own business goals and values? For some businesses and organizations — such as nonprofits — similar passions or dedications may fuel an even more successful co-management partnership.
Choosing a co-managing partner with prior IT management experience and expertise is essential. Check the following:
- Referrals: If you’re unsure where to start your search, seek advice from industry insiders or other people in your business who have found success with a co-management model.
- Reviews: Once you find a potential company to partner with, check all references in detail and read reviews from previous clients. Request samples of previous IT management projects, including co-management and total management projects. Look for information about their skill set, technical expertise, professionalism and communication.
- Expertise: Expertise is always important hiring criteria for in-house staff and external partners. Consider the technology they are proficient with, past strategies they have implemented and the scope of their previous projects. Look for partners that have IT experience in your industry or field for an easier transition and more valuable insight and recommendations.
- Tools: Ask for a list of the technology, equipment, software and strategies your partner has experience with and which resources they will bring to your team.
Flexibility is a critical component of an IT co-management partnership. Your internal team needs to know that your external partner is available to adapt to new projects or issues as circumstances evolve and your business grows. Ask your potential partner about their formal escalation process, including any project management tools they use to resolve issues or reassign tasks. Consider the methods they use for updating tickets and how long a ticket stays at a specific tier before being escalated further up. This also includes post-escalation, like the method for notifying involved parties and marking tickets as complete before using the information to inform future training.
Don’t forget to consider different time zones and how they may impact duties or communication. If possible, partner with a local trusted expert who is familiar with your community and your business.
Your chosen third-party partnership should operate within your budget. Keep these cost factors in mind:
- Know your financial status: Before you start outsourcing any portion of your IT workload, you need to know your financial situation in detail. Know what you can afford, where there are opportunities to save, cut and reallocate costs and understand the ongoing cost associated with each potential partner.
- Be upfront about your budget: Be upfront with your third-party manager. Let them know your budget, so they know which tools and resources they can utilize and how often they may be expected to contribute to your operations.
- Monitor ongoing expenses: Keep track of all IT costs. Compare the cost of upfront third-party fees with the money saved from not hiring additional on-site IT staff. Make adjustments as needed.
Contact Morefield Communications for Co-Managed IT Services
The right co-management partner can transform your existing IT team by resolving tickets faster, supporting your staff, meeting unique project needs and keeping up with changing market demands.
Morefield Communications is ready to step in as your co-managed IT provider. We offer technology assessments, personalized insights and recommendations and access to the latest technology in networking, wireless and security. Learn more about our managed IT services and solutions and connect with us today to speak with a representative.