What are CO-Managed IT Services?

What are CO-Managed IT Services?

I. Introduction

Co-managed IT services refers to a hybrid service model whereby responsibilities for managing a company's IT infrastructure are shared between an external managed services provider (MSP) and the company's internal IT staff. With co-managed IT, businesses can leverage the expertise and resources of an MSP while still retaining control over critical IT functions. This collaborative approach allows companies to enhance their IT capabilities in a cost-effective manner. 

As businesses become increasingly reliant on technology, finding the right IT service model is crucial. Co-managed IT offers an appealing middle ground between fully outsourced IT services and handling everything in-house. For many companies, it provides the ideal mix of leveraging external expertise while still involving internal staff in key IT decisions and processes.

The purpose of co-managed IT services is to help organizations improve the efficiency, reliability, and security of their IT systems and operations without the need to completely replace in-house IT staff or infrastructure. It aims to be a strategic partnership that combines the strengths of both internal and external IT management.

II. Benefits of Co-Managed IT Services

Co-managed IT services provide companies with an array of compelling benefits that can significantly enhance their IT operations and support overall business goals. This hybrid model strategically unites the strengths of internal IT teams with those of an external managed services provider.

A. Cost-Effective IT Support

One of the foremost appeals of co-managed services is substantially greater cost efficiency. Rather than maintaining a large, specialized in-house IT staff, companies can leverage the vast resources and expertise of a managed services provider. This delivers economies of scale through shared infrastructure, toolsets and personnel. The predictable, monthly fee structure also enables improved budget forecasting and cost control.

B. Enhanced IT Expertise

A major advantage of co-managed engagements is access to profoundly skilled IT talent. Managed services providers employ large teams of seasoned subject matter experts with experience supporting expansive arrays of infrastructures, applications, networks and systems. They maintain up-to-date knowledge on the latest technologies and solutions in the industry. This level of expertise is challenging for an in-house team to replicate.

C. Scalability and Flexibility

The hybrid co-managed model provides enhanced scalability and flexibility. IT resources can be provisioned and de-provisioned more swiftly to match fluctuating business demands. Services are scaled up or down to fit evolving workload requirements. Companies only pay for the specific managed services they need at any given time.

D. Improved IT Security

Co-managed IT also furnishes stronger security for companies. Highly experienced managed services providers implement multilayered security tools, policies, controls and 24/7 monitoring. This includes advanced prevention, detection and response capabilities that thoroughly safeguard infrastructure, networks, endpoints, data and applications. Ongoing vigilance further hardens systems against threats.

E. Reduced Downtime

With seasoned IT operations experts managing underlying infrastructure and systems, companies can substantially reduce risks of outages and downtime events. Managed services providers are able to deliver optimized uptime and peak performance. Proactive monitoring, maintenance, patching and support ensure issues are addressed expeditiously before disrupting productivity.

Symbiotic combination of external provider expertise and internal oversight of critical functions delivers impactful benefits that can elevate IT operations to better enable business objectives. The strengths of each side are strategically united through co-management.

III. Key Features of Co-Managed IT Services

While each co-managed IT services engagement is structured in a customized fashion based on clients' unique needs and priorities, there are some core features that define these partnerships:

A. Shared Responsibility

A hallmark of the co-managed model is that the external MSP and the client's in-house IT staff share control and accountability for IT responsibilities. There is clear delineation between the roles and oversight duties of each party, which is formally defined in the service contract. This ensures effective collaboration. 

B. Customized Service Agreements

The service contract specifies precisely what responsibilities the MSP will be accountable for versus those handled by the client's internal IT team. Service packages are tailored to match each client's particular environment, requirements and budgetary needs. This level of customization is a key advantage of co-managed engagements.

C. Monitoring and Maintenance

Proactive monitoring, maintenance, patching and day-to-day IT support are provided by the MSP as stipulated in the contract. This alleviates much of the workload burden for the client's in-house IT staff, allowing them to focus on more strategic efforts. The MSP’s experience and toolsets optimize these activities.

D. Helpdesk Support 

MSPs offer robust helpdesk services on an ongoing basis to address technology issues raised by the client's end users and IT team. This multi-channel user support is provided both remotely and on-site as needed. Prompt ticket resolution enhances employee productivity. 

E. Vendor Management

MSPs can optionally take responsibility for managing relationships and agreements with technology vendors, cloud providers and maintenance service contractors on the client’s behalf. This administrative burden is lifted from in-house staff.

In essence, co-managed IT entails collaborative sharing of oversight based on each party’s strengths, custom-tailored services, and clearly defined roles and responsibilities outlined in service contracts.

IV. Co-Managed IT vs Fully Managed IT vs In-House IT 

It is extremely beneficial to thoroughly distinguish between a co-managed IT model and two other prevalent service approaches: fully managed IT and purely in-house IT. Analyzing the contrasts enables informed decision making.

A. Comparison of Service Models

- Co-Managed IT: Responsibilities for managing IT infrastructure and services are strategically shared between an external managed services provider (MSP) and the company's internal IT staff. There is collaborative yet delineated oversight.

- Fully Managed IT: The entire end-to-end responsibility for all IT management functions rests solely with the external MSP. Internal IT staff may maintain very limited technical oversight.

- In-House IT: All IT infrastructure, systems, and services are managed entirely by the company's internal IT department without assistance from external providers.

B. When to Choose Co-Managed IT Service

The co-managed IT model works optimally for companies that desire to retain strategic control over IT architecture decisions and systems integration, but lack the requisite internal technical expertise or resources to support all aspects of operations efficiently. It supplements gaps through collaboration.

C. Pros and Cons of Each Approach

- Co-Managed IT Pros: Cost efficiency of shared model, flexibility, expanded expertise, strategic oversight of critical functions.

- Co-Managed IT Cons: Potential communication and alignment challenges between teams.

- Fully Managed IT Pros: Maximum IT capabilities and resources from MSP. 

- Co-Managed IT Cons: Lack of customization and strategic direction input, loss of control.

- In-House IT Pros: Complete control over IT decisions and security. 

- Co-Managed IT Cons: High cost overhead of staff and infrastructure, inability to match skills and toolsets of large MSPs. 

Analyzing the key contrasts between service models in this manner helps determine which approach best aligns to an organization's specific IT needs and business objectives.

V. Implementation and Integration

Embarking on a new co-managed IT services partnership requires thoughtful planning, coordination, and integration work to ensure success:

A. Onboarding Process  

During the initial transition phase, the managed services provider (MSP) will collaborate very closely with the client to comprehensively understand their existing infrastructure, systems, tools, processes and unique business needs. The MSP will utilize this detailed knowledge to architect and propose an optimal co-managed service plan aligned to the client's environment and objectives. Once finalized, they will work together to methodically implement and test the new services.

B. Coordinating with In-House IT Team  

Clear, reliable protocols for communication and decision-making will be collaboratively established between the MSP and the client's in-house IT staff. This ensures efficient coordination between the teams as they share oversight of the technology environment. Executive sponsors from IT leadership will be designated to help align the teams effectively. Scheduled status meetings, reports and liaisons further enable collaboration.

C. Integrating with Existing IT Infrastructure

The MSP will utilize their technical expertise to integrate their managed services software, tools, systems, and processes seamlessly with the client's existing on-premise infrastructure, public cloud platforms, and internal IT environment. The goal is to avoid disruption and optimize how the MSP's capabilities function holistically to deliver outcomes. Any legacy systems will be evaluated and integrated where appropriate.

D. Training and Knowledge Transfer

A critical element in the successful implementation of co-managed IT services is ensuring adequate training and knowledge transfer. The MSP will conduct training sessions and workshops to familiarize the client's in-house IT staff with new tools, procedures, and methodologies being introduced. This knowledge transfer ensures that the internal team can seamlessly collaborate with the MSP, effectively utilizing the shared resources and enhancing their proficiency in managing the integrated IT environment.

In essence, meticulous planning and phased, collaborative implementation is crucial for smoothly transitioning to a co-managed services partnership. This paves the way for an optimized IT environment.

VI. Challenges and Considerations

While co-managed IT offers notable benefits, there are also important challenges to address:

A. Potential Obstacles:

  1. Unclear delineation of responsibilities can lead to confusion and conflicts within the co-managed setup, necessitating a clear and well-defined role assignment to avoid overlaps or omissions.
  2. Differences in processes and toolsets may impede the integration process, requiring collaborative efforts to streamline methodologies for better alignment and efficiency.
  3. Ineffective communication hampers seamless collaboration between internal and external teams, emphasizing the need for clear and open communication channels to ensure synergy.

B. Security and Data Privacy Concerns:

  1. Building trust in the Managed Service Provider’s (MSP) security practices is vital, necessitating transparent discussions and verification processes to ensure the safety of sensitive data.
  2. Ensuring compliance with data protection laws and industry regulations is imperative, warranting consistent adherence to regulatory requirements for maintaining data privacy and security.

C. Communication and Collaboration:

  1. Strong executive sponsorship is crucial in aligning the goals and efforts of internal and external teams, supporting a shared vision and preventing potential misalignments.
  2. Consistent coordination through regular status meetings and detailed reports fosters effective communication and collaboration, ensuring a unified approach to achieving common objectives.

VIII. Tips to Maximizing ROI with Co-Managed IT Service

To maximize ROI with Co-Managed IT Services, leverage the Managed Service Provider’s (MSP) specialized expertise for complex tasks, monitor service levels closely, evolve service plans according to business needs, and adopt a proactive IT management approach. Embracing the MSP's skills, closely monitoring performance, adapting services, and proactive management ensure an optimized return on investment. Check these tips for Maximizing ROI with Co-Managed IT Services:

Leverage MSP Expertise for Niche Skills

Utilize the Managed Service Provider’s (MSP) specialized expertise for intricate tasks demanding niche skills. This approach optimizes resources, allowing the internal team to focus on core competencies while leveraging the MSP’s specialized knowledge for complex tasks.

Monitor Service Levels and Metrics Closely:

 Regularly track service levels and performance metrics. This allows for an ongoing assessment of the MSP's contributions, ensuring they align with predefined service level agreements (SLAs) and provide the expected value.

Evolving Service Plans Based on Business Needs:

 Continuously adapt the service plans to match changing business needs. Regularly reassess the alignment of services with business objectives, adjusting the scope or type of services provided by the co-managed IT setup.

Adopt Proactive IT Management Approach: 

Embrace a proactive IT management approach. Address potential issues before they escalate, implementing preventive measures to reduce downtime and enhance overall system reliability. This strategy fosters a more resilient and efficient IT environment.

IX. Future Trends in Co-Managed IT Services

Looking ahead, some notable trends will shape the evolution of co-managed IT:

  1. AI Integration: Expect increased integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Co-Managed IT setups for predictive analysis, automated issue resolution, and enhanced system performance.
  2. Edge Computing Expansion: Anticipate the expansion of edge computing, where data processing occurs closer to the data source, enabling faster response times and reduced latency in Co-Managed IT environments.
  3. Increased Cybersecurity Focus: Future trends will involve an amplified focus on cybersecurity measures within Co-Managed IT setups to combat evolving cyber threats and ensure robust protection.
  4. Hybrid Workforce Support: Co-Managed IT services will evolve to support the hybrid workforce, providing scalable solutions adaptable to both remote and on-site working environments.
  5. IoT Integration: Expect a surge in integration of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, requiring Co-Managed IT to handle diverse connected devices and manage data generated by these devices securely.
  6. Enhanced Data Analytics: Co-Managed IT will move towards harnessing more sophisticated data analytics, facilitating informed decision-making and predictive maintenance strategies.

X. Conclusion

Co-managed IT offers a strategic model for transforming IT operations without heavily investing in new staff and infrastructure. With the right partnership approach, companies can leverage co-managed IT services in Irvine and beyond.

Before deciding on any IT service model, it is important to evaluate all options thoroughly - co-managed, fully outsourced and in-house. Assessing key business requirements, cost parameters and internal capabilities will allow organizations to determine the optimal strategy.

Kumo is a leading provider of co-managed IT services with expertise in seamlessly integrating with clients' existing IT environments while delivering the benefits of enterprise-class managed services. Get in touch with Kumo at 949-333-1082 to learn more about our flexible co-managed IT solutions tailored to support your business goals.

Internet-based Phone Systems for Business - FREE eBook!Download here