In the last few years, we have seen a dramatic shift in the way businesses view Information Technology (IT). No longer is it seen as a necessary evil, but rather as a critical part of business operations. This has led to a new IT model known as co-managed IT, which is becoming increasingly popular among small and medium businesses.
Co-managed IT is an arrangement in which a third-party IT provider handles a portion of the IT tasks in a business. Internal resources handle the rest of the IT tasks, leading to a solution where the organization can allocate resources where they are most needed while also maintaining control over the IT work being performed by their IT partner.
Shifting to co-managed IT can unlock several possibilities for your business. Existing IT resources can start focusing on growth and business transformation instead of management and maintenance. Once you decide that co-managed IT services are right for your business, you must make the shift in a well-planned, structured way.
In this post, we will detail how the co-managed IT services model came to be, what makes it popular with businesses around the world, and how to make the shift yourself.
A History of IT Services
To understand the evolution in IT services that led to co-managed IT, it is important to understand the evolution of technology in business. In the last forty years, more and more businesses have shifted from technology as an adjacency to technology as a core component of growth. Yesterday’s office could survive with a single printer and a computer or two. Now, businesses rely on networks, servers, storage, and applications to drive every strategic priority. Further, employees and team members count on these tools to work efficiently and effectively in increasingly-competitive markets.
Consider the role of the cloud in modern business. In addition to moving storage and disaster recovery solutions from a server in the office closet to a cloud-based storage solution, many businesses now also rely on a cloud-based solution like Office 365 for email and office productivity tools. While providers like Microsoft do provide documentation and support, some issues require direct support. The same goes for the use of the cloud for storage and disaster recovery; while the provider offers some level of support, complex challenges require the steady hand of an IT professional.
Co-Managed IT Services Explained
Co-managed IT is a partnership between the business and an IT service provider. In this model, the IT provider is filling a gap for the client where there is a lack of expertise or a lack of time necessary to handle a specific IT task or set of IT tasks.
With co-managed IT, businesses can take advantage of the provider’s expertise and resources while still maintaining control over their own data and applications. This model also offers a high degree of transparency, which is critical for building trust between the business and the provider.
The shift to co-managed IT services is being driven by two key factors, including:
- Existing internal resources that have knowledge gaps
- A need for IT support that exceeds the capacity of existing internal IT resources
Why Co-Managed IT Services are Growing in Popularity
With co-managed IT, internal IT teams can focus on their core competencies and leave the management of other parts of their infrastructure to a team of experts. For example, a full-time Site Reliability Engineer won’t be asked to service office printers in a co-managed IT model; the IT provider can handle this task. Focusing internal IT resources on the tasks where they provide the most value is the central component of the co-managed IT services model.
The growing popularity of co-managed IT services is rooted in the customer choosing where they need an extra set of hands without turning over control of their entire network to an IT partner.
Best Practices for Shifting to Co-Managed IT Services
The shift to co-managed IT can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right planning and execution, the transition can be smooth and seamless.
If you’re considering the implementation of a co-managed IT arrangement, there are a few things you should keep in mind at a strategic level.
First, it’s important to find an IT service provider that you can trust. Make sure to do your research and choose a provider with a proven track record of delivering quality service.
Second, make sure that your IT service provider is knowledgeable about your industry. Furthermore, make sure that the areas where you need an extra set of hands are the areas where they offer expertise and possess deep experience. For example, if you want a third-party to handle your servers, data backups and disaster recovery plan while your internal team handles network performance and security, make sure your chosen IT service provider is expert in those services.
One great way to validate their expertise in your sector or space is to ask to speak with references. They should be able to introduce you to a current or previous client with a business similar to your own.
Next, be sure to communicate your expectations clearly to your IT service provider. Discuss what you expect from them in terms of service level agreements, response times, and coverage. By setting clear expectations from the start, you can avoid any misunderstandings down the road. Since co-managed services impact internal resources that are also working on the network, SLAs and service agreements are of critical importance.
Then, be prepared to invest in the relationship. Co-managed IT is not a one-time transaction; it’s a long-term partnership. You’ll need to communicate regularly with your IT service provider and give them the necessary information and resources to understand what they are responsible for and what you will continue to manage with internal resources.
Finally, be patient. It may take some time for your business to adjust to the new IT model. But once you’ve made the switch, you’ll be glad you did. Co-managed IT provides businesses with a more efficient and effective way to manage their IT infrastructure. It’s a win-win for both the business and the IT service provider.
- Define your goals for co-managed IT. What are you hoping to achieve by integrating a co-manager of your IT stack? Be sure to involve all stakeholders in this process so that everyone is on the same page. Further, make sure that you communicate these goals to the IT providers you are considering so there is no misalignment once the engagement begins.
- Do your research. Not all IT service providers are created equal. When evaluating providers, be sure to ask about their experience with co-managed IT, their transparency policy, and their customer satisfaction rates. As mentioned above, references are a great way to validate the quality of their services.
- Create a plan. Once you’ve selected a provider, work with them to create a detailed plan for the transition. This plan should include timelines, budget, and responsibilities. Plans should also include milestones so progress can be objectively evaluated along the way. Finally, each step of the plan should have a clear communication structure so that your employees can provide feedback as they get comfortable with a new IT partner. The relationship between the work of internal resources and your co-managed partner should be seamless, leaving nothing to fall through the cracks.
- Be prepared for bumps in the road. No matter how well you plan, there will likely be some challenges along the way. Be sure to have a contingency plan in place so that you can quickly address any issues that arise.
Making the Move to Co-Managed IT Services
Implementing co-managed IT services is a big decision, but it can be a great way to improve your company’s IT infrastructure while freeing up time and resources. Your internal IT talent can focus on areas of expertise and leave other tasks to a knowledgeable partner. With the right planning and execution, the transition can be smooth and seamless.
Axxys Technologies is a leading provider of co-managed IT services to companies in the Dallas metroplex. We offer a comprehensive suite of services that can meet the unique needs of any business. From cloud services to managed security, we have you covered.
Our team of experts has the knowledge and experience to provide you with customized solutions that meet the unique needs of your business. We understand the importance of reliability and transparency and work hard to ensure that our clients are always happy with our services.
If you’re considering co-managed IT, Axxys Technologies is the perfect partner for you. Contact us today to learn more about our services or schedule a consultation. We look forward to hearing from you!