8 Signs that Co-Managed IT is Right for Your Business

It’s true in nature, and it’s true in business: our ability to adapt to changing circumstances is a vital part of our long-term success—or lack thereof.

Consider the Irrawaddy dolphin. Incredibly, the Irrawaddy dolphin revised its definition of “hunting” when it became aware of the presence of human fishermen. Instead of competing, it began to engage in a phenomenon known as “cooperative fishing.” Irrawaddy dolphins will actively herd schools of fish into the fishermen’s waiting nets and even emit signals when it’s time to retrieve them. In return, the fishermen reward the dolphins with a share of their catch. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement and a remarkable example of adaption to extreme changes in one’s environment and routine.

As information technology evolves and cybersecurity threats mount, businesses today face similar uncertainty. New and emerging challenges include growing volatility in talent availability, vendor price increases, and the ever-present need to embrace new technology to stay relevant and competitive. Had the Irrawaddy dolphin clung to its traditional hunting methods in the face of an unfamiliar change to its environment, it would have suffered immeasurably. It chose instead to adapt, and it flourished as a result. Today’s businesses must do the same, and co-managed IT has emerged as an effective and efficient adaptive measure.

But what is “co-managed IT,” and how can you determine if it’s right for your business?

In this article, we’ll shed some light on the basics of co-managed IT and discuss some of the benefits of this cooperative partnership. Finally, we’ll outline 8 key signs that co-managed IT is right for your business.

What is co-managed IT?

How does co-managed IT work?

Why are more businesses turning to co-managed IT?

8 signs that co-managed IT is right for your business

Next steps

What is co-managed IT?

Co-Managed IT is a collaborative partnership between your in-house IT department and an outsourced IT service provider. In a co-managed IT environment, both parties play pivotal roles in overseeing your IT infrastructure and resources.

Co-managed IT is different from managed IT support, which is entirely outsourced. Trust and communication are foundational components of an effective co-managed IT arrangement, and both sides are responsible for defining the parameters of this partnership.

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How does co-managed IT work?

There is no one-size-fits-all blueprint for co-managed IT. Instead, each arrangement will differ according to your in-house IT department’s needs, capabilities, and workload. 

A co-managed IT relationship begins with the introduction of a high-quality managed service provider (MSP). An experienced MSP will work closely with your IT team leaders to comprehensively understand your strengths, needs, and challenges.

The MSP will then tailor their level of involvement and service to augment the efforts of your in-house IT department. When executed correctly, this process creates a more dynamic and efficient team that can immediately begin meeting and exceeding your short- and long-term goals.

Although the concept may be new to some business owners and decision-makers, co-managed IT is becoming an increasingly common solution for many businesses.

Why are more businesses turning to co-managed IT?

According to a recent survey, some of the top challenges small businesses face today are hiring new employees (50%), managing employee healthcare (46%), and managing cash flow (34%). To make matters worse, 43% of all cyberattacks target small businesses, and only 14% of small businesses are prepared to defend themselves.

Having the wrong IT model leads to inefficiency and greater risk. In today’s technological and economic environment, many businesses succeed (or fail) based on their ability to recognize and embrace the IT support model most suited to their needs.

Of course, no business is intentionally mismanaging its IT. Instead, most are simply unaware of the extent of their issues until serious problems arise—or disaster strikes.

What many businesses need is a form of compromise. They need a way to augment the work of their internal IT team and do so in a budget-friendly manner. That’s where co-managed IT comes in.

But while this all sounds good on paper, every business is unique.

So, how can you tell if co-managed IT is right for you and your organization?

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8 Signs the co-managed IT is right for your business

There are many indications that it’s time to reevaluate your existing IT support model. However, some are easier to recognize than others.

Here are some of the most obvious signs that it’s time to talk to an MSP about a co-managed relationship.

1. You need more from your IT but don’t have the budget to bring in new personnel. This is the most common scenario that leads businesses to the co-managed IT model. Adding the expertise and resources of an MSP to the fold is a much cheaper option than hiring additional in-house personnel.

2. You recognize the need to improve your security posture in the face of steadily growing threats. You’ve seen the stats; they’re hard to miss. The cyber threat landscape is worse than ever. Co-managed IT adds extra muscle to your defenses and can quickly improve your cybersecurity posture.

3. Your IT department is having trouble with daily tasks, project management, or meeting timelines. Your in-house IT team is overtaxed and cannot keep up with everything your business requires. This common problem is often due to scaling, personnel changes, or unexpected projects—all issues outside your IT department’s control. An outsourced IT partner will allow your in-house team to focus on what they do best.

4. You’re experiencing rapid growth that is outpacing your IT capabilities. Some would consider this a “good problem” to have. However, scaling issues can cause many complications, including heightened cyber risk. Co-managed IT is a perfect solution to scaling problems. Flexibility is one of the primary advantages of the co-managed model. You can dial up or scale back your MSP’s involvement as your business’s needs dictate.

5. You’ve recently lost a key IT team member, and you’re struggling to find a quality replacement. You’re not alone here. Many businesses are finding it hard to attract reliable talent. Co-managed IT is a budget-friendly alternative to sinking more time and money into job listings and interviews with underwhelming candidates. Rather than hiring an underqualified replacement and hoping they’ll stick, outsourcing some of these responsibilities is a cheaper option with more long-term stability.

6. You have new ideas for growth, but your in-house IT support team does not have time to implement them. There are only so many hours in a day. Most in-house IT teams are stretched thin enough with critical tasks like monitoring, maintenance, and troubleshooting. Co-managed IT can help take the burden off your in-house team and free up room for growth, evolution, and long-term project implementation.

7. You need a way to compete with a larger company’s IT resources without breaking your budget. This is one of the most significant advantages of a co-managed IT model. An MSP’s diverse expertise will augment your in-house IT team’s strengths. This dynamic combination gives you capabilities typically reserved for a larger company with an expansive IT budget.

8. IT headaches are preventing you from focusing on what matters. Ultimately, if you’re constantly drawn into IT problems, you’re not focused on your core competencies and strengths. These strengths make your business tick; they attract, retain, and delight customers. An MSP provides critical support to your in-house IT team members in a co-managed model. This arrangement reduces distractions and allows you to focus on what matters most: growing your business.

Next Steps

In theory, building an effective IT department is about hiring the best people available and putting them in the best possible position to succeed.

Simple, right?

In actual practice, it is rarely (if ever) that easy. Every organization is unique. So is every IT department. Your individual needs depend on many variables, and the future can be difficult, if not impossible, to predict. For example, cybercrime has skyrocketed since the onset of the pandemic. The workforce is also changing. Finding and hiring quality talent is more challenging now than in recent years. A co-managed IT model brings stability and flexibility to your business, allowing you to focus on what matters most.

If you’re still on the fence about co-managed IT, contact a reputable managed service provider (MSP). Unlike some less-than-reputable companies, a good MSP is not looking to shoehorn themselves into your organization. Instead, a high-quality MSP will be happy to discuss your current IT setup and needs with you. They will then help you determine whether shifting to a co-managed IT arrangement might be the right move for your organization.