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An IT Lifeline

Co-managed support services help relieve the strain on overextended internal IT teams.

The largest enterprise organizations often have the necessary resources to fully staff an in-house IT department. Meanwhile, small businesses with tight budgets usually find it more cost-efficient to outsource IT services to a third-party provider.

But what about the in-betweeners? Millions of U.S. businesses have limited internal IT departments that deliver a range of essential network management and support services but lack the time, manpower or expertise to devote to more complex projects and strategic initiatives.

The co-managed IT services model is a cost-effective way to provide internal IT teams with a helping hand. It allows a business to supplement its in-house IT staff through a managed services provider (MSP) and customize which IT services to keep in-house and which to outsource.

The Remote Support Burden

The need for supplemental IT staff has become particularly acute due to the demands of remote and hybrid workforces. Most IT professionals say they’ve become overwhelmed by the day-to-day responsibilities of supporting the hardware, software, connectivity and security needs of employees across both office- and home-based environments.

Numerous studies highlight the strain resource-strapped IT departments are facing. In a recent HP study, 83 percent of organizations say supporting remote and hybrid operations is creating a burden for their IT staff. Meanwhile, a Wakefield Research study found that 97 percent of IT pros are experiencing burnout, with 70 percent reporting they are likely to look for another job in the next 12 months. Most say they are considering leaving the industry entirely.

Ian Pratt, HP’s global head of security for personal systems, said remote and hybrid support “is becoming unmanageable.” He said IT teams “need to be freed from spending hours provisioning and fielding user access requests so they can focus on tasks that add value.”

Very often, companies may recognize that they need help but are wary of relinquishing too much control of the IT environment to third-party providers. The co-managed model relieves those worries by giving the internal IT staff a great deal of control over the arrangement.

A co-managed IT engagement is closer to a partnership than a typical outsourcing arrangement. The customer’s IT manager and internal IT staff take the lead on all projects, directing external staff to ensure that services meet the company’s unique requirements. Customers can have the provider’s team help with routine tasks so the in-house team can work on more strategic initiatives, or vice versa.

A Collaborative Arrangement

In many cases, the provider can offer a great deal of expertise and insight that the in-house team may lack. The remote IT support issue is a good example. While internal IT staff may still be struggling with the tools and processes necessary to support an at-home workforce, MSPs are usually well-equipped for the task. In most cases, they’ve been providing remote network support to customers for years. As such, they have a deep understanding of distributed networks and have already invested in leading-edge remote monitoring and management tools.

Additional advantages of the co-managed IT model include:

  • Increased flexibility. Staffing levels can be increased or decreased as needed for certain projects, including help-desk functions, security, application management, network operations and more. Plus, external staff is always available to meet mission-critical requirements.

  • Improved morale. An overstressed and unhappy workforce leads to increased turnover rates. A provider can take on many time-intensive troubleshooting tasks, allowing internal staff to use their time and talents in ways that are more professionally rewarding.

  • Reduced risk. With around-the-clock monitoring, the provider can detect network outages or security events before they result in costly downtime or data loss. Combined with 24x7 help desk services, remote monitoring helps ensure quick resolution of any issues that could hamper productivity.

  • Enhanced security. The increased dependence on devices outside company control creates multiple attack surfaces. An MSP can provide guidance to ensure employees are using good security practices from home. A provider can also ensure that application updates and patches are properly applied.

The need to support dozens or even hundreds of remote and hybrid workers across widely dispersed locations is putting a strain on short-staffed IT teams. A co-managed IT services engagement is a cost-efficient way to access the manpower and skillsets needed, without relinquishing control of critical technology assets.


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