How to Choose a Co-Managed IT Services Provider

When seeking a co-managed IT services provider partnership, the most important attributes for success include team-based collaboration, trust, and shared expertise built on a cost-effective, scalable, and strategic-driven business model.

Sep 09, 2021 | 5 min read

Two sets of hands holding puzzle pieces that fit together, with sun shining in background

As any business grows and evolves, it requires additional services, technologies, employees, and customer-service driven initiatives. While this can be daunting, even with an in-house IT department, it doesn’t have to be. Establishing a collaborative partnership with a managed services provider (MSP) can help your IT team focus on strategic initiatives built on long-term goals.

Known as co-managed IT services, this mutually beneficial relationship is built on trust, shared knowledge, scalability, resources, and support. Whether you’re looking to build upon in-house IT staff through an outsourced model, or require short-term assistance on a larger project, a co-managed model can propel your business forward.

A co-managed IT partner can provide your organization with additional knowledge and technical support, help desk and NOC services, security, vendor procurement, and other day-to-day functions. 


Consult the following best practices to help you choose a co-managed IT service partner—especially one that is in alignment with your organization’s processes, culture, and technology offerings.  

 

What Are Co-Managed IT Services?

A co-managed IT services partnership combines internal technicians with additional resources, talent, and expertise for day-to-day tasks and general network management. This should also be built on transparency and understanding of each party’s needs, expectations, and requirements, while still maintaining operations, technological demands, and employee productivity targets.

This model can save time and money accrued by customer network downtime, after-hours coverage, and other challenges. Make no mistake, those costs are significant: According to a 2020 survey conducted by business data platform Statista, 25 percent of respondents said downtime costs averaged between $301,000 and $400,000 per hour

 

Co-Managed IT Partnership Considerations & Expectations

When vetting a co-managed IT services partner, there are several questions, factors, and expectations to keep in mind.

Below is a quick rundown of things consider before establishing a co-managed IT services partnership: 

 

1. Determine What You're Currently Lacking

If your in-house team is overextended, choose a partner that can successfully bridge knowledge gaps during the regular workday, as well as weekends and holidays. This added expertise and deeper knowledge will save time and money, while reducing  employee turnover and burnout. Your staff will have more time to tackle longer-term strategic projects, which might have otherwise fallen through the cracks.

It’s also prudent to review current services and vendor partnerships. Where can you improve both internally and externally? These could include—but aren’t limited to —security and cloud services, vendor procurement, and professional and integration services.

 

2. Audit Current Business Processes

Closely examine how you can optimize internal business processes. As we said, staffing is just one piece. There are other areas that could benefit from a co-managed IT relationship, such as: 

A co-managed IT services partnership combines internal technicians with additional resources, talent, and expertise for day-to-day tasks and general network management.

 

  • 365/24/7 Help Desk Access
  • Network Operations Center (NOC)
  • Server & Cloud Migrations 
  • Security
  • Private & Public Cloud Solutions
  • Software Licensing Reviews & Assessments
  • Hardware Management & Replacements
  • Patch Management
  • System Requirements
  • Mobile Device Management Solutions & Planning
  • Backup & Disaster Recovery

Clarity on how these services are provided can help close gaps, while also expanding new business opportunities. This could include working with an MSP with established vendor relationships. This can be helpful for time-saving and quality-control measures.

Proactive security services are also top of mind for many organizations, especially as many businesses are moving toward remote, work-from-home setups. An MSP with a pre-existing third-party alliance partnership that boasts a Security Operations Center (SOC) can make a significant difference for your customers.

3. Do Your Research, Gather Your Data
& Ask Questions!

Before meeting with potential partners, scrutinize their offerings, and learn more about how they conduct business, as well as their corporate culture and mission. Having an alignment of shared goals and best practices is important to the success of your business, customer service, and partnerships. It’s also prudent to consult online review platforms to learn more about how they work with current and former customers and partners.

Once you’re ready to interview your potential partner pool, develop a list of talking points and questions so you can learn more about their respective businesses. With both parties working in tandem, it’s important to gather all relevant information before making an educated decision.

Consider the following questions when interviewing prospective co-managed IT services partners: 

  • What are your business services offerings and work scope?
  • What services do you currently not offer?
  • What do you consider a reasonable response time?
  • How experienced are your technicians, and what are their areas of expertise?
  • Do you conduct/provide assistance for continuing employee education and certifications?
  • What types of tools and equipment do you currently offer?
  • Which vendors do you partner with?
  • What type of internal toolkit do you offer?
  • What does your current cybersecurity offering look like?
  • How will you handle after-hours and holiday coverage?

4. Determine Responsibilities & Reasonable Response Times

A co-managed IT services provider is an extension of your business. Therefore, it’s important to be aligned on shared responsibility and response times. If your Service Level Agreement (SLA) requires after hours and weekend coverage, your partner should have a detailed process of how they handle specific circumstances, such as response time rates, escalation processes, communication protocols, and documentation. 

5. Discuss Communication & SLAs

Communication is key to a successful co-managed partnership. It’s best to outline how issues and challenges will be handled and resolved. Transparency is also important to ensure both parties are kept informed and in the loop. A single instance of miscommunication could lead to quick escalations that could have otherwise been avoided.

Prior to any formal agreement, your co-managed IT partner will provide an SLA outlining services and expectations. While this varies by company, it typically includes warranties, specific duties, processes, response times and escalation management. It’s important to read the fine print—if something sounds or looks too good to be true, it probably is. 

 

Creating a Solid Partnership

When deciding on a co-managed IT services partnership, look for a provider that has your organization’s best interests in mind and also shares your corporate culture, processes, and priorities. This blended approach will facilitate a streamlined experience for both your employees and customers.



LincolnIT provides full or co-managed services models, and customized a la carte plans for SMBs, mid-market companies, large enterprises, and nonprofits through its ITCare brand. Contact us for more information, or to request a proposal. 

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