Fully vs Co-Managed IT Services: What You Need to Know

Business | August 29, 2023

Today, businesses rely heavily on technology to streamline operations, enhance customer experience, and stay competitive in a rapidly evolving market.

However, with the ever-increasing complexity of IT systems, many organizations find it challenging to manage their IT infrastructure effectively. There is, after all, a reason why 77% of businesses expected to increase or maintain their technology budgets in 2023.

What are they spending it on? IT services, which are broadly categorized into two categories: fully managed and co-managed services. While both options have their share of benefits, it’s essential to understand how they differ and which option is best suited for your business needs.

Unsure where to start? This comprehensive guide will dive deeper into the key differences between fully and co-managed IT services, their benefits and limitations, and what you need to know to make an informed decision for your business.

What Are IT Services for Businesses?

IT services refer to the support and management of a business’s technology infrastructure. This includes everything from computer hardware and software to security and data storage.

What’s the goal of these kinds of services? To help businesses ensure their network is:

  • Up-to-date
  • Secure
  • Running smoothly

This looks different from one company to the next. Additionally, you can choose from fully managed services or co-managed services (which we’ll explore more in-depth below). Regardless, here are some of the IT services we offer for reference.

Managed Services

Managed IT services are the most popular and widely used IT services offered by providers (again, we’ll get into partially and fully managed services below, as promised).

They provide businesses with a dedicated team of IT experts who handle all aspects of their technology infrastructure. This includes the following:

  • Network monitoring
  • Maintenance
  • Troubleshooting

Managed service providers typically offer various services, including:

  • Helpdesk support
  • Server and desktop support
  • Security management

However, in today’s digital landscape, one of the most popular managed solutions is…

Cloud Services

Cloud services provide businesses access to many cloud-based applications and storage solutions. The cloud is a virtual space where companies can store their data and applications, making it accessible from anywhere at any time.

Cloud services are typically flexible and scalable. This makes them attractive for businesses of all sizes. For example, at EMPIST, you can choose from a public, dedicated, hybrid, or collaborative cloud. If you’re unsure which is best for your business, reach out to us, and we’ll help you choose.

Professional Services

Professional IT services refer to customized services tailored to meet individual businesses’ unique requirements.

These services are usually provided by consultants who work with the company’s IT team to develop and implement a comprehensive IT strategy. Professional services include network visualization, cloud migration, and even unified communications.


Cybersecurity is becoming increasingly important for businesses today. With the rise of cyber-attacks, companies need to protect their data, networks, and sensitive information from various security threats.

Cybersecurity services help businesses stay secure by providing:

  • Security assessments
  • Vulnerability scanning
  • Penetration testing

They also provide comprehensive security solutions, including managed multi-factor authentication, dark web scanning, and password management.

Fully vs. Co-Managed IT Services: What’s the Difference?

So, now you know how crucial IT services are for any business in today’s digital world. From improving operational efficiency to enhancing customer experience, IT services have become indispensable to modern-day business.

However, choosing the right type of IT services can feel overwhelming for most, especially if you’re not aware of the differences between them.

Typically, you have two choices: fully and co-managed IT services. Here’s a brief breakdown of the differences between the two so you can make an informed business decision.

What Are Fully Managed IT Services?

Fully managed IT services refer to outsourcing the entire responsibility of your IT infrastructure to a third-party managed service provider (MSP).

Essentially, this means that the MSP will be responsible for everything from managing your IT hardware and software to monitoring and fixing any issues that may arise.

The MSP takes complete control of your IT services, ensuring that your systems run optimally and any problems are taken care of immediately.

What Are Co-Managed IT Services?

On the other hand, co-managed IT services are collaborative efforts between you and your MSP. In this arrangement, you retain ownership and control of your IT infrastructure but share the responsibility for your IT services with your MSP.

Co-managed IT services allow you to customize your IT services to meet your unique needs while benefiting from your MSP’s support and expertise.

The Main Differences

The primary difference between fully and co-managed IT services lies in the MSP’s level of involvement in managing your IT services.

The MSP has complete control with fully managed IT services, and you’re not directly involved in managing your IT services. With co-managed IT services, you retain some control over your IT services and work in collaboration with your MSP.

Benefits of Co-Managed IT Services

While fully managed services provide end-to-end IT support, co-managed services allow businesses to share the responsibility of IT management with a third-party provider.

As a business owner, this means you have greater flexibility and control over your IT infrastructure while still having access to expert support.

Regardless of that flexibility and collaboration, co-managed IT services come with many benefits that can help businesses operate more efficiently and securely. Let’s take a closer look at some of those benefits.

More IT Expertise & Training

You gain access to additional IT expertise when you partner with a co-managed IT services provider.

This means you can tap into the skills and knowledge of IT professionals. They (should) have a broad range of experience managing IT environments.

Wouldn’t an internal IT team have that? Sure. However, the benefits here are two-fold. Your internal team can collaborate with a co-managed IT provider to learn more about targeted services and support.

However, you’re not handing things over entirely. This means your team will benefit from the hands-on collaboration with the IT service provider. They’ll learn how to implement solutions and what to do when something goes wrong, making them better IT professionals as time goes on.

Improved Cybersecurity

Both co-managed and fully managed services offer this perk, but it’s still worth mentioning. Co-managed IT service providers can help businesses protect themselves from common cyber threats by implementing robust security measures.

These measures may include installing:

  • Firewalls
  • Antivirus software
  • Anti-spam filters
  • Security patches

Furthermore, co-managed IT service providers can provide businesses with employee training and awareness on how to avoid phishing and other security attacks.

Cost Savings

Co-managed IT services can help businesses of any size save money in several ways. For instance, by hiring a co-managed IT services provider, your business can reduce its IT labor costs since the provider will handle routine IT tasks.

You still enjoy the benefits of managed IT services, but you’re reducing costs by co-managing them with your in-house team.

Additionally, co-managed IT service providers can help your company reduce hardware and licensing costs by optimizing equipment usage and leveraging cloud-based technologies.


As most businesses grow, their IT support needs may evolve and require more advanced and complex services. Co-managed IT services providers are flexible and can adjust to changing business needs, scaling services up or down as required. This ensures your team has access to the right IT resources and services, whether in the short or long term.

The result? You can increase business efficiency without spending a fortune.

Benefits of Fully Managed IT Services

What if you don’t have the time or resources to co-manage your IT solutions? That’s why many businesses turn to fully managed services. Here are the benefits of handing over your IT tasks entirely to a high-quality service provider.

Peace of Mind

One of the primary benefits of fully managed IT services is peace of mind. With fully managed IT services, you can rest assured that your IT systems are safe.

A team of experts will monitor and maintain your systems 24/7, ensuring minimal downtime and quick resolution of any issues.


Fully managed IT services can be more cost-effective than having an in-house IT team or hiring a co-managed IT services provider. Fully managed IT service providers have the resources and expertise to handle your IT needs at a lower cost than having an in-house IT team.

Proactive Maintenance

Fully managed IT service providers take a proactive approach to IT maintenance. Regular monitoring and maintenance make your IT systems less likely to experience downtime or issues.

Proactive maintenance can also help prevent security breaches and ensure your systems are updated with the latest technology.

Predictable Monthly Costs

Fully managed IT services offer predictable monthly costs, allowing your business to budget its expenses more effectively. The monthly fee covers all IT services, including:

  • Monitoring
  • Maintenance
  • Support

With co-managed IT services, you may have to pay extra fees for additional IT support or service when the needs (or emergency cybersecurity issues) arise, making it harder to predict your monthly IT expenses.

Increased Focus on Business Goals

Outsourcing IT services to a managed service provider allows you to focus on your core competencies and business goals.

Because MSPs handle all IT-related tasks, including monitoring, maintenance, and support, you can concentrate on what you do best: growing your business.

Tips for Choosing an IT Service

Ready to get started with managed IT services? Great! Now, it’s time to choose an IT service provider.

Whether you opt for fully managed or co-managed IT services, selecting the right IT support service provider can be critical for your business success.

To help you select a provider that suits your business needs, here are some tips and important considerations to remember throughout the process.

Determine Your Needs

Before you start looking for an IT service, it’s essential to determine your business’s IT needs. Identify specific areas where you require assistance, such as:

  • Network management
  • Cybersecurity
  • Software upgrade
  • Hardware support

Once you know your needs, you can look for service providers specializing in those areas.

Contact a few service providers for consultations if you’re unsure of your needs. They’ll likely be able to help you identify areas in which your business could improve its IT infrastructure.

Check Credentials

When evaluating potential IT service providers, check their credentials and certifications.

Look for providers with certifications in specific areas, such as Microsoft Certified Professionals (MCPs) for software support or Certified Information Systems Security Professionals (CISSPs) for cybersecurity.

These are just a few examples. They don’t have to have these credentials, but certifications demonstrate that the provider has the necessary knowledge and expertise to manage your IT needs.

Consider Experience

Experience is another essential factor to consider when choosing an IT service provider. Look for providers that have been in business for several years and have experience working with companies similar to yours.

While you’re at it, take a look at their case studies. At the very least, read reviews from other businesses who’ve used their services. Look for common positive trends in these reviews that indicate they could provide your business with a great service.

Evaluate Support Options

Have you narrowed down your search? If so, it’s time to consider the level of support each service provider offers. If you’re unsure what they have to offer, ask about their support options, including:

  • Available hours
  • Fast response times
  • Communication methods

Additionally, consider if they offer proactive support and monitoring, which can help prevent IT issues before they occur.


Finally, consider pricing. Get detailed pricing information upfront, including the cost of any necessary hardware or software upgrades. Consider the provider’s pricing model, such as fixed monthly fees or pay-as-you-go options.

Work With EMPIST

Ultimately, whether you opt for fully or co-managed IT services, the key is a proactive approach to managing your technology infrastructure.

At EMPIST, we pride ourselves on offering customized, reliable IT solutions that help businesses grow. We understand the dangers of downtime and the importance of maintaining system security.

Our team of experts can offer you peace of mind, knowing that your systems are safe. Ready to get started? Contact us today to help you maximize productivity while minimizing downtime.