Just a few years ago, the concept of artificial intelligence seemed like a far-fetched science-fiction fantasy. Today, AI is one of the fastest-growing aspects of modern technology, with 63% of companies planning to increase their spending in this area.
AI is only a small part of the technologies employed in business nowadays. Most companies need to manage complex IT networks, advanced systems, cybersecurity, VOIP, and regular software updates.
Add to that an array of industry regulations, cloud computing, software licenses, application updates, and hardware upgrades, and it’s easy to see why most companies are looking for solutions beyond what an in-house IT team can offer.
Co-managed IT is the best way to keep up with evolving technology while enjoying the benefits of an internal IT team.
What Is Co-Managed IT?
The major difference in the debate between fully vs. co-managed IT is that you don’t need to disband your current team to grow your business’s tech capabilities.
With co-managed It, you get to choose how little or how much support you need for your business. You can customize which services to outsource and which ones to leave in the hands of your capable in-house team.
It’s the best and most cost-effective way to enjoy maximum efficiency and scale your business as needed.
Co-managed IT services offer a variety of services. They may offer any combination of services, including:
- Help desk support
- Network management
- Project management
- Contract-based IT resources
- Access to advanced technologies
The best service providers allow you to select from a range of services according to your current needs. Some offer fixed packages comprising the most in-demand services.
If your team is struggling to keep up and outsourcing all your IT simply doesn’t make sense for your business, co-managed IT is certain to be the ideal fit.
Defining Your Co-Managed IT Needs
Flexibility is one of the best benefits of co-managed IT. So it makes sense to determine exactly what you need to outsource before you start searching for outside assistance.
These are some things to consider when making this decision:
- Existing technology
- Your skills gap
- Which services you need help with
- The role of IT in your business goals
Co-management is ideal for your business if:
Your Needs Exceed Your IT Team’s Capacity
If IT staff are overworked and you don’t have the budget to expand your team, outsourcing routine tasks can help alleviate some of the strain and boost their productivity.
Hiring new staff is costly and time-consuming, and it is not an option if you only need a temporary solution. These instances may include a spike in demand, a new demanding project, or times when employees are on leave.
Outsourcing routine tasks during these times helps your IT personnel focus on more important business-critical IT functions.
Your IT Needs are Changing
If you want to get ahead in business nowadays, you need to keep up with ever-evolving technology.
A critical new project can lead to stretched resources, work overload, and burned-out IT staff. Co-managed IT professionals help alleviate these burdens without compromising your existing or new projects.
Implementing new technologies can reveal a knowledge gap in your IT department. Even the most skilled personnel can’t keep up with rapid advancements in their area of expertise.
Hiring an outsider to fill a specific gap is an excellent solution to speed up the transition without doubling up on existing skills.
You’re Experiencing Costly Downtime
Hardware failures and cyberattacks result in systems going offline and hampering productivity. Not only is this frustrating for your employees, but it’s also eroding your profits.
A security breach can lead to more serious issues, like lawsuits from customers or the loss of trade secrets. Even major companies can fall prey to data breaches and cyberattacks.
Outsourced IT providers have well-established crisis management policies and access to external teams of experts if necessary.
These assets, combined with your team’s understanding of your systems, help prevent downtime and limit its impact if it does occur.
Once you’re aware of what you need from a co-managed IT provider, you can start investigating the best options for your business.
Evaluating Co-Managed IT Services
Researching and interviewing providers is the most important aspect of transitioning to managed IT. You should consider at least three providers and investigate what they’re offering in line with your expectations.
It’s best to meet with each of your chosen companies at least twice during the vetting process. The more time you spend with them, the easier it will be to determine whether they’re a good fit for your business.
Some questions to ask while interviewing them include:
- Do you offer a discount to compensate for existing IT support?
- Why should I choose your company?
- Why shouldn’t I partner with your firm?
- How do you keep up with rapid changes in IT?
- Do you have many customers with similar needs to ours?
- Which IT aspects do you commonly manage?
- Do you have any references?
- How do you see your role when working with us?
You should visit them at their offices during your interviews. This allows you to see how they operate. Are their offices neat and orderly, or chaotic and noisy?
Their home base can provide valuable clues about what to expect when you hire them and speak volumes about their management and employees.
Speak to someone other than a salesperson when interviewing providers. A high-level engineer is usually a good source of honest information.
Finally, you must get at least three references. Call these people and ask them about their experiences working with the IT provider.
Sufficient research at the outset alleviates all the uncertainties and ensures a smooth process when you transition to co-managed IT.
Define Outsourced and In-House Roles at the Outset
An outsourced IT provider assumes responsibility for all the IT roles in your business. Since this isn’t the case with co-managed IT, it’s easy to experience a few gray areas.
Avoid this by defining clear expectations of the roles applicable to in-house IT, outsourced IT, and company leadership. These job descriptions must be clearly outlined and highly specific to avoid overlap or otherwise.
If your MSP is taking on backup and disaster recovery, they should manage it in its entirety, i.e., take care of monitoring, testing, and restoring. Your in-house team should not interfere with any of these functions.
Seamless Onboarding and Integration
Once you’ve done all the background work, it’s vital to inform your employees about the upcoming changes as soon as possible. Most people resist change.
This is especially true in the case of technological advancements, which can create feelings that their efforts aren’t good enough or a fear of job losses. To soothe their apprehension, you must explain the reasons for the change to them and answer their questions.
Effective change management should include the following:
Sharing Your Vision for the Business
Employees must understand why changes are necessary. You must explain the bigger picture to them and how it will benefit them in the future.
This will help create a positive attitude around the upcoming transition and can even create a sense of excitement around it.
Frequent, Clear Communication
Communication gives employees the information they need to process the upcoming changes. Keeping them informed every step of the way helps them understand how it will affect them and allows them to prepare.
Frequent, transparent communications will build trust in your organization and encourage feedback.
Create Opportunities for Feedback
Effective communication always works both ways. Make it clear that you want to hear from employees about any concerns or confusion.
Take time to inform them about their role in the transition and how it will affect them directly.
When team members have the opportunity to discuss things with their peers, they feel supported and valued. Examples of effective team sessions include brainstorming and information sessions explaining the new systems.
These instances can help employees become personally invested in moving over to co-managed IT and understand their role in the positive change.
Identify Necessary Training
Employing an outsourced IT firm can result in some role changes within your organization. You must ensure your IT personnel have the tools and skills to navigate their new roles.
An outside organization may have different reporting systems or technologies that affect your employee’s daily tasks. Make sure they understand these intricacies in advance.
How an outsourced IT provider assists you during the transition phase will determine the tone of your relationship going forward. It can provide valuable clues about their service levels and organizational skills.
Ensure an Effortless Switch to Co-Managed IT
Empist offers an extensive range of managed IT services to suit large and small businesses. We have two decades of experience in the field of technology and offer over 60 specific tasks, so you can tailor a service to suit your business needs.
You can count on a detailed project plan, customer-centric services, dedicated support, and clear pricing when you work with Empist.
Our professional team can help you streamline your business’s transition to modern IT solutions. Reach out for more information about our co-managed IT solutions.