Co-Managed IT: The Ultimate Guide

Co Managed IT

Co-Managed IT Services For Small to Mid-Sized Organizations and Local Governments


Each day, as a business leader, IT Director, or City Administrator, you’re confronted with tough decisions concerning your financial and technology resources.

Among these investments is your IT department – an integral part of any business, irrespective of size. Companies and local governments can only function effectively with quality technical support in today’s technological and interconnected world.

However, questions often arise: How much should you earmark for your IT investments? How large should your IT team even be?

Estimating the appropriate investment in IT can be challenging because the direct return on investment (ROI) can sometimes take more work to determine. Still, it’s undeniable that you must stay caught up in IT.

Every single department within your organization heavily relies on IT for efficient operation. However, smooth functioning without state-of-the-art technology is nearly impossible in this era!

Moreover, if your investment in crucial areas such as cybersecurity and backup technologies falls short, you could be just one cyber-attack away from facing severe, long-lasting, and costly consequences.

This is precisely where Co-Managed IT Services from Imagine IT can bolster your organization’s IT capabilities!

This guide serves as a detailed roadmap, revealing the fundamental aspects of Co-Managed IT Services. Then, we’ll demystify this model, answering critical questions that you may have about how it best works.



What Exactly is Co-Managed IT?

Co-Managed IT is a service model designed to support businesses and local governments. In this approach, an organization’s existing in-house IT staff collaborates with a dedicated external IT service provider.

This partnership leverages internal and external resources to enhance IT operations. The in-house team focuses on day-to-day activities and strategic initiatives, while the external provider offers advanced support and specialized expertise when required.

The result is an efficient and cost-effective IT management system tailored to your needs.


6 Signs Your IT Team is Getting Crushed 

Reactive-based IT support costing you? Imagine IT


The rapid advancement of IT systems and the growing complexity of cyber threats have many IT departments treading water at best.

It’s a common problem; no one likes to go to ownership or leadership and consistently ask for more resources or help, and most managers are reluctant to confess that they’re not holding all the reins or playing catch-up.

Many IT teams are always in firefighting mode, leaving little room for strategic initiatives. As a result, they often need to gain the skills required to meet the increasing demands.

Here are the 6 warning signs …


1. A Culture of Constant Overwork:

Is your IT team’s work schedule creeping into late evenings and weekends? This could suggest that they’re under considerable strain. This continuous overwork can eventually lead to exhaustion and a high turnover rate.


2. Project Delays and Errors:

Regularly delayed or incorrect project outcomes might not reflect a lack of competence. Instead, it could mean that your team, though skilled and committed, needs to be more productive.


3. Is time off a forgotten myth?

If your IT team sees time off for sickness or vacation as an unattainable luxury, it’s a stark sign they’re overwhelmed. However, IT personnel understand their enormous responsibility, as the entire company network’s safety and stability lie in their hands.


4. Lack of proactive measures

If your IT team constantly puts out fires and handles an ever-growing pile of projects, vital preventative actions such as server upkeep, security training, backup plan testing, and disaster recovery documentation may need to be addressed.


5. Cybersecurity concerns

Cybersecurity understanding and adherence to ever-changing data privacy laws are critical in today’s digital landscape. However, if your team doesn’t have a dedicated cybersecurity expert, you could expose your company to unnecessary risks.


6. Downtime Issues

An uptick in system downtime, network crashes, or recurrent IT problems could indicate that your team is overstretched. Overwhelmed IT staff might miss essential maintenance tasks, leading to system instability and potentially expensive disruptions.

Spotting these signs early on can prompt you to consider a co-managed IT model with Imagine IT. This allows you to avoid employee burnout and ensure your IT operations are secure and efficient.


Understanding Co-Managed IT: Merging the Best of Both IT Worlds

Digital and business transformation


Navigating the decision between internal and external IT services can often present a complex challenge for our organization. This is where Co-Managed IT possibly comes into play, offering an optimal balance.

Let’s delve deeper into this concept.



What does Co-Managed IT include?


It’s a broad spectrum covering everything from strategic planning and cybersecurity to help desk support, data backup, and recovery.

It’s about supplementing and enhancing your in-house capabilities rather than replacing them.

Consider a local government office with a strong in-house team managing daily IT operations but needing cybersecurity expertise. Rather than replacing the unit or stretching them too thin, they can bring in a Co-Managed IT provider to focus solely on cybersecurity.

This way, they bolster their defenses without detracting from their existing strengths.

Co-Managed IT is not a one-size-fits-all solution—it’s a flexible, adaptable model designed to suit each organization’s unique needs. That’s the beauty of this hybrid approach: it’s as complete or as targeted as needed.



Co-Managed IT vs. Managed IT

So, you’ve understood Co-Managed IT, but how does it stack up against traditional Managed IT services? Let’s peel back the layers.

Imagine the IT landscape as a spectrum. On one end, we have In-House IT—fully internal and completely under your control. On the other end, we find that Managed IT—is outsourced entirely to an external provider.

Co-Managed IT? It’s the sweet spot right in the middle.


Managed IT:

Managed IT Services


This model fully outsources your IT needs to a third-party provider. They handle everything from IT infrastructure and network management to cybersecurity and support services.

It’s an ideal choice for businesses without an existing IT team or those that prefer to focus on their core competencies while experts handle their IT needs.



Co-Managed IT:

This hybrid model combines the best of both worlds. You maintain an in-house IT team for specific tasks while outsourcing the rest to an external provider.

This model is particularly suitable for organizations with an existing IT department needing additional support or expertise.


Managed IT Services – Pros and Cons



  1. Access to complete expert services: Managed IT services provide a full suite of IT expertise, covering everything from network security to hardware maintenance.
  2. Predictable Costs: Managed IT services charge a fixed monthly fee, making budgeting more predictable.
  3. Reduced Internal Responsibility: Outsourcing IT services lets your team focus on core business operations.


  1. Limited Control: With Managed IT services, decisions about your IT operations are largely made by the external provider, which may lead to a feeling of reduced control.
  2. Potential for Excess Services: Managed IT services offer a comprehensive package, which might include services your organization does not require, leading to unnecessary costs.


Co-Managed IT Services – Pros and Cons



  1. Enhanced Control: Co-Managed IT allows your organization to retain control over IT operations while gaining external expertise where needed.
  2. Customizable Service: You decide which areas to manage in-house and which to outsource, creating a tailored service that fits your needs.
  3. Utilization of Existing Team: Co-Managed IT leverages the capabilities of your existing IT staff, who collaborate with the external provider.


  1. Increased Involvement: Maintaining some in-house IT operations means your team will need to spend time managing these areas, which could potentially detract from other responsibilities.
  2. You IT leads are afraid of change or look at us as an adversary: Co-managed IT does not remove resources, but IT managers can still fear being sabotaged or simply because it’s a big change.
  3. When there are no in-house IT resources: It’s crucial to have a leader within your company who is well-versed in IT, someone we can work closely with. This person must understand your business operations and all the key applications and be technically proficient. If such an individual isn’t currently part of your team, consider shifting to a fully outsourced Managed IT Services model with Imagine IT.

Selecting between Managed and Co-Managed IT is more than determining which is better overall but better suits your organization’s specific needs and circumstances.



The Co-Managed IT Advantage: A Win-Win Scenario

Having peeled back the layers of Co-Managed IT, let’s now explore why it’s gaining traction among SMBs and local governments.


1. The Power of Collaboration

Hourly IT supportIn the realm of Co-Managed IT, collaboration is king. By merging the forces of your in-house IT team with an external IT services provider, you create a powerhouse of skills and expertise.

As a result, you retain control over your IT while also benefiting from the expertise of seasoned IT professionals. In addition, this collaboration can significantly improve IT operations, making them more efficient and effective.




2. Customization is Key

Unlike the one-size-fits-all approach of complete outsourcing, Co-Managed IT services are highly customizable. You get to pick and choose the services you need assistance with, ensuring you’re not paying for services you don’t require. As a result, this model provides maximum efficiency and cost-effectiveness.


3. A Balancing Act

One of the biggest challenges for any IT department is balancing daily tasks with strategic projects. Co-Managed IT can lighten the load on your in-house team, allowing them to focus on strategic initiatives that drive business growth while the co-managed service provider handles the daily grind.


4. Access to Cutting-edge Technology

With a Co-Managed IT model, you’re not just hiring a workforce; you’re also gaining access to the latest technology and tools. As a result, IT service providers continually update their tools and technology to provide the best service possible, and your business directly benefits from these advancements.


5. Uninterrupted Support

Managed IT Services By Imagine IT

Imagine your in-house IT team encountering a problem they need help solving. With a Co-Managed IT model, help is just a call away. In addition, you gain access to an extensive team of IT experts ready to assist whenever needed, ensuring uninterrupted IT operations.

In summary, Co-Managed IT presents a compelling case for organizations looking for a tailored, collaborative, and strategic approach to IT management.

It’s not just about outsourcing IT tasks; it’s about creating a partnership that drives business growth and innovation.

So let’s delve deeper into its potential drawbacks in the following section.



Navigating The Challenges of Co-Managed IT

While the advantages of Co-Managed IT are significant, it’s essential also to consider potential downsides.

By being aware of these challenges and understanding how to mitigate them, you can decide whether Co-Managed IT is right for your organization.


1. The Challenge of Integration

One potential downside of Co-Managed IT is integrating the external IT services provider with your in-house team.

This process can sometimes be met with resistance and can take time. To smooth this transition, it’s vital to ensure clear communication between all parties and to foster a collaborative environment.


2. The Security Quandary

Cyber Security

Whenever you bring an external party into your IT infrastructure, questions about cybersecurity arise.

Partnering with a provider that prioritizes security and complies with all relevant regulations is crucial. In addition, regular audits and transparency about security measures can go a long way in addressing this concern.


3. Potential Cost Overruns

While Co-Managed IT can be cost-effective, it’s also possible for costs to escalate if not managed carefully. Choosing the right services that align with your specific needs and regularly reviewing these services can help control costs.

Consider the case of an SMB that faced significant integration challenges when first adopting a Co-Managed IT model. Resistance from the in-house IT team and lack of clarity about roles and responsibilities created initial hurdles.

However, through facilitated workshops and clear communication about the new model’s benefits, the company overcame these challenges and successfully integrated the external IT services provider.



The Role of Co-Managed IT in Cybersecurity:


Protect your organization with zero trust cyber securityIn our increasingly connected world, cybersecurity is a pressing issue that every organization must prioritize, regardless of size or industry.

This holds particularly true for small-to-medium businesses and local governments, who often find themselves in the crosshairs of cyber threats due to potentially limited resources compared to larger entities.

Co-Managed IT can play a crucial role in fortifying your cybersecurity posture. It brings to the table not just any IT expertise but specialized knowledge in cybersecurity.

This expertise can help your organization identify potential weaknesses and implement robust security measures to protect sensitive data and IT infrastructure.

Moreover, your organization benefits from continuously monitoring its IT environment with Co-Managed IT. This level of vigilance helps detect and mitigate potential security incidents before they escalate into full-blown crises.

Finally, given the rapidly evolving nature of cyber threats, staying updated on the latest protection measures can be daunting. However, co-Managed IT services typically stay on top of these changes, ensuring your organization’s cybersecurity defenses are always up-to-date.



Co-Managed IT in Digital Transformation and Strategy

Digital transformation (Dx) is no longer just a buzzword; it’s a strategic imperative for modern organizations aiming to streamline operations and deliver improved services.

However, successful digital transformation isn’t just about adopting new technologies but strategically leveraging them to achieve your business objectives.

Digital TransformationThis is where Co-Managed IT can play a pivotal role.

By partnering with a Co-Managed IT service provider, you can access strategic insights and guidance on effectively utilizing technology to drive your organization forward. In addition, they can help you plan, implement, and manage new technologies to align with your specific goals and maximize value from your digital investments.

Co-Managed IT can also help you navigate the complex and challenging digital transformation process. In addition, they can provide valuable expertise in change management, ensuring a smoother transition and minimizing disruption to your operations.

In short, Co-Managed IT is not just a tactical solution for your IT needs; it can also be a strategic partner in your organization’s digital transformation journey.


How To Recognize When Co-Managed IT Is Your Best Choice

There are specific scenarios where adopting a Co-Managed IT model might be the most practical move for an organization. Recognizing these situations can be crucial in guiding your IT strategy.


1. When Scaling Up Quickly is a Necessity

In the instance of a business experiencing a rapid growth phase, the demand for IT support can surge unexpectedly. As a result, the in-house IT team may be overwhelmed, with the immediate recruitment of additional full-time staff needing to be more viable.

A Co-Managed IT model can be the perfect solution in such a scenario, enabling the organization to meet growing IT demands without straining its existing staff or significantly inflating its budget.


2. In the Event of Specialized IT Requirements

The in-house IT team may need to gain the necessary knowledge for businesses or local government agencies implementing new, complex systems that require niche expertise. Partnering with a Co-Managed IT service provider specializing in the needed area can ensure successful system implementation and significant improvements in service delivery or operational efficiency.


3. Addressing Regulatory Compliance

Financial institutions or healthcare providers, among others, face the task of constantly adapting to evolving regulations and ensuring their IT systems are compliant. A Co-Managed IT provider with experience in these industries can help stay ahead of regulatory changes, effectively mitigating compliance risks.

Recent surveys indicate that a growing percentage of organizations, approximately 60%, that experienced rapid growth, faced specialized IT needs, or confronted compliance challenges in the past year found value in adopting a Co-Managed IT model.

Recognizing the need for Co-Managed IT primarily involves understanding your organization’s unique challenges and growth trajectory.

For example, if your organization is experiencing rapid growth, dealing with specialized IT requirements, or navigating complex compliance requisites, Co-Managed IT could be a solution.



The Costs of Co-Managed IT

How much is reactive-based IT Services and technology support really costing you?


Understanding the cost implications of Co-Managed IT is crucial. Let’s delve into the expenses associated with this model and compare it with in-house and fully managed IT services.


The Co-Managed IT Cost Structure

Under Co-Managed IT, you typically pay for the services you use. This variable cost model can be a boon for organizations with fluctuating IT demands. Plus, you save on recruitment, training, and employee benefit costs associated with expanding an in-house team.


Co-Managed IT vs. In-House IT Costs

Consider the case of an organization with an annual in-house IT cost of $500,000, including salaries, benefits, and overheads. By transitioning to a Co-Managed IT model, it was found that the yearly IT expenses could drop to $350,000, a significant 30% reduction.

In contrast, were reduced organizations using a fully Managed IT service costing them $600,000 annually found that after switching to a Co-Managed IT model, their annual costs reduced to $400,000, marking a noticeable 33% decrease.

Studies on IT spending and staffing benchmarks reveal that Co-Managed IT can save organizations between 25% to 40% compared to fully managed or in-house IT services.

The costs of Co-Managed IT services can vary based on the complexity and size of your IT environment, but the financial benefits are undeniable.



Choosing the Right Co-Managed IT Partner

Choosing the right Co-Managed IT partner is crucial. It can distinguish between a harmonious IT collaboration and a challenging tech transition. Here are the factors you should consider:

  1. Expertise in Your Industry: Your potential IT partner should understand your unique needs and challenges. This expertise can help you navigate complex compliance and cybersecurity issues effectively.
  2. Strong Communication: Open and transparent communication is key. Please ensure your IT partner will keep you informed, addressing issues before they become crises.
  3. Scalability: Your IT needs will evolve as your organization grows. The right partner should be able to scale their services to match your growth.
  4. Proven Track Record: Ask for references and case studies. Evaluate their success stories and learn from their missteps.
  5. Clear Transition Plan: A significant change is switching to a Co-Managed IT model. A well-defined transition plan can ensure minimal disruption.



We’ve navigated through the landscape of Co-Managed IT, unearthing invaluable insights.

Co-Managed IT combines the strengths of in-house and fully managed IT services. It creates a partnership where expertise is shared and responsibility is distributed, offering the flexibility to adapt to your organization’s unique needs.

We examined the potential downsides, like compatibility issues and potential skill gaps. But we also learned these can be minimized with a well-chosen partner and clear communication.

We dissected the cost implications, finding that Co-Managed IT can offer significant savings over in-house and fully managed services, especially considering the value of industry-specific expertise and scalability.

We discovered that organizations of all types and sizes can benefit from Co-Managed IT. Whether it’s a rapidly expanding startup, a seasonal business with fluctuating demands, a firm in a highly regulated industry, or an enterprise operating across multiple locations, Co-Managed IT presents a viable solution.

Finally, we outlined the steps to ensure a smooth transition to a Co-Managed IT model. A clear roadmap for the switch is vital, as it can reduce downtime and maintain productivity during the transition.

In a world where cybersecurity is not a luxury but a necessity, Co-Managed IT is an ally in progress. It’s a collaboration that allows organizations, including SMBs and local governments, to leverage the latest technologies and stay one step ahead.


Next Steps:

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