Co-Managed vs. In-House IT Services: Will They Coexist?

msp co-managed

Co-managed IT services sound great on the surface as you get the best of both worlds – the task flexibility, internal knowledge, and fast responsiveness of an internal IT team, in addition to the wider expertise, established systems, and unique viewpoint of a third-party MSP.  

Later in this blog, we’ll explore in greater detail how to find success with a co-managed approach to IT services. 

In summary, it comes down to good leadership. However, it is also important to consider why you should go through the process in the first place.  

With the challenges that can potentially arise, why not just opt for an easier option – fully managed IT or 100 percent in-house? 

There are two reasons why co-managed should remain a preferred option if you have an in-house IT team: 

1. It’s the only option that is actually viable to ensure there are no skill gaps 

2. The benefits are too substantial to miss out on 

Before going any further, let’s first establish what we mean by co-managed IT. 

What is a Co-Managed Service Model? 

In a co-managed IT service model, you blend your internal IT team with an MSP, keeping some services in-house and outsourcing others to the MSP.  

Working together, your internal IT team and appointed MSP provide the IT support and services that your business needs. 

Advantages of Using Managed Services to Supplement Your In-House Team 

  • Enhances small teams – the co-managed IT services model can work with any size of IT team, but it is particularly beneficial for organizations that have smaller teams. With co-managed IT services, you can scale up your IT function without increasing employee headcount.
  • Provides relief to IT teams currently under pressure – it is common for internal IT teams to be continually running at capacity. In these situations, an MSP can take on part of the heavy lifting, releasing some of the pressure currently faced by your internal team.
  • Technology is becoming more complex – the increasing complexity of technology makes it more and more difficult for internal IT teams to keep up, particularly smaller teams.
  • Your business is becoming more dependent on technology – businesses in all sectors are becoming increasingly dependent on technology. As a result, it is important to have not just capacity in your IT support function, but also redundancy.
  • Gives you an IT resource backup plan – staffing shortages can develop for a range of reasons. A member of your IT team could fall ill, for example, or they might find a job with another company. It can even be challenging to get sufficient cover for IT staff who are on vacation. With co-managed IT services, your MSP can step in to provide any additional coverage you need.
  • IT talent is hard to find – scaling up your internal IT team is easier said than done. Co-managed IT services solve this problem by providing you with skills on tap.
  • Fill knowledge gaps – even the best IT teams have knowledge gaps because of the different skill sets that exist in the IT field and the rapid development of technologies. With co-managed IT services, your MSP can fill the knowledge gaps in your internal IT team.
  • Support during major projects – internal IT teams often operate at 100 percent capacity just to deliver on day-to-day responsibilities. This means there isn’t available capacity left to deliver on the projects your business needs. Your MSP in a co-managed arrangement will give you that capacity with the addition of Professional Services resources that will be available to you.
  • Reduced IT staffing costs – you can even reduce staffing costs by splitting the workload between employees and an MSP.

How to Make Co-Managed IT Work 

Now we get to the big question – how do you ensure your internal IT team can coexist with your MSP and vice versa? How can you make co-managed IT services work? 

We mentioned earlier that the answer is leadership, but what does that mean in practical terms? There are four essential ingredients required to make co-managed IT work, and they all require input at the most senior level of your organization: 

  •         Communication
  •         Coordination
  •         Accountability
  •         Cooperation



Communication is the cornerstone. Without good communication, the other three elements will fail. Communication between your internal team and MSP should be frequent, honest, and open, where everyone is pushing in the same direction. 


Responsibilities need to be clearly defined to ensure your internal IT team knows what comes under its remit and the same for your MSP. It is also important to have crossover understanding, i.e. your MSP should have a clear understanding of the responsibilities of the internal team and vice versa. 


Both the internal team and MSP need to be accountable for their actions, and they need to be held accountable, too – for good things, as well as bad. Good communication and coordination are crucial to achieving good accountability. It also helps if there is a culture of learning and improvement rather than a culture of blame. 


This is probably the most difficult element to achieve, but it is possible, particularly when you first establish communication, coordination, and accountability. The goal is to get everyone pushing in the same direction. Quickly and decisively dealing with non-cooperative situations is also important. 


Part of running any business is ensuring the dynamics are good within your team. This is also true when you choose a co-managed IT service model, as the secret to success is to foster positive dynamics between the two teams. 

At StepUP IT, we have extensive experience working with internal IT teams under a co-managed IT services model. To learn more about how to make co-managed IT work in your organization, or to discuss your requirements, please get in touch. 

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Since 2001, StepUP IT Services has been helping Eugene and Oregon businesses with technology. We are your IT partner. We manage and maintain your technology, empowering your organization to reach its goals. 

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