Managed vs. co-managed IT: Choose the right approach for your business

6 minutes reading

For all businesses, managing their IT infrastructure effectively is crucial. But what if you find it too complicated to run all IT processes internally? Or when you need an IT team with specialized expertise? In that case, managed or co-managed IT can be your trusted ally. Learn about the differences between the two and determine which service is best for your business.

Navigating the complex landscape of information technology can be daunting, especially during times of change – such as when your company is expanding or facing challenges like losing an experienced IT professional. But even at such times – and perhaps especially then – keeping up with IT demands becomes critical to your business’s success. Fortunately, there are two viable options to ease the burden: managed and co-managed IT services.

Managed vs. co-managed. How do they work?

Both co-managed and managed IT services can significantly simplify the operation of your business by providing expert support and oversight of your technology infrastructure, allowing you to focus on your core business activities. The two services, however, differ in their scope, pricing models, and, ultimately, their suitability for different types of organizations.

Co-managed IT is a collaborative service where your Managed Service Provider (MSP) partners with your in-house IT team to enhance the management and support of your IT infrastructure. By combining the expertise of your internal IT team with the resources of an MSP, you can ensure that your IT needs are met without the pressure of needing to hire additional personnel continuously. Your co-managed IT service provider may take on tasks that your in-house team does not specialize in, allowing your internal IT staff to focus on more critical duties and their core strengths. The co-managed model allows businesses to maintain a hybrid system, outsourcing specific areas while retaining control over others.

Managed IT, on the other hand, is a comprehensive service where an MSP assumes the role of your in-house IT team. They then manage all aspects of IT, from helpdesk support to security, and take responsibility for the entire IT infrastructure, including maintenance and system performance. This is the highest level of support you can receive from an MSP, providing a turnkey solution to your IT needs.

Managed services and outsourcing. Is there a difference?

Managed services vs outsourcing

Outsourcing and (co-)managed IT are both approaches to obtaining external support for your company’s IT needs. However, they differ in scope, control, and engagement model.

Outsourcing involves the transfer of specific business functions or projects to external providers. It is often used for narrowly defined processes, tasks, or one-time situations. The decision to outsource a task often involves relinquishing significant control to the service provider.

  In contrast, managed IT services offer a more holistic approach, focusing on managing and supporting your core IT infrastructure and operations. Managed IT, provided by specialized MSPs, includes ongoing, subscription-based support, maintenance, and monitoring.

While outsourcing can be viewed mainly as a service, managed IT should be a two-way, long-term partnership between the MSP and the client – your business.

Consider all the pros and cons

If you’re considering contacting an MSP and outsourcing your IT, you should first evaluate the pros and cons of the available services to find the best fit for your business. Here’s what to consider.

Pros of Co-Managed IT:

Cost-efficiency: Co-managed IT is generally less expensive than managed IT. You benefit from in-house specialists focusing on essential tasks while the co-managed partner handles the rest. 

Flexibility: Co-managed IT allows you to choose which areas to manage externally, preserving control over specific aspects of your IT operations.

Security enhancement: Co-managed IT providers can help plug security gaps and offer hardware and software solutions to improve system efficiency and data security.

Rapid response: With an external team of experts, co-managed IT services can expedite recovery in the event of hardware failure, data breaches, or other IT crises. 

Cons of Co-Managed IT:

Initial investment: Implementing co-managed IT involves a significant investment. 

Potential friction: Ensuring effective collaboration between your in-house IT team and the co-managed partner may require effort. It’s crucial to distribute the tasks between the teams effectively and communicate to your in-house IT specialists that the partner is not there to replace them.


Pros of Managed IT 

More time for your priorities: Managed IT allows you to focus on growing your business instead of IT management. 

Saving time – and, in the long run, potentially money: With managed IT, you avoid the complexities of hiring specialists, as you pay a fixed fee for comprehensive IT services. 

Cons of Managed IT:

Higher costs: Managed IT tends to be more expensive than co-managed IT, potentially making it less suitable for budget-conscious businesses. 

Scope limitations: Some MSPs may not cover all facets of your technology needs, leading to additional fees.

Onsite support costs: Physical onsite support may come at an extra cost.


When choosing between managed and co-managed IT, consider your company’s current situation and future goals. Ultimately, your choice should be based on your unique requirements, your budget, and the control preferences of your business. Remember, IT is not just a business necessity; it is a strategic asset that can propel your organization forward.

What else should you keep in mind? Regardless of your choice, don’t forget to prioritize cybersecurity in your IT strategy. In the ever-evolving field of technology, it’s not just about managing IT – it’s about securing your business’s future.