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IT Service Delivery Models Guide: Fully Managed, Co-Managed & In-House


Ever wondered how you could dramatically improve the effectiveness of your operations? Understanding the intricate details behind your IT operations can take away from your team's time to innovate, develop new products and services or provide exceptional service to your clients. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways you can partner with an external managed service provider who becomes an extended member of your team to help reduce downtime — offering the insight, tools and hands-on support that you need to successfully scale your business.

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There are three key IT service delivery models: Fully managed IT services, co-managed IT services and in-house support. We'll explore each of these options to help you determine which options will work best for your business. Finding the right balance between in-house support and external expertise can feel like a difficult decision, but it's vital to understand where your internal team excels and adds value to your business — and where they may need supplementation. 

Technology Challenges for Small to Mid-Size Businesses

The size of your business's annual revenue doesn't define the scale of the issues you're experiencing. Even small to mid-size businesses have complex technology challenges: from data security and file access for staff members and clients to ensuring you have the right backup and recovery procedures in place. Understanding these unique and ever-changing needs can be more than a full-time job for your IT staff. Finding the right IT managed service provider to support your business can be costly and time-consuming, leaving gaps in your tech coverage that are difficult to overcome — or causing your IT team to hire short-term consultants at a higher rate. 

Maintaining secure, reliable IT operations is a vital component of your business, which is why so many companies are turning to trusted IT service providers to help fill the gaps in their internal knowledge or operational support. Technology support companies offer a range of services in flexible models that help ensure companies have the resources needed to be successful both now and in the future.

What Is an IT Service Delivery Model?

Understanding how IT service delivery models work helps ensure you are asking the right questions as you start down the path of finding your ideal technology support partner. There are three key models for IT support: fully managed IT services, co-managed IT support and in-house technology operations. Each option has pros and cons, making it challenging for companies to make quick decisions about how to move forward without working through scenarios with external business partners. 

Business and technology leaders often start with current internal staffing models and gaps in areas such as help desk support. Do you have open positions in tech teams that you're struggling to fill with qualified individuals? Perhaps this is a space where external IT partners can help. Do you lack expertise in cybersecurity, data security, backup and disaster recovery? Having these plans in place upfront can save your company countless dollars, reduce the possibility of lost business and generally provide you with a more secure base for your operations.

IT Service Delivery Models and Frameworks

Here's how the three primary IT service delivery models stack up and how to evaluate which IT delivery model may be best for your unique business situation. 

What Is a Fully Managed IT Service Model?

With a fully managed IT services model, your company may have limited to no internal IT operations support staff. This is considered a fully outsourced model where your business places a great deal of trust in an external technology company to provide the infrastructure and support needed to run (and grow!) your business. This could include a variety of services, including:

  • Cybersecurity
  • Data storage and security; in transit and at rest
  • Management of operational business software, such as Microsoft 365, Office Suite software and more
  • User management and security
  • Staff security training
  • Password and file management services 
  • IT help desk
  • Business process automation
  • Azure services and support

While these are the key areas where many businesses need support, IT MSP partners are often able to customize solutions based on the unique needs of your business. 

This fully managed model assumes that few — if any — of your IT resources will be housed within your business. You may still participate actively in strategy, although you can also outsource your CIO or VP of Technology decisions to a trusted partner. In general, companies with a fully managed IT services model will maintain a mid-level technology leader in-house to help drive strategy and decision-making and to manage overall vendor relationships. 

The next level of support is one that is comfortable for many businesses: a co-managed IT services model that allows a deeper engagement of internal company resources with support from external teams in specific core competencies.

What Is the Co-Managed IT Services Model?

With a co-managed IT services delivery model, companies are able to leverage internal resources in a variety of ways to ensure you have the full coverage needed to grow your business. Perhaps you have exceptional cybersecurity talent in your company but don't have the people available to answer Help Desk requests on a regular basis. Maybe your team members enjoy supporting data security and privacy initiatives and exploring new internal software requests but don't feel fully comfortable defining hardware or networking solutions that include the level of security needed for advanced initiatives. 

Whatever your needs, there are IT service delivery partners who can help! These trusted external partners come alongside your business, helping to define any gaps in your current IT operations and provide solutions that supplement internal resources. This is often the most comfortable space for mid-size businesses who have an existing IT infrastructure but struggle to offer in-depth services or timely responses to IT Help Desk requests. 

Having these additional resources close to hand allows your business to scale more efficiently, meeting the needs of your customers while ensuring the security needed to provide comfort and peace of mind for stakeholders. 

The range of services that are offered by co-managed IT managed service providers varies dramatically and can be customized for the unique needs of your business. Many of the same options are available for co-managed IT that you'll find in fully managed IT services, with the addition of more upfront consulting services to help define the right mix of internal and external resources to support your current and future business needs.

What Is an In-House IT Support Model?

While the name may be self-explanatory, an in-house IT support model may still require external consultants on an as-needed basis. Whether you're dealing with a short-term cybersecurity incident cleanup or looking for ways to vet new technology partners, it's not unusual for companies utilizing only in-house resources for daily IT operations to seek the counsel of experts in the tech space on a regular basis. This helps ensure that your in-house technology experts are continually learning from others in the marketplace who may be seeing different trends or gaining a unique perspective that can help protect your business or your digital assets. 

A fully on-premises supported IT services model is increasingly challenging for small to mid-size businesses, simply due to the lack of qualified — and affordable pricing — for technology professionals currently in the market. Identifying, hiring and retaining these talented staff members often proves to be a challenge, which can leave large gaps in your internal IT support and knowledge base. To offset these risks, companies are turning to trusted IT MSPs who are able to create a cohesive strategy for technology operations. Maintaining certifications, ensuring that an SLA (Service Level Agreement) is maintained, creating technology training and performing regular upgrades are all activities that can suffer when companies don't have sufficient internal resources for IT support.

Regardless of the IT services delivery model selected, there are still shared responsibilities between the parties that need to be fully defined and maintained in order to ensure successful ongoing operations.

What Is Involved in an IT Responsibility Model?

Can your IT services partner be held responsible for problems caused by an internal staff member? What about the responsibility for any issues that occur due to the negligence of external business partners? An IT responsibility model helps define these situations, protecting all partners and creating an atmosphere where positive intent is assumed, and clear communication provides the foundation for business partnerships. 

An IT responsibility model can include details about:

  • Security procedures
  • Backup and disaster recovery situations
  • Cloud services
  • Hardware
  • Infrastructure
  • Configuration settings
  • Network controls and network security
  • Access rights
  • Cloud environments
  • Data center management 

This term is often used in conjunction with cloud service providers as well, helping maintain secure and consistent operations throughout the lifecycle of a partnership. Cloud service providers do carry a large burden of security as part of their operations — specifically around the running of applications and data storage and transportation. 

However, clients are not without their own shared responsibilities in the protection of data and other vital digital assets of the business. Protecting these digital assets is often at the core of relationships between cloud providers, IT managed security providers and business leaders. Having a full written declaration of responsibilities helps to ensure clear and consistent communication between the parties, protects each organization and helps ensure that digital assets are fully protected at all times. 

Understanding the Shared Responsibility Matrix

Companies and their cloud computing partners need to be fully transparent about how the shared responsibilities matrix can change with the shifting of responsibilities between the core partners. As companies shift more of their support outside the core full-time positions within the organization, they're also asking external IT services partners to accept additional responsibility. Fully defining these shifts in responsibility can help ensure that companies and their technology solutions providers are aligned in terms of priorities and benefits to the organization, clients, vendors and other key stakeholders such as employees. 

Microsoft defines the shifting responsibility in these terms:

  • Responsibility always stays with the customer (example: devices, accounts and identities)
  • Responsibility that varies by type (example: applications and network controls)
  • Responsibility transfers to cloud computing provider (example: physical data centers and networks)

Maintaining clear and consistent data about where responsibility lies can help companies more quickly troubleshoot operations and efficiently clear up any challenges that occur to reduce data security. Thanks to this model, companies are able to more effectively create a fair and balanced approach to their data security and sourcing needs. 

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Ready To Supercharge Your IT Operations? ne Digital Can Help!

Creating the ideal mix of internal resources and external support isn't a one-and-done question — it requires in-depth knowledge of your business as well as the broader technology landscape. Partnering with the experts at ne Digital helps ensure that you're getting the best advice to streamline your IT operations while leveraging the expertise of internal IT professionals and other team members. Contact our team today for a free initial consultation and see how we can help you effectively and efficiently scale your business. We offer a range of IT service delivery model examples that allow you to see how you can support end-user needs, maintain security and create a cost-effective process for information technology support services.

Topics: Azure

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