Wooden Spoon: Blog

Full MSP vs Co-Managed MSP

Full MSP vs Co-Managed MSP

If you’re looking for a managed service provider partner, you might assume that whoever you decide to work with will take over all of your IT and technology. However, while there are services out there that might do this, it’s not the only option. In fact, co-managed MSP partners are very common and may be a better fit for your needs. Learning the differences between full and co-managed MSPs is the first step to take before you start interviewing potential partners. Knowing exactly what you want will help you determine who best fits your needs.

Let’s take a look at the differences and who can benefit from each. Once you understand which option is going to work, you can reach out to Wooden Spoon to discuss how we can help you get your technology under control so you can focus on running your business.


What is Fully Managed IT?

Fully managed IT means your provider handles basically everything. This doesn’t mean you don’t have a part to play—you will need to work closely with your provider, especially in the early stages, to help craft an IT strategy that will meet all of your needs. However, it does mean that you don’t need a large in-house IT team. You can pass most of the infrastructure building and day-to-day IT management off to your provider, allowing you to focus your time, energy, and budget elsewhere. 

With fully managed IT, you won’t need to worry about hardware, software, cloud solutions, or anything else. Your provider will ensure your network is operating efficiently and that your data is secure. They will work with you to implement security policies for your employees, monitor the network for issues, suggest hardware upgrades, update software, and more. Your partner will handle the setup, maintenance, and even repair and recovery of your technology.

Do note that some MSPs focus more on infrastructure, security, and other vital systems but not so much on helpdesk support. Make certain you know what you need and what you will be provided before you sign any contracts. 


What Is Co-Managed MSP?What Is Co-Managed MSP?

Co-managed IT, on the other hand, involved passing over part of your IT work to an MSP while continuing to do some of it in-house. You may already have an IT team but simply need someone to take a little bit of the work off of their plates. You might be able to take care of all of the IT troubleshooting, but your team doesn’t have the knowledge needed to properly build an infrastructure or implement tight security. You might not be familiar with the cloud or care to understand how it works, so you want an MSP partner to deal with all of that. 

There are a number of different ways to implement a co-managed IT partnership, so it’s a very flexible solution as long as you have the right partner. In some cases, it’s a good financial decision: you can simply outsource work instead of trying to hire an IT expert who is knowledgeable in specific areas. Since these are flexible contracts, you might also be able to outsource specific projects while your in-house team handles everything else. It all depends on what you need and what your MSP partner can do.


Is One Option Superior to the Other?

Many business owners just want a simple “this is better than that” option, but IT management isn’t that easy. While some people might say that going the full management route is the obvious easy way, that’s not always the case. Fully managed IT is going to cost you a lot more, and it does take all of your IT solutions outside of your business. While a good MSP partner should always keep you in the loop, that may not happen. On the other hand, while co-managed IT may seem attractive because it’s more budget-friendly, it may not be the right option if you can’t handle your half of the work. 

Both options are valid, but before you can confidently say which one is right for you, you have to know what your needs are. Understanding your needs, your resources, and your budget are the key points to determine before you can select an MSP partner. Wooden Spoon can help you determine these points so you know whether full IT management is your best option or whether co-managed IT is going to offer you more benefits.


What Are the Benefits of Full and Co-Managed IT?

Speaking of benefits, let’s take a look at some of the benefits of each of these options.


Fully Managed IT

When you outsource all of your IT needs, you know that you’re putting your network infrastructure, security, and maintenance in the hands of the experts. They have the knowledge and expertise needed to design, implement, maintain, and monitor your system. You don’t have to handle any of that, so there’s less responsibility on you and your team. You don’t need to hire your own IT security expert or infrastructure specialist. If you have any IT employees, they can focus on specific projects rather than trying to keep up with all of your IT needs.

Another benefit is that if you do need an expert in something, your MSP partner likely has someone on staff with the knowledge needed. You don’t need to hire an expert or try to find a contractor who can help you with something. In that respect, you essentially have a huge staff of professionals with a wide variety of skills at your disposal. You don’t have to pay any more than your negotiated contract, either. 

There are also indirect financial benefits to giving control of all of your IT over to a partner. If you have a fairly small office, you don’t need to worry about where they’re going to work. There’s no need to buy them desks, chairs, computers, or anything else. They won’t even put a strain on your coffee budget since they won’t be there to drink it. 


Co-Managed ITCo-Managed IT

On the other hand, by co-managing your IT with a partner, you do have more direct control over things. You’re able to switch out your hardware whenever you want because you have IT experts on hand who can manage that aspect of your technology. These co-managed plans are typically more budget-friendly and flexible. You can negotiate what you want the provider to handle, allowing you to offload some of the more tedious tasks or projects that your internal IT team doesn’t have the knowledge or skills for. However, you still have a fully functional IT team to oversee some parts of your network. 

This means when something goes wrong, there’s no need to reach out to anyone. You have people right there who can go to work fixing it, even if it’s something you’ve outsourced. Of course, you’ll want to let your MSP partner know what’s going on. They can then leverage their own skills to solve the problem, allowing you to work it from both sides. 

In a co-managed situation, the MSP supplements your team. You have their experience, knowledge, equipment, time, and resources to call on as needed. While you do have more IT responsibilities in a co-managed setup, that rarely becomes a worry because of the flexibility provided. You can always sit down with your partner and renegotiate what they handle.


Things to Consider When Deciding Which Option is Right for You

If you’re considering working with an MSP, here are a few things to keep in mind. First, do you have in-house IT staff? If so, what will they do if you look for a fully managed IT solution? Will you let them go? With staff on hand already, a co-managed option may be better for you.

Second, what’s your budget? No matter how much you fight against it, some decisions just come down to what’s in the bank. Co-managed IT is typically more budget-friendly because you’re doing some of the work. Also, even if you do have a large budget, a co-managed situation may still be the right solution. 

Third, how much control do you want? If you have an internal IT team, a co-managed solution gives you more direct control over your IT. Your MSP partner isn’t going to go rogue and start doing whatever they want to your network without your approval, of course, but having a team that is more hands-on can be beneficial at times. 


Wooden Spoon Is Here to be Your MSP Partner

If you’re ready to make the leap to working with a MSP, Wooden Spoon is here to help. We have years of experience in IT support and services. We can provide a wide variety of IT services for businesses in a range of industries. Our goal is to make IT as simple as possible, so you don’t have to focus on it. 

All of our solutions are designed and implemented with a people-first approach. This means we want to address client concerns first before looking at technology. For example, if your network goes down, you can’t get anything done. Our first priority is to get your team back up and running because we know that’s what you’re stressing over. Then we will go to work on the source of the problem. 

Want to learn more? Give us a call at 707-523-2222.


Zach Mesel

Zach Mesel

Technology is in Zach’s blood. Zach spent much of his youth in his father’s cardiac research labs, either as a test subject for his father’s research, or playing games with his older brother on mainframe computers. Zach earned his BS in Management Information Systems in 1988 from the University of Arizona, and then worked for IBM in Boulder, Colorado, and Palo Alto, California until 1995. He started Wooden Spoon in 2002.