By Lisa Mitchell, NetGain Technologies
Enabling co-managed IT services (CoMITs) – allowing MSP clients’ own internal IT teams to command change control privileges over MSP-provided solutions, within a secure and strategic framework of expert oversight – continues to gain momentum in the MSP world. This trend is driven in large part by MSP clients themselves, who value having the immediate access and control to take decisive action and who don’t necessarily have to rely on their MSP to do so. But CoMITs provide benefits for MSPs as well: they can strengthen client partnerships while enabling meaningful collaboration and positive results.
A commitment to CoMITs won’t be for every MSP. And it certainly isn’t tenable for every client. The majority of traditional MSP clients aren’t great candidates for using CoMITs, because they are small or midsized businesses without the internal IT teams or expertise to manage MSP-provided solutions on their own. For this majority of clients, enlisting an MSP to serve as their IT team is the value proposition they’ve signed up for, and they have no desire to take on those responsibilities themselves. It’s larger clients with the in-house teams and knowledge to operate certain tools effectively – and in certain efficiency-boosting scenarios – that are eager for the options CoMITs allows.
On the MSP side of the equation, CoMITs – a term popularized by MSP owner Bob Coppedge in his book “The MSP’s Survival Guide to Co-Managed IT Services” – is best suited to providers willing to collaborate with clients’ teams and share tools and knowledge. The goal for both partners in a CoMITs relationship should be to establish seamless IT functionality that bridges internal and MSP teams. Because of this, CoMITs is a stronger fit for more versatile MSPs, as they must serve clients of different shapes and sizes, and often need to interface with clients’ software tools and equipment to share the management of solutions. CoMITs is also much more likely to succeed when both the MSP and client can manage the service solution using a singular platform. CoMITs is more appropriate for pure-MSP practices or those that can operate efficiently while offering CoMITs alongside their current MSP practice. For example, services pricing, support flows, and performance metrics should be exactly the same across an MSP’s traditional and CoMITs offerings.
More specifically, here are three reasons why both MSPs and their clients are finding CoMITs advantageous:
1) CoMITs Reduces Friction Between MSPs And Internal IT Teams
It’s not unusual for internal IT teams to feel displaced by MSP teams, especially in circumstances where internal personnel believe they’re capable of fulfilling the same tasks and roles but aren’t allowed to do so. By introducing CoMITs, MSPs can transform this relationship from one of friction to one defined by close cooperation and collaboration. Note that MSPs should still retain ultimate control over the solutions they provide, enabling internal teams to take (allowed) actions within a safe and controlled framework. In this way, clients’ internal teams gain the latitude they need to address issues directly as appropriate, while MSPs prevent any mishaps by ensuring proper policies and strategies are in place and enforced.
2) CoMITs Adds A Second Set Of Eyes On Solutions (And A Second Set Of Hands On Their Operations)
In addition to stronger partnerships, CoMITs can result in stronger solutions by increasing the personnel and range of perspectives of those managing the tools. For example, Beachhead Solutions is a device encryption and access control tool that recently began allowing MSPs to offer CoMITs with its platform, and others are taking similar tacks. As their channel head, Cam Roberson told me, “Our MSP partners finally convinced us that we could go forward with CoMITs without risk and that they could actually enhance security for end clients by providing them with the right access and oversight.” Expect more vendors serving MSPs to follow suit across a range of solution and tool categories.
3) CoMITs Is A Competitive Differentiator
The fact is clients that who want CoMITs offerings will seek them out. While many MSPs will find that CoMITs doesn’t suit their particular teams or business operations, other MSPs equipped to embrace CoMITs will be there to capture that business. These MSPs will similarly earn themselves a competitive leg up when it comes to retaining the business of clients now engaged in close CoMITs collaborations. And it should be acknowledged that clients with internal IT teams seeking out MSP CoMITs partners are very likely large, high-value clients well worth winning over.
For MSPs considering adding their own CoMITs offerings – some with clients already requesting them – providing CoMITs within a secure and strategic framework can absolutely limit associated risks while yielding substantial mutual benefits.
About The Author
Lisa Mitchell is the General Manager at NetGain Technologies, a Kentucky-based MSP.