What to Look for in a Co-Managed IT Partner

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If you’ve been following our articles, you’ve learned what co-managed IT is and several of the benefits of an external IT provider

If you’ve determined that outsourcing IT services is right for your unique business needs, the next obvious question is, ‘What makes a good co-managed IT partner?’ 

There are many variables to consider when answering this question, including the vendor’s services, location, reputation, expertise, costs and more. 

Let’s take a look at the questions you should be asking in order to select the right co-managed IT partner for your organization.

1. Will they value your existing team?

First, consider whether the provider will value the staff and resources that you already have in place as much as you do. There is a marked difference between co-managed and fully managed IT services. 

A co-managed provider will complement and enhance your existing IT department, offer support where needed, upskill your employees, and only supply the services you want and need. On the other hand, fully-managed IT services replace your internal IT department and manage all your IT services themselves. 

If the provider intends to take over the responsibilities of your current key IT staff, they are likely not a good fit as a co-managed partner.

2. Do they understand your business?

Carefully consider how well each provider knows and understands the fundamentals of your existing technology infrastructure and industry requirements. Have them review your systems and offer their initial recommendations as well as the first five actions they would take on your behalf. 

Do they have the level of specialization needed to optimize and improve your current systems? Do they understand the unique needs of your organization, such as data collection or compliance requirements?

3. Can they fill in the gaps?

If you’re looking to enlist a co-managed IT partner, you should make sure that they not only expand your existing team but enhance it. Therefore, it’s important to consider whether they are capable of filling your existing gaps in knowledge and resources. 

A good co-managed IT firm will provide access to skilled experts and specialist tools, and be able to handle complex yet essential requirements such as cybersecurity, compliance, cloud integration, and business continuity.

4. Do they provide training?

As well as bridging your technology gaps, a co-managed IT partner should share their knowledge with your existing team. 

You must therefore confirm they are willing and able to train, educate, and build on the skillsets of your full-time employees. Upskilling is one of the services you’ll be most thankful for in the long-run. 

Your IT staff will thank you, too, when they can add cutting-edge new programs and techniques to their roster of skills.

5. Are they proactive?

The mark of a good co-managed IT provider is proactivity. Rather than monitoring your systems and fixing problems as they occur, they should start with a thorough analysis of your current operations and present a clear technology roadmap for how they plan to improve efficiencies, hit targets, and plug gaps before disaster strikes.

6. Will they be a long-term partner?

Unless you’re looking for short-term staffing to fill in for absent employees or finish a stalled project, you’ll get far more value out of a long-term co-managed partnership. 

Check the reviews and testimonials for the firms you are considering to see whether they have a track record as a trusted long-term IT partner. You should look for a company that wants to develop a strategic plan to facilitate the growth of your business.

7. How experienced are they?

Next, consider how long they’ve been in the industry. The outsourced IT market is constantly flooded with new companies that lack the know-how of established providers. 

Experience measured in years speaks to a mature co-managed IT company that knows what good service delivery looks like and which pitfalls to watch out for.

8. Are they reputable?

Finally, if you’re considering hiring a firm, be sure to check out their online ratings. Glowing reviews and a history of successful outcomes are important indicators that they will be a good fit, but you should take it a step further. 

Can they provide valid references from businesses like yours who are happy and willing to speak with you? If so, be sure to ask those references as many questions as you can, including tricky ones like, “What would you change about this co-managed IT company?” and “What do you like least about their outsourced IT support?”

Choose an IT partner who will help your business flourish

Finding the right co-managed IT provider the first time around will save you time and money in the long run. 

By asking these eight important questions, you’ll be well on your way to selecting the perfect partner for your organization.

If you think a co-managed IT solution could be exactly what your business needs to improve its technology and grow, consult Continuous Networks today to find out if we’re a good fit for your organization.

You can also schedule a Continuous CyberSCORE Assessment with our team to discover how your business technology could benefit from Continuous improvements.

In the meantime, we’ve recently launched a new guide — The CEO and IT Manager’s Guide To Co-Managed IT — which goes into a whole lot more detail about this topic. Click here to download it for FREE.

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