The channel is a diverse community consisting of organizations following a wide variety of business models. Every MSP firm differs, from the clients they support and individual areas of expertise to the solutions and support options listed in their portfolios. Most build those offerings to fit the specific needs of local businesses to maximize their success and minimize expenses. Some develop regional or national footprints by fully embracing the benefits of a managed services model.
Most people look to MSPs as the tech teams for SMBs. However, that narrative is changing. Today, many providers are scaling their businesses by going upmarket, targeting mid-size and enterprise organizations with a limited set of services.
The “specialist” approach allows MSPs to boost revenue by going after new clients with deeper pockets and offering existing customers additional support options. Increasing vertical knowledge and elevating skills in critical technologies also help IT firms grow wallet share. Co-managed IT is one of those options gaining traction in the channel and business communities.
Pick (and Construct) a Lane
Larger organizations obviously have different needs than smaller companies, especially those with employees in multiple states and countries. However, during the pandemic, companies of all sizes experienced similar technology and support gaps during the transition to remote work and later to hybrid workplaces. Most businesses were left scrambling to locate, install, and manage new tools to ensure their employees’ productivity remained strong.
Some of the largest enterprise companies with internal IT teams lacked the resources to support those transformations effectively, creating new opportunities for MSPs. Many IT services firms have the skills and capacity to design, procure, implement, and support remote work solutions for small or large businesses.
Of course, before building out co-managed IT practices, MSPs need to streamline and optimize their processes and, when possible, implement automation. Hiring is a costly proposition today, as is going after new markets without ensuring the proper support of current clients.
MSPs must continually explore new opportunities and create practices around the best prospects. The trick is maintaining quality, customer satisfaction, client retention and MRR while building those new “lanes.”
Strike a Balance
Change is uncomfortable for many business owners. However, as MSPs know, being on the leading edge − not to be confused with the more costly and risky bleeding edge − drives higher margins. Businesses rely on IT firms that can adapt to adversity and change and assist leaders as they transition their operations.
Remote work is just one of those current requirements. In addition to supporting SMBs with all their core technical needs, MSPs can help those clients adopt more complex or scalable solutions with enterprise-level capabilities. You can partner with capable tech partners to deliver that support to save time and resources.
Inversely, MSPs can build out unique specializations and provide that expertise to larger organizations, including mid-market and enterprise-level companies with their own IT departments. Those businesses may require assistance monitoring and managing their new remote and hybrid workforces or have technical gaps in specific areas. Either way, as an MSP, you can come to their rescue.
Build a Dynamic and High-Value Portfolio
A co-managed IT offering can combine the in-house technical capabilities of your clients with the expertise of your MSP, as well as other third parties. This emerging hybrid approach allows your firm to maximize the use of each company’s resources and offload unfamiliar or burdensome activities that may negatively affect service delivery − and your bottom line. Co-managed IT lets MSPs maintain control, grow wallet-share with existing clients, gain a foothold in new businesses, and best leverage their assets.
What solutions should providers offer?
- Enterprise accounting applications
QuickBooks is a suitable solution for most small businesses, but at some point, companies may look for additional features as their sales and personnel demands increase. Most MSPs could and probably should question the value of supporting these solutions on their own, and significant investments may be required for training and support. Dealing with those typically less channel-friendly vendors and their personnel can also consume a lot of time for IT firms unfamiliar with these tools.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools
Similarly, as your customers scale their businesses and add new members to their sales and account management teams, they will need robust systems to handle information and track a substantial number of activities. CRM applications fill that role. From Zendesk and Zoho to the enterprise-oriented offerings of Microsoft and Salesforce, MSPs can support any of these options with the support of vendors, distributors or peers.
- Business Intelligence
Information is a major asset for business leaders. The problem with collecting and storing data is that, as organizations grow, leveraging the sheer volume of information gets more complicated. Managers need tools that can crunch the appropriate numbers to highlight trends and issues, allowing them to analyze various aspects of the business to make more informed decisions. Commonly referred to as BI or big data solutions, MSPs can partner to deliver options from companies such as SAP, Zoho, IBM, and many other vendors.
- Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
Manufacturers, professional services businesses, and supply chain companies rely heavily on a variety of resources. As those organizations expand, managing a growing number of daily activities can be challenging. ERP applications help businesses optimize procurement, project management, risk management, compliance, and supply chain operations. MSPs can co-manage implementation and support for clients who need greater planning, budgeting, and operational capabilities.
- Communications Platforms
Internal IT departments typically have strong skill sets around the core business tools such as email and standard cybersecurity solutions. However, hiring challenges and the shift to remote and hybrid workforces make it harder for these teams to properly support critical applications, including communications. With a wide range of voice, video, file sharing and other business capabilities, UCaaS is a business essential in these distributed environments. Skilled MSPs can grow their footprints with larger companies by configuring, integrating and supporting these valuable solutions.
Collaboration as a Service
Leveraging the collective resources of peers, vendors, and the internal IT teams of your larger clients can multiply bandwidth and available skill sets. Co-managed environments allow MSPs to focus more on their core responsibilities and capabilities and continue to provide a high level of support: no distractions and no unnecessary investments.
These strategic alignments allow providers to better support the growing IT support needs of the business community and manage much larger clients. Co-management takes the burden off IT departments and expands everyone’s technical and support capabilities without breaking their budgets.
Is your MSP able to lend an assist to larger companies’ IT departments? Whether helping manage a growing number of remote workers or implementing next-gen technologies, a co-managed IT relationship may be the right (and highly profitable) solution.