Unlocking the Co-Managed IT Services Opportunity

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Earlier this month at N-able’s Empower partner event in Prague, I sat down with Head Nerd Stefanie Hammond to discuss co-managed IT services and N-able’s recently released Co-managed Digital Playbook for MSPs. Whether you’re new to co-managed or looking to build on existing offerings, the playbook provides guidance to MSPs on how to build, price, market, and sell co-managed IT services.

What is co-managed IT services?

To start at the very beginning, co-managed IT services are where an MSP partners with an organization’s internal IT department to help it achieve its technological and operational goals and objectives. It is designed to be a non-threatening, non-competitive business arrangement where the MSP strives to supplement the organization’s internal IT team, filling in gaps when it comes to deficiencies in knowledge, skillsets, or resources. The objective of the co-managed approach isn’t to replace a company’s IT team but to complement it. At its heart, it’s the best of both worlds—combining the asset of having an internal IT team with the support, global industry knowledge, and expertise of an MSP.

While the notion of co-managed IT services isn’t new, within the past couple of years, the trend toward co-managed has evolved significantly. This shift is largely due to a shortage of IT talent combined with tightening budgets, making it hard for companies to find and employ skilled IT staff. This makes co-managed services an especially attractive option for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to consider and offers a wealth of opportunities for MSPs.

Stefanie dismisses the notion that co-managed IT services are simply a marketing buzzword. She points out that with the economic and staffing challenges SMBs are facing today, the status quo can’t stay the same, and there needs to be a balance between the managed services and co-managed services market, especially for MSPs looking for accelerated growth.

Co-managed IT services are for all well-run MSPs

One of the challenges that many of the smaller MSPs face is that they look at co-managed and they think they’re not big enough to support an internal IT operation. While it’s true they may not have the capacity to take on a large enterprise, there are plenty of SMBs with smaller organizations. Stefanie believes that co-managed is a market that any well-run MSP can do, especially as it’s something that they are already doing for their own customers. She suggests starting small with something like co-managed patch management or co-managed backup and then growing from there.

In her last BootCamp, Stefanie talked with MSPs about their journey into the co-managed space and said that co-managed patch kept coming up as a foot in the door for most of them. “I read a stat that said 71% of IT professionals find patch management very complex and time-consuming. And then, when you look at what the process entails, it was taking internal IT more than 50% of their day just managing patch on top of everything else on their to-do list. Patch is mundane but vital. If you’re not doing it properly, though, it opens the door for the bad guys to get in,” she explains. “In another report, 74% of IT departments said they just don’t have the staff to do patch management properly, so that’s where the opportunity for MSPs comes in. Patch is a relatively easy sell as a co-managed approach because MSPs are doing it already.”

How do you get started with co-managed IT services?

So, how do you get a foot in the door? She suggests that MSPs do a SWOT of their own business and then, based on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats they have identified, begin to build their program, determine their target market, and develop a strategy and go-to-market plan.

“You want to start off with two or three customers to pressure test them. You could start by inviting, say, 15 local prospects to a networking event and try to close three of them. There is a lot of education that needs to be done to dispel the myth that co-managed is a threat vs. supplemental or complimentary support,” she notes. “Let them know that your goal is not to eliminate their roles but to make them look better and help drive more productivity. Being able to have that message in a nice local setting will resonate.”

Stefanie’s latest Head Nerd Boot Camp focused on educating MSPs on the co-managed services opportunity. She touched on many of the points we discussed in our conversation and introduced the Co-managed Digital Playbook for MSPs, which is designed to help MSPs build a variety of co-managed offerings that they can take to market. The playbook includes an outline of the top co-managed programs that MSPs can successfully promote and sell, along with sample pricing, sales scripts, and marketing collateral pieces that you can customize.

Listen to the entire conversation in the video below.

Video link

The Co-managed IT services Playbook is available free to N-able partners. If you’re interested in getting a copy, click here to contact Stefanie directly.

Pete Roythorne is Senior Brand Content Editor for N-able

Stefanie Hammond is Head Sales and Marketing Nerd at N-able. You can follow her on LinkedIn and on Twitter at @sales_mktg_nerdRead more N-able guest blogs here. Regularly contributed guest blogs are part of ChannelE2E’s sponsorship program