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Understanding co-managed IT services

MSPs sometimes avoid prospective clients that already have internal IT staff, but by taking the co-managed IT services approach, they don’t have to.

That’s according to Bob Coppedge, owner of Simplex-IT, an MSP based in Stow, Ohio. Co-managed IT services, or CoMITS, is a model for developing mutually supportive relationships with customers’ internal IT teams. Coppedge has helped pioneer the strategy, even writing a book on the subject. He discussed the CoMITS approach at the IT Nation Connect conference, held Oct. 30 to Nov.  1 in Orlando, Fla.

“In my opinion, with some very critical exceptions, most MSPs can do this,” Coppedge said of CoMITS in a conference session.

Internal IT teams and MSPs very often regard each other in a competitive, adversarial light, Coppedge said. The presence of an MSP can be threatening to internal IT people, giving them the impression that their value or even their jobs are at risk. MSPs often don’t do much to dispel these concerns. “One of the problems is, for the last 10 years, MSPs have been by default walking in and going, ‘Oh, you’re the IT person. … I’m more efficient …. more effective … [and] up-to-date,’ ” he said.

“By and large, IT people … expect [MSPs] to be adversarial, because they are coming in and doing stuff that they can’t, and usually not showing them how,” Coppedge added.

CoMITS aims to help MSPs create a win-win relationship with the internal IT staff. The approach that Coppedge advocates involves forming a tight partnership with IT staff and sharing abundantly with the team. He said MSPs can share their best practices, methodologies as well as access to their tools. In part, CoMITS looks to instill the idea among IT people that they remain owners of the IT. “It is still their IT. We aren’t taking it away. We are partnering with them and making it better,” he said. “They can … say, ‘We did it.’ … This is critical. … You can actually be a mentor to the internal IT to make them stronger.”

Co-managed IT services “can be a fantastic relationship builder for organizations if you do it right,” Coppedge said.

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