IT Services vs IT Consulting: Which Partnership Does Your Business Need?
When your organization needs IT help, it can be difficult to know where to look. Generally, they are left with a couple of options: hire more people or outsource their IT needs. Hiring has its own challenges with many organizations competing to hire from a shrinking talent pool. But what about outsourcing? With so many different services available, that all work slightly differently, it can take time to know where to look.
In this blog, we will go over two different ways you could choose to partner - (managed) IT services and IT consulting. For each partnership, we will let you know what they provide, and how to determine which will help you achieve your business goals.
What Makes up High-Quality IT Services?
IT services may sound like one of the most generic terms that can describe a wide variety of services, which for the most part is true. Generally, they can be described as the creation and implementation of technologies and the ongoing monitoring and management of those technologies. For some managed service providers (MSPs), like InsITe, these services will include preventative IT maintenance, backup monitoring, server management, and employee security awareness training. IT services are essential to preventing cyberattacks on your website, server, and email and keeping your hardware and services contracts updated during end-of-life announcements.
When you outsource your IT needs to an MSP to execute your IT services, look for someone with flexibility in their offering. You don’t want to be stuck in someone else’s cookie-cutter approach that does not take into account your unique approach to business and strategy. Here is an example of two options a flexible IT Company should offer: fully managed IT services and co-managed IT services.
Fully Managed IT Services
Completely outsourcing your IT needs is a popular option for many organizations that may not have the time, capacity, or resources to hire and train a whole department. However, completely outsourcing your IT has its own set of drawbacks.
It can be a gamble to trust an outsourced MSP to understand your company’s goals and how they can play a part in them, especially since many require a multi-year contract. If they offer flexible contracting or at least a fair change order process, this can be an effective way to offset some of your IT costs. But do not expect it to be completely customized to your way of doing business.
Co-Managed IT Services
Another option is to outsource just a portion of your IT, which is called co-managed IT services. Co-managed IT services represent a partnership between an MSP and an organization’s internal IT team. These two parties will work together to achieve what is needed from an IT aspect to accomplish an organization’s goals.
The services do differ slightly from fully managed IT services, as the services will include more overflow support services, and analyzing existing IT department’s needs, skills, and resources. It is similar to Managed IT Services as the MSP will typically charge for this using a monthly, recurring fee structure, making it easier to budget longer term.
Expect more up-front discovery and even monthly, quarterly, and annual meetings so that the IT partner can be more agile in determining which services or tools an organization needs, and work with any third-party vendor if necessary.
Co-managed IT services are an excellent way to get the services you need while being cost-effective and flexible. This is a popular option for many larger, enterprise organizations because it allows them to stay lean and agile, without the pressure of additional hiring.
What is IT Consulting?
When describing IT consulting services, you will want to consider this service similar to the services a project manager and wide “bench” of IT specialists would provide. IT consultants will handle the overall IT strategy for an organization that aligns a technology strategy with its overall business goals and then help execute them on a project basis.
In addition to the personalized technology strategies an IT consultant would provide, you can expect this service to include project management, architecture planning, operational assessments, testing, and training.
IT consulting services can be an essential part of not only creating your IT strategy, but making sure that it is implemented on time, accurately, and that the team is trained on how to use the technology. When working with IT consultants, your business leaders will be able to rely on their expertise and be less involved, leaving them more time to focus on other, more-pressing core business functions.
What is the Difference and How to Choose the Partnership You Need?
The difference between IT services and IT consulting really comes down to the deliverables and the typical fee structure.
The deliverables you can expect from an IT services provider are much more repeatable than the deliverables for IT consulting. These will be the products and services that you can use or experience. Whether that is a M365 licensing, security monitoring, and maintenance, or even end-of-life tracking for hardware, your IT service provider will handle the same things, every month, consistently.
This will be the partnership an organization should choose if they know what they want already and need experts who can execute those services.
When working with IT consultants, the deliverables you can expect will be more specialized and project based. These will be the ideas, plans, and strategies that they anticipate will help your organization move forward with a new IT infrastructure or approach. This will be the partnership an organization should choose if they are unsure of their current IT set-up, need specialized help to kick start (or complete) a project, and want advice about new technologies that may benefit their business.
Where to Start
IT expertise is an investment in your business. No matter which type of partnership you choose to work with, the ultimate goal should always be to help you and your employees move forward with your business goals.
If you decide that IT consulting is the route for your business, then you will want to make sure that you choose a partner that fits your business goals, industry, and culture. Having an IT consultant that understands what you are trying to accomplish and will create plans and strategies that can get you there.
If you decide that IT services or co-managed IT services are the partnership you need, you will want to find a partner that can handle the improvements you are interested in making. It can also be extremely helpful to work with a partner that offers flexible plans that will provide you with the right level of support when you need it.
ABOUT INSITE BUSINESS SOLUTIONS:
InsITe helps businesses and manufacturing companies get the most out of current and emerging technologies with a customized IT approach to maximize growth, efficiency, insights, and productivity. InsITe is not a typical IT company selling products for short-term, short-sighted fixes. We invest in long-term solutions for a company’s growth by taking the time to learn its products, process, and business goals before bringing tech into the conversation. In this way, we become much like our Clients’ very own internal IT department with familiar faces who understand the business.
If you have any questions about this post please leave a comment. We read and respond to all comments. Or better yet, give us a call and ask to talk directly to our Founder and CEO Mike Schipper 616-383-9000.