Shared Vs. Managed IT Services – Which Is Better For Your Business?


In today’s digital landscape, businesses of all sizes rely heavily on technology to drive productivity, streamline operations, and gain a competitive edge in the market.

With the increasing complexity of IT infrastructure and the growing demands for cybersecurity and compliance, many organizations are turning to external IT service providers to support their technology needs.

Two common approaches to outsourcing IT services are shared IT services and managed IT services.

Each model offers unique benefits and considerations, making the choice between them a crucial decision for businesses.

Let’s delve into the differences, advantages, and disadvantages of shared and managed IT services to determine which option is better suited for your business.

Shared IT Services

Shared IT services, also known as co-managed or co-managed IT services, involve outsourcing specific IT functions or tasks to a third-party provider while retaining some level of internal IT management and oversight.

In a shared IT services model, businesses typically engage with an external provider on a project-by-project basis or for specific IT needs, such as software development, infrastructure deployment, or cybersecurity assessments.

Advantages of Shared IT Services


Shared IT services can offer cost savings compared to maintaining an in-house IT team or opting for full-scale managed services.

Businesses pay for only the services they need, avoiding the overhead costs associated with hiring and managing internal IT staff.

Flexibility and Scalability

Shared IT services provide businesses with the flexibility to scale resources up or down based on their evolving needs and budget constraints.

Organizations can leverage external expertise and resources on-demand, without committing to long-term contracts or investments.

Access to Specialized Expertise

By partnering with shared IT service providers, businesses gain access to specialized skills and expertise that may not be available in-house.

External providers bring industry-specific knowledge, best practices, and cutting-edge technologies to address complex IT challenges and drive innovation.

Focus on Core Competencies

Outsourcing specific IT functions allows businesses to focus on their core competencies and strategic initiatives, rather than getting bogged down by day-to-day IT operations and maintenance tasks.

Risk Mitigation

Shared IT services enable businesses to spread the risks associated with technology investments and project delivery across multiple stakeholders.

External providers share accountability for project success and performance, reducing the burden on the business.

    Disadvantages of Shared IT Services

    Limited Control

    With shared IT services, businesses may have limited control and visibility over the delivery and management of outsourced tasks or projects.

    This can lead to concerns about data security, quality assurance, and adherence to organizational standards.

    Coordination Challenges

    Coordinating activities between internal and external IT teams can be challenging, especially when multiple stakeholders are involved.

    Communication gaps, conflicting priorities, and misalignment of expectations may arise, impacting project timelines and outcomes.

    Dependency on External Providers

    Businesses relying heavily on shared IT services may become dependent on external providers for critical functions or expertise.

    This dependency can pose risks in terms of service availability, vendor lock-in, and continuity of operations.

    Customization Limitations

    Shared IT service offerings may lack the level of customization and tailoring required to meet specific business requirements or preferences.

    Businesses may need to compromise on certain features or functionalities to align with the provider’s standardized service offerings.

      Managed IT Services

      Managed IT services involve outsourcing the comprehensive management and support of an organization’s IT infrastructure, systems, and operations to a third-party provider.

      In a managed IT services model, businesses entrust the entirety of their IT operations to an external provider, who assumes responsibility for proactive monitoring, maintenance, and support of IT assets and services.

      Advantages of Managed IT Services

      Proactive Monitoring and Maintenance

      Managed IT service providers proactively monitor IT systems and infrastructure round-the-clock to identify and address potential issues before they escalate into downtime or disruptions.

      This proactive approach helps minimize downtime, improve system reliability, and enhance business continuity.

      Predictable Costs

      Managed IT services are often priced on a subscription or fixed-fee basis, providing businesses with predictable monthly costs for IT support and maintenance.

      This predictable cost structure allows for better budgeting and financial planning, without unexpected expenses or fluctuations.

      Comprehensive Support

      Managed IT service providers offer comprehensive support for all aspects of IT operations, including help desk support, network management, cybersecurity, data backup, and disaster recovery.

      Businesses benefit from a single point of contact for all their IT needs, simplifying IT management and support processes.

      Access to Advanced Technologies

      Managed IT service providers leverage advanced technologies, tools, and platforms to deliver superior IT services and solutions.

      Businesses gain access to enterprise-grade technologies and best practices without the need for upfront investments or internal expertise.

      Scalability and Flexibility

      Managed IT services scale seamlessly with business growth and evolving needs.

      Providers can quickly adapt to changes in demand, deploy additional resources or services as needed, and ensure that IT infrastructure aligns with business objectives and strategic priorities.

        Disadvantages of Managed IT Services

        Dependency on External Providers

        Similar to shared IT services, businesses relying on managed IT services may become dependent on external providers for critical IT functions and support.

        This dependency requires careful vendor management and risk mitigation strategies to ensure continuity of operations.

        Potential for Vendor Lock-In

        Businesses entering into long-term contracts with managed IT service providers may face challenges in switching providers or transitioning to alternative solutions.

        Vendor lock-in can limit flexibility and hinder business agility, especially if service quality or performance expectations are not met.

        Higher Initial Costs

        While managed IT services offer predictable ongoing costs, the initial setup and implementation costs may be higher compared to shared IT services or in-house IT management.

        Businesses must evaluate the long-term ROI and benefits of managed services against upfront investment requirements.

        Loss of Control and Visibility

        Entrusting IT operations to a managed service provider may result in reduced control and visibility over internal IT processes, systems, and data.

        Businesses must establish clear communication channels, service level agreements (SLAs), and performance metrics to maintain oversight and accountability.

        In conclusion, both shared and managed IT services offer distinct advantages and considerations for businesses seeking to outsource their IT needs.

        Shared IT services provide flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and access to specialized expertise, making them suitable for businesses with specific project requirements or budget constraints.

        On the other hand, managed IT services offer comprehensive support, proactive management, and predictable costs, making them ideal for businesses looking to offload the entirety of their IT operations to external experts.

        Ultimately, the choice between shared and managed IT services depends on factors such as business objectives, IT requirements, budgetary constraints, and risk tolerance.

        By carefully evaluating the pros and cons of each approach and aligning them with organizational priorities, businesses can make informed decisions that best suit their unique needs and goals.

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        Also read: Achieving Time Consistency in Network Environments: Importance, Challenges, and Strategies

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