Managed IT Services vs. In-house IT vs. Co-Managed IT Services

On your quest to find the ideal IT solution for your business, you’ve likely come across managed IT services, a solution that takes on the responsibility of your IT environment. Managed IT Services vs. In-house IT vs. Co-Managed IT Services

There’s no denying this options has many benefits and is the right choice for many business. However, working with a managed services provider (MSP) is only one of the ways you can delegate IT support; you could also choose to have an in-house IT department to fully manage or co-manage your IT services.

Before we start comparing the three IT solutions, let’s take a minute to clarify what each term means. 

  • Managed IT services use a third party to solve your IT needs. This provides redundancy and constant support. 
  • In-house IT is where you hire, pay, and fire your IT professionals. This allows your engineer to be solely dedicated to your business and provide hands-on assistance.
  • Co-managed IT services (also called augmented IT services) are a combination of managed services and in-house IT. You’ll hire an entry-level engineer for the day-to-day problems and contract with a MSP for the more complex issues. 

As a managed services provider (MSP), here at The KR Group, we’re often asked about all these options. 

If you’re struggling to decide which IT services option is the best fit for your company or you just want to learn about the available options, this article will answer three questions:

  1. How do managed, in-house, and co-managed IT services handle availability?
  2. What does service looks like among managed, in-house, and co-managed IT services?
  3. How much do managed, in-house, or co-managed IT services cost?

These three comparison points should give you a good base on the difference and similarities among managed, in-house, and augmented IT services.  


Availability Comparison

When it comes to considering your IT options, how much availability you want from your engineer can impact if managed, in-house, or co-managed IT is right for you. 

No matter what you ultimately choose, you need your tech problems solved. The availability of each IT solution to provide assistance has its pros and cons.

Managed IT Services Availability


The top benefit of an MSP is it provides redundancy. This means you will never be without IT support. 

Any employee is bound to have a sick day, take a vacation, or have an emergency arise. An IT engineer is no exception.

If you’re solely relying on a single in-house engineer, your IT requests will have to wait until he or she back in the office. If your managed services engineer has a day off, though, another engineer from your MSP will cover the absence. 

MSPs also staff an on-call engineer to address IT problems after hours because not all industries operate on typical 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. business hours. 


The downfall of managed IT services is they don’t provide as much on-site support as in-house IT. An MSP engineer will try to visit your site once a week, but an in-house IT engineer has a desk at your office.

In-House IT Availability 


Hiring an in-house engineer gives you the option to have your own engineer on-site during all business hours. 

Like any other staff member, your IT engineer can sit in his or her office and be present to address problems as they arise. 

However, 80% of IT problems can be solved remotely, so it’s likely your in-house engineer isn’t stopping by every desk to fix problems.

The benefit of having an in-house, on-site engineer is you don’t have to wait for an engineer to arrive or schedule a time to come to your office. When one of the problems in that 20% comes up, an in-house engineer is dedicated and generally available when you need him or her.


As we mentioned above, MSPs have an advantage over in-house IT when it comes to redundancy and 24/7/365 availability. Since your in-house engineer will undoubtedly take time off, you’ll have a lapse in your IT resources.

Co-Managed IT Availability


If you mix in-house and managed IT services, you end up with co-managed IT services. This option takes pieces from both other solutions and incorporates an MSP engineer along with one or two on-site engineers.

Companies around the 100-plus user range use augmented services to offer more support with an on-site entry-level engineer.  Managed IT Services vs. In-house IT vs. Co-Managed IT Services

Having an on-site engineer allows you to have an immediate response and on-site support of an in-house engineer for the day-to-day issues. 

With the managed services component, you don’t have to worry about lacking support when your in-house engineer takes a day off or during non-business hours.

In other words, with co-managed IT services, you have the benefits of in-house IT when your engineer is on duty plus the benefits of managed IT services. Your IT needs are always covered. 


If you employ less than 100 users, co-managed services likely isn’t the most effective option for you. 

While the thought of having in-house and out-sourced hands on your IT network may sound good, in reality, you likely won’t have enough IT problems to justify co-managed services. 


Service Level Comparison

Managed, in-house, and co-managed IT services are all designed to sustain your IT environments. 

When you need any IT installed, configured, troubleshot, or addressed in general, you rely on your IT staff to do it. 

MSP Service Level


Along with constant support, MSP engineers also have a depth of knowledge hard to find and expensive to hire as the sole in-house engineer or director. Managed IT Services vs. In-house IT vs. Co-Managed IT Services

Most IT requests can be handled by an entry-level engineer. More complex components, like network and security solutions and routing protocols, require a more experienced engineer to address them, though. 

The high-level needs make up the minority of most businesses’ IT needs, but they are critical to operations. 

With managed services, you don’t have to worry if your engineer will have the knowledge and skills to solve all your problems.  MSPs hire engineers with expertise in specific IT disciplines.  

If your assigned engineer doesn’t have the knowledge to address a specific component of your IT infrastructure, he or she can escalate it to another engineer at the MSP who will know how to solve it.

MSPs also have the knowledge of how to solve a variety of problems.

Since managed IT services serve a number of customers in manufacturing, education, health care, and law among many other industries, they learn which solutions work best for specific markets. They have a tried and tested method, hardware or software recommendation to address industry-specific problems. 

Their back-tested knowledge across industries has the added benefit of perspective. Whereas in-house IT engineers might focus on a narrow range of solutions, managed services engineers can rely on the knowledge they apply to other situations. 


As mentioned above, MSPs aren’t frequently on-site to provide hands-on assistance. If you have multiple requests a day requiring on-site assistance or the remote solutions isn’t a culture fit, an MSP might not be the best fit for your company.

In-house IT Service Level 


When in-house engineers manage your IT environment, they provide hands-on assistance not always immediately available with managed IT services.

There are times when you might want to have an engineer in your office more often than an MSP engineer can commit, such as: 

  • When you have a multitude of requests every day and need on-site assistance multiple times a day, an in-house engineer might be the better option for you. 
  • When remote solutions don’t work well for your company’s culture, an on-site engineer can dedicate more time to addressing your solutions in person since he or she is always available for your company.


Keep in mind that the benefits of managed IT services are the downfalls of in-house IT, though.

You might have hands-on assistance but have to wait longer for it since you don’t have multiple engineers available like you would with managed services. 

That hands-on assistance also might not have the same knowledge level as an MSP engineer – at least not for the same price – which we’ll talk about later. 

Co-managed IT Service Level


If you chose co-managed IT services, you’ll have frequent hands-on assistance with your engineers like with exclusively in-house IT services while still giving you access to the depth of knowledge and redundancy of managed IT services.  

The on-site IT support is usually provided from tier 1 or tier 2 engineers. They are there if you need help configuring your printer, if you need help installing a program on your desktop, or if you have any other number of small tasks related to everyday functions. And, they’re able to address them immediately.

These engineers generally don’t have the knowledge on how to solve problems with your servers and network infrastructure, though. That is where the managed IT services engineers come in. 

Again, co-managed IT services offer a blend of managed and in-house services to address your IT needs.


If you do find yourself having frequent issues with your servers and network infrastructure and requiring hands-on assistance to resolve them, your tier 1 or 2 engineers won’t be able to resolve them, and you’ll be waiting for your MSP engineer to come help. 


Cost Comparison

You might have an idea of which of the three IT solutions would work best for you based on the comparison of availability and service, but before you finalize your decision, you want to know how much it’ll cost you. 

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly how much managed IT services, an IT engineer, or augmented IT services will cost since each situation is unique, but there are some overarching themes when it comes to costs.

Managed IT Services Cost

Pros Managed IT Services vs. In-house IT vs. Co-Managed IT Services

The cost of managed IT services depends on how many users you have and the needs of your IT environment. 

In general, you can expect to spend a minimum of $2,500 per month and monthly rates of $200 to $250 per user per month. So, a company with 30 users would pay $72,000 for 1 year of managed IT services. 

For that price, you’ll never have a lapse in IT coverage, have support at any time and have access to highly-skilled engineers that are able to cover all aspects of your IT needs.


You’ll likely be bond by a contract term, so if you decide you want to leave your MSP, you may incur penalties or have to wait months or even years.

In-House IT Engineer Cost


If you opt for an in-house engineer, you’ll pay for exactly who you want to manage your IT network. 

Since he or she is your employee, you have control over the contract and you can recruit the engineer you want to handle your IT needs instead of being assigned one by your MSP.


However, hiring an IT engineer to solve all of your IT problems can cost you roughly between $75,000 and $149,000, not including benefits. 

For that price, you’ll get an engineer with basic-level knowledge like operating systems to more complex skillsets like IT stack set-up, configurations, and migrations and network and security solutions.

You’ll also have to recruit this person. The high degree of knowledge and skills required of an IT engineer capable of solving all of your IT problems – from forgotten passwords to network configurations – is rare in addition to expensive.

Co-Managed IT Services Cost 

With co-managed IT services, you’ll be paying on two fronts: the internal IT support and MSP. 

Whether you decide to hire one or more entry level IT technicians, you’ll need to pay for their salary and benefits.

You’ll also pay for the MSP portion of co-managed services, albeit at a lower rate than traditional managed services.


In general, the total cost of co-managed IT services is comparable to the high-end salary of an IT director. However, you’ll receive more benefits than if you were to only rely on one person. In fact, for the price, you get the knowledgeable, redundant, and constant service of an MSP. Plus, your entry-level, on-site engineer provides hands-on assistance and on-site availability for your day-to-day IT needs.


Oftentimes, co-managed IT services are the most costly of the IT support options, and depending on your budget, it may not be an option or your organization. But, as you read above, the amount of expertise and service is unsurpassed, making them the best option if you need extra attention for your IT environment. 


Which One Is Best for You?

The differences among managed, in-house, and co-managed IT services make them a good fit for different companies and different cultures. 

An MSP is a good fit if you want IT support all day, every day but don’t need IT support to always be on-site.


Meanwhile, an in-house IT department works well if you can afford to hire a skilled engineer and want the frequent hands-on assistance and on-site support of an IT employee. 

If you’re looking for a little bit of both – the redundancy of an MSP and on-site support of in-house IT – co-managed IT services provide a blended solution for the high-end of an exclusive in-house engineer. 

Still not sure which option is right for your business? Download our free IT Solutions Quick Guide to find the best fit for you.

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