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

managed IT services vs in-house IT
At back, The KR Group managed IT services engineer Tyler Mayes works with a customer to provide support to IT problems.

As a managed services provider (MSP), here at The KR Group, we’re often asked about what other options companies have to handle their IT needs. 

The truth is an MSP is only one of the ways you can have IT support; you could also choose to have an in-house IT department or augment 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.
  • 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 managed services provider (MSP) for the more complex issues. 

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

1. Availability

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

MSPs offer redundancy and after-hours support.

Pros

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.

managed IT services vs in-house IT vs augmented IT
The KR Group’s managed IT services engineer Tyler Mayes works on-site at a customer location.

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. 

Cons

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.

An in-house IT department offers constant support.

Pros

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.

Cons

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.

Augmented IT services offer on-site assistance, redundancy, and after-hours support.

Pros

If you mix in-house and managed IT services, you end up with augmented 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. 

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 augmented 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. 

Cons

If you employ less than 100 users, augmented 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 augmented services. 

2. Service

Managed, in-house, and augmented 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. 

MSPs offer a depth of knowledge and back-tested solutions.

Pros

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. 

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. 

Cons

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 departments provide hands-on assistance. 

Pros

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.

Cons

managed IT services vs augmented IT
At left, Tyler Mayes, a managed services engineer with The KR Group provides on-site assistance during his scheduled time at the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.

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. 

Augmented IT services provide the best of both solutions.

Pros

If you chose augmented 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, augmented IT services offer a blend of managed and in-house services to address your IT needs.

Cons

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. 

3. Cost

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.s

Managed IT costs less than an in-house IT engineer and augmented IT services.

Pros

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 $500-$1500 per site for an audit, between $85 and $100 per user for managed IT support, and between $500 and $1,500 for a robust and security-focused firewall at each site. 

A company with 90 users operating at one site will pay around $94,000 for one 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.

Cons

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.

Hiring a single in-house IT engineer costs more and is more difficult to recruit.

Pros

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.

Cons

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.

Augmented IT services fall in the middle of in-house IT and managed IT services.

With augmented services, you’ll be able to hire an entry-level engineer for between $35,000 and $75,000 a year (plus benefits). He or she will handle the day-to-day or a specific set of IT problems.

You’ll also pay for the MSP portion of augmented services.

Pros

If you hire an in-house engineer in the middle of the salary range ($55,000 before benefits) and managed IT services for 90 users (approximately $94,000), your total price of $149,000 is within the salary range for an engineer for in-house IT solutions. 

For that 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.

Cons

While augmented services are in the same price range as a sole qualified IT engineer, they aren’t as affordable as exclusively choosing managed services. 

One of the benefits of managed IT services is their affordability. Augmented services may provide the most comprehensive IT support, but they are more expensive than an MSP.

Which one will work best for you?

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

choose managed IT services, in-house IT, augmented IT
The three IT options you have to choose from are managed IT services, in-house IT, or augmented IT.

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 – augmented 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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