If your small business is the size of mine in that sweet spot of 5-20 employees, you’re likely a wearer-of-many-hats business leader. Today’s focus is on invoicing, tomorrow’s will be on administrative tasks, and you have to help the team out with an install next week. As the team continues to grow, you’re able to start delegating more than just tasks, but authority and responsibility:  Joe is in charge of installs. Susan is responsible for invoicing. And Bill… well… Bill gets the work no one wants to do, including the vague responsibility of “IT.”

I saw a meme on the IT Manager’s desk at a client once that summarized it perfectly:  “IT Manager Job Description: Fix things with batteries and cords.” We can laugh at that, but isn’t it true? Whoever is responsible for tech at your office is likely the first to be contacted about the company website, the TV in the conference room, cell phones in the field, and (yes, it’s happened) the TV remote at the owner’s lake house.

There’s a term we’ve introduced to many of our clients that have an overworked employee responsible for tech like this, and even some that have a full-time person focused on technology oversight: “Co-Managed IT.” In a scenario such as this, a company has a point person for IT and technology, but this person isn’t expected to know or do everything. They might still wear the title of CEO, VP, or even IT Manager, but they are the person responsible to get things done with tech. That said, they aren’t alone. When a company goes the co-managed IT route, they engage with an outside partner to assist them with managing their technology. This could simply be for the sake of expertise, to give staff more capacity for other priorities, or to have an outside perspective and second set of eyes on tech.

Co-Managed IT is an effective and economic way to bring talented IT professionals onto your team without breaking the bank or giving away the keys to the kingdom when it comes to critical passwords, systems, and services. Your team member sets priorities, oversees projects, and gets their hands dirty with day-to-day tasks, but your outsourced partner can step in wherever they’re needed. In some cases, this may mean your in-house staff runs the helpdesk while the co-managed IT provider handles servers and the network. It could also be the other way around if your business is decentralized and you have web-based technology to run the business but need someone to handle day-to-day tech support. The scope of the partnership is entirely dependent on what you need, where you need the help, and where you want to place your investments.

Many businesses feel they have to choose – do I keep IT in-house and hire 1-2 full-time staff and then try to find ways to keep them busy all year, or must I outsource technology completely and lose control to a vendor that could walk away tomorrow? Co-Managed IT can be a best-of-both-worlds solution, and an interesting approach to managing IT in-house while bringing on scalable resources where and when you need them.