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Understanding the Differences Between Managed IT Services v. IT Consulting

Today’s information technology (IT) industry is a $460 billion annual sector, with enterprises across all industries adopting IT assets to automate their daily operations while improving efficiency. This is why managed IT services and IT consulting services are both trendy options for business owners to pursue when needing technical help with their company’s digital assets. Though they offer similar services and benefits to companies, there’s a big difference in the scope that these services will cover. However, some large IT companies provide a more comprehensive range of services that can cover both of these specialties and managed support services, software, and app development services, network and cloud architecture, help desk services, and many more. However, the entry points for many companies dealing with these services for the first time are managed IT services and IT consulting. But what’s the difference between these two types of IT services, and why is it important? Here’s a quick look at each type of service, its benefits and drawbacks to help you get started.

A Look at Managed IT Services

When you hire a managed IT service, you’re hiring a company that will take a proactive stance to manage one or more aspects of your company’s IT infrastructure. That provider is an IT company with a team of experts in specific areas, with the entire business being commonly called a Managed Service Provider or MSP. In this situation, the client will have complete ownership of the IT infrastructure being outsourced, while the IT company is only liable for the services they provide. Both parties will sign an agreement or contract defining the criteria of the services offered and the metrics that must be monitored during the process.

Most larger companies will have an in-house team watching over IT infrastructure management. Still, smaller and medium enterprises, including startup companies, cannot afford an entire team of experts working in-house. This can make it hard to keep up with new technology updates and security threats, with non-IT professionals handling IT infrastructure management, which drives them from their other business responsibilities, or a generalist or two will be hired with expertise in no specific areas.

Managed IT services often handle system management, regular backup and recovery of data, storage and management of data, network security monitoring and management, system access and software creation, support, and maintenance.

How IT Consulting Services Differ

By comparison, an IT consultant is sought out to deal with specific problems or gain insights into how management should proceed to best optimize IT use to help the client reach their goals. Rather than focusing on operations, as a managed IT service would, IT consultants look at strategy. Their focus is helping businesses achieve their goals and objectives through changes in technology. This may also be referred to as tech consulting or IT advisory, providing an expert’s opinion on the company’s issues, whether it’s new concepts such as cloud computing, mobile access, or Big Data forcing the company to evolve its strategy.

The high cost of an in-house consulting team is prohibitive to many small and medium enterprises, partially due to the high level of expertise required. An IT consulting firm can be hired only to provide these services when needed in a specific area with the team’s long-term cost. This allows you to save the cost when the team would not be required, providing flexibility to the client to have a range of teams available only when they’re needed.

Examples of common services provided by IT consulting firms can include development and management of databases and websites, expertise in usage and training for complex IT tools and processes, advice on which IT investments to make to maximize results, and insights to help companies choose and plan concrete strategies based on their specific experience and knowledge.

Both IT consulting services and managed IT services can help companies that are trying to improve efficiency, cost savings, and time management while delivering high levels of access to technical expertise and experience. By understanding that IT consulting firms provide strategies, advice, and suggestions for your company’s growth, managed IT services are focused on keeping your business running smoothly daily. If you’re ready to get started in improving your company’s IT strategy, operations or management, Boston Help Desk can find great solutions. Contact us today to get started.

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