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Karen Cohen

By: Karen Cohen on September 08, 2022

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IT Project Work: Outsourcing Vs. Managed IT Support

Managed Services | IT Support

Editor’s note: This article originally published in 2019, but has been updated to reflect more comprehensive information. 

Like many business leaders, you are beginning to notice that your organization’s IT function needs help. 

You may be concerned about cybersecurity, regulatory requirements, or just the overall performance of your network.

You may be struggling to hire people with the skills and expertise you require to keep your IT infrastructure safe, available, and efficient. (Between the IT talent shortage and the hefty price tag that goes along with hiring the full complement of IT professionals needed, resources can be a challenge.) 

Or, maybe you have a small internal staff that is fighting to resolve the most critical IT problems, so lower-level maintenance activities are going by the wayside. 

It could be that your staff is so busy putting out the daily fires that there’s limited bandwidth left to work on long-term strategic projects that can enhance efficiencies and value for your business. 

Whatever the reason, you’ve already determined that you need help with some or all of your IT responsibilities—so now you just have to call a provider and get it done, right?  

Not so fast. Before finding an external partner, you need to decide what the nature of your relationship will be: Do you want to find someone who can handle your project work on a case-by-case basis or establish a long-term partnership with a partner with a managed IT support provider? 

As a managed IT support provider, you might think that Kelser recommends that approach. But, the truth is, there are pros and cons to each approach. 

In this article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of both options: whether it’s better to outsource your IT project work as needed, or join forces with a managed IT support provider. We’ll explain the differences between the two approaches so that you’ll have the information you need to decide which approach is best for your organization.  

What Does It Mean To Outsource IT Project Work?

When people talk about outsourcing IT project work, they usually mean contracting with an external IT organization to handle specific tasks or projects. By using an outside resource to supplement your small internal staff, you get the resources you need without hiring staff that you might not need in a few weeks or months. 

What Does It Mean To Work With A Managed IT Support Provider? 

When an organization hires a managed IT support provider, they enter into a longer-term (typically 1- to 3-year) agreement with an external provider to provide ongoing, comprehensive services. 

What Are The Pros & Cons Of Each IT Support Approach?

As with any business arrangement, there are pros and cons of outsourcing IT project work. 

Outsourced IT Project Work

We’ve already defined what we mean by the term outsourced IT project work, so let’s take a look at the pros and cons of this approach.


1. Technical Expertise

By handing off IT projects to an outsourcing partner, you’ll have reliable expertise at your fingertips in addition to your internal IT team. 

2. Lower Cost

You gain access to the specialized knowledge that you need for a specific project, without paying the price tag that comes from an in-house expert.

3. Optimize Staff

By partnering with an outsourcing provider, you can take the day-to-day busywork off your employees’ plates. Handing these low-level activities off to an outsourcing partner allows your staff to avoid burnout and focus on generating long-term strategic value for your business.


1. Onboarding

The biggest concern about outsourcing IT project work is the time and effort it takes to onboard a new partner. Each time you work with a new IT partner, you need to spend time figuring out how your (and their) internal processes operate and how you can work together most effectively. 

2. Confidentiality

Having the right level of control and confidentiality is a must, so finding a trustworthy IT partner is crucial. Your legal counsel should review any contracts and make sure that your business is protected, especially in the event of a data breach.

3. Unpredictable Cost

When you work with a provider on a case-by-case basis, it can make it difficult to budget because you are never truly sure of the cost until you receive an invoice after the work is performed.

Managed IT Support

Now let’s look at the pros and cons of managed IT support.


1. Ongoing 

By working with you over time, a managed IT support provider will come to know your business and its quirks intimately. This gives you a second set of knowledgeable “eyes” that can correct any issues that arise and can even advise and collaborate on long-term strategic activities.

2. Predictable Cost

Unlike outsourced IT project work, your IT budget becomes much more predictable and flexible because you pay the same monthly cost for managed IT support.

There may be projects that fall outside the monthly agreement, but the majority of your services will be covered by that one predictable monthly fee.

For businesses that are growing or scaling back, you have a better idea of where your IT expenses will be as a result because you know how much you are paying every month.

3. Expertise 

Some managed IT support providers also are equipped to handle specific project work. 

This option provides customers with the best of both worlds by combining the routine monitoring and maintenance your network needs with the expertise to take on project work that falls outside of the managed IT contract, such as installing a new wireless network. 

This combination of skills can mean avoiding the awkwardness and lack of familiarity of outsourced work that relies on a new contract (and often a new provider) for every project.

When the managed IT provider handles both kinds of work, the onboarding process shrinks to zero, so work is quick and efficient.


1. Long-Term

Managed IT support is intended to be a long-term relationship. Typical contracts require a commitment of 1 to 3 years. The contract may not be so easy to leave if you feel stuck.

It’s vitally important to do your due diligence and find the right provider for your needs. Before signing the contract, compare several providers and make sure you understand how you can adjust or exit the contract if necessary.

2. Time Commitment

Before working with a managed IT support provider, understand who will be responsible for managing this ongoing relationship, and how much time and effort it will require. Do you need to hire a new person for the role, or can it be a part-time obligation for one of your current employees?

Which Is Better Outsourcing Or Managed IT Support? 

The honest answer to this question is that it depends. 

Outsourcing IT project work is a better idea than managed services when you know that it will truly be a “one and done” affair: when you have a good idea of the skill set required and a definite beginning and end. It’s a specific project with parameters. In other words, if you need an electrician, don’t hire a general contractor. 

A good example would be a current or upcoming special event such as a merger or acquisition that will require extra work from your in-house IT staff.

A managed IT support provider would be a better choice if you need ongoing work involving the care and feeding of your IT environment, and your in-house staff is small (or maybe you don’t have any internal staff).

As we mentioned at the outset, each approach has its place. 

What Service Is Right For You?

The benefits of partnering with an outside IT provider are well-documented: cost savings, access to more skills and expertise, and the flexibility to meet your changing business needs. But the real question is whether outsourcing IT project work or partnering with a managed IT support provider is a better fit for your organization?

After reading this article, you understand how the two approaches are similar and different. 

You know that outsourced IT is contract-based and most often used for specific tasks and projects with a specific goal and duration. You know that managed IT support provides a long-term, ongoing resource for a monthly subscription fee. 

You now have more insight into the pros and cons of each option and can confidently weigh your options.  

Only you can decide what’s right for you. 

If you are beginning to wonder if managed IT support is right for your organization or want to know more, read this article: What Is Managed IT? What’s Included? What Does It Cost?

Already interviewing providers? Check out this list of the Best Questions To Ask Before Signing With An IT Services Provider

And, when comparing providers we encourage you to consider Kelser. Click on the button below and we’ll contact you within 24 hours (likely sooner) to find out what you need and whether we are a good fit to work together. 

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About Karen Cohen

Karen brings unending curiosity to her role as Kelser's Content Manager. If you have a question, she wants to know the answer.

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