How Managed IT Services Is Unique for a Mid-Market Business

A mid-market business can often struggle to find the right model to serve its IT needs. Neither a purely in-house approach nor a total outsourcing package strike quite the right balance. The managed services model is often the “Goldilocks” solution to this dilemma, particularly using the co-managed approach. We’ll break down what managed services involves, what it can offer your business, and how to ensure you get the right provider to make the most of the model.

The Mid-Market Business and IT

Before going into more detail on how managed IT services is a unique solution, let’s break down what we mean by “midmarket.” It’s a little simplistic to say it’s “businesses that are neither small nor big.” However, most objective definitions take the approach that it’s the middle third of all businesses when arranged by size.

To put some hard numbers on that, several different business analysis sources, including the Harvard Business Review and Dun and Bradstreet, use the same thresholds. They define mid-market as U.S. businesses with annual revenues between $10 million and $1 billion. Those numbers can change when you zoom in on a specific business sector and still use the “middle third” approach.

While this numbers-based approach is useful in some aspects, what really matters when it comes to IT solutions is the characteristics that define a mid-market business and its information technology needs. Whatever your revenue, you have “mid-market IT needs” when some or all of the following apply:

  • You already have some full-time information technology staff, usually as part of a dedicated department.
  • You have revenues, profit, and cash flow, meaning you don’t have to focus solely on cutting costs to the bare bones, instead aiming for value and efficiency. At the same time, you don’t have the luxury of spending whatever it takes. You don’t have enough slack in the system to cover any unwise expense choices. In short, costs are a relevant factor but not so dominant as to outweigh everything else.
  • Scalability is one of your biggest challenges. You are at a stage where getting busier can bring many headaches alongside the natural benefits. You sometimes wonder whether increasing business and activity will leave you better off once you take into account the extra resources and hassles the transition brings. At the same time, you must keep a close eye on how quickly you can adjust to any contractions. You need to weigh up the risk of any fixed IT infrastructure and resources that you couldn’t smoothly downsize if necessary.

Managed Services and How It Can Suit a Mid-Market Business

Managed services, to put it as simply as possible, is where a third party takes responsibility for handling particular aspects of your IT needs. The key is that the managed services provider (MSP) doesn’t simply perform designated tasks. Instead, they decide what needs to happen to achieve a particular outcome. That means the provider takes on overall responsibility for achieving the outcome and managing resources to make it happen.

One way to understand managed services is to explore the contrasts with other common IT support models: It’s usually different from “break/fix,” where a provider only steps in once a technical or cybersecurity problem arises. A key element of managed services is that the provider works on an ongoing basis to identify and reduce the risks of problems occurring.

It’s not the same as simply taking on extra staff, whether as temporary or permanent employees or through a staff augmentation model. Managed services usually means the third party both provides the necessary staff and decides what they do. It’s also primarily an ongoing service rather than working on a specific one-off project.

What Managed IT Services Can Cover

The beauty of the managed services model is that you hire a provider to cover specific areas of your IT rather than it being an all-or-nothing proposition. These are just a few examples of what a managed services provider could do.


An MSP can take care of two key elements of security. First, they can manage your day-to-day security. They can protect you from threats, detect any intrusions, and mitigate the impact of any breaches. They can also work with your priorities, for example, assessing the right balance between risk and false positives. 

Second, they can arrange security audits using methods such as vulnerability assessments (a checklist approach to spot common failings) and penetration testing (simulating attacks to see how a cybercriminal could exploit any vulnerabilities). They can then develop and implement improvements and fixes to your security. 

Help Desk Support

Help desk support is a critical tool for managed service providers to utilize in aiding their clients business operations. Help desks provide organizations with real-time, remote assistance that can help users and organizations troubleshoot software and system issues as they arise. Support technicians are able to use various tools such as web-based issue tracking systems to follow up on customer inquiries promptly and efficiently. IT support services also are advantageous for service organizations at an administrative level, such as having the ability to swiftly respond to customer complaints or address customer queries.


The managed services provider can design or reconfigure your networks or IT infrastructure to work more efficiently, increasing your control and reducing redundancies. They could also take care of physically installing and maintaining the network devices and cables.

Software Management

Software management can involve sourcing software to meet your specific needs and then installing and configuring it on your systems. This must involve minimizing any disruption to workflow or compatibility issues. The managed services provider can also keep software current with any feature releases, updates, upgrades, or security patches. Again, the provider must install updates without interrupting your staff’s ability to work.

Online Presence

A managed services provider can take care of many elements of your website and email access. 

This could involve anything from integrating an online ordering and payment system to reducing staff misuse of the internet. It could also mean making sure you have the right messaging and email tools both internally and externally. 


Mid-market businesses, in particular, often find themselves coming up against regulatory requirements for the first time. For example, increasing revenue or expanding into new sectors could mean you pass thresholds for data protection and security regulations. An expert managed services provider could not only figure out which rules apply to your business but also make sure you don’t fall foul of any regulations. That’s particularly important with laws that require data privacy “by design and by default.”


Keeping your staff up to date with computer skills is vital to your success, but your own IT staff may not have the knowledge or aptitude to lead such training. An MSP could train staff to use specific devices, systems, or applications. They could also update and refresh their awareness of security threats.

Disaster Recovery

While a business of any size should have some form of data backup, things get more complex with a mid-market company. The goal expands from simply being able to recover data to being able to do so quickly while minimizing downtime to ensure business continuity. You also face an increasing dilemma of trying to back up data comprehensively and consistently while avoiding disruption to both staff and devices. You must reduce any risk of confusion about which copy of data is correct. Managed services providers can tackle all of these points in an integrated “disaster recovery plan” and process.

Cloud Services

Cloud services are becoming increasingly popular amongst MSPs as a way of providing extra value to their customers. Companies that offer cloud-based services effectively eliminate the need for in-house data storage, allowing them to offer simplified and secure solutions at reduced costs. By offloading server tasks to the cloud, service providers can free up resources while boosting reliability and security. Furthermore, these services provide peace of mind by freeing clients from having to worry about complicated system maintenance. Ultimately, offering cloud services as an MSP means being able to provide better service and scalability for customers on a global scale.

IT Consulting

IT consulting not only does it give a company the benefit of working with a group with in-depth knowledge on the latest IT trends and advancements, but it also gives clients access to qualified professionals with years of experience in IT solutions. Through careful analysis and evaluation of a client’s business needs, consultants are then able to make targeted solution recommendations tailored exactly to those needs. These custom solutions not only improve an organization’s operations but also save them money in the long run through maximizing its existing infrastructure or offering more efficient replacement solutions for outdated equipment.

Benefits of Managed Services for a Mid-Market Business

These are just some of the ways the managed services approach can meet your particular needs.

Cost and Pricing Models

Different providers use different pricing models, for example, charging:

  • A fixed fee
  • A variable fee based on the number of devices
  • A variable fee based on the number of staff
  • A “banded” fee, depending on which range of devices or staff you fall into

The key is that you’ll always know in advance how much you’ll pay, making budgeting more predictable.


Perhaps the most important benefit of the managed services model and pricing is scalability. It means you can add new elements to your IT provision or deal with increasing demand without adding extra full-time staff or even a new department or sub-group. It’s also much quicker and easier to cut back if your needs change.

Hiring Headaches

With managed services, you remove many of the barriers to expansion and added provision. You no longer need to worry about recruiting staff with the right skills for a role or spending time on interviews and background checks. In most cases, you don’t need to worry about payroll taxes, employee benefits, or other human resources administration. Instead, this is all covered by your single fee to the MSP.

Specific Expertise

As we covered earlier, IT has many different elements requiring very different skills, knowledge, and experience. While your in-house IT staff may have diverse skills, it’s often impractical for a mid-sized business to have specific workers dedicated to niche tasks. Whether you use employees, consultants, or contractors, often such roles will be important yet not justify a full-time dedicated worker. That’s where managed service providers can make a difference. They’ll often assign specialists to cover multiple clients, meaning you can have every task performed by a true specialist without any wasted resources.

Up-to-Date Skills

Whether it’s new technologies or new threats, the world of IT changes perhaps more rapidly than any other area of business. Keeping your in-house staff’s skills up to date is important but not always sufficient to stay on top of the game. A good managed services provider will invest in continuing professional development for their experts. They’ll also gain experience and know-how through their work across the entire client base. That means you get the benefit of their cutting-edge knowledge.

Software and Technology

Managed services providers will often have access to the latest software at more viable rates. This is often because software developers give them special deals based on the potential market of their entire client base rather than just offering a price to one business.

What About Co-Managed Services?

Co-managed services is a flavor of managed IT services particularly suited to a mid-market business. It’s all about the relationship between business and provider and who is responsible for what.

The most common definition is that co-managed services is where a company that already has its own dedicated IT department uses a managed services provider to cover some areas of IT. In other words, it’s not the way many small businesses work, where the provider oversees the entire IT strategy.

Instead, the internal IT staff continues to manage the overall IT approach, and they retain control of some areas. The managed services provider takes responsibility for other areas while working within the “big picture” IT strategy.

Co-managed services will usually be the best approach for a mid-market business, as it offers an appealing balance of control and responsibility. The in-house staff retains overall control of IT while leaving the service provider responsible for outcomes in specific areas. The defining characteristic is that the in-house IT department decides which areas to hand over to the MSP.

Making co-managed services work requires clear boundaries and accountability to reduce conflict and redundancy. The following approach will often work well:

  • The in-house IT team assesses the overall IT needs of the business. It determines which needs are best handled in-house and which are best provided through managed services.
  • The in-house team draws up the required outcomes in the relevant areas.
  • The managed services provider takes responsibility for achieving those outcomes, including managing how that is done.

Even with such a clear delineation, the in-house department and managed services provider may need to coordinate regularly. This helps spot and tackle any conflicts in the way they achieve their respective goals and deal with any unintended outcomes.

What To Look for When Choosing Managed IT Services

As a mid-market business, you’ve moved past looking for the cheapest option when choosing any provider. Instead, you need to find somebody who offers value and fits your specific needs. That’s particularly true with managed IT services, where you need to give the provider a degree of autonomy and trust they’ll do the best job possible. Here are a few points to look for when sourcing a provider:

Do they speak plainly?

Some providers will try to bamboozle potential clients with technical jargon, often to impress or even intimidate them. That’s certainly not an approach a good provider will take, particularly with a mid-market client that already has familiarity with the topic. Look instead for somebody who explains their services clearly but without being patronizing. Establishing clear lines of communication from the start gives you confidence that the provider will carry out your requirements.

Do they understand your business?

Even with the added efficiency of the managed services model, IT still often comes down to making the best use of resources. A good provider will help you set out your priorities and learn about any limitations or special needs in your industry.

Do they have specialist expertise?

Unlike with outsourcing for a small business, it’s not always necessary for a managed IT services provider to have a broad, comprehensive set of capabilities. Instead, it may be better to find somebody with specialist skills and resources that are suited to the specific aspects of IT you need to address.

Does location matter?

Whether you need a local provider will depend on the areas of IT you need to work on. If there’s a lot of hands-on work involved, such as maintenance and installation, you may want a provider with locally based staff.

What’s the timescale?

While managed IT services is usually an ongoing service, make sure you know what hours are covered. For example, with tasks like supporting staff or managing software updates, a provider who works during office hours could be suitable or even advantageous. With tasks such as website maintenance or IT security, you may need a 24/7 approach.


By now, you should have a good handle on what the managed IT services model involves and how it can help your business. As a quick refresher:

  • Managed IT services means a provider taking responsibility for achieving outcomes in a designated part of your IT operations.
  • Compared with other models, it has unique appeals to the mid-market business: it’s easily scalable, works for value rather than cheapness, and lets you balance control and responsibility.
  • The co-managed approach means your in-house IT department retains overall control of operations but decides which sectors to outsource and what outcomes the managed services provider must achieve.
  • You should look for a provider that communicates well and understands your needs and desired outcomes.

If you have any questions or want to find out more about how managed IT services can fit into your overall IT strategy, please contact Meriplex today.