The 5 Key Differences Between Managed Services vs. Professional Services

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There has never been a more crucial time for IT services in today’s business market, with the managed IT services industry set to hit USD $671.14 billion by 2030.

A strategic decision that many companies then face is choosing between managed services and professional services – two distinct but interrelated aspects of IT support offered by managed service providers (MSPs). Both play crucial roles, but understanding their nuances can greatly influence your business’s efficiency, profitability, and overall success.

As Jason Cary, VP of Sales at FTI Services puts it, “Knowing the difference between managed and professional services isn’t just a best practice – it’s a necessity. Your choice could mean the difference between merely surviving and thriving in the marketplace.”

This blog will dissect the core differences between managed services vs. professional services, offering a roadmap to help businesses like yours ascertain which might be the optimal fit for your unique needs.


Why Outsource Over In-House IT Management?

In recent years, there has been a significant shift towards outsourcing IT functions, with more businesses leaning towards managed and professional services instead of traditional in-house management. This shift is driven by a variety of compelling reasons.

  1. Evolving Technological Landscape: One reason is that the rapid evolution of technology is outpacing the ability of many internal teams to keep up. Advanced cybersecurity threats, emerging cloud technologies, and new regulatory landscapes require specialized knowledge and constant attention.
  2. Cost Savings: The costs associated with recruiting, training, and maintaining a full in-house IT department day-to-day can be substantial. By opting for outsourced services, your business can tap into a pool of experts and innovative solutions without bearing the burden of maintaining a full-time, dedicated IT staff.
  3. Focus on Core Business: Such services allow your business to focus on its core competencies, while your IT needs are taken care of by seasoned professionals. This combination of expertise, cost-efficiency, and focus is transforming how businesses approach their IT strategies.
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Defining Managed & Professional Services

Managed IT services and professional services both fall within the domain of IT support but serve different purposes and have different operational models and scope of work.

Managed IT services are continuous, proactive services provided by an external provider to handle and optimize a business’s IT operations, including tasks like network management, cybersecurity, and data backup.

Professional services are project-based, specialized IT services employed for specific challenges, tasks, or goals, such as system implementation, IT consulting, or software development, typically ending once the project is completed. The global IT professional services market is expected to reach USD 1,598.41 billion by 2030.


Managed Services vs. Professional Services: Which Is The Right Fit For You?
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Managed Services vs. Professional Services: What Are The Key Differentiators?

Let’s delve into the key differences between managed and professional services:


1. Scope of Work

Managed services often encompass a broad range of ongoing IT tasks such as network monitoring, cybersecurity, data backup, cloud services, disaster recovery, and others. The scope of work is generally continuous and proactive, aimed at maintaining an efficient IT infrastructure. In contrast, professional services are typically project-focused and time-bound, addressing specific issues or implementing new technologies.


2. Engagement Models

Managed services providers (MSPs) often work under a retainer model, providing ongoing services for a fixed monthly fee or bill. This predictable pricing structure allows your business to budget more effectively. Professional services, however, are often engaged on a project basis, with costs varying depending on the complexity and duration of the project.

Managed Services vs Professional Services

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3. Expertise

Both services offer expert knowledge but in different areas. MSPs are skilled in maintaining and optimizing IT operations, providing a stable environment for businesses. Professional services firms specialize in complex, one-off projects that require deep expertise, such as a system migration or a software implementation.


4. Relationship

With managed services, businesses often build a long-term relationship with their provider, creating an extension of their in-house team. Professional services engagements, however, are usually shorter-term and more transactional in nature, focused on the successful completion of specific projects.


5. Outcome

The goal of managed services is to provide ongoing stability, efficiency, and prevention of issues, reducing overall operational risks. Professional services aim at delivering a specified outcome within a stipulated time frame, like the successful implementation of a new system or the resolution of a particular IT issue.

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Managed Services vs. Professional Services: Which Is Best For You?

For most businesses, especially those with continuous IT needs but lacking the resources to maintain an in-house team managed services often provide the most value. They offer consistent, expert support, enabling your business to focus on its core functions and secure in the knowledge that your IT operations are in competent hands.

That being said, every business’ needs are different – which is why we recommend you reach out to us to discuss your unique IT needs today! At FTI Services, we’re a proven leader in the managed IT services field.

By entrusting your IT needs to us, you’ll gain access to a team of IT professionals dedicated to keeping your systems secure, efficient, and up-to-date, allowing you to focus on what you do best – growing your business.

Learn how we can help – contact us today for a free assessment.