A few months ago, I spoke with a small business owner who was facing a serious problem. His data storage system was out of date. He had stacks of paperwork stuffed into dozens of filing cabinets in a back office. He needed to hire an IT team to get it all organized in the cloud. However, he was having trouble deciding between managed services vs. professional services.

I asked him whether this was the only project he wanted to work on or if he had other technical problems as well. He said he had a long to-do list of IT projects that he hoped to finish by the end of the year, but he wasn’t sure where to start. Once I heard this, I knew that managed services was the right choice for him—it’s perfect for business owners who are juggling multiple projects or who need a clear sense of direction.

However, managed IT services aren’t necessarily the best choice for every company. To decide between managed services and professional services, you should carefully consider your own situation and pick the solution that makes the most sense for your needs. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the pros and cons of each system to help you make the most informed decision.

The Differences: Managed Services vs. Professional Services

Which type of service should you choose: managed services vs. professional services? It depends on how long you anticipate your project will take to complete and what your business strategy is.

Professional services are meant for specific, one-off projects that have a definitive end date. IT staffing firms that provide this type of service focus on every detail of the project, from brainstorming and planning to final implementation. For example, if you want to get rid of a paper storage system and transition to cloud data storage, a firm providing professional services will upload this data for you. They’ll also train your staff on how to use the new cloud storage system.

However, once the IT firm moves the data over to the cloud and completes the project, you’re responsible for the new storage system’s upkeep from now on—you may even need to hire an in-house staff to maintain the system. Some IT firms do provide basic support after the project’s completion, but in most cases, the IT firm hands the reins over to you after they’ve completed their tasks.

Unlike professional services, managed services are much more comprehensive and designed for long-term use. You don’t necessarily have to have a specific project in mind either—you can have an IT firm on-call to handle any technical question you have, no matter how simple or complex.

When an IT firm provides managed services, knowledgeable team members assist you with everything from daily data collection to on-call tech support. It’s like having an in-house IT team, except you won’t have to hire any new staff members or manage their schedules. With managed services, you’ll get all of the benefits of having an in-house team without any of the complications and challenges that come with having an IT department on-site.

Professional ServicesManaged Services
  • Best for specific, one-off projects with a definitive end date.
  • IT firm can be on-call
  • Detail-oriented
  • Much more comprehensive
  • Employed for length of engagement—brainstorming to training
  • Designed for long-term use
  • You’re responsible maintaining the project and its IT needs
  • No specific project required


Protect Your In-House Team’s Resources While Adding Skills

Whether you choose managed services or professional services, you’ll be doing your in-house staff a favor by ensuring they’re not suddenly understaffed or underskilled. If you do try to insource projects that are too big, you’ll pay a cost—especially for small businesses. Some of the challenges you’ll face include:

  • Additional staffing expenses: You’ll have to pay employees an hourly wage, and this becomes even more expensive if you hire a large team of tech experts;
  • Less available labor: Small in-house IT teams can’t complete projects as quickly as larger IT firms, leading to delays in product launches;

For these reasons, more business owners are choosing to outsource larger IT projects and needs through experienced IT staffing firms. In fact, the infrastructure as a service (IaaS) market is expected to grow 43.2 percent by 2020 and will be worth approximately $26 billion globally.

Moreover, your technical needs will likely grow in complexity over the next few years as well, making outsourced IT teams a valuable resource for your company. Cloud data storage, the Internet of Things (IoT), and advanced data analytics tools are becoming ubiquitous in every industry, and only an experienced team of IT experts can help you navigate these essential technologies.

Choosing the Right Service for Your Needs

You may be very satisfied with your in-house IT specialists, but they might not be staffed to handle massive new projects—especially of the tedious yet time-consuming variety. Will you sacrifice some of their time to put into the new project(s)? If you do, will you still need additional staff?

Managed services and professional services are both meant to address these competing interests. While there’s a big difference between managed services vs. professional services, you can’t go wrong with either option. Both services handle all of the technical details for you, making your projects much easier to tackle.

However, in most cases, a managed service is more beneficial for businesses compared to a professional service, especially if you have limited time and resources. Professional services are a great option for businesses that just need to complete one project as quickly as possible and won’t need a tech team to answer any future questions.

For most businesses though, the ability to ask questions and get fast responses is important. Technology is constantly evolving, so you’ll need to frequently update your system. Managed services offer you the flexibility and support you need to grow your business and make the most out of the latest technological innovations.

If you’re ready to make the transition to managed services, contact Tek Leaders today. We will handle all of your IT consulting needs so that you can focus on creating the most successful business possible. Or, if you have more questions about managed services vs. professional services, you can reach us by email or call us at (214) 504-1600 directly.

Author: Devender (Dev) Aerrabolu

Devender (Dev) Reddy Aerrabolu is the CEO of Tek Leaders. His goal is to help SMBs bring value from their data. Dev helped Tek Leaders grow from scratch into a $25 million enterprise by focusing on clients’ data needs.