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Break-fix method vs Managed IT Services; whats the difference?

managed IT Services


Are you wondering what the difference is between the break-fix method and managed IT services? Unsure whether you should stick to a traditional approach or move to more proactive services? Well, you’re not alone because many other companies are asking the same thing.


As a managed service provider, we do not offer the break-fix method, but we realize that our services are not the right choice for everyone. For some businesses, the break-fix method is a better option. For that reason, we will talk about the pros and cons of both today to make sure you choose the best option.

The two methods are very different, so it is critical to have a strong sense of both to decide which is right for your business.  

What is the break-fix model? 


With the break-fix model, you only pay for network services when an issue arrives, and you need the IT servicer to come in and resolve the problem. Break-fix IT services are typically charged on a per-hour basis. The price can vary depending on how long it takes for the IT service technician to resolve the issue.


Here is a scenario that would best describe when you would use the break-fix method. Say you’re working on a device, and your computer shuts down unexpectedly and will not turn back on. You would then call your outsourced IT provider to fix your computer, and you would be charged for this service after it was resolved. 


Break-fix is a simple approach to dealing with IT problems.  It is an excellent option for businesses that don’t require a significant emphasis on IT. It can also be an effective method if you are a small company that already has in-house IT support. This way, you only receive outsourced support if something occurs that needs more assistance than just your in-house IT.  


So, if the break-fix model is an effective approach, why are other companies switching to managed services providers? A significant reason is that companies’ networks are becoming much more complex. They’re finding it harder to address their users' needs, and they don’t have the time and resources to maintain a secure IT infrastructure. Having an MSP  to monitor company systems proactively can reduce the risk of breaches and security threats.  


What are the advantages and disadvantages of break-fix? 

Let’s dive into some of the advantages and disadvantages of the break-fix method to help you determine if this is the best method for you.


Some advantages to the break-fix method are that you only pay for services required, have privacy from avoiding a third-party vendor, and have complete control over all IT decisions. Let’s dive in a little to each of these:

Pay per service model 


If you are a company that is not worried about ongoing IT support, break-fix may be the method for you. You can use break-fix services only when they are required and do not need to worry about paying monthly fees or committing to a contract. You will only be required to pay when you request IT service and receive it.   



The break-fix method means most of your IT is in-house, so you are entirely in control of your network. You are not releasing any data to another vendor that could potentially put you at risk if they were to have a breach or threat hit their business. 


Full control 

Your business will be in complete control of any decisions made on IT. When it comes to any changes or issues that arise, it will be in your hands to decide how to strategize and make the final call. 



The break-fix may not be for you if you prefer a long-term budget for IT costs, want a proactive IT approach, or like having someone familiar with your IT environment.


No fixed costs, leading to an unpredictable budget 


Break-fix is not a fixed cost. You will be charged if an issue occurs and you need servicing, which means it is nearly impossible to budget for. It is based on the amount of time it takes to fix the issue, and you will be charged on an hourly basis. If an issue continues to pop up, having to pay each time for a solution can end up being very costly.  


Not a proactive  approach 


When it comes to the break-fix, you will simply get issues resolved as they come up. This means there is a greater chance of problems occurring with little to no warning. Issues such as a breach or a network crash can leave your business with exceptional downtime that can be timely and expensive. 


This is different from working with a managed service provider because they will constantly monitor your network to catch any vulnerabilities before an issue can occur. You may also have recurring problems that you will continue to get charged for each time your IT servicer needs to come in and fix it.




Your technician will not be completely familiar with your environment, so if an issue arises, it may take them longer to figure out why it is occurring. The longer they get to the bottom of the problem, the more you will be charged for their services.  



What are managed IT services? 


Managed services are another method to help keep your network running smoothly. Managed service providers continually monitor your network to catch an issue before it arises rather than simply fixing things when they break down.  


When partnering with a managed IT service provider they will also help you plan projects and infrastructure upgrades to increase productivity instead of figuring out what to do on your own. This long-term approach to IT is often suited well for organizations that want to invest in their network and pay for peace of mind.  


What are the advantages and disadvantages of managed IT services? 

Let’s dive into some of the pros and cons of managed IT services to help you determine if it’s the right fit for you. 


With managed services, you receive a predictable budget, have proactive and reactive support, and a business partner you can trust to handle your IT infrastructure.

Predictable budget 


With managed services, the costs are predictable because you are informed of the set price you will pay each month. The price you pay will be a recurring cost that you and your MSP have agreed on. Having the costs of your services written formally in a contract ensures that the costs and fees cannot change unexpectedly. This makes it much easier to budget for. 


Proactive and Reactive approach 


Having managed services also means your network hardware is upgraded on a regular cycle. Software is constantly checked to make sure that it is up-to-date and running faultlessly. With up-to-date software and constant monitoring, managed service providers can prevent security threats or breaches on your network. The management of your network will be completely taken care of and out of your hands so you can focus on your business. 


If an issue arises, your managed service provider will work with their team and you to resolve it as quickly as possible. When a break or network crash occurs, you mustn’t be left with considerable downtime so that business operations can continue as normal. Your managed service provider will work tirelessly to ensure you are up and running as quickly as possible.  


Familiar with your environment

When you work with an MSP, they know the ins and outs of your IT infrastructure. When an issue arises, it is much easier for them to quickly pinpoint where the problem is coming from and resolve it. 


You establish a strong relationship with your MSP that relies on trust to ensure that your infrastructure is secure. They can also use their extensive knowledge of your environment to continue building upon the infrastructure, enhancing it, and keeping you up to date on the latest IT tools and knowledge to prepare you for future success. 


Some cons to outsourcing an MSP are that you will be obligated to sign a contract, will likely pay a high upfront cost for onboarding, and have shared control of your IT infrastructure.

Contractual Bond  


Although you will receive stability in your budget, your network support comes with a contract that might scare some businesses. This can seem too much of a commitment for some people to make, especially if you find yourself with an unqualified managed service provider. For this reason, before committing to these contracts, it is essential to make sure you have thoroughly researched your managed service provider before making any long-term commitment to ensure you are fully confident in the decision. Ask for references. Your business is worth the time investment. 


High initial costs 

The initial onboarding process can have high upfront expenses. The costs can be higher at first because managed service providers will need to implement off-premises hardware, new software, servers, and network monitoring equipment. After assessing your network, all these extensive enhancements are based on their results to ensure you are getting ahead of any potential IT threats. 


Shared control 

With an MSP, you do not have full control over your network. They will have complete control over devices, programs, and server operations. This is why trust is a crucial component when it comes to choosing your MSP. Knowing that they will always have your best interest in mind while managing your infrastructure so that you can be reassured that your sensitive information is secure and in good hands. 


Which is right for your business, break-fix, or managed IT services?

As a managed service provider, we have received many questions about the two different models, break-fix and managed IT. They are very different in the ways such as their cost structure, servicing method, and risk management. For this reason, it is essential to be aware of these differences to ensure that you can make the right choice on which IT services are a better choice for your business.  


If you want to learn more about managed IT services, check out this article: What is Fully Managed IT? (How it works and why you need it).