Break-Fix vs. Managed Services: The Major Difference

break-fix vs managed services

Are you searching, even struggling, to find the right information technology (IT) company for you? Let’s discuss the differences between break-fix vs managed services.

What is Break-Fix Servicing?

The break-fix model is project-based to fix issues when there’s a problem. Only when something is broken is it repaired. As the name suggests: no break, no fix. Break-fix companies and their business model are all about solving problems as they appear and allowing company operations to continue afterward. 

When an issue pops up that your company can’t resolve, this is the time the break-fix technicians are called and typically they do not have service level agreements. In essence, the term “break-fix” refers to the fee for service method of providing information technology (IT) services to businesses.

Using this method, the provider performs services as needed and bills the customer only for the work done. The service typically includes repairs, upgrades or installation of systems, components, peripheral equipment, networking or software. It can be very difficult to manage costs as it’s a pay-as-you-go service. The more service you require, the more you are charged. Plus it’s a very reactive model to IT services. There is no incentive for the break-fix company to help you solve the underlying issue.

Often small businesses encounter repeated IT problems like recurring downtime, poor response times or find they require a different level of service altogether. When service is poor and costs get out of hand, businesses choose to transition from a break-fix model of IT maintenance to a proactive model of IT services working with Managed Service Providers (MSP).

What are Managed IT Services?

Where break-fix companies exist to resolve problems, the other side of that coin is the managed  services model whose mission is to ensure that there isn’t a problem to fix. The focus is on preventive, proactive and real-time maintenance; it doesn’t look at a single issue in the IT infrastructure but rather the IT infrastructure as a whole.

Think of your IT problem like it’s a stalled car. If your car stops running or is performing sluggishly, you take it in for repair. That’s break-fix. With managed IT services, mechanics are constantly checking on your car, while it’s working, so that it doesn’t break down.

With a proactive approach to IT, businesses pay monthly fees for service. It’s a recurring expense and service is provided within service level agreement (SLA) standards. An MSP’s goal is to prevent regular issues and company downtime.

break-fix vs. managed services
Jesse Kuykendall, Technology OneSource expert.

Jesse Kuykendall, NetGain Technology OneSource expert, explains the difference between Managed Services vs. Break-Fix and the pros and cons of both.

The Difference Between Managed Services vs. Break-Fix

Let’s compare managed services vs break fix. Imagine you own a home and wait for shingles to start missing, or a hole to appear in your roof before you take action. You waited until something happened as a sign to replace, and now you may also have water damage resulting in a rush job to get things replaced. 

Now consider a second scenario where a team inspects your roof and home in its entirety on a recurring basis. Proactive notation of wear and tear, and other potential hazards help to appropriately budget within a timeline for replacement.

When we compare managed IT services vs break-fix, the analogies above present a stark contrast between the two. Like our home, the technology used in a business can become outdated, break down and require continuous maintenance to evolve based on the needs of the business.

Technology runs most of today’s business operations. Most technical experience has been deprecated or superseded by new technology within a few years after it’s released. Many break-fix models have one individual to consult on repairs and improvements (as opposed to a team of experts). This can lead to missed opportunities, or just plain wrong recommendations.

The Pros and Cons of Break-Fix vs. Managed Services

Today’s technology challenges require expertise. Just as you would call a plumber for plumbing issues and an electrician for electrical, you need an expert in their respective field to assist with IT management

A managed service provider will staff techs focused on each element of technology implementation, support and growth to ensure a proactive focus on each of these systems. Because they perform this for multiple businesses, they can leverage the successes (and failures) across all their customer base to ensure needs are met. This is a major benefit of managed services vs support model break fix.

Common requests from financial auditors, security implementations due to zero day attacks, and known bad actors can be created regardless of the technology it serves so that a single idea can protect the assets of many. Simply put, if it’s good for the goose, it’s good for the gander.

Things break when it’s inconvenient. Just like your HVAC system quitting on a Sunday, expect your email to stop working at its most critical time. A managed service provider staffs a help desk team that provides 24/7 monitoring and responds to alerts as soon as they’re triggered. When you wake up, all you have is a summary of the events, its resolution and what’s being done to prevent it from recurring.

With break fix, you’re waking up to a mess of issues that will take time just to get the right person(s) engaged to fix the problem.

An easy way to remember the pros and cons of break-fix vs. managed services: If break-fix focuses on fixing problems, managed IT service works to ensure there isn’t a problem to fix.

For more information about how your business can reap the benefits of managed services, contact us today.

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