Everything You Need to Know: Break/Fix vs. Managed Services

As a small to medium-sized business owner, you know that managing your IT infrastructure can be a daunting task.

In today’s fast-paced digital world, businesses can’t afford to have their IT systems down even for a moment. Did you know that downtime can cost small businesses up to $5,600 per hour? As the digital landscape evolves, so does the complexity of IT challenges.

“In the age of digital transformation, proactive IT management isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity,” says Jason Harlam, Business Development Manager for Technology Advisory Group.

In this article, we’ll explore break/fix and managed services, what the differences are, and how businesses decide which is right for them.

What are Break/Fix Services?

Break/Fix services operate on a simple principle: when there’s a system failure, you call someone to resolve the issue. It’s a reactive approach, waiting for problems to arise before addressing them.

While break/fix might seem cost-effective initially, the unpredictability and potential downtime can be detrimental to your business operations. Since the services are charged on an hourly basis, recurring or deeper issues can skyrocket IT costs.

There’s another issue, too. Since vendors are hired to fix specific problems, they may not have the motivation to spend the time and materials implementing root-cause fixes.

What are Managed IT Services?

Managed IT Services, on the other hand, are the guardians of your IT infrastructure. A managed service provider (MSP) proactively monitors, manages, and optimizes your systems.

Essentially, you have a team anticipating and preventing potential issues behind the scenes. This kind of ongoing support and regular updates minimize recurring issues and downtime for your business.

Since MSPs work on monthly contracts, they are incentivized to address issues at the root cause and eliminate recurring issues.

Another advantage is the ongoing nature of the engagement. It means the MSP is able to provide you with strategic insights into your IT, which are helpful for managing your infrastructure and making future IT investments.

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How Break/Fix and Managed Services Differ

There are three primary differences between break/fix and managed services:

  • Approach: Break/fix services are reactive, waiting for issues to arise. Managed services are proactive, preventing issues before they impact your business.
  • Costs: Break/fix services have an hourly per-incident cost (usually), meaning you cannot predict costs. Managed services work on fixed annual or monthly fees, allowing you to forecast costs and plan budgets.
  • Relationship: Break/fix services are transactional. Managed services, on the other hand, foster long-term partnerships, taking the time to understand your business’s unique needs.

Here’s a more in-depth comparison of the differences between break/fix vs. managed services.

Feature Break/Fix Managed IT Services
Approach Reactive – Waits for issues to arise before addressing them. Proactive – Anticipates and prevents potential IT issues.
Cost Structure Pay per incident, leading to unpredictable costs. Predictable monthly/annual fee for services, providing financial certainty.
Relationship Transactional: Service ends once the issue is fixed. Long-term partnership: Continuous monitoring and maintenance.
Service Level Agreement (SLA) Typically, no SLAs. Response times can vary. Defined SLAs ensuring timely responses and resolutions.
Security No proactive security measures. Relies on external tools. Comprehensive security solutions, including antivirus, patch management, and regular audits.
Support On-demand, might lead to longer downtimes. 24/7 support with dedicated helpdesk and technical assistance.
Goal Fix individual issues as they arise. Holistic IT management and positive service delivery for users.


Break/Fix vs. Managed Services: Finding the Right Option for Your Business

Choosing between break/fix and managed services boils down to one simple question: what are your needs?

For a small business with few IT resources, the break/fix model may be the more cost-effective option. That said, for businesses with 10 or more users (and certainly mid-sized and larger organizations), the managed services model is the way to go.

No wonder then that over 38% of businesses across the U.S. rely on MSPs to manage their IT, and the MSP market itself is set to hit $380.83 billion by 2028.

Remember, the goal is not just to fix issues but to prevent them, ensuring seamless operations and enhanced productivity. MSPs become extensions of your business, offering in-house levels of service without the hassles of maintaining payroll and keeping in-house IT professionals stimulated.

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Eliminate Recurring Issues With Technology Advisory Group

Tired of the same recurring IT issues? Technology Advisory Group (TAG) is a leading managed services provider that supports over 75 businesses across Rhode Island and New England.

You will work with a local team that understands your priorities and the challenges you face. Talk to us today to find out how our routine on-site visits, remote support, and certified professionals help businesses like yours perform at their peak.

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