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Break-Fix vs. Managed Service Provider: What Is Right for Your Business?

Break-Fix vs. Managed Service Provider: What Is Right for Your Business?

In the not-too-distant past, when something broke, you’d call in someone to repair it and wait for the repair to happen. That may have been fine when it was something like a copy machine or a computer where you could work around an isolated issue. However, today’s tech is much more complex and interconnected. For example, if your computers are networked and the network goes down, you may lose the core functionality you need to keep your business running.

Companies today can either manage IT themselves, use a break-fix model or work with a managed service provider (MSP). So, what are the differences between break-fix and MSP models, and which is the best approach for your business? Let's dive into the differences and find your perfect IT match.


Key differences: Break-Fix vs. MSP

A break-fix approach vs. an MSP approach is completely different. Here’s a quick snapshot of the key differences.


Break-Fix Model MSP Model
Reactive Proactive
Variable Costs Predictable Costs
Incident-Based Support Comprehensive Support
Transactional Engagement Long-Term Partnership

Break-Fix model

With a break-fix provider, you get:

  • Reactive approach: Break-fix providers go to work when there’s a problem you can’t solve. They provide on-demand support but do not proactively prevent issues from occurring.
  • Cost variability: Break-fix services generally charge you by the hour or incident. This can make it challenging to predict or budget for IT expenses accurately.
  • Incident-based support: Rather than providing comprehensive, ongoing support, break-fix providers address specific concerns or emergencies with ad hoc solutions for specific issues.
  • Transactional engagement: Break-fix providers typically have a transactional relationship with clients. The focus is on immediate problem-solving without a long-term strategy.


Managed Service Provider model

With an MSP, you get:

  • Proactive approach: MSPs focus on a strategic approach to keep your systems operating efficiently, including continuous monitoring to identify and address potential issues before they cause disruptions.
  • Predictable costs: You generally have fixed monthly or annual pricing models. This helps budget for IT services with a consistent and accurate amount.
  • Comprehensive support: MSPs provide ongoing support, maintenance and management of your IT infrastructure. This generally includes services such as software updates, security patches and regular backups.
  • Long-term partnership: MSPs become your IT partner, working collaboratively to meet your business goals and offering strategic guidance and customized solutions.


Break-Fix vs. MSP: which is right for you?

There are pros and cons to each approach and which approach is right for you will likely depend on your business needs and in-house expertise. Here are some of the key items you will want to consider.


Your business needs

If you have minimal IT needs or rarely have issues, a break-fix model might work for you. For example, if you only have one or two computers and do most of your business online using cloud services, a break-fix might be the best solution when your computer acts up. For businesses with more complex systems, networks, and dependencies, you may benefit more from an MSP that can provide ongoing maintenance, monitoring, and support. And when it comes to cybersecurity — all businesses need some form of proactive coverage. The level of support definitely varies depending on the business you’re doing. That is where you keep in mind the flexibility of pricing you need.

Break-fix is generally used by businesses that do not depend significantly on technology, have very few IT issues and have minimal users. An example might be a small auto repair shop that uses computers only for email, printing and ordering parts.

Companies that use MSPs usually have tech that is more central to their business and need ongoing support and expertise or do not have the IT resources in-house to manage their operations efficiently. An example might be a retail store that uses tech to manage its website, eCommerce shopping channels, inventory management, customer databases and payment gateways.


The impact of problems

What happens when your system goes down? For some businesses, it’s a minor inconvenience and you can afford to wait a day or two to get things running again. For most businesses, however, it’s a major problem.

Over a third of small and medium-sized businesses said they lost customers and 17% reported losing revenue due to downtime. Besides losing money, downtime can frustrate your employees and customers, hurt productivity, and damage your reputation.

Downtime doesn’t include the cost of cybersecurity threats, either. If your system is breached, the consequences can be devastating. In fact, 60% of small businesses close within six months of a cyber attack. Break-fix models focus on repairs after the fact while MSPs put plans in place to protect your systems from incidents.

So, ask yourself how much downtime you can afford before losing money and whether your business can recover in case of a data breach.


Resources and expertise

Take a careful look at the resources you have in-house and what you need help managing. If you have a fully-staffed IT team at your business, a break-fix model might work for the occasional support you need. If you need more proactive management or specialized knowledge, MSPs offer a wide range of support options across various technologies. Even if you have an internal IT team, whether it's a small or large department, consider leveraging co-managed IT services from an MSP. This way you can outsource complex IT tasks and enhance service maintenance for seamless operations.

When discussing options with providers, you will want to ensure they have the expertise, technical capabilities and resources to augment your team, meeting your IT needs effectively.


The long-term value

You want to consider the long-term benefits and value of any partnership. MSPs will know your business and systems because they have an ongoing relationship with you. They can suggest ways to improve efficiency or reduce costs as part of strategic planning to keep your business operating productively. MSPs also reduce downtime and enhance security.

Long-term, MSPs generally provide greater value when compared to break-fix. A proactive and strategic approach to optimize and protect IT for reliability and security lets organizations focus on core operations rather than worrying about maintaining the tools they need to conduct business.


Managing your IT infrastructure

Ideally, you want your tech to run almost unnoticed, doing its job without worrying about it. However, your IT infrastructure needs regular attention to run smoothly and avoid problems. Would you rather wait until problems pop up and wait to fix them or be proactive about managing your tech to prevent problems from occurring?

Sagiss offers managed IT services, managed security services and managed cloud services for North Texas businesses. Connect with the experts at Sagiss today to discuss your IT management needs.

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