Managed IT servicesManaged IT services and break/fix services both play critical roles in business IT support. Looking to complement the capabilities and IT resources they have in place, small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are tasked with choosing between the two.

Both managed and break/fix services share the same goal: to address IT concerns such as installations, repairs, cybersecurity, and networking. But fundamental differences give each a distinct list of advantages and drawbacks.

What are managed IT services?

Managed IT services involve businesses outsourcing all or a portion of their IT ecosystem to third-party managed service providers (MSPs).

Within the context of a service level agreement (SLA) contract, MSPs deliver a holistic, ongoing range of services, primarily off-premise, that utilise their own tools, systems, and expert personnel. These services typically come at a flat monthly fee and may include the following:

  • 24-hour network monitoring
  • Software updates and patches
  • System maintenance
  • Live helpdesk support
  • Cybersecurity
  • General IT system admin and management

Advantages of managed IT services

For SMBs looking for a proactive – not reactive – IT environment, managed IT services offer several benefits:

  • Regular payments. The subscription-based model of MSPs offers budget certainty. Businesses can rely on regular payments that are usually less than break/fix billings.
  • From day one of the contract, MSPs are dedicated to keeping their client’s IT environment smooth, stable, and secure – their own business’s success relies on it. The end result is a system of servers, laptops, computers, and mobile devices that are actively protected.
  • Shared responsibility. With help from remote managing and monitoring (RMM) software, MSPs take shared ownership over their clients’ IT environments. That means round-the-clock protecting against firewall breaches, data hacks, and other threats. What’s more, as MSPs become more familiar with a business’s IT needs and limitations, they can recommend improvements that align with the processes already in place.
  • Peace of mind. Managed IT services adhere to a 24/7 model, giving businesses owners total peace of mind that they can get the support they need, when they need it.

Disadvantages of managed IT services

Managed IT services don’t come without their drawbacks. Here are a few all SMBs should consider before entering an SLA contact:

  • Minimised control. Enlisting the help of an MSP means giving a third-party access to sensitive data and mission-critical information. What’s more, in-house teams may feel a loss of autonomy, resulting in a disconnect between employees and IT systems.
  • Payment regardless of usage. The subscription basis of managed IT services means that businesses must pay the full fee even if they did not use their services to full capacity that month. Over time, these wasted resources can add up.
  • Upfront setup costs. MSPs sometimes carry hefty upfront expenses that cover things like integration fees, software installation, and the procurement of network monitoring technology.

What are break/fix IT services?

computer technician
Break/fix services only interact with businesses when an IT problem strikes – they are reactive. In most cases, break/fix vendors will send a technician to the business’s premises to provide the required service. There are no contracts or ongoing fees involved. Instead, businesses are charged only for the services rendered during their appointment.

This ad-hoc approach means SMBs get the IT services they need when they need them – nothing more. Minimal, if any, pre-emptive support comes with hiring a break/fix technician.

Break/fix technicians charge by the hour and may incur a call-out fee plus additional fees for the required tools and parts needed to repair software or hardware.

Common break/fix services include:

  • Network repairs
  • Hardware upgrades or installation
  • Peripheral equipment installation
  • Installation and setup of new software, such as security or email for business
  • IT training

Advantages of break/fix IT services

The transactional nature of break/fix IT services offer several attractive benefits:

  • Only pay for services rendered. The case-by-case model of break/fix services ensures businesses only pay for the services actually provided – no monthly contracts or ongoing additional fees. What’s more, businesses don’t have to go through the time-consuming process of procuring an SLA contract.
  • SMBs that choose break/fix IT services allow in-house IT teams to maintain full control over the business’s IT environment. Further to this, businesses with relatively simple IT ecosystems may not require the depth and level of service associated with MSP partnerships.
  • Data privacy. Privacy and security are chief concerns for all businesses operating in today’s digital world. Threats are rampant and entrusting a third-party with crucial data may not be suitable for businesses operating in regulated industries.
  • Break/fix services enable teams to determine when, where, why, and how outside parties interact with their systems and software. Just like repairing a car, break/fix services offer a simple solution that allows the owner to retain full autonomy.

Disadvantages of break/fix IT services

Break/fix IT services are not without drawbacks. SMBs should be conscious of the following:

  • Budget uncertainty. Break/fix IT services rely on case-by-case transactions – there’s no way for teams to accurately predict IT expenditure both short- and long-term.
  • Reactive approach. Businesses don’t enlist the help of a break/fix technician until something goes wrong. The proactive approach offers by MSPs, in contrast, aims to prevent issues occurring in the first place.
  • SMBs take a gamble every time they hire a new break/fix IT technician. What if the technician is unfamiliar with their existing systems? What if they aren’t aware of security best practices? What if the solutions provided are designed to keep them in a job rather than fixing the issue for good?

Managed IT services or break/fix?

Ultimately, there is no hard and fast answer to this question. Each business must determine which is best suited to its operations and staff.

Weigh up the pros and cons, ask your team, compare your business to your competitors, and analyse your risk tolerance – these activities should help you come up with an informed answer.

Is your business facing IT issues?

Are you grappling with IT problems that are not only frustrating but are also reducing productivity? If so, you need professional, business-grade IT support from reliable, on-call technicians. Give the friendly team at Computer Cures a call on 1300 553 166 or fill out the form on this page, and we’ll be in touch soon.