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Managed IT Services vs. Break-Fix IT

A simple guide to the differences between managed IT services and break-fix support.

October 29, 2018

When it comes to outsourced IT, most companies find themselves choosing between managed IT services and break-fix. These are both common solutions to the day-to-day technology challenges that businesses face, whether they have a dedicated IT team on staff or not.

For those with an on-site team, outsourced IT can help bolster their capabilities and remove some of the weight of common challenges like broken devices or maintenance.

For those without an IT team, outsourced support offers a cost-effective way to obtain the skills, knowledge, and manpower needed to solve all manner of technology problems while avoiding the most common technology pitfalls.

It’s important to understand the differences between managed IT services and break-fix support, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Break-Fix IT Support

When something goes wrong, such as a device malfunctioning, your network experiencing issues, or a server going down, some businesses contact a local break-fix IT support company to solve the problem. Break-fix IT companies charge by the hour, and that means your business only pays for the specific services it needs.

The break-fix model of IT support is almost identical to any other repair service, like a plumber, electrician, or roofer.

On paper, this may seem like a viable solution that could save money — especially for businesses that only encounter the occasional IT challenge. However, the primary drawback to this model is that technicians are only there to fix the current problem, so other IT challenges are not proactively solved.

Managed IT Services

Understanding the vast field of IT support can be a challenge. But, when it comes to managed IT services, the big idea is actually pretty simple. Basically, your business contacts a managed service provider (MSP), you work together to define the breadth of your IT needs, and you sign a Service Level Agreement (SLA) that defines the scope of services you require and the length of time the provider will offer those services.

After that, you’ve got a trusted IT partner on your side that’s dedicated to the overall health of your company’s technology. It’s like having a dedicated IT team on staff, except that you pay a simple flat fee per month for any and all of your needs. This means that you have access to a variety of experts in different IT fields without having to hire independent employees for specific jobs.

With a managed service provider, you’ll rest easy knowing that your systems are being monitored, optimized, and proactively taken care of.

Advantages of Managed IT Services:

  • You have a dedicated team of IT professionals servicing your system.
  • A consistent monthly cost for IT services makes budgeting simple and predictable.
  • The MSP has access to the equipment they need to perform their work, and that saves your company money.
  • Your MSP is familiar with your system, helping to solve issues more quickly.
  • Many MSPs offer 24/7 monitoring and no limit to the amount of service you can receive.
  • The MSP is incentivized to proactively solve problems and maintain your systems performance, since they will be responsible for repairing it if something goes wrong.
  • The MSP has a larger team capable of offering better monitoring than a single on-staff IT professional could perform.

Disadvantages of Managed IT Services:

  • MSPs may offer a wide range of IT services, but your business may not be able to utilize all of their capabilities. This can lower the overall value.
  • If your business has no need for IT support during a particular month, you still pay the same flat rate.
  • There may be additional fees to begin your partnership with the service provider.
  • Many MSPs perform the majority of their work remotely. This can lead to slow reaction times to on-site problems, such as a broken printer.

It’s important to understand the ins and outs of both break-fix IT support and managed IT services before making a decision. If you run a small business with four laptops, no servers, and a single printer — break-fix is undoubtedly the most cost-effective solution. For most other businesses, having a trusted managed service provider is most likely the best option — and it’s guaranteed to save you time, money, and headaches.

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