Break/Fix vs. Managed Services: Which Will Save You More?

1800 Office SOlutions Team member - Elie Vigile
1800 Team

Managed Services 

In today’s digital age, the role of IT support in driving business operations is paramount. With the rise of cloud services and platforms like AWS, the landscape of information technology has expanded beyond traditional boundaries. As businesses strive to achieve their business goals and streamline operations, they often turn to managed IT services for solutions. Managed Service Providers (MSPs) offer a comprehensive service model that integrates automation, analytics, and best practices to ensure minimal downtime and efficient data management.

However, as we step into 2023, organizations are at a crossroads. They must decide between the conventional Break/Fix model, which operates on an as-needed basis, and the proactive Managed Services approach. This model, often called a managed service provider, not only delivers services but may also deliver their own native services, ensuring a seamless integration with an organization’s existing infrastructure. With the increasing demand for real-time communication and robust security, many businesses are leaning towards using managed services.

Managed Services and support

This approach, backed by third-party expertise, offers predictable budgeting through a subscription model, reducing operational challenges and ensuring that the service quality aligns with the company’s needs. As businesses weigh their options, understanding the nuances of these models becomes crucial for informed decision-making in this ever-evolving IT landscape.

Understanding the Break/Fix Model

Definition and Historical Context

The Break/Fix model, epitomizing its name, is fundamentally a reactive strategy. Businesses employing this model would only reach out for IT support when faced with a technical hiccup. Historically, this approach was the predominant choice for numerous organizations, particularly in eras preceding the digital revolution and the advent of 24/7 online operations.

How it Works

  • Pay-as-you-need Service: This model doesn’t involve monthly fees or retainers. Instead, businesses pay service providers only when a specific IT issue arises.


  • Lack of network management tools: This model doesn’t prioritize continuous monitoring, leaving networks vulnerable.
  • No financial incentive for stability: Since providers profit from frequent breakdowns, there’s little motivation to ensure long-term solutions.
  • Increased downtime and potential lost revenue: Without proactive measures, systems are more prone to prolonged outages.
  • Variable costs and response times: Without a retainer, response times can vary, and costs can escalate based on the complexity of the issue.
  • Frequent repairs as business opportunities: Technicians might prioritize short-term fixes over long-term solutions.


Costs Associated with Break/Fix and Managed Service Provider

The costs are unpredictable, varying based on the nature and frequency of issues. While there might be savings in months with no IT challenges, a significant breakdown can result in substantial expenses.


The Break/Fix model might be suitable for:

  • Businesses with a tight budget.
  • Organizations that can handle unexpected expenses.
  • Companies with minimal tech needs or those not entirely reliant on continuous online operations.


Understanding Using Managed Services


Managed Services, often likened to car maintenance, is a proactive approach to IT support. Instead of waiting for a problem to arise, a managed service provider (MSP) continuously monitors and maintains an organization’s IT infrastructure, much like how regular car servicing prevents breakdowns.

Proactive Approach

  • Constant Monitoring and System Upgrades: MSPs use advanced tools to monitor systems in real-time, ensuring potential issues are identified and addressed before they escalate.
  • System Deployments and Workload Management: MSPs ensure that systems are deployed efficiently, and workloads are balanced to prevent overloads and crashes.


  • Fixed monthly fee: Unlike the unpredictable costs of Break/Fix, Managed Services usually come with a predictable monthly charge.
  • Incentive for network stability: MSPs aim to reduce issues, ensuring stable, uninterrupted services.
  • Proactive maintenance: Regular updates, patches, and preventive measures are taken to keep systems running smoothly.
  • Comprehensive Service Level Agreement (SLA): This agreement ensures a defined set of services, quality, and response times.
  • Outsourcing of IT functions: Businesses can focus on core operations while the MSP handles IT functions, from network monitoring to data center management.


Costs Associated with Managed Services (MSP)

While there’s a fixed monthly fee, the cost can vary based on the services included in the package. Some MSPs offer tiered packages, allowing businesses to choose based on their needs and budget.


Managed Services are ideal for:

  • Businesses that heavily rely on technology, from e-commerce platforms to cloud services.
  • Organizations with compliance needs, such as those handling sensitive customer data.
  • Companies looking for cost efficiency and reduced operational challenges.


Direct Comparison: Break/Fix vs. Managed Services

In the realm of information technology, the debate between the Break/Fix model and Managed Services is evergreen. Let’s delve into a direct comparison of these two models:

  • Cost-effectiveness over time: While the Break/Fix model might seem cost-effective initially, unpredictable outages and repairs can lead to ballooning costs. On the other hand, Managed Services, with its fixed monthly charge, offers better cost predictability and often proves more cost-efficient in the long run, especially when considering the value of uninterrupted business operations.
  • Reactive vs. Proactive approach: The Break/Fix model is inherently reactive; issues are addressed as they arise. In contrast, Managed Services adopts a proactive stance, leveraging tools like remote monitoring and management to anticipate and mitigate potential problems. This not only reduces downtime but also ensures that the organization’s IT infrastructure is always in sync with the best practices of the industry.
  • Predictability of expenses: With Break/Fix, expenses are volatile, dependent on the frequency and severity of issues. Managed Services, with its subscription model, offers businesses a predictable budget, allowing for better financial planning and allocation of resources to strategic projects.
  • Long-term business impact: Relying on the Break/Fix model can lead to prolonged service interruptions, affecting business operations and customer trust. Managed Services, with its focus on preventative measures and continuous improvement, ensures that businesses remain operational, agile, and competitive in the long run.


What People Also Ask

What are the hidden costs in both models?

In the Break/Fix model, hidden costs can emerge from prolonged downtime, loss of business opportunities, and potential damage to the company’s reputation. For Managed Services, while the upfront costs might be higher, hidden expenses might arise if the service offerings don’t align perfectly with a company’s needs or if there are additional charges for services outside the defined set in the SLA.

How do both models impact business productivity?

The Break/Fix model can lead to unpredictable periods of downtime, affecting productivity. Managed Services, with its proactive approach, ensures minimal service interruptions, leading to consistent business productivity and allowing companies to focus on innovation and core business goals.

Which model offers better tech support?

While Break/Fix provides on-demand technical support, the quality and response time can vary. Managed Services, being a subscription-based model, usually offers comprehensive technical support, with defined response times and a focus on improving the overall IT infrastructure, making it the preferred choice for many organizations.

How do businesses transition from one model to the other?

Transitioning involves a thorough assessment of the current IT infrastructure, understanding business needs, and then choosing a managed service provider (MSP) that aligns with those needs. The MSP will then work on migrating systems, ensuring minimal disruption. It’s essential to have clear communication between the business and the MSP to ensure a smooth transition.


Managed Services 



As we navigate the complexities of IT support in 2023, the evolving landscape of cloud services, automation, and information technology best practices brings the choice between Break/Fix and Managed Services into sharp focus. Both models have distinct merits. The Break/Fix model, often used by smaller businesses or those with sporadic IT needs, offers flexibility. It’s a model based on immediate response, often handling issues as they arise, without a fixed monthly charge. However, its reactive nature can lead to unpredictable downtime and service interruptions, affecting business operations.

On the other hand, Managed Services, backed by MSPs and often incorporating advanced analytics, remote monitoring and management, and cloud-based solutions, offers a proactive approach. Organizations, especially those heavily reliant on technology, benefit from its predictable costing, often through a subscription model, and reduced service interruptions. With the rise of platforms like AWS and the increasing demand for managed IT services, this model ensures that services are delivered efficiently, often by a third-party company specializing in the field. Moreover, the managed security and vendor management aspects ensure that the organization’s data and systems are secure and up-to-date.

For businesses, especially those with a significant technology investment, aligning with managed services offerings can lead to cost efficiency and reduced operational challenges. It’s imperative for decision-makers to assess their organization’s unique needs, budget constraints, and long-term business goals. This includes understanding the types of services they require, whether they want to focus on one vendor or technology, and how services can help achieve their strategic projects.

In the rapidly evolving world of IT, where service quality, level of service, and adherence to SLAs are paramount, making the right choice between these models can significantly impact a company’s success. Remember, in this multifaceted domain, the right support, whether in-house or outsourced, can make all the difference.

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