TL;DR: In a digitally transformed hyper connected world, the break/fix model is rapidly becoming obsolete. As businesses can’t afford any potential downtime, managed services is now at the heart of modern business.
The break/fix model has been around for as long as companies have used enterprise technologies. While it has certainly served its purpose for decades, it simply doesn't cut it anymore.
Why can't businesses depend on the break/fix IT model anymore? To put it simply, in a hyper-connected world, waiting to react to something that you know is going to happen often comes with dire consequences. Proactive management is what is needed.
What Are Break/Fix Services?
As the name implies, the break/fix service model demands that your IT services provider deliver support services on an "as-needed" basis. In this scenario, whenever a device breaks or a network goes down, you have to call your IT services provider, who will then fix it.
A break/fit IT support services provider will do whatever it takes to sustain normal network operations. This can take the form of troubleshooting, hardware repairs, component replacement, new installations, and network management.
However, once everything is up and running again, the break/fix company will again take a hands-off approach to daily IT-related business needs. It's up to your IT department to ensure uptime and business continuity. You can, of course, call them again when something else demands their attention or help.
A couple of decades ago, break/fix made a lot of sense. Before the digital transformation, businesses could afford to wait, but when business operations are digitized, any downtime will impact your bottom line.
However, businesses often choose the break/fix approach because they have to pay only for the IT services rendered. When organizations look for ways to cut costs, they often turn to cutting technology costs as the obvious choice and go with the break/fix approach. However, the problem with this break/fix mentality is that while you save money today, you might end up paying much more weeks or months down the road.
What Are Managed Services (MS)?
When businesses partner with a managed services provider (MSP), they outsource the responsibility of proactively managing and maintaining their infrastructure and IT environment. MSPs constantly anticipate customers' needs and proactively take steps to ensure uninterrupted IT operations.
So, it doesn't come as a surprise that the managed services sector is projected to be worth as much as $296.38 billion by 2023. Companies that prefer to use MS tend to use databases heavily and prioritize 24/7 IT management. They are essentially technology-driven with multiple users across the organization and aim to minimize manual tasks and reduce the burden on already overwhelmed in-house IT teams.
Others choose managed services because they are starting to feel overwhelmed as the business grows and scales. In this case, a managed services provider can quickly take over all of the IT management responsibilities and let the business focus on its customers.
In fact, whenever IT gets in the way of smooth business operations, it pretty much confirms the need for an MSP. Using an MSP helps quickly avert potential disaster and ensures uptime and business continuity.
Break/Fix Model vs. Managed Services Model: What Are the Key Advantages of the Break/Fix It Model
When it comes to the key benefits of following a break/fix business model in a digitally transformed world, we can only think of two possible pros:
As businesses get to choose when they spend their IT budget, they feel more in control. However, the idea that it's cost-effective is almost an illusion as they have no control over what they are paying for (like repairs or replacement of parts) or how the vendor is resolving the problem. Also, they may have no clue if the same problem will pop up again at a later date.
Contracts and Monthly Costs
Sometimes, small business owners don't want to commit to a predictable cost. They instead contend with unpredictable costs and avoid paying a monthly fee. This approach only works best for small businesses with little to no IT requirements. However, following a break/fix support model will be a gamble if you heavily depend on technology.
Break/Fix Model vs. Managed Services Model: What Are the Key Disadvantages of the Break/Fix It Model
When it comes to break/fix services, the cons certainly outnumber the pros:
Often, there isn't a robust service level agreement (SLA) when working with break/fix vendors. Their response and repair time will be relative to their current availability and workload. It makes sense because the nature of break/fix services is highly uncertain.
The lack of SLAs poses a considerable risk for organizations that depend on their underlying IT infrastructure to maintain everyday operations. For example, significant downtime poses a threat to your brand reputation, business relevance, and revenue.
If the problem is related to cybersecurity like malware or ransomware attacks, or even a data breach, businesses must deal with it immediately or at least within an acceptable time frame.
Every second an enterprise IT system remains down costs the business money. Furthermore, if the IT experts aren't familiar with your IT system, it will take more time for them to get acquainted with it before tackling the issue.
Although the break/fix support model appears cost-effective at first, the cost of IT consulting, hourly labor, and repairs can quickly become significant. Even worse, there won't be any preventative measures applied to ensure that it doesn't happen again.
For small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), it can feel like experiencing a disaster without insurance to fall back on. Sometimes, it can even bankrupt a company that heavily relies on technology to operate.
Often, small businesses sacrifice scheduled upgrades to resolve the current issue. However, this creates a situation where they can end up working with legacy tools that can increase exposure to cybersecurity risks.
Break/fix service providers also benefit from IT problems taking longer to resolve. The more callouts they have, the better, as it's their primary source of revenue. They will handle every issue on a case-by-case basis leading to invoices with unpredictable costs.
If your break/fix partner only applies a temporary solution just to get IT operations up and running again, many other related IT issues can go undetected. This means that you will be in for a rude awakening by the time you notice them.
Break/fix vendors don't provide remote monitoring and management (RMM). So, you can bet that you won't notice the problem until the real damage is done.
Hinders Overall Productivity
Small businesses usually depend on a couple of IT staff to take care of day-to-day IT operations. But this is definitely not a proactive approach in the long run. Whenever things go really wrong, they have to wait on IT experts to make time and solve the problem.
If the business heavily depends on technology (as most do), some staff or even everyone in the company won’t be able to get any work done. A proactive approach to security, maintenance, updates, and helpdesk support through managed IT services can pay off in the long term.
Break/Fix Model vs. Managed Services Model: What Are the Key Advantages of the Managed Services Model?
MS comes with a whole host of benefits, including the following:
As you're paying a low monthly fee-for-service, you can easily budget for your IT needs without the fear of surprise expenses. Your MSP can even help you customize a plan that works for your specific business requirements.
MS also comes with clear and transparent SLAs. In contrast, if you have managed everything in-house following a break/fix model, you'll have to absorb significant infrastructure costs related to implementing IT systems across enterprise networks.
Apart from implementation costs, you will also have to pay for training, operational overheads, and more. When you partner with an established MSP, you can clearly define and specify your requirements and your monthly commitment.
The SLA will also keep both parties accountable and responsible. You'll know what to expect, making budgeting predictable and consistent.
You can count on 24/7 helpdesk support when you partner with an MSP. This means that anyone in your organization can call, email, chat, or even request IT professionals on-site for help.
24/7 Remote Monitoring and Management
As MS comes with robust RMM, you can count on instant remediation as your managed IT services partner will identify and rectify potential threats as they occur. With both artificial intelligence and IT professionals engaging in cybersecurity assessments and looking out for suspicious behavior, enterprises get much more than static traditional antivirus IT solutions with managed IT services.
Proactive Prevention Methods
Your MSPs won't just monitor your infrastructure; they will take a proactive approach to cybersecurity to help mitigate risk. In this scenario, MSPs will leverage cutting-edge technologies to secure enterprise infrastructure against malware, ransomware, and other cyberattacks.
Updates and Maintenance
As MSPs take on the responsibility of updates and upgrades, your in-house IT staff can focus on more important tasks. By leveraging a robust IT strategy for your business, your MSP will consistently keep software up to date and ensure that all your data is always backed up.
Break/Fix Model vs. Managed Services Model: What Are the Key Disadvantages of the Managed Services Model
Like anything in life, managed IT services also have some cons to consider. However, the good news is that these disadvantages are relatively minor. The downside to following the managed services model includes:
MSPs often demand a contract that locks you in for a predefined period. At first, this might feel like too much of a commitment for some small businesses, but they do benefit from them. For example, it guarantees a level of service and support organizations can count on, and you don't have to wait endlessly for remediation.
When you partner with an established MSP, you essentially place your trust in them. This is because they will have access to your IT systems (but not your sensitive data). This makes some organizations feel like they lack control, but the opposite is actually true.
For example, although the break/fix model can make you feel more in control, you don't really know what the contractor is doing when something goes wrong. With an MSP, your contract and SLAs will outline precisely what they are doing. They will also provide action plans, strategic reports, and more.
MS is at the heart of modern business. This business model can accommodate your present and future business goals and scale seamlessly on demand. MSPs also provide cutting-edge technology to better secure enterprise infrastructure and rapidly update and evolve with the current threat landscape.
Although the break/fix model made sense for small businesses and SMBs in the early days of the internet, it simply falls short in a digitally transformed world. So, it’s really now a case of break-fix vs. MS.
The break/fix approach can still deliver for small businesses that don't depend on digitized workflows and operations. For everyone else, the managed services model ticks all the boxes. When you partner with a leading MSP, you can focus on your business goals, and they will concentrate on optimizing your operations while ensuring security and business continuity.