How Do Managed Information Technology Services Compare to Break/Fix Services?

If you run a small or medium-sized business, figuring out Information Technology support can be a headache. I know because I have heard complaints a thousand times. You are confused whether to bring it in-house or outsource. 

If you go external, are managed services or break-fix better for your needs? It’s a lot to weigh. Let’s break down the core differences between these models to help make the call easier.

Also Read – How Do ITech Managed Services Differ From Staff Augmentation?

Cost Considerations

Money matters, right? The pricing structures differ quite a bit:

  • With managed services, you pay a consistent monthly fee that covers monitoring, maintenance, patches. Your spend stays predictable.
  • Break-fix bills hourly or by incident, so costs fluctuate based on unforeseen issues popping up. That unpredictability can wreak havoc on tight budgets.

Many SMBs prefer the stability of managed IT’s flat fees compared to the uncertainty of break-fix bills spiking unexpectedly.

Scope of Responsibilities

These two also vary in what they take care of:

  • Managed service providers continually scan your systems to spot risks before they cause headaches. They handle preventative upkeep like security patches too.
  • Break-fix companies wait for something to conk out before troubleshooting and addressing the specific problem. Their wheelhouse is rapid response, not proactive care.

Working with Experts

Managed Information Technology builds closer strategic relationships and institutional knowledge. Your providers understand your tech stack inside and out, as well as your organization’s processes, objectives and pain points. This enables them to customize their efforts for optimal impact.

With break-fix, you need to start each new support interaction from square one explaining your environment. Troubleshooting kickoff calls eat into precious time before diagnostics can even begin. And with different technicians rotating through, gaining familiarity with your unique needs is an uphill battle.


When outages strike, speed matters. Here’s how the two compare:

  • Managed providers conduct 24/7 monitoring to catch problems fast before you notice. This enables a really rapid response. Issues can often be remediated before they interrupt workflow.
  • Break-fix relies on you contacting them about failures, so they can’t start diagnosing and addressing issues until alerted. The time gap between failure occurrence and resolution is inevitably wider.

In addition to swift incident resolution, managed services provide better communication. Your account team briefs you on developing problems and keeps you looped in during troubleshooting efforts. With break-fix, you may be left in the dark waiting for answers.

Managed Information Technology’s constant vigilance delivers much quicker incident resolution overall.

Adjusting Support Plans

What about scaling services up or down?

  • Managed agreements allow you to easily adjust support levels as your needs evolve. Scaling smoothly is feasible without major disruptions.
  • Break-fix arrangements tend to be more rigid and unwieldy when trying to right-size. Expanding or reducing is tougher.

For example, you may start with a basic managed plan covering core infrastructure and endpoints. As your company grows, it’s easy to add extra server monitoring, security services, backup solutions and more.

Break-fix providers are less equipped to ramp up broadly across new technology domains. Their narrowly specialized technicians have steeper learning curves crossing into unfamiliar territory.

For growing companies, managed Information Technology’s flexibility is a huge asset. But even for stable organizations, lifecycle refreshes and evolving technology needs make scalability important.

Long-Term Technology Planning

The two models also plan upgrades differently:

  • Managed providers map out a technology roadmap tailored to your goals, workflows and budget. This enables smart, aligned modernization.
  • Break-fix focuses on getting you back up and running. They lack bigger picture context for advising strategic enhancements proactively.

With their wide lens view of your infrastructure, managed services make recommendations to streamline operations, boost security, allow scale, and improve staff productivity. Their technology guidance aligns to your business objectives while the break-fix view is limited by definition to immediate problems at hand.

Ongoing collaboration and planning with managed Information Technology allows you to tackle wish list improvements and plot future upgrades on the horizon to evolve intelligently. Break-fix interactions offer little chance for this kind of future-focused consultation.

Minimizing Risk

At the end of the day, both models aim to maximize uptime. How well do they deliver?

  • Managed services’ preventative efforts and instant incident response mean less downtime and fewer business disruptions overall.
  • Break-fix’s reactive nature often translates to longer outages and greater impact. You’ve got to notice and report problems first.

With remote monitoring, managed providers gain visibility into the health of servers, networks, endpoints and applications. They can remediate minor glitches before they snowball into major system failures. Break-fix is left blind to brewing issues that haven’t yet fully materialized.

Ongoing maintenance like patch and configuration management also reduces security vulnerabilities that open the door to outages. Break-fix may fix damage from an intrusion but lacks capabilities to protect systems proactively.

Most SMBs find managed Information Technology’s proactive stance significantly reduces operation risks. But combining both models is sometimes optimal. Relying on managed services for broad monitoring and maintenance while leveraging break-fix for specialized incident response can balance capabilities and budget.

Also Read – How Do Managed Services Differ From Information Technology Consulting?

Key Takeaways

To summarize the core distinctions:

Managed Information Technology services offer:

  • Predictable flat monthly fees
  • Proactive monitoring and maintenance
  • Ongoing support from a consistent team
  • Rapid response through 24/7 vigilance
  • Ability to scale up or down flexibly
  • Long-term technology planning
  • Minimized downtime and disruption

Break-fix provides:

  • Hourly or per-incident billing
  • Reactive troubleshooting of individual issues
  • Inconsistent support depending on tech availability
  • Slower response since problems must be reported first
  • Difficulty adjusting support plans smoothly
  • No strategic technology recommendations
  • Heightened downtime risks

Weighing these key differences helps determine the right fit for your organization’s needs and priorities. For many SMBs, managed Information Technology services deliver more stability, expertise and reliability. But a hybrid approach blending the two models provides balance for some. Assessing budgets, growth plans and risk tolerance helps land on the ideal solution.

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