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Break Free From the Break-fix IT Model

Break Free From the Break-fix IT Model

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But is this approach harming your business?


When considering IT support, small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) face the choice of picking between break-fix IT services and managed IT services.


Both support models share the goal of addressing IT concerns such as system repairs, installations and upgrades across hardware, software, and networking platforms. Yet there are fundamental differences between how managed IT services and break-fix IT services perform these functions as well as what clients can realistically expect when working with each.


The IT support strategy you choose for your business could have dramatic differences in productivity, cost, and more.


What is Break-fix IT?


Break-fix is a reactive approach to IT support, in which IT issues are only addressed when they occur, usually through a phone call or email to a support team. The team then diagnoses and resolves the problem, and the customer is billed for the work.


This approach is usually used by small businesses or businesses that don't rely heavily on their IT infrastructure. It's less expensive initially but can be more expensive in the long run as businesses may end up paying for multiple service calls to fix the same problem.


As the name suggests: no break, no fix. This model incentivizes IT issues — not proactive support.


In contrast, other IT support models, such as managed services, offer a more comprehensive range of services that can help to prevent and mitigate technology issues. These models often include regular maintenance and monitoring, as well as other value-added services, such as data backup and recovery.


break-fix IT

Drawbacks of Break-fix IT


While the break-fix model can be a convenient and cost-effective option for some companies, it can also have some drawbacks.


Since the customer only receives IT support when something goes wrong, they may not have access to proactive maintenance or other preventative services that can help to avoid problems in the first place. This can lead to downtime and other disruptions that can impact productivity and profitability.


Drawbacks to consider:

  • Difficulty in budgeting: As it is difficult to predict when problems will happen, it can be hard to plan for the costs associated with break-fix IT, making it hard to budget for IT expenses.

  • The same problem, over and over: It’s not uncommon for businesses using the break-fix model to experience the same problems with the same systems again and again.

  • Higher long-term costs: As businesses may end up paying for multiple service calls and repairs to fix the same problem, the long-term costs can be higher than with other IT support models. Simple PC fixes and repairs can cost more than the computer itself. Remediation is always more expensive than prevention.

  • Lack of proactive monitoring: With break-fix IT, there is no proactive monitoring of the IT infrastructure, which means that issues are not identified and addressed before they become major problems.

  • Lack of consistency: Because of the reactive nature of the break-fix IT model, there can be a lack of consistency in the IT support provided. Additionally, they don’t establish good documentation or knowledgebase specific to the customer because they don’t get paid for that time.

  • No Risk and Compliance Management: Every industry must meet certain compliance requirements. This doesn’t happen with break-fix because they are only paid to fix issues that come up.
  • Downtime: Waiting for the service technician to show up hurts productivity and can impact company morale.

  • Lack of IT strategic planning: The break-fix IT support model doesn’t account for future strategic IT planning. If your plan is essentially just to wait for systems to fail and hire someone to patch them up when the time comes, you’ve got a rough road ahead.
  • Risk: Organizations that opt for break-fix models trade long-term security and stability for short-term monetary savings. They are betting that their IT systems will remain intact, and perfectly functioning, or that issues will be minor, therefore they’ll cost less than a Managed IT Service fixed fee agreement. Managed IT agreements don’t take that risk, preferring a risk-mitigation strategy before any problems strike.
  • Lack of specialized expertise: External break-fix consultants who may not have the same level of expertise as a dedicated IT support team. Often technicians are learning on the job if they aren’t familiar with your system or don’t have the right skill set. The customer ends up footing that bill and paying to train your break-fix IT company's technicians.


According to one survey by CompTIA, 50% of companies who engaged an MSP saved 1-24% in annual IT costs, 33% saved 25-49%, while 13% reported savings of more than 50%.


What are Managed IT Services?


Managed services is a proactive approach to IT support where a managed services provider (MSP) actively monitors and manages a customer's IT systems and infrastructure as a whole rather than a single issue. This includes things like software updates, backups, security, and performance monitoring.


The Managed Service Provider (MSP) is responsible for identifying and resolving issues before they become major problems, thus, it is a more comprehensive approach to IT management.


Managed services can include a wide range of IT functions such as:

  • 24/7 Network monitoring and management
  • Remediation for any alerts
  • Ongoing system maintenance
  • Software updates, patches
  • Cloud services
  • Backup and disaster recovery
  • Cybersecurity
  • Compliance and risk management
  • Software management
  • Help desk and technical support
  • Server management and configuration
  • IT Consulting


This is a more detailed relationship where the MSP has thorough documentation of the network, the techs are trained about the client’s business and industry line of business tools, and they are on a fixed monthly cost, so the client is prioritized if something were to go wrong.


By outsourcing these functions to an MSP, businesses can focus on their core operations and objectives, while the MSP takes care of the day-to-day management and maintenance of the IT infrastructure, thus reducing downtime, improving security and compliance, and increasing the overall efficiency of the business.


Managed services are usually adopted by businesses that rely heavily on their IT infrastructure, and don't have the in-house expertise or resources to manage their IT infrastructure on their own. It can also be adopted by small businesses as a way to have dedicated IT support without the need of hiring a full-time IT support person.


break-fix IT

Benefits of Managed Services


When the weight of managing your IT starts getting in the way of running your business, that’s a good sign for you to start considering an MSP. 


Benefits of Managed Services:

  • Proactive monitoring and management: With Managed Services, an MSP proactively monitors and manages the customer's IT systems and infrastructure, identifying and resolving issues before they become major problems.

  • Increased uptime and availability: Managed Services can help to reduce downtime by ensuring that software and security updates are applied in a timely manner, and by proactively identifying and resolving issues.
  • Hardware stability: Servers, routers, computers, etc. actually last longer and perform better when they receive regular maintenance with Managed Services.
  • Improved security and compliance: Managed Services can help organizations to meet regulatory compliance requirements, such as HIPAA, GLBA, NIST, FDIC, and PCI DSS, by providing regular security assessments, backups, and disaster recovery.

  • Scalability: Managed Services can be scaled up or down as needed, making it easy for organizations to adapt to changing IT needs.

  • Predictable costs: With Managed Services, businesses can budget for IT expenses more easily, as costs are typically based on a flat monthly fee or a per-device/per-user basis.

  • Access to specialized expertise: Managed Services providers generally have a team of experts that can provide specialized expertise in areas such as network management, cloud services, cybersecurity, backups and business continuity, phones, etc.

  • No need to budget for a full-time IT “guy “: The MSP model is a great option for small and medium-sized businesses that don’t have the budget for full-time specialized IT staff. Even if you have an in-house IT team, an MSP can supplement their expertise, providing high-level strategy and specialized advice to help you achieve your business goals.
  • Peace of mind: Managed IT services model takes a proactive and comprehensive approach to enterprise IT management. From more secure cloud deployments and third-party app protection to reducing human errors and using network cybersecurity as a solution, clients are guaranteed 360-degree support. Clients can rest easier, knowing their IT investments are always taken care of.
  • Service Level Agreements (SLA’s): Under a service agreement, the Service Providers are contractually obligated to deliver services within a defined scope and timeframe. This gives the customer legal leverage to hold the Service Provider accountable for the terms of the agreement. Many regulatory compliance standards and insurance companies require a formal agreement with a Service Provider if there are not any in-house IT resources.



How to Choose the Right IT Support Model?


Break-fix companies focus on fixing a problem while MSPs focus on preventing a problem.


Proactive, business-focused IT support is key to managing, protecting, and growing your operations. The right MSP can help manage your IT environment to protect your data, scale for the future, and increase productivity.


Ultimately, the right IT support model will depend on the specific needs and circumstances of your business. It is recommended to consult with an IT professional and conduct a thorough assessment of your business's IT infrastructure and requirements for a comprehensive analysis.


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Teknologize is a SOC 2 accredited, Professional Technology Services company with clients throughout the Pacific Northwest. We have offices located in:

  • Tri-Cities, Washington 509.396.6640
  • Yakima, Washington 509.396.6640
  • Bend, Oregon 541.848.6072

Questions about your IT or Cybersecurity? Give us a call today!

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