Break-Fix vs. Managed IT Services: Which is Right for Your Business?

By Published On: 02/11/2023

Break-Fix vs. Managed IT Services: Which is Right for Your Business?

By Published On: 02/11/2023

If you run a small or medium-sized business, you know how important it is to have reliable and secure IT systems to keep your business operations running smoothly. 

But you may also face the challenge of finding the best way to manage your IT needs without breaking the bank.  

When you need outsourced IT services for your business, you have two options: work with a break-fix provider or partner with a managed IT service provider.  

Before deciding which service is right for your business, it’s important that you fully understand the two approaches and the differences between them.  

While Adore IT specialises in delivering managed IT services, we worked as a break-fix provider for over 20 years under the name Adore Computers, so we are intimating aware of the advantages and disadvantages of both methods.  

Below, I’ll compare the pros and cons of break-fix and managed IT services, and help you decide which choice is right for your business. 


What is break-fix?

Break-fix is an approach to IT services where the IT provider only gets involved when the customer calls with a problem or request, and work is normally charged at an hourly rate. 

This approach is reactive as it focuses on resolving issues that have already happened – as the name suggests, something breaks, and the IT provider fixes it. 

When working with a break-fix provider, they may offer advice on suggested improvements if you ask them, but ultimately the customer is the one responsible for the health of their IT systems and the decisions on when and how to improve the technology that runs their business. 

This responsibility is tricky to balance with all the other responsibilities the average business owner has, which is why break-fix is often not the ideal approach. 

What are managed IT services?

Managed IT services is an approach to IT services where a managed services provider (MSP) completely manages and supports the IT systems for your business for a fixed monthly fee.

This approach is proactive as it focuses on resolving issues before they happen to avoid potential downtime and issues in future.

Some MSPs assume full responsibility for IT strategy and the client’s IT environment, and others work with the business owners under a shared responsibility model, where both parties have clear roles and expectations. A shared responsibility approach will often achieve a better outcome for everyone as the business owners have a say in the IT decisions that affect their operations and business objectives, and it reduces the risk of miscommunication, misunderstanding, or mismatched expectations between the business owner and the MSP, which results in a more collaborative and trusting relationship between the business owner and the MSP.

Managed IT services enables business owners to focus on their core responsibilities and grow their business, while the MSP focuses on delivering reliable, secure, and scalable IT services.

Break-Fix Pros and Cons

Pros of break-fix

Pay-as-you-go: You only pay for what you need when you need it, which can save you money if you have minimal IT issues or requirements. 

Flexibility: You can stay flexible by not committing to a single service provider and not locking yourselves in to their standards and methodology.  

Control: You have more control over your IT decisions and the vendors you work with. 

Cons of break-fix

Misaligned goals: Since the IT provider only gets paid when there are problems to fix, this creates an unhealthy dynamic where the IT provider relies on the customer having problems – something that everyone should be trying to avoid! 

The billing structure of hourly work also encourages both customers and service providers to prioritise quick fixes over more comprehensive solutions, which can lead to a cycle of repeat issues and short-term fixes that could be avoided if a more time-consuming but permanent solution was implemented. 

Unpredictable costs: It’s impossible to budget for your IT expenses accurately when work is done reactively and on a case-by-case basis. 

Increased downtime: With the reactive nature of break-fix IT, businesses may experience extended downtime while waiting for issues to be resolved since there is no proactive maintenance or monitoring in place. 

Full responsibility: You are the one responsible for ensuring the overall health and stability of your information technology and deciding when work needs to be done, as break-fix IT providers are only responsible for fixing the immediate problem.  

Less expertise: Break-fix IT providers spend a lot of time trying to solve immediate issues and may not have the same time to dedicate towards education and learning. This can result in a lack of knowledge over time, an inability to keep up with industry trends, and an overall lower level of service to their customers. 

Susceptible to cyber threats: A lack of ongoing protection and no visibility into your IT systems leaves your business open to cyber-attacks by malicious actors. 

Managed IT Services Pros and Cons

Pros of managed IT services

Aligned goals: Managed service providers and their clients share the common aim of preventing problems from happening, which encourages a successful ongoing relationship.  

Predictable costs: Flat-rate monthly fees give you a clearer understanding of IT expenses over time.  

Less downtime: Constant monitoring and maintenance of your IT infrastructure keeps your systems running smoothly and minimises downtime by resolving issues before they appear. 

Peace of mind: You can rest easy knowing that you have experts in your corner and that it’s no longer just your responsibility to manage your IT systems, implement innovative technology, and keep your business secure and running smoothly. 

Access to expert knowledge: An appropriately staffed MSP will have a diverse set of skills and the time to dedicate towards more learning and education, resulting in better solutions, advice, and service for their clients. 

Enhanced security: 24/7 monitoring and threat detection provided by managed services will greatly reduce the chance cyber threats occurring, as well as the impact they will have if they do occur. 

Cons of managed IT services

Lock-in contracts: MSPs will often require clients to sign a contract which can be too much of a commitment for some, especially when the contracts can lock you in for months or years at a time. Adore IT has absolutely no lock-in contracts, and instead offers 30-day cancellation terms as well as a 100% hassle-free money-back guarantee. 

Dependence: Your business may become dependent on the managed IT service provider, making it difficult to switch to a different service provider or bring IT functions in-house by hiring internal IT staff. 

Less control: Outsourcing IT responsibilities to a third-party provider can result in a feeling of loss of control over your IT management, particularly if they do not work under a shared responsibility model. 

So, what’s right for your business?

The simple answer is it depends! Only you know your priorities and what is right for your business. All we can do is discuss the differences between managed services and break-fix while you decide which approach is best for you.

Break-fix works well for businesses that have a low dependence on information technology, tighter budgets, and a willingness to accept higher levels of risk and increased downtime to just deal with IT issues as they arise at a lower cost.

Managed IT services works well for businesses with a higher dependence on technology and those willing to make a financial investment in their IT to prioritise stability, security, and efficiency to minimise downtime and ensure business continuity.

At Adore IT, we offer all-inclusive managed IT services to small and medium sized businesses in Melbourne and the surrounding areas. If you’re considering outsourcing your IT to a managed services provider, we’re here to help and answer any questions you may have.