Many business owners think of IT support as a service they pick up the phone and call for whenever something breaks or hardware or software needs replacing. This is a traditional reactive model known as “Break Fix”. Despite businesses frequently seeking this service, nearly 60% of IT providers have moved from the break fix model to a managed IT service providers msp model. If the market is searching primarily for a break fix option, why are many providers shifting to a managed services model and which is the better option for your business model?
Break Fix vs Managed Services, What’s Best?
It is easy to imagine why a small to medium sized business would prefer break-fix services. Why invest in 24 7 monitoring and support on technology that mostly gets the job done? It feels less costly to not worry about tomorrow’s problems today, but let’s dive deeper into the pros and cons of the break fix and managed services approach.
Break Fix Model
As mentioned above, the primary approach of the break-fix model is that service providers are contracted on a per issue basis. There are no long-term commitments and the IT support provider bills at an hourly rate or fee for service to resolve the issue.
No Monthly Fees
Businesses find the low commitment of break-fix to be an attractive feature. Not budgeting for monthly IT expenses or signing contracts sounds more cost-effective upfront. How much of a gamble this is depends on the size of the business and the complexity of its IT operations.
The complexity of IT department is dependent on the tools that you use like operating systems, computer hardware, cloud services and more.
The reality of not budgeting for ongoing IT support is that issues will arise unforeseen and the cost to resolve those issues may be equally surprising. When IT infrastructure breaks, the objective switches from saving money to how quickly you can restore operations and get the network up and running before it significantly impacts your business. There is often not time to tender multiple quotes and ensure the price is fair when faced with an IT emergency.
By cutting costs on monitoring solutions and support, companies make themselves vulnerable to increased downtime. There is no service level agreement (SLA) for guaranteed response times and with support on a case by case basis, services are restored but the absence of preventative measures and monitoring means they maintain the same or growing level of risk to future incidents.
With no formal IT support, the most tech savvy employee is generally appointed as the “IT expert” and provides level 1 support for the company. Seemingly convenient and even practical at the outset, the time away from that person’s actual role will cripple their productivity and is an inefficient use of company resources. No matter the types of business models, maximizing productivity is a high priority goal.
Managed Service Providers MSP Model
While we go into greater detail about what is included in managed services elsewhere, a key differentiator is that they are an external provider of a set of IT services for a recurring operating expense. The services included in the service level agreement will differ depending on the needs of a business, but should always take a proactive approach to the use of IT to achieve your business goals.
Higher Upfront Cost
Managed IT services have a flat monthly transaction fee, while its a higher upfront cost it ultimately saves on future expenses because the fee typically includes network monitoring tools and software, maintenance and repair work.
Loss of control
One of the reasons that business owners might shy away from a managed services model is that it requires a high level of trust. The MSP requires a high degree of access to the business and a company may fear a loss of control of their business processes. However, the expertise that a company gains from having an MSP is extremely valuable, it’s just important to ensure that the managed service is aligned with business goals.
24/7 Monitoring & Increased Visibility
What is often underappreciated is the increased level of visibility and capacity to build strategies when engaging with an experienced MSP. By laying out a detailed agreement, the coverage, support and access provided is clearly outlined and creates accountability. Businesses find that network monitoring increases visibility and control over IT processes, maximizing IT benefits and preventing or mitigating risk. The system software, monitoring services, and network devices that are implemented with an MSP are extremely difficult to handle alone as a business.
Ongoing Help Desk Support
With an MSP you get 24/7/365 support for issues large and small, as well as a service level agreement that guarantees a response from their technical team, typically within an hour. An ongoing relationship means accessing an expert team that understands your business, infrastructure and provides a consistent level of expertise.
Predictable IT Spending
Managed IT Services pricing makes it clear what your IT spending will be and exactly what is covered in a way that isn’t possible under a break fix model. A service level agreement defines minimum uptime guarantees, maximum help desk wait times and measurable KPIs.
IT issues shouldn’t be seen as unavoidable. Through a proactive process of continual improvement, monitoring and education, your MSP’s tools and best practices to keep your business secure against an evolving threat landscape. This includes identifying potential weaknesses and fortifying client systems against threats before they become real issues – significantly reducing downtimes and increasing employee productivity.
As a company’s IT operations mature, there should be less and less emphasis on the front-line support role and greater focus on proactively solving root problems and improving performance through technology. In review, for small businesses with simple IT needs, Break Fix may be a viable short-term option but for a mature or growing SMB, the stability and security that is inherent in an ongoing managed services engagement could prove worth the monthly service fees.