There are two main models of business in IT. The break-fix model has always been the simplest form of IT services. It takes a reactionary approach to situations after they arise and is very similar to many other professions where one skilled technician fixes an already present issue and charges for that solution after the fact. Since it’s acutely solving a specific problem, that solution will generally be quite expensive. Additionally, it usually won’t cover any other issues that arise after the fact or in relation with that problem. Some of the time other problems will become noticeable after a resolution occurs, which further complicates the pricing of fixing a specific matter.
The alternative is something that is quite opposing on the spectrum of resolving issues. The managed form of IT delivery takes a pro-active and preventative approach. Resolution occurs either before the problem is found or while the problem is detected. It usually relies much less on the communication factor between customer and technician because they are already aware of the problem. Because this method is constantly monitoring problems with recurring monthly payments, it’s actually less expensive. Of course, it will seem costly over the long-term, but only because you are able to calculate those long-term costs, whereas break/fix is only comparing it to a specific incident. Naturally, that is going to seem more costly, however, these costs are also predictable and can be budgeted.
Some points to note when looking at Break/Fix and Managed IT models
Break/Fix: Utilized as a response service when something goes wrong
- The technician has no underlying incentive to make your network perfectly stable. They are only needing to solve the causal problem
- The provider makes money every time there is a problem
- The service is often a “best effort” approach
- Response times vary depending on other needs/priorities
Managed IT: Utilized as a continuous service to prevent issues
- There is a fixed monthly fee to keep the systems working smoothly 24/7
- There are no hourly limits
- The company is incentivized to keep the network as stable as possible and always working
- Proactive maintenance and preventative approaches are always used
- Response plans are discussed up front and guaranteed within certain times
Break/Fix methodology can, in fact, be valuable in some small and non-demanding tech environment where it’s relatively rare that assistance is required. This is usually seen in low-key small businesses with less than 5 employees. These environments would also require somebody internally who is technically proficient to offset some of the tech calls. Without this individual, the spontaneity and unpredictability of tech problems would be quickly overwhelming.
For the most part, however, if the business needs occasional IT assistance and could benefit having a partner to help them with future IT decisions, managed IT would be greatly beneficial. It's really just about figuring out what is best for your business at that time while also looking toward future growth.
Clearly there is a value proposition with a managed IT system that can be easily measured and you can calculate those variables with proper data. Businesses operate at varying levels and possess different financial capabilities at distinct times, so it’s necessary to determine which method is correct for your company.