Break/Fix or Managed Services: What’s Your Approach to IT Infrastructure?

How much time do you spend thinking about the IT infrastructure on which your business depends? If you’re like most owners of small-to-medium-sized businesses, you think about IT when something isn’t working right.

The Break/Fix Model

Your sales reps can’t access the product database. Your artists can’t print the large-format color comps. It takes forever for your techs to open a file stored on the lab server. Staff from other sites can’t access the local wireless network. Employees can’t open their internet-based email. Something that affects your organization’s productivity isn’t working, so you call an IT professional to fix the problem.

Break/fix—that’s what this model of IT management is called. And it seems to make sense: Since you only pay for IT services when something is broken, you minimize your IT expenses, right? Well…what about the cost of the lost sales to customers who don’t want to wait for the product database to come up or don’t re-order because you couldn’t meet a deadline? What’s the cost of lost employee productivity because email isn’t working or the network is down?

The Managed Services Model

There’s another way to handle the IT infrastructure and services on which every organization today depends: the managed services model. With the break/fix approach to IT, you react to problems. With the managed services model, you hand over IT responsibility to a company that has the knowledge and resources to proactively manage your IT assets.

Proactive IT management means an IT pro has identified and fixed many of your problems before they affect your business. Space has been added to the hard disk that’s filling up with product data so no sales are lost. The process that’s slowing down your network has been stopped before it can impact the work of your artists or lab techs. The internet connection that went down because of a power outage is restored before staff read their morning email.

Proactive IT management also means IT professionals handle the routine but essential maintenance activities PCs and networks need for optimum operation. They’ll regularly check drive space and network usage, apply operating system updates and critical security patches, and implement and monitor backups, for example—requirements most business owners know nothing about and the break/fix approach doesn’t cover.

Compare the Pricing

With the break/fix model you incur IT costs when a problem happens. Whatever number of hours it takes to fix the problem, multiplied by the IT provider’s hourly rate, determines the cost to your organization for a single situation. Your annual IT management expenses, of course, will depend on the number and complexity of the problems you encounter.

With the managed services model, you pay a monthly amount to the IT provider that’s based on your organization’s IT infrastructure and the services you want the provider to manage. Typically, managed services providers offer packages of services that can be as basic as monitoring and management of your workstations, servers, and network or as comprehensive as doing everything an in-house IT department would do, including unlimited help desk support, security management, disaster recovery, cloud services management, and strategic planning.

Many IT services companies offers managed services plans as well as break/fix services. If you like the IT provider you’re now using as needed and you also like the idea of heading off problems before they happen, ask the company about its managed services offerings.

Proactive managed services versus reactive break/fix services? Take some time today to think about what IT management approach best supports your organization’s needs.