MSP vs Break Fix- Custom Information Services

MSP vs Break Fix

Technology is changing fast: from Big Data analytics, Virtual Reality technologies, Cyber Security, Artificial Intelligences, machine learning, and self-driving vehicles. How can small and medium-sized businesses stay abreast of the most current technologies? Especially the most relevant technologies to their operations and service delivery areas?

Small and medium-sized businesses should focus on their service delivery areas and internal talent in the services they provide. Would an architecture firm internally focus on how they are going to market themselves? Or would they focus on how they can leverage new technologies to provide a better experience for their customers? From an ROI perspective, these resources would be better spent on hiring trusted business advisors who specialize in those areas to help the firm navigate those decisions. A trusted business advisor can be brought in to tackle non-core service business issues. Then businesses can focus on what really matters to them: servicing their client base, continual business development, and overall firm strategy and vision.

From a technology perspective, there are two major types of service providers: a managed services provider (MSP) and a break-fix, or charge by the hour/ issue, type service.

How are the MSP vs Break Fix models different and what are the benefits of an MSP?

Services of Break Fix

Break Fix is exactly what it sounds like. Something breaks, let’s call the ‘IT guy’ to fix it. A lot of businesses have used this model of service for years and this could be the only model of IT management that they know exists. This model can be attractive for various reasons to a small business because it can mean some months there is no bill, while other months the bill can be higher than expected. This reactive approach to IT can end up costing businesses more in the long run due to unresolved persistent issues. An IT guy that is paid by the hour won’t get to the root cause to truly diagnose and resolve your issue, instead, he’ll likely provide a quick fix. There is no incentive.

Another disadvantage is that Break Fix providers typically do not provide long term strategical or budget planning. This can be crucial for businesses to have a proper technology framework. If you want to plan for future projects and how to budget for them, you should have a technology framework. What are the 3-5 year goals of the business? How does technology play a role in being a part of or even achieving these goals?

Since a break-fix provider is unsure of when they are going to be called and are unable to predict their revenue stream, this causes them to be unable to invest in their own infrastructure, staff, and services to provide, and are unable to provide, a better-quality service to their client. But with a predictable service delivery obligation, a technology firm can become a company that can invest in its own processes and procedures, allowing them to become a sustainable IT management company.

Services of MSPs

What if your technology issues could be resolved proactively instead of reactively? What if these types of issues were fixed before you even knew they existed? How can you quantify paying for IT if you rarely submit a support ticket because systems and users just work?

This is the model of a world-class managed services provider (MSP). Think of this relationship between your business and your technology provider as technology insurance. We pay insurance for other things in our personal and professional lives (auto, home, theft, business liability, cybersecurity). By paying for these things, we hope that by having these policies we will never have to use them. But the moment an instance arises when insurance needs to be called, we don’t question months of unused paid premiums.

Part of the discomfort businesses face when having the managed IT service provider discussion, is going from paying the IT guy on an as-needed basis to paying a monthly recurring fee, regardless of whether you put in a ticket that month or not; while in the background, there is an entire IT ecosystem in place to resolve issues proactively.

This is the true difference between an hourly break-fix relationship to a full-fledged managed services provider. A managed services provider, typically, BECOMES your IT department instead of being an emergency fix.

Due to the relationship between managed service providers and their clients, MSPs can bring to the table teams of staff devoted to very specific service delivery areas: help desk, network administration, professional services, and CIO (high-level planning and strategy).

Your MSP should implement software tools to automate many services in the background from making sure your workstations and servers are patched and updated, servers are backed up and verified regularly, anti-virus signature definitions are up-to-date, proactively addressing network slowness issues, to even power and service outages. A good MSP will know these things before you do.


The major shift in IT services the past 25 years has been from break-fix to managed services. Why? There are two major reasons why MSP wins in the MSP vs Break Fix battle:

  1. Developments in monitoring and automation software which makes it feasible for MSPs to provide a Best Practices approach. This best practice approach will be a consistent user experience across their client base.
  2. Due to the managed service provider model, and MSPs being able to provide a broad range of managed IT services, from help desk to CIO services, the MSP has become the Technology Trusted Business Advisor to small and medium-sized businesses. The MSP model provides a true relationship between business and technology providers. MSPs can provide a proactive preventative, long term planning approach to IT.

Can your break-fix guy do that?

If you want to learn more about the MSP vs Break Fix model or have any questions about what Custom Information Services can do for your business, contact us today!

Published On: March 13, 2018Categories: Disaster Recovery, Managed IT ServicesTags: