If your business is looking to outsource your IT department and considering your options for IT services and IT support, this is the blog for you.

IT plays an important role for your business in today’s digital world, especially if you rely on technology to manage your business and satisfy customers. In fact, a Spiceworks Ziff Davis study reveals 33% of businesses plan to increase their IT budgets in 2021, highlighting just how critical IT is to business. This makes choosing an IT provider that is the best fit for your business needs and future goals an important decision that will affect your company, employees, and customers.

If you don’t have the budget to build a large in-house IT team, there are two common options that businesses have when outsourcing IT services and IT support. There are break-fix IT providers and managed IT service providers.

It’s important to start by pointing out that break-fix IT providers and managed IT service providers (or MSPs) are closely related—you can consider them distant relatives on the information technology family tree. They share the goal of creating a stable IT environment by focusing on a business’s key IT needs which may include installation, maintenance, security, system repairs, and technical support.

However, how they address IT issues and work with their clients (your business) is fundamentally different.


Let’s break down break-fix IT services first.

As the name itself implies, break-fix IT providers engage with a business on an as-needed basis, typically after something breaks or needs attention. When this occurs, an IT provider is brought into your business to analyze and solve an IT issue.

The most common situations break-fix service is needed for include:

Network repairs
Hardware installation and upgrades
Implementation of firewalls and antivirus
Basic IT training and education

Small to mid-sized businesses that choose this type of ad-hoc approach to IT services only receive support when something goes wrong—making it a reactive approach to IT services and IT support. This means that any preventative or ongoing IT support is typically non-existent. Without a contract or subscription, break-fix IT service providers bill your business at an hourly rate after service is completed. Sometimes the IT provider may leave you with instructions on how you can prevent this problem from happening again.


What is the benefit of hourly IT service?

In-House IT Empowerment
Opting for a break-fix IT provider works best if you have a team member that knows your network infrastructure well and can be relied on to fix most of the IT issues that arise. This can be an empowering position if your employees have access to the proper tools, skills, and training required to be effective in their role. Otherwise, you are fully dependent on a break-fix provider to fix even the smallest of errors.

Fee-For-Service Approach
Break-fix IT provides are only used on a case-by-case basis. This means that there are no monthly subscriptions, ongoing fees, or initial start-up costs.

You Call the Shots
You are in complete control. Without an in-house IT team or managed service provider, you are responsible for making all IT decisions, updates, and implementations of technology solutions.


The Drawbacks

Reactive, Not Proactive
The break-fix service model is built around things going wrong in your environment, providing little incentive for the IT technician to implement lasting solutions to your environment. After all, chronic IT issues guarantee more business for the break-fix provider.

Unexpected Costs
Without consistent IT maintenance, problems will occur unexpectedly, giving your business little time or notice to budget properly for technology investments. This can be especially difficult as more expensive IT issues arise or when the same IT issue needs to be addressed more than once.

Lack of Specialized Skills
Not all business environments look the same or are created equal. When you hire an outsourced IT provider, you have to rely on their knowledge and skills that may not apply to your unique infrastructure. If the IT technicians hired aren't familiar with your particular system or issues, it may take them longer to get to the root of the issue. This can play a significant part in your final bill since most break-fix IT technicians charge per hour of service.

Limited Cybersecurity
Break-fix IT services is comparable to gambling in terms of cybersecurity. Cyber criminals aggressively attack businesses each day, and it only takes one small exposure for a hacker to gain access to your network and wreak havoc on your business environment.


What is a Managed Service Provider?

Managed IT Services is a bundle of agreed upon services that is expected to be performed each month to properly support your system, devices, and data. A Managed IT Service provider (MSP) takes a holistic approach to actively monitor your environment and address any IT issues before they can become costly problems. Their goal is to help your business increase uptime and create a stable digital environment.

Unlike a break-fix provider, a managed service provider partners with your business in an ongoing relationship. Due to such, MSPs establish a service level agreement (SLA) contract with their clients that addresses all the terms, conditions, costs, and expectations of their work.

Managed Service Providers typically offer:

Ongoing system maintenance
On-demand live IT support
In-depth employee cybersecurity training
IT consultant and system management
24/7 system monitoring and security
Implementation of IT and cybersecurity Best Practices
Disaster recovery planning and regular data backups


What is the benefit of a managed service provider?

Proactive Service
As your trusted partner and IT department, a managed service provider is incentivized to keep your business network stable and quiet. They monitor your system’s IT infrastructure 24/7 to ensure that everything is working as it should.

No Unexpected Costs
With proactive IT services, your business can avoid bad surprises and unexpected IT costs. Thanks to the services performed each month, the risk of big, expensive issues is diminished. Your MSP actively monitors your systems, identifying and solving any issues before they become larger problems. Not to mention, a fixed flat-rate makes your IT expense predictable and easier to budget for.

Specialized Talent
Typically, break-fix service providers are IT generalist whereas advanced MSPs surpass basic training and education. A great MSP should have skilled IT technicians with specializations ranging across cybersecurity, IT compliance, and technology consulting. This way, no matter what challenges arise, your business always has a skilled IT technician on hand.

Peace of Mind
MSP’s will diligently manage and secure your environment against cyber threats including phishing, viruses, and ransomware. By lowering your risk of a breach, you can gain peace of mind and spend more time focused on what matters most to your business.


The Drawbacks

Initial Start-Up Fees
Unlike break-fix providers, managed service providers usually carry higher initial startup costs. This is normally due to the cost associated with the MSP installing necessary hardware, software, and cybersecurity solutions that are required for new clients.

Shared Control
You must be open to a partnership. The best managed service and client relationships have an open line of communication and shared decision making. Ultimately, you always have the final choice, but you are leaning on the expertise of your MSP to make the best IT and cybersecurity decisions on your behalf.

When it comes down to it, your managed service provider will have full visibility to your IT infrastructure as they manage your business’s entire attack surface. Before giving them “a copy of the keys of the kingdom”, there is a level of trust that must be established.


Which IT service is the best fit for your business?

As you address which provider is right for you, consider the following…

Your IT infrastructure is not a static asset — files get corrupted, viruses infect devices, and backups can be faulty. While IT issues are common, they can also be expensive and destructive if not discovered quickly enough. Without cybersecurity solutions and IT management, one breach can close the doors to your business forever.

Additionally, new technology emerges faster than ever before, resulting in more businesses turning away from the break-fix approach. Break-fix providers simply do not provide the high-level security and continuous maintenance that is needed for businesses to remain competitive. Not to mention, many small to mid-sized businesses don’t have the budget or resources to constantly invest in new technologies while also maintaining their current system.

Our advice? Partner with a trust managed service provider who has the latest technology and resources, will proactively manage your environment and is dedicated to improving operations to further your business’s strategic goals.

Unsure what to look for in a managed service provider?

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