Managed IT

Why the Break/Fix Model for IT Services Is Dying

The break/fix model no longer helps SMBs achieve strategic goals. See the differences between managed IT vs. the break/fix approach here.

Blog Post

9 minutes

Mar 08, 2023

What is the Break/Fix Service Model?

A break/fix service model refers to IT services provided and billed on an as-needed basis, as opposed to paying a fixed monthly fee for an ongoing service.

For instance, if your business uses a break/fix service, the IT company will come and deal with an IT issue, then bill you the applicable amount.

The break/fix model is on the decline. Digital transformation continues to reshape the way SMBs manage their IT infrastructure.

Why is the Break/Fix Model on the Decline?

The frequency at which new technologies emerge continues to disrupt the break/fix operating model, as more organizations opt to partner with a managed services provider (MSP) instead.

This is apparent in the market growth experienced by MSPs (managed service providers). The global MSP market size reached $261 billion in 2022 and is expected by some researches to surpass $427 billion by 2028.

As companies grapple with the greater complexity of their IT infrastructure, the familiar break/fix way of doing things is no longer sustainable, but why?

With a limited in-house IT department, many SMBs simply don’t have or don’t want to spend the resources to keep up with new technologies while maintaining and upgrading their on-premise networks and systems.

MSPs, such as us here at Impact, have dedicated IT experts who ensure that customers can take advantage of technology to increase productivity and reduce infrastructure costs year after year.

If you’d like to discuss how managed IT services can serve your organization, contact an Impact specialist to get the process started today.

Break/Fix vs. Managed Services: What are the Differences?

Break/fix vs. managed IT services comparison infographic | Why the Break/Fix Model for IT Services Is Dying | Impact

Break/fix is a primarily reactive approach to maintaining IT infrastructure.

The client organization only engages with external engineers when a piece of hardware fails, or when in-house IT professionals cannot locate the root of a problem within their system.

Once the outsourced engineer fixes the issue, the company receives a bill for their services.

This as-needed approach to managing IT systems requires no monthly agreement and usually no ongoing expenses.

89% of companies expect to grow or maintain their IT budgets this year.

Conversely, MSPs are proactive and take a prominent role in managing all of an organization’s network.

MSPs provide their services based on an SLA (service-level agreement) for an agreed-upon, fixed monthly fee.

They monitor the devices and networks according to the contract with the client organization with remote tools and respond instantly if they notice any issues in the system.

Depending on the nature of the company’s IT operations, a variety of core functions considered essential to their daily activities can be included in the contract.

Managed Services Global Market, 2009-2024

Related Blog: What Does a Managed IT Department Do?

Issues With the Break/Fix Model

While older generation IT systems were less complex, in-house teams still needed specialists to configure networks, monitor security, and ensure application uptime.

This made break/fix models of operation a popular service method for SMBs. You could get whatever you needed and then fix the occasional issue whenever it arose.

With networks becoming increasingly complex and the protection of data more important than ever, flaws in the break/fix model are more apparent.

Low Cost-Effectiveness

With a break/fix service model, companies have no real control over their IT budget.

Although this approach may seem cost-effective at first, calling an IT contractor whenever an issue requiring a lot of work arises can be very expensive for SMBs. Think of it like not having any insurance: It’s great when the sun is shining, but when things go bad, costs can add up very quickly.

The department has to make sacrifices, and upgrade cycles are prone to stagnate if issues take longer to resolve.

Break/fix service companies have an incentive to take longer to fix a problem and drive up the number of calls, as it’s their primary revenue source.

As they handle every issue on a case-by-case basis, the callout fees are the only consistent expense the organization knows about upfront, and everything else only becomes clear only after receiving the final invoice.

Lack of Incentive to Optimize IT Infrastructure

Similarly, the break/fix model doesn’t incentivize service providers to invest in the company’s networks or digital infrastructure.

SMBs are spending nearly 1/10th of their IT budgets on server technology. An MSP will help you achieve your upgrades by guiding your strategy depending on your infrastructure needs.

The company’s biggest network losses are the service provider’s biggest gains, so there’s no reason for a break/fix provider to get involved with the future development of the business’ operations. If a break/fix business could give you infrastructure that lasted forever and didn’t break, they would be putting themselves out of business.

If we consider the break/fix model vs. managed IT services, the MSP works continuously to ensure your network is optimized and outages are minimized.

The break/fix model doesn’t provide companies with access to best-in-class solutions, nor the business development experts who can make recommendations on how to take the organization forward.

Related eBook: Does Your Business Need a Managed IT Services Provider?

Uncertain Service Times

Finally, break/fix vendors provide no certainty about response and repair times. If engineers are already dealing with a client and there’s no one available, you’re out of luck.

Due to the uncertain nature of break/fix services, it’s difficult for providers to guarantee service times for their customers.

For companies that rely on their underlying digital infrastructure to maintain operations, this poses a major risk to both reputation and revenue, particularly in serious cases.

If a major IT issue were to arise, like an outage or even a breach, a business needs assurances that it can be dealt with in an acceptable timeframe.

Benefits of the Managed Services Approach

What’s clear is that the break/fix model is no longer fit for purpose in a modern business environment.

The MSP model has enjoyed enormous success in recent years because it has allowed businesses to partner with providers who have an active interest in taking a proactive approach to their IT and its future.

Below, see a video on how Impact’s managed IT services helped a local business achieve their goals.

Fixed Costs and a Clear SLA

The costs associated with implementing an IT system from the ground up remain expensive.

Apart from the infrastructure costs, there’s also the installation, training, and operational management overheads.

If an MSP provides the service at a monthly cost, the parties can clearly define and specify the requirements in the contract.

The SLA (service-level agreement) will outline all accountabilities and responsibilities, so each side understands the other’s expectations.

This applies to other areas, too, so there are no surprises and the client company can regain total control over their IT expenditures, making budgeting consistent and predictable.

Proactive Network Maintenance and Monitoring

As the SLA clearly specifies the agreement between the MSP and customer, proactively monitoring the IT system remains in the MSP’s best interest.

With Impact, for example, the network is monitored 24/7 and any issues are detected instantly.

Problems are often resolved by IT experts before the client becomes aware they occurred.

When it comes to managed IT services vs. the reactive break/fix model, the MSP will resolve issues before they become a large-scale operational problem.

An MSP model will ensure the stability of your IT systems and respond effectively to any incident.

A quality MSP will commit to fixing your IT issues within a guaranteed timeframe, which should be included within the fixed-price terms of your contract. In other words, a managed IT service provider doesn’t get paid extra for coming to service your issue.

This means that, unlike break/fix services, it’s fundamentally in an MSP’s interest to do everything they can to make sure your IT networks runs smoothly and to prevent the need to send an engineer to your place of work unless as a last resort.

The result of this is that you have eagle-eyed IT professionals who are looking out for any potential issues, no matter how small, so they can proactively address them before they turn into big IT problems.

A Partner Who Is Aligned with Your Business Objectives

MSPs become partners in the long-term process of implementing, maintaining, and upgrading your network systems and digital infrastructure.

They work with customers to establish an effective digital transformation strategy and align their goals with the operations of the company.

A quality MSP will partner with and make use of the best solutions for modern SMBs.

They act as an expert consultant and provide guidance and recommendations where opportunities exist that might not be spotted by the client.

For example, they may notice your organization has many manual repetitive processes. The MSP may recommend implementing a robotic process automation (RPA) software bot to automate these tasks. Or they may point you in the direction of low-code development if your business is in need of a custom app.

Ultimately, the business gets peace of mind. Risks associated with major concerns like cybersecurity, compliance, and workplace efficiency are mitigated by having a partner who wants to help and has the knowledge and tools to do so.

Clients Can Request Help as Frequently as Needed

Traditional IT teams can struggle to support their systems, especially if there’s a flood of tickets into the incident management solution.

With an MSP, the service management team will process all the tickets, leaving the onsite team to deal with their day-to-day tasks.

The MSP will have a dedicated team of IT professionals to quickly assess and escalate issues when necessary, and in most cases, they can deploy corrective actions remotely.

An MSP will reduce pressure on the in-house teams, freeing them up to focus on more strategic initiatives for business operations, rather than their tech infrastructure.

Bottom Line 

  • Break/fix is a legacy model: The old way of doing things doesn’t serve company goals for digital transformation. Managing everything in-house simply isn’t feasible for many businesses.
  • Managed services support business goals: As more companies move to the cloud and adopt a digital transformation strategy, a team of experts on-hand can guide the implementation of new technologies.
  • MSPs have your best interests at heart: MSPs work with organizations to manage networks and improve business functions to further a company’s strategic goals.

If your organization needs a true IT partner, rather than a vendor who fixes one-off problems, contact an Impact specialist to get started with managed services now.


Managed ITStreamline ProcessesManaged Services


Additional Resources

man with headset pointing at screen in security operations center

Does Your Business Need a Managed IT Service Provider?

Download this free eBook from Impact now! Learn what a managed IT services provider does, when it’s better than an in-house team, and if you should get one.


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