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Break-Fix vs Managed Services: Which Is Right for Your Company?

Many IT professionals setting out on their own get started with a traditional break/fix business model. This means when a business has an IT issue, they hire you for the time it takes to fix the problem. But this model of work is unpredictable for you and frustrating for the client. More and more, businesses expect ongoing, even proactive support that your current model might not allow. If you’re currently a break/fix IT professional, and considering growing or changing your business model, here’s what you need to know about managed services and the possible benefits of making the switch:

What does managed IT services mean?

Managed IT services is a type of IT support that takes a proactive approach to IT management. An organization brings on a managed services provider (MSP) to take on the risk and responsibility of maintaining their IT equipment and services. This is not the same as hiring a traditional break/fix vendor to provide basic support. Instead, managed IT services is more like a comprehensive in-house IT team, meaning you offer a business services like regular monitoring, system upgrades, and preventative measures to make sure your customer’s IT runs smoothly.

For small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) there are obvious benefits to choosing managed IT services. MSPs offer customers not just a piecemeal solution, but a full-service array of proactive solutions. Businesses can outsource the task of maintaining IT performance from the organization to the service provider, and many companies are eager to do so—according to CompTIA, 46% of companies that use managed IT services have cut their annual IT costs by 25% or more.

But upgrading to a managed services business model can also benefit you, the IT professional, as it provides you with straightforward expectations and a steady stream of monthly revenue. The organization benefits from having IT professionals who are already familiar with the organization, and you benefit from consistent pay and a level of control across clients that makes it easier to do your job well.

Why choose a managed services model?

Many IT professionals offer a break/fix model of support, which is as it sounds: when something breaks at a business, you are brought in to fix that particular issue. But choosing a managed services model instead can actually help your business grow financially while giving you more control over your services, specialties, and approach.

Many outside IT services are based on billable hours, which means you charge an hourly or daily rate, and focus just on the issue you were brought in to address. Businesses want good service, but because it’s a one-time deal they may tend to try out the cheapest option first, which can be frustrating for skilled IT professionals whose time is worth more. With managed services, however, businesses are actually willing to pay more because they’re investing in a long-term relationship. Your customers pay you a set rate as an upfront fee each month, and in return, you stay proactive about IT maintenance to achieve peak stability and performance. With a clearer monthly financial picture, it becomes easier to invest in upgrades and better software, which helps grow your business overall.

With break/fix IT you’re always fixing a technical failure, which equates to putting on a Band-Aid and never truly helping that company move forward with their IT plan. There are limits on what you can do to fix a problem, and if the issue occurs again, the business may very well blame you or choose to go with another IT professional. If you choose to do managed services, however, you have much more control over the IT situation. You can take proactive measures to actually minimize troubleshooting later on. Plus, you don’t have to deal with unfamiliar software or infrastructure—you choose and manage the solutions you offer to your clients, and you know exactly what to expect.

Of course, because it is an ongoing relationship, choosing to become an MSP does mean businesses may be more picky about who they choose to work with. You may need to think about building your reputation over time, as businesses will want to see a track record of proven results, with measurable outcomes you can replicate for their organization. But if you have a good history as a break/fix service, your positive customer reviews are likely to get you started on the right foot.

What does managed services include?

Managed services can include any number of functions. Many providers may specialize in one area, while others offer a full array of IT support. As an MSP, you might specifically choose to be:

  • A cloud services provider, who supports cloud-based resources for clients, like infrastructure as a service (IaaS), software as a service (SaaS), or platform as a service (PaaS)
  • A managed security services provider (MSSP), providing a range of protective services, including managed antivirus, web filtering, and mail protection
  • A storage services provider, focusing on data storage, backup services, and archiving

But the most common form of managed IT services is remote monitoring and management of an organization’s servers, desktops, and devices, which may often include managed security services and cloud services. As a general MSP, you will monitor server, network, and internet structures, help with file sharing and storage, and manage internal and external security systems.

What qualifies as a professional service?

When you’re looking into the benefits of becoming a managed IT services provider, consider what will qualify you as a professional service. You want a solid track record, and pricing that suits your target clients. You want to be sure you’re using and sharing best practices and industry knowledge.

Explore our resource center for other information regarding break/fix and managed services. We can help determine which model of IT support suits your goals. 

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