Break Fix vs. Managed Services

duct-tapeLet’s face it, computer systems are going to break. We’ve all been using computer systems long enough to know that things are going to wrong. It’s not a question of “if” but a question of “when”. As construction companies become more dependent on computer systems, both in the back office and on the job site, the cost of downtime continues to increase.

IT management and support services tend to come in two main flavors - “break-fix” and managed IT services. These terms describe the business model of the IT firm; here’s what they mean to you.


The break-fix model is pretty much what it sounds like. You wait until something goes wrong with your computer system and then you get it fixed. You pay based on the amount of time it takes the IT firm to fix the problem plus the cost any software and/or hardware as applicable.

While many construction firms opt to address their computer system maintenance with a break-fix approach, this approach does bring some challenges and risks to your business:

  • Budgeting is difficult - not only do you not know when breaks will occur, it is also difficult to predicthow much it will cost and how long it will take to get the problem fixed.
  • Downtime - may cost as much, if not more, than the cost of repairs.
  • Lost data - business with a “wait until it breaks” approach often do not have solid, tested backup systems in place to protect against data loss when problems do occur.
  • Ongoing or Recurring Problems- IT service companies working under a break-fix model are often under pressure from their clients to keep hours to a minimum. This gives them little incentive to fix the underlying problem.
  • Security Risks - business with a break-fix approach also tend to not keep their systems updated with the latest software versions and security patches, increasing their risk exposure.

Managed IT Services

Managed IT Services (sometimes referred to as Managed IT Support, or Managed IT Solutions) take a more pro-active approach to maintaining your computer systems. Rather than paying for work on a time and materials basis, you pay a fixed fee, agreed upon in advance, for a working system. Your IT provider is then responsible for making your system work no matter how much time it takes them.

Of course, IT providers worth their salt will spend their time and energy on preventing problems. It’s much more costly for them to try to only deal with problems as they arise. This proactive approach has several benefits for you as a business owner. Managed services address many of shortcomings of the break-fix model by helping construction businesses:

  • Improve budgeting and cash flow with a predictable monthly expense for IT services
  • Reduce risk and support issues by having all computers on the system running the same, up to date versions of software.
  • Reduce downtime and the costs associated with downtime
  • Take a proactive approach to IT by looking for opportunities to use IT to gain a competitive edge

Which Approach Is Right For Your Construction Business?

Every business is different but most construction companies will benefit from the managed approach for some if not all of their IT systems. If you’d like to discuss which approach is right for you, give us a call or drop us a note.