If you are wondering what the difference is between a Managed Services Provider and a Total Solutions Provider, then this is the blog for you! 

Warning: I will use their respective acronyms from this point onwards and if you are not sure what a Managed Services Provider (MSP) is, then start with this blog and the same for a Total Solutions Provider (TSP), click here. 

The truth is, rather than one being ‘better’ than the other it is more a case of the evolution of an MSP into a TSP.  

The big difference between the two is who manages what relationships. An MSP is brilliant at providing traditional IT services, with some of these being on-premise and others being basic cloud services such as Office 365 and disaster recovery solutions or BDR . This model brought a fundamental shift to the customer as it was in everyone’s interest to keep the end users’ systems up and running and the users productive.  

However, as technology has evolved and moved into many more areas of the business, there are increasing numbers of vendors to manage. Often the marketing department will have many software vendors and the accounts team too.  

There are also other vendors such as private and public cloud providers, VoIP telephone providers, leased lines and other broadband services. All these different relationships fall under the banner of technology and even a small business can have many of these to manage. 

A TSP will manage all these relationships from a support perspective and will also help determine the best partners for your business and in some cases recommend a trusted supplier. 

The advantages of this are quite easy to see. Growing businesses want to be able to take on new technologies without huge impacts to their business operations particularly from a support perspective. This gives the end user just a single company and team to call when things are not as they should be as opposed to a long line of numbers to navigate and work out where the problem is and who is responsible for solving the issue.  

The truth is the end user does not care who is going to fix it, they just need to be able to keep working. In any different model, the end user is likely to get passed around from vendor to vendor and this can take a long time in which the end user is unproductive and costing your business money. 

What are the downsides of this model?  

The downsides are quite simple, you are reliant on your TSP to keep you updated and you will need to trust they have the resources and the systems and processes in place to ensure that messages are passed, and the fix is put in place. So, getting this relationship right is imperative. You may not always understand what the fix was, as the TSP managed the tickets and the helpdesk. This is not a problem for most, but occasionally there are some people who may want to deal with the various support desks themselves to understand the fix. 

Trusted partner model. 

To get the best out of a TSP model you will need to view the relationship as a partner and keep them involved in your business discussions as much as possible. The TSP should understand your business goals and timelines and will ensure that you have the best technology in place to support that with the budget and resources you have.  

Is this any better than working with an MSP?  

Those operating a true Managed Services Model will continue to provide a proactive service that will keep your IT systems working and your staff productive without a doubt. As we have hopefully demonstrated above a TSP is an evolution rather than anything better and working with a Total Solutions Provider will give you that one single partner that you can trust to help you get the best out of your investment in technology.  

What about the BCS? 

We have been an MSP for many years and have found ourselves doing more and more in the role of a TSP and will be continuing to move into a fully operational TSP by putting in the resources, training,  systems and processes to enable us to be Kent’s first and best Total Solutions Provider.