Break/Fix vs. MSP vs. TSP: What's the Difference

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These terms have been around for quite some time but what do they mean? Do you know which model your company is using now? Break/Fix was one of the first and most widely used model of IT Support and works just the way it sounds. Something breaks, your provider fixes it. MSPs, or IT Managed Services Providers are based on proactive services have now been around for over a decade. Technology Success Partner, or TSPs is the latest iteration of outsourced Technology services and focuses on driving business outcomes. So, what are the underlying differences between these three?

Break/fix support model essentially means that IT services are provided as requested. A problem will arise, and a technician will be dispatched on a best-effort basis. Priority is typically determined by first come first served. The client is billed for time and materials or from a pre-paid block of time. This approach is also referred to as fee-for-service and can become costly over time, especially if your business has older equipment.

Break/fix solutions can be the right model for certain companies with very low technology needs and who are not dependent on technology to run their day to day operations. For companies who conduct a large portion of their business digitally there are several drawbacks.

Why the break/fix model can be bad for companies:

· Misaligned incentives and goals: When using the break/fix model, the service providers only get paid when there are problems. That can create an undesired dynamic between the client and the provider.

· Unpredictable costs: Because break/fix work is reactive and case-by-case, it’s difficult for clients to budget ahead of time.

· Burden is on them to know what needs to be done: The break/fix model requires clients to play an active role in managing medium to long term IT planning and stating on top of trends and emerging technology for their industry.

· Downtime: The reactive nature also means clients must deal with active fallout from problems while they alert the provider and wait for them to respond.

· Short-sighted: Because work is billed hourly, break/fix clients are incentivized to choose quick, short-term fixes over long-lasting but more intensive solutions. Likewise, break/fix service agreements are incentivized to provide temporary fixes again and again instead of proactive measures that prevent issues from occurring in the first place.

· Ultimately more expensive: For companies with moderate to high technology needs break/fix is always more expensive.

Managed Service Providers quickly realized that waiting for problems to arise was a bad plan and adopted a proactive model to support users and systems. For a fixed monthly fee, MSPs commit to specific service level agreements or SLAs. These SLAs define the types of IT services being provided and most importantly set expectations around how quickly services are delivered. The turnaround times are based on the severity of the issues being reported. Proactive monitoring and maintenance are handled remotely to address issues before they become client-facing problems and system failures. Long term planning, IT budgeting and dedicated points of contact are common features aimed to gives customers a clear picture of what to expect from their technology. This is the most common form of outsources IT services today.

Advantages of the MSP model over Break/Fix:

· Predictable costs: Set monthly and yearly fees and long-term planning for big projects.

· Better stability: Rather than simply applying band-aids, MSPs employ 24/7 monitoring and proactive maintenance, allowing them to quickly respond to issues and head off potential system failures before damage is done.

· True Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity: Backups are only as good as the last time they are tested. MSPs include high level disaster recovery solutions that are tested daily.

· More cost effective: With ICS, clients get many of the same dedicated capabilities at a fraction of the cost of a full-time team.

One of the recent offerings of MSPs was the addition of virtual CIO services. The role of the vCIO is to provide strategic IT leadership to a board of directors or leadership teams. vCIOs guide companies and align the right technology to meet business objectives such as driving growth and leveraging technology as a profit center.

What’s a TSP? TSP stands for Technology Success Provider. MSPs who successfully implemented vCIO services began to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. Building on this success TSPs are able to leverage deeper vendor relationships, recruit and most importantly, retain top engineers, master cutting edge cloud solutions, and achieve an overall higher level of operation maturity. As a result, service offerings from TSPs are based on higher standards, proven process and best in class solutions and SLAs for their clients.

Advantages of the TSPs over MSPs:

· Technology Leadership: Aligning business goals with technology services to help drive growth and operational maturity.

· Simplified, cutting edge IT Solutions: TSPs have established standards, both in tools and process, they require each client to adhere to. Doing so is a key component of leveraging technology to drive business goals. When emerging, or better, updated technology arrived in the market, a TSP is able to incorporate that immediately into their service offering without having to engage in a sales cycle with their clients. TSP customers rest easy knowing that they are always getting the appropriate technology for their business and therefore highest ROI.

As technology changes and advances, your business should do the same. TSPs are becoming more and more common in the technology industry. Are you ready to take your business to the next level? 

Interested in learning more about TSPs? Contact us today at info@icsnewyork.com