MSP vs SSP: What are the differences?

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MSP vs SSP: What are the differences?

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MSP vs SSP: What are the differences?

Find out how a Scientific Solutions Provider differs from a Managed Service Provider (MSP).

Synergy is SRG’s dedicated scientific solutions provider (SSP) for the life sciences sector. But how does this model compare to that of a managed services provider (MSP)? This article explains it all.

What is an MSP?

A Managed Service Provider supports clients with the management of processes for the recruitment of external or temporary workers.

The MSP either recruits directly from its network (Neutral Master Vendor) or manages requisition processes to suppliers to recruit the workers. Many MSPs provide the client with an optimised vendor management system (VMS), with a focus on control and cost savings.

Other core components of an MSP solution include management of the non-permanent workforce (timesheets, payroll, etc.); access to qualified pools of talented candidates; candidate selection; contract and supplier management.


Find out more about SRG’s managed service offering here >


What is an SSP?

A Scientific Solutions Provider offers a commercial service (ongoing or project-based deliverables) to life sciences companies of all sizes. The service is tailored to meet technical needs identified jointly and upfront by the client and the SSP.

These needs then inform the set-up of teams to carry out expected activities, including the presence of an onsite team leader hired by the SSP.

Unlike an MSP, an SSP also provides technical guidance and governance throughout the duration of the service. Moreover, SSPs like Synergy address headcount constraints and provide an agile and scalable approach to projects.



Calling on the support of either an MSP or SSP provides you with:

  • The ability to quickly scale up or down promptly and respond to workload demands
  • Full management of the recruitment effort
  • A customer Quality Management System (QMS) for workers to use, ensuring quality and regulatory compliance
  • Customer equipment for workers to use, allowing greater equipment efficiency in the laboratory

Both models also help to mitigate the skills gap at a business, though an SSP enables you to retain the experience onsite due to the permanent contracts.



1) Primary focus

For an MSP, the strategic focus is finding resources or profiles (usually in the short term) to meet the client’s workforce demands. Recruitment is predominantly for individuals, with no overall view on meeting client challenges.

For an SSP, the goal is to tailor a solution that solves a key challenge identified by the client. By focusing on measurable deliverables, the SSP model takes a more holistic approach to providing a solution.


2) Objectives

Time-to-fill is a key KPI for the MSP model, demonstrating the need to scale quickly and address operational demands. While time-to-fill is also important for the SSP model, the central KPIs are Technical Gap Analysis and central governance.


3) Project duration

Under a managed service arrangement, projects are often based on day-to-day instructions from the client. With an SSP, the client agrees on a predefined timeline of monthly or annual project deliverables.


4) Workers

Temporary workers employed by an MSP may be employees or freelancers who are under contract with various suppliers, meaning there can be various conditions of employment across the contingent workforce.

Staff employed by an SSP are hired on permanent contracts, offering stable conditions of employment for the client and individual alike. By hiring permanent employees, an SSP also helps the client address potential headcount constraints and mitigate IR35/co-employment risk.


5) People management

While an MSP solution can often place a people management burden on client staff, there is no people management burden with an SSP.

With an MSP, workers are managed individually, which can lead to a lack of cohesion or consistency. On occasion, it can also lead to divergent views on general performance or objective achievement.

Under an SSP model, however, teams are instructed by the client (who outline key deliverables) and then managed consistently by the SSP team leader to achieve these deliverables.


6) Onboarding

While the onboarding of new staff is managed by the client under an MSP model, SSPs like Synergy support the onboarding process with the oversight of an onsite team leader.


7) Governance

With an MSP, the client must carry out technical governance. With SSPs like Synergy, clients receive dedicated account management and technical governance is provided by SSP senior management.


Which features are specific to an SSP model?

SSPs work strategically with the client to understand its culture, products, and unique challenges. Using this information, tailored solutions are agreed upon to help manage workflows and ensure resource capability and availability.

What’s more, SSPs provide dedicated, fully employed, and flexible teams that are retained onsite and supervised by an onsite team leader who acts as a single point of contact. This in turn provides an overarching governance structure. Under the same onsite management, clients are offered a hybrid model with a focus on both current projects and ongoing service.

Under TUPE — the Transfer of Undertakings (Protect of Employment) Regulations 2006 — SSPs like Synergy also offer the possibility of transferring existing temporary staff across to permanent positions. This gives the client added stability.

Finally, SSPs can also help clients consolidate the management of various teams across geographies (i.e., efficiency and effort convergence) through the support of an operations manager.


Read more about the benefits of outsourcing to an SSP >


Bespoke scientific solutions with Synergy

Powered by SRG, Synergy is the leading onsite scientific solutions offering.

We supply, manage, and cross-train talented teams of scientists, manufacturing specialists, and clinical professionals to pharmaceutical and biotech companies of all sizes.

Because our teams are fully employed by Synergy, we offer industry-leading technical expertise and help increase staff retention. Our model addresses immediate skills and expertise gaps, while your HR liability is reduced via our fully managed HR processes.

Visit our homepage to find out more about Synergy and what we can offer your business.

Any questions about Synergy's model? Reach out to me directly at

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