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Data Collection Software Deployment Guidelines

Much has been written in the past twelve to fourteen years proclaiming the virtues of managed print services and document management.  And many of us have sat through countless presentations as well.  Still, I am somewhat taken aback when longtime dealers ask, “How does one overcome objections people give when it comes to installing the collection software?”

Just last week I was asked, “How do I convince the customer it is okay to let me install software?”

First of all, the dealership and its people who will be installing need to know what the software does and maybe more importantly, what it cannot do.  Secondly, the information shared needs to be conveyed in a way that shows a benefit to the customer.  Demonstrating a level of confidence in what is being offered when standing in front of a customer’s IT staff and C-level financial representatives is usually all that is needed.

Product Knowledge Training

Determine who will be the MPS deployment staff. Choosing the right people to be involved with an MPS program is an essential part when implementing a successful print management plan.  We strongly advocate the dealership’s software installers seek and attend software deployment training sessions.

Our experience over the past twelve years has taught us most people can be successful after watching short training videos or attending 30 minute overview sessions during which hands-on deployment training is conducted.  Deploying software is not hard and there multiple ways installations can be accomplished.

In many instances, software does not need to be installed on servers*.  Often deploying on or doing anything with a server raises concerns … so whenever possible seek other machines for installation purposes.  Many collection options have a small footprint* (around 4.0 Mb) and the bandwith used* (around 80-120K) is negligible when the software gathers meter and reports device status.

As long as the machine is on the network and turned on daily, the software will run and should perform as advertised.  Make sure the collection software can access machine information.  Avoid installing on back office machines that are used intermittently or powered up on every third Thursday of the month.

*Note – Check your software provider’s solution specifications for desired installation locations, actual size, network impact and additional software required to gather and send information.

Overcoming Objections to MPS Software Deployment

Without a steady and reliable flow of data, helping customers manage their business machines, supplies and the output they produce is challenging at best and at worst, impossible.  In an earlier blog we discussed overcoming deployment objections in detail so I will not rehash that here.  Instead, consider … “WIIFT”, or what’s in it for them?  The MPS champion educates prospective customers before objections are raised. 

This is true whether selling service or supply contracts, leasing agreements, equipment, cloud and IT services or MPS offerings.  By pinpointing challenges and showing how MPS can be a value proposition, it becomes much easier for customers to accept the benefits of machine monitoring.  After more than a decade, conversations involving processes to manage print are quite commonplace, especially in the U.S.A.

Installation Types and Deployment Method Breakdown

While it is true each installation is unique, after doing several one often finds there are some similarities to the overall deployment process.  After helping with thousands of installations over the years, we have differentiated three primary deployment opportunities:

  1. About 40-50% of all installations will be completed while on location during normal site visits for device maintenance and support, courtesy calls and account reviews … trips the staff would be making during the normal course of business.  For these installs, downloading software from a website or using a USB drive with software setup file pre-installed is ideal.  Software deployment using a USB drive usually takes just three to five minutes as basic registration information is already completed. 
  2. 20-40% will be simple deployments at customer locations where there are a relatively small number of machines, and the equipment is connected to the local network, print volumes and business machine usage would be considered normal, and is within the capability of the machines. Installations at these locations could be initiated from within the office by an administrator by sending an email that includes a deployment link.  The administrator could simply call the customer and walk them through the simple 90 second self-install process.
    • Installation is completed by the customer using a deployment link sent via email.
    • Installed software is pre-registered and configured to gather and send information.
    • No customer data entry is needed.
    • Click Print Tracker – “One-Click” Deployment to see more on this easy installation option.
  3. The remaining 20-30% installations may be technical in nature and will often require on-location IT involvement to overcome device, security and/or other network concerns.  These could also be the dealership’s best and largest customers and may include installation locations where imaging devices are located on multiple IP addresses or strings.  These customers receive a personal level of service. 
    • Have a technician complete the deployment if it is expected that the installation will be challenging.
    • Installation assistance should be available to customers from service managers and/or IT specialists.
    • Contact your software provider to get (or to learn if) installation assistance is available.

Click Print Tracker – Installation Support Assistance to see typical aid available.

And as a reminder be sure to …

  • Make sure device SNMP is enabled and machines are configured as necessary;
  • While on location, verify device reporting during software deployment;
  • When needed, update device firmware to the latest version when necessary.

Merging Customer Lists into your MPS Management Tools can Save Time

Some MPS software providers offer solutions that permit administrators to import customer lists into the management software utility.  The ‘Customer List Import’ feature is a GREAT way to make certain deployments are scheduled and completed in a timely manner.  ‘Customer List Import’ utilities work in conjunction with a variety of installation options.  Export/import permits dealerships to easily implement deployments to gather meters, supply information, and service alerts.

By importing the dealer’s customers into the management software, each listing serves as a placeholder or reminder to let administrators know of customers or locations where deployments still need to occur.

  • Blank or colored cells indicate attention is needed.
  • Prepare USB keys and send sales and service staff on-location to complete installations.
  • Right-click on any listing and use the ‘Send deployment email’ (“One–Click” Deployment) option to complete installations from your office.

REMEMBER – Once installations are completed and information is reporting, be sure to ‘Shutdown’ the “placeholder” line listing to remove the no-longer-needed reminder from the list.

Click Print Tracker – Importing a Customer List into Admin to learn more.

… In Summary

Paper management and its peripheral costs may be one of the last (if not the last) uncontrolled expenses companies have left to manage.  Print management, especially in the United States, is maturing and most businesses have heard of and even sought out programs to help them cut printing costs.  Competent MPS providers should be seeking out businesses where print is still commonplace. Business machine dealers, value added resellers (VARs) and MPS providers are already in position to reduce their own costs of gathering meter reads by having software collect them automatically.  Print management software allows MPS providers to:

  • Track printing of local and network devices.
  • Receive meter read reports via email.
  • Perform pre-sales metering so an accurate cost estimate may be given.
  • Have meters electronically entered into billing databases.
  • Reduce time spent in gathering meter reads and billing customers

But to add even more value to their offering, dealers, VARs and MPS providers can use the same software to help their customers cut business costs.  Software can be configured to provide advanced notice of supply and service need.  Many MPS providers leverage the reported detail to help keep their customers business machines running at peak efficiency.

Efficient businesses that control costs increase capital for reinvestment and improve profit opportunities.