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Imaging Fleet Assessment for Device Management

I recently heard, “How can we use software to complete fleet analysis?”  Often dealers delay before putting this essential aspect of their print management offering into practice.  So, what do dealers need to know and be prepared for to conduct successful fleet appraisals?

Many dealers become involved with an MPS program by deploying collection software at contracted customer locations.  They may even grow their offering by installing in a few non-contracted locations where getting meters has been challenging, or with customers that have experienced frequent service or supply need.

As dealers leverage their software investment, fleet assessment is a natural evolutionary step.  Defining deployment targets, installing the software, working with collected data, alerts and more, all will move dealers towards fleet assessment.

Most any collection software can be used to gather meters; in fact meter collection is the bread and butter of the MPS world.  But getting information from potential customers can be a bit more challenging.  Often, prospects have seen “collection processes” before and have come away with bad experiences.  Other times, people have read or heard about “Managed Print Services” and want to see what it is all about.  And today, businesses, institutions and government entities are being mandated to cut costs and are asking for RFPs.

Working with Prospects that have had Bad Experiences

These would-be patrons can be the most challenging but are quite often the easiest convert.  They need to be approached with confidence and competency.  The dealer’s most skilled salespeople should be the MPS advocates as the fiercest challenges will often come from IT people.  By acknowledging objections up front and presenting a print management program that minimizes impact on their duties, the dealer gains allies. 

Additionally the person or committee responsible for the ownership costs may be involved, and this group may be making the initial MPS inquiry.  Using them and their influence with the IT team is essential and having prepared documentation ready helps address and minimize objection.  Paperwork should include:

Software documentation

  • Product “White Papers”
  • Answers to frequently asked questions about the collection software
  • Information on product security including what ports are used
  • Detail on what information is gathered and how device security is maintained
  • Information on SNMPv1, v2 and v3 capability
  • Provider and dealer privacy policies and ‘non-disclosure’ agreements

Compliance documentation

  • Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX)
  • The Payment Card Industry (PCI)
  • The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLB)
  • The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
  • The Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA)
  • The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

The old adage, “To be prepared is to be forewarned” truly applies with this customer.

Working with Prospects that are Interested in Seeing what MPS can do for Them

Dealers should not lose site of the personal touch when approaching deployment or assessment opportunities.  Using a consultative approach allows dealers to learn about the prospective customers imaging environment before presenting solutions .  Good dealers practice print management in their own organization.  GREAT dealers share their experiences with future customers.

Dealers practicing MPS typically use reports generated from their own machine usage in presentations.  Print management discussions and demonstrations should also provide insight to industry trends and challenges.   Conversations related to the cost savings, business sustainability and process improvements used in the dealer’s own business naturally increase interest when managed services can be proven in practice.

Prospects asking for MPS Proposals

Fulfilling proposals does not need to be difficult, but it does require some research on the dealer’s part.  It is important to know the timeframe of the proposal period and whether or not assessments can be carried out, how much time will be allowed for data review and when the presentation of discoveries are to me made, and who or how many other vendors are being solicited, etc.  Without time for a proper assessment, putting together a proposal will be difficult at best and impossible if not given access to real-time information.

Assessments done when proposals are at stake require provider diligence.  Adept dealers make many discoveries along the way and the fortunate few actually help shape the RFP process; some even laying out the format the way collected data is to be presented.  Dealers working with prospects requesting MPS submission bids should have their most qualified print management staff positioned for these opportunities.

Assessment collection methods

In certain environments, deployment of the collection software or agent may not be allowed.  It is still necessary to get at least a couple of meter readings over time so actual print volumes can be established.

In these cases, collection software can still be used to get a snapshot of device counters.  Using applications like ‘Run Software’ from USB thumb-drives, ‘Run’ from “One–Click, Run–Once” email links, dealer accessed web audits, or other non-deployment methods can all capture data without need for software installation.

Any processed used will be repeated a second or third time to get comparison meter readings.  Collected data can then be put into volume analysis reports to come up with page output figures to complete the RFP.

For the best fleet analysis and whenever possible, dealers should encourage deployment of the collection software.  In addition to automatic meter gathering, knowledge gained about fleet status changes during the term of the assessment will be helpful when preparing proposals that include supplies and other services.

NOTE – Check with your software provider to learn all deployment options available and costs associated with each of their offerings.

Pre-sales vs. Post-sales reporting

Print management providers offer various levels of device monitoring and information capture.  Most clients and their monitored devices will eventually be under some kind management program.  These customers and their devices are commonly classified as “Post-sales” or “managed” or “under contract”.

Assessment prospects on the other hand can be referred to as “Pre-sales” or “non-managed” opportunities.  Print management providers typically allow limited Pre-sales assessments to be done at no cost for the dealer.  The time allowed may be in terms of a few weeks or as long as a few months.  Longer assessments may also be available for a small fee.  We have participated in six month and longer assessments and the end-user typically pays for such fleet analysis because of the imaging knowledge gained.

Once device output data is secured, dealers can use the collected information to complete volume analysis and appraisals that is representative of device usage patterns.  Dealers can manipulate the gathered data using the MPS provider’s built in tools like volume analysis reporting, charts and graphs, and TCO Estimators, or have meters imported into imaging industry CRM tools for final proposal generation.

NOTE – Check with your software provider to determine assessment reporting, proposal generation and data export capability.

… In summary

Completing successful print management proposals requires volume information.  When the collection software cannot be installed, multiple trips to gather volume data will be needed.  Manpower challenges can be minimized when software deployment can be done, and as a bonus, when devices report in Pre-sales status, assessment charges can often be waived.

The fortunate dealer is the one that has a hand in the RFP development.  The winning dealer is usually the one that spends time with the prospect, and has helped them:

  • Visualize documents moving from creation to the storage location or shred pile
  • Determine the flow of sales, service and supply fulfillment paperwork
  • Understand challenges in their printing and document retrieval practices
  • Identify the problems real people have with the current printing methods used
  • Provide secure access to stored documents by certified employees from any location
  • Comprehend the overall imaging process, how it impacts users and affects real business costs

Dealers can use the collected information to complete volume analysis and appraisals that are true representations of the prospect’s page output patterns using various software tools. 

MPS assessments are not hard, but they do take time.  Keep this in mind and remember to under-promise and over-deliver on every proposal submitted and won.