Supply Fulfillment Standard Operating Procedures, an Example
The previous installments of this series (Supply Fulfillment Standard Operating Procedures, A Prelude; and Outline) introduced the importance of developing standard practices to which dealers and their staffs can refer when making certain their customers’ supply needs are met.
Management should account for executive, finance, service, and quality control duties and structure programs that include planning, development, monitoring and execution elements.
SOPs should define sets of repeatable fulfillment practices that remain viable over time. This segment underlines software installation factors that dealers and value added resellers (VARs) can use to enhance of their supply fulfillment programs.
NOTE – The ideas offered below are written to provoke thought. Examples may refer to practices, procedures and software applications that differ from those used by your dealership. Dealers should make plans using their personal experience.
Example: Software Deployment for Supply Fulfillment SOP
Deploying information gathering software is often the first step in the supply fulfillment process. As suggested in the earlier Collection Software Deployment post, there are many ways to accomplish this task. Consider the following when installing data gathering software:
1. Software Deployment for Supply Fulfillment Customers
About 50-65% of all installations will likely be completed during normal site visits. Device maintenance and support, courtesy calls, and account reviews are just a few examples of site visits staff would be making as a normal course of business.
NOTE – Software downloads can be initiated from website links or thumb drives. Typical deployments using USB drives take about 3-5 minutes. If used, the SOP should include a discussion of how deployment assets are controlled.
Another 20-30% of installs may be at “best customer” locations or technical in nature. These may require on-location IT involvement to overcome device, security and/or other network concerns or be installed in locations where imaging devices are located on multiple IP addresses or strings.
NOTE – Each deployment opportunity will likely have a set of guidelines to be followed. Technical guidelines should be written, well-defined, and followed to reduce the chance of missing deployment steps.
The remaining 5-30% will be simple deployments at customer locations where machines are already in place, and print volumes and business machine usage is considered “normal”, or within the capability of the machines in use.
NOTE – Installations at these locations could be initiated by an administrator at the office by sending an email that includes a deployment link. The administrator could simply call the customer and walk them through a simple install.
Be sure to include the following when setting up deployment procedures:
- Getting the word out – A Consultative Approach to MPS
- Tips on Overcoming Objections to MPS Software Deployment
- Installation and support document distribution
- Compliancy document distribution
- Setting customer expectations
- Managed Print Services “Best Practices”
2. Deployment Procedures
As noted above, each deployment will have set guidelines to be followed.Outline specific steps to be taken to complete basic software installation on:
- Limited IP ranges
- Wide IP ranges
- When Locally Connected Devices are suspected
- When getting assistance from the software provider
3. Device Reporting Capability
While most installations and devices will report upon software deployment with little or no special consideration, some devices may need attention. What is reported by imaging devices varies by connection, firmware, and drivers being used, by OEM, and in some cases by the software itself.
IT IS THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE DEALER TO KNOW THEIR EQUIPMENT AND SOFTWARE LIMITATIONS.
Most monitoring software gathers information from SNMP enabled devices . If disabled, the installer can take steps to reactivate SNMP. SNMP status is included on most device configuration worksheets. Other SNMP concerns include ‘Community String’ configuration and SNMP versioning.
NOTE – SNMP enabling procedures vary by manufacturer and device. Dealers should write steps that are specific to their offering and product line.
Status detail is commonly retrieved from the device MIB and some OEMs report this information on web pages. When detail is available on web pages, the software needs access in order to gather and provide accurate information. Password protection must be lifted if webpage access is required. Dealers should have defined procedures for:
- Device reporting capability
- Device configuration
- SNMP access
- SNMP Community string and versioning configuration
- Updates to current drivers
- Updates to current firmware
- Access to web pages
4. Installation Configuration Procedures
In order for the dealer or VAR to get accurate toner alert information, the software must be configured to send supply status.Defined software configuration steps should include:
- Setting of toner alert thresholds
- Entry of toner alert email recipient address(es) so status can be relayed
- Activation of Pre-mature Cartridge Replacement (PCR) alerting
- Entry of PRC alert email recipient address(es)
- Consideration of service alerting for service part notification
- If service alerting is active, entry of service email recipient address(es)
Dealers should know device capability. Additional steps may be required to ensure proper device reporting. It does not serve to set toner alerting thresholds within the software at 10% for devices that report in 25% increments. Advanced warning of supply need will not be received by the dealer.
OEM equipment with known limitations may require alert settings above “normal” thresholds so advanced warning can be triggered. Additionally, older devices may have original firmware and with an update, higher accuracy may be reported.
5. Advanced Monitoring Configuration
Most collection software tools include administrative software that permits basic installation configuration from the office or other remote locations.Toner threshold settings, PCR alerting, service alert activation and addition of email recipient addresses are common. More sophisticated administrative software permits users to:
- Increase meter upload frequency to track decrementing toner levels over time
- Alter the time interval (polling frequency) between status reviews
- Trigger a refresh of meters when alerts are detected
- Make or set individual device settings changes
- Add volume alerting for devices that do not report toner levels in percentages
- Enable the ability to skip alerts so over-shipment of toner does not occur
Some software providers also offer configuration ability on web-based applications for administrators to make updates with internet enabled mobile phones and tablets.
NOTE – Check with your provider to see what management options are available to your organization. If applications are available, be sure to define SOP practices for this method of deployment configuration.
The above guidelines are of no use if people do not know of or follow them.Software deployment training is essential if device information is to be effectively gathered.Training should be ongoing and defined practices amended as needed.
Training can be facilitated by the dealership’s MPS software provider, Print Management and/or, IT Specialist, Service, Supply, and/or Help Desk Manager or other responsible party.Training should be recurring and all support materials should be readily accessible and available.
… In summary
Software deployment is at the foundation of a GREAT supply fulfillment program. Without deployment, dealers and VARs are at the mercy of the customer … hoping that they are not carrying unnecessary stock, the stock has not expired, the customer doesn’t replace toner too early, and the customer calls just when toner is needed.
Software provides all this detail and more. The management team should commit to putting their Software Deployment SOP for Supply Fulfillment to paper by defining guidelines to follow. SOPs require:
- Planning – takes into account company policies, objectives with a focus on targets to be achieved.
- Development – the structure that defines responsibilities; adds training and encourages communication.
- Program monitoring – includes checks and balances, for successes to be measured with effective audit practices.
- Execution – happens when management reviews what occurs and builds pathways for continuous improvement.
Software deployment is only one aspect of supply fulfillment. Others should be equally defined as well.