Ten Tips for Best in Class MPS Engagement
From business machine dealers and value added resellers (VARs) to IT professionals and managed print providers great and small, everyone has heard of managed print services (MPS). Many have or are employing one or more business components in effort to help control printing costs, yet some have struggled to get out of the gate.
According to the MPSA ( http://yourmpsa.org ) the four primary MPS business models are:
- Supply Fulfillment Only
- Supply Fulfillment PLUS Break/Fix Service
- Supply Fulfillment, Break/Fix Service PLUS Equipment Management
- Supply Fulfillment, Break/Fix Service, Equipment Management PLUS other solutions
Much has been written and it is widely accepted that engaging in some type of MPS program is the best way to first uncover the true cost of printing, and then implement a plan to control and reduce those costs. Read on to review ten tips that may help ensure you are providing “Best in Class” Managed Print Services engagements.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.Benjamin Franklin, Inventor and Statesman
Many businesses and people struggle with the concept of print management and of those, some have truly failed. Often the first miss-steps can be attributed to not fully understanding what is needed to achieve a successful outcome. Providers should develop an MPS plan to ensure a successful MPS program. With proper planning, most programs can have a solid foundation on which to build.
The only way forward, if we are going to improve the quality of the environment, is to get everybody involved.Richard Rogers, British Architect
Getting to the right people involved is paramount to the success of any engagement. While some may have an “idea” of what is to be accomplished, any goal would be difficult if not impossible if the right people are not leading the charge. Use a consultative approach to present what it is you are trying to accomplish. At the provider level, the management team must have a clear idea of what is needed to promote a successful program. At the business end, an executive level person must be involved in the decision making process. Efforts are wasted when the real “decision maker” is not involved. Make sure someone at the top knows and understands the goal and agrees to meet, review discoveries and implement the plan.
If you don’t know where you are headed, you’ll probably end up someplace else.Douglas J. Eder, Ph.D, Associate Neuroscience Professor
Assessing the print environment is essential if improvement is to occur and assessments are not just haphazard events assembled over a matter of a few days. Good assessments take time and better assessments take more time. Work with the client. Walk the print environment and engage with end users. Uncover workflow, discover device placement, locate and inventory supply cabinets and leave no print “stone” uncovered. Determine a starting and ending point for the review, but be sure the assessment takes place when printing is done. Good fleet appraisals expose equipment challenges and open opportunities for fleet optimization. Discovering fleet connectivity (network vs. local) or equipment inefficiencies offer additional opportunity and provide talking points for the developing print management plan.
When you get something for nothing, you just haven’t been billed for it yet.”Franklin P. Jones, American Journalist
Too many salespeople (and for that matter businesses) fail to place an appropriate value on time. People know they get what they pay for. With a good evaluation of the print environment, they instinctively know that an investment of time and effort will occur. Paying for print management is a matter of perspective . Both the client and the business are looking to accomplish a goal. Some assessments may be bundled into an accepted offer; others are quoted and billed outright. In the end, prospects and clients may not actually get an invoice for an assessment; however nothing says one has to be given away. After all, how good can an assessment be if it is free?
You must do the very thing you think you cannot do.Eleanor Roosevelt, American politician and diplomat
More and more print evaluations are being done by managed print providers at a contracted cost, and then shared with businesses who will bid to provide ongoing equipment and service. Be cautious when accepting the assessment of another … be sure due diligence is done to validate the accuracy of information. People regularly seek out second opinions when faced with health concerns; why should improvement of the print environment be any different? Often implementing a print management program requires a change in business culture . The assessment simply affords the provider a means to develop a sound plan. Sometimes competitors may offer print assessments as a way to engage or “tie up” new MPS prospects. When you believe a true sales opportunity exists, try to do a site evaluation yourself as well. Take the time; become familiar with imaging environment and learn how print is processed. Vendors who complete comprehensive assessments are often in the best position to secure new business.
Nothing ever comes to one that is worth having, except as a result of hard work.Booker T. Washington, American Educator Author and Orator
This one may be a little tougher, but through application will truly establish an MPS Provider as ‘Best in Class”. Assessments should include all machines that process print on a page to determine the true cost of operation. Equipment such as printers attached to workstations via USB or parallel cable (locally connected), fax machines and even scanners all have a financial impact on the print budget. Locally connected printers , while convenient for the end user, typically have much higher operating cost than their networked counterparts. Obtain a machine inventory; identify all machines, find locations, and then determine which machines can be managed. Local printers often represent the greatest opportunity in any cost saving measure but monitoring does come with challenges:
- Printers and the workstations to which they are attached may be difficult to find and/or access.
- Jobs sent to local printers are difficult to monitor.
- Cost of ink, toner and or supplies on personal printers is often excessively high.
- Cost to service personal printers is often more than the purchase price of new equipment.
Local device monitoring is usually not an end-all solution, although it can be. Best in class providers try to establish print patterns and volume output, and then make machine management recommendations based on those findings.
Be able to analyze statistics, which can be used to support or undercut almost any argument.Marilyn vos Savant, Author
As noted in Tip THREE above, define a date range for which data is to be obtained, and then provide sufficient time to analyze the results. Data gathered over one, two or three months is common. Assemble and scrutinize the gathered information:
- Imaging equipment in use
- Volume output by machine
- Over/under device utilization
- Departments with high and low output
- Parts and supplies on hand and discovery of supply sourcing and cost
- Repair/service sourcing and cost
Use the data for volume studies and to determine total cost of ownership . Calculations may be done at business cost, wholesale, retail or whatever meaningful way the information will need to be conveyed.
The beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand.Frank Herbert, Science Fiction Writer
After the analysis has been compiled, discoveries should be distributed to complete the assessment. Executive level sponsors must be made aware of the findings and the prospect’s/customer’s team should be included on the follow up meetings. Their involvement will be essential in the decision making process. As the discovery and recommendation details are shared, the discussion can center on how to positively impact the print environment to reduce operational cost. Open communication helps define the way forward.
Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that planTom Landry, American Football Coach
The sharing of findings between the MPS provider’s management team and the business’ executive sponsor is one of the best ways to facilitate the development and implementation of the final MPS plan. The MPS provider can make recommendations based on findings and the business’ management team can put the ideas presented into practice. During the give and take process, both teams can decide how the program’s success will be measured and add feedback loops for corrections to take place. Implementing a plan without system of checks and balances sets the program up for failure.
I can give you a six-word formula for success: Think things through – then follow through.Eddie Rickenbacker, World War I Fighter Ace
While the overall project from Tips ONE to TEN may seem daunting, once the MPS business plan is discussed, planned and outlined, program execution can take place. A clearly defined path or plan of attack helps to make any MPS program a manageable task. Without a plan, an MPS program is just another good business idea that may or may not work. A “Best in Class” MSP provider who defines a plan, with all factors taken into account (including feedback loops and benchmarks at which successes can be measured), can help most businesses achieve the goals they set forth at the beginning of the print analysis process.