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Monday, April 20, 2009

What's With Xerox and Buffalo?

Back in December I wrote about the Buffalo Bills committing to Xerox and today, thanks to Art over at P4P another interesting tid bit:

Xerox gets to bid for the Buffalo School district all by nice.

Lately I have been railing against responding to any government/education based RFP that requests a Managed Print Services component. I will not get into the reasons here, perhaps at a latter date.

But - according to an news cast out of Buffalo, seems one can be the lone bidder on 300 copiers, unless a competitor gets wind of the shenanigans.

Oce plays the spoiler, claiming they can "compete head to head with Xerox..." except Oce is an off-shore concern and does not manufacture a product line as deep as Xerox. And apparently, the district was so happy with Xerox service and cost savings the CEO felt no need to "go to bid".

Now, of course, the district is required to go through the wasteful bid process and another Xerox rep's sales funnel gets clogged again.

You gotta love this stuff.


  1. just want to test out an idea...
    suppose an independent MPS had an education piece for special ed or english as a foreign language.

    Then the sell is the wiki based program, and the boxes and MPS stuff is the benefit of doing business.

    The ed stuff comes out of the special ed and ELS budgets. They have heaps of money and will have heaps more.

    Meanwhile, if it works, nobody is going to be looking with a microscope athe click charges. They are just the hardware infrastructure to implement the total package of the end program.

    I know this sound complicated, but i think I can show anyone who is interested how to make it simple.

    pbwiki plus google aps + classroom or dept printers, then a CRD, then a link to an outside print4 pay.

    Plus you don't have to talk to any IT people!

  2. Sounds interesting, but so does scanning/archiving all school records - has that happened?

    Sounds interesting, but so does eliminating all paper based texts and distributing a Kindle to every student. And...?

    Sounds interesting, but so does printing test questions on both sides of the page - PRINTING, not copying...

    Sounds interesting, but so does emailing the syllabus to students instead of copying last year's, single sided...

    The above examples related directly to "value" - something these "lowest-bid-wins" types have never and will never understand.

    You mention your recommendation may be complicated, and it is, I understand it, but I am in the industry - try explaining this to the Special Ed Dept Head, a high school principle or the Board of Ed.

    Sure, everyone will nod and smile, but in the end, somebody is going to ask, "do you think we can save the tax payers money, and get it cheaper?"

    Over 20 years of selling - lot's has changed but the "lowest(heaviest) bid wins" process has NOT evolved.

    As for not engaging the IT people, I will risk talking to them over talking to a purchasing agent every single day - especially those in gov't. Again, smiles and nods...smiles and nods...

    Additionally, I must take you to task regarding a specific issue - Managed Print Services does NOT refer to any type of Print for Pay scheme(and I do mean scheme)in a dying industry.

    Managed Print Services is commonly referred to as the management of output devices, control of output streams and Document Management - that is moving "documents" around, not the creative and production of marketing or communication materials.

    Good Managed Print Services engagements work toward a solid, predictable ROI - for both hard and soft costs.

    Good Managed Print Services engagements approach the client holistically, solving problems that go beyond the printer/copier/MFP/CPC/CPI/CPP model.

    Good Managed Print Services sales people are not afraid of telling the client they are wrong, and they are not afraid of walking away from a "loser" proposition.

    Thanks for commenting, keep coming back

  3. TCI finds himself in agreement with much of what Mr. Walters states.

    TCI slinks back into the underworld to consume ramen noodles and the significant portions of the significant other's birthday cake.

    Mmmmmm... cake not bids... should be someone's tagline.

  4. Greg,

    All good points. So, given that the top folks are too busy being busy, what do you think of coming in from the bottom. Find the evangelist teacher, do a proof of concept, if it works it will get on someone's radar.

  5. Dr. -

    You pose a very classic sales problem - this approach, get in low and show up on someones radar, sounds like "hope", and hope is never a plan.

    It's a terrible thing because the Education niche should be the area we invest the most but the evaluation system is not always the best.

    Although I do agree that some degree of "attraction" is a good strategic component.

  6. Greg-

    Fair enough. I've spent my life with "creatives" so excuse the hope stuff.

    So what do you think about this?

    Start the conversations with the Teacher's Unions. Every school board is going to face cutting costs. The easiest way for the admin is to cut staff. But that means a big blablabla that nobody wants to get into.

    The union needs to show how to cut costs without cutting teacher pay or staff.

    The story you posted on the Canada thing is a perfect example of how to do exactly that.

    So, print up case studies, get them on the radar of the union shop stewards. Do it as "information" not as a sell.

    Also, this may not be obvious. To change education doesn't mean the MPS has to spend lots of money. Evangelist teachers will jump at the chance. It's like wikipedia.

    If they get any good results I bet it would go viral.

    And just a thing about MPS being commonly defined as output . . .

    So suppose it was reframed as managed Print services. It might be an easy shift with lots of upside.

    My bet is that this is way out of the comfort zone of MPS guys. But if you can have some conversations with Print Service Distributors, that should be a way to deal with that part.

  7. One more ....
    you got it right when you say ...some degree of "attraction" is a good strategic component...

    Go the non profit route as in . .
    "XYZ MPS is working with ABC non profit to improve blablabla."

    The MPS is lending (for 6 months) equipment and expertise, the ABC non profit is donating their expertise.

    You get your equipment in front of the teachers. You're not selling so people will get less defensive. Everybody loves you because you are giving back to the community. Probably would mean awesome brand building in all the other schools.

    The thing about non profs - education included - is they think they are doing God's work and all these sleazy business people just want their money. This could flip you to getting on the side of the angels.

    The bet is that once they try it, they'll love it. And once they love it, they'll find the money and make up some blablabla about ROI to cover their decision.

  8. You got me I bloviated..
    comments either here or there are fine with me...


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