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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

MaNAgeD PRinT SerVIces - Does it Really Matter How WE Define It?

May 2009-

The first people who wanted to define Managed Print Services were, of course, the consultants. Define it, measure it, survey around it, create reports about it, and sell the data. Nice model.

Not far behind those folks are the "trainers" - oh yes, we all know those guys.

Anything new has got to be figured out - everything new has mystery about it, and as Max once told me,"...where there is mystery, there is margin..."

And when you act as an authority and have a track record of sorts, never mind that the record was based on an archaic and outdated, equipment model, people will pay big time to hear you tell them how to "succeed".

After the "trainers" come the "Providers" - BTA Dealers, copier manufacturers, VARs, and software people. Those who sling gear and sell CPC service agreements.

The last group are those who claim to "...have been selling and providing MPS for 8, 10, 20, 30 years..." - these are the ones who really crack me up, but they are in the "boat" too.

If one were to Google MPS just 12 short months ago, one may have found some hits regarding HP or Xerox and most certainly Photizo - but not Lyra or AIM or BTA, or Kyocera, Konica Minolta, or a great number of copier dealers.

Now, MPS is everywhere - dealers provide it, manufacturers provide it, software people provide it, marketing firms, toner re-manufacturers, and even technology providers talk MPS.

And today, more copier reps are on the street waving their dongles and selling the hot new product, MPS, than ever before. 
(Managed Prints Services - That "Hot, New, Thing...")

Synnex, Ingram, InfoTrends, and Water provide "MPS training" for the salesperson, the dealer, and the owner - honestly, I am a proponent of the "selling is selling, no matter what you sell..." theory. So even though all the MPS Sales courses are simply re-hashed "copier CPC" selling or "Solution Selling" subject matter, that's ok. Any knowledge is good knowledge.

I think the biggest and most significant issue to remember, and one echoed by Xerox's Ashby Lowry at the Managed Print Services Conference last month is that true MPS strives to REDUCE the number of prints and REDUCE THE NUMBER OF MACHINES(IN FIELD).

But how does this reconcile, for example, with Kyocera's need to find homes for more machines? Will they reduce production schedules because they now offer MPS?

How does OPS affect the number of Konica Minolta's vs HP's?

How does this balance with Ricoh/IKON's need to convert more Canon customers to Ricoh? Is there a significant, MPS-based reason to move from Canon to Ricoh?

How does real MPS jive with Xerox selling 3 Phasers with every copier?

Are they paying lip service to MPS or simply defining MPS for their own purpose?
Recently, Lexmark released data defining how much the government is wasting on inefficient printing policies and procedures. The results are not surprising; big government wastes tax dollars, duh. And the Federal Government is a great prospect for solid MPS.

But is it just me, or do you get the feeling that the next article is going to be about how Lexmark, by supplying only Lexmark gear, saved the taxpayer's gajillions?

Is there a good answer to this, no? Is it wrong that when Lexmark wins an MPS deal, it consists of Lexmark(or Xerox, HP, Konica Minolta, Samsung...) only gear? No, not really, because of how they define MPS. Their flavor is tainted with their machines - not a true MPS.

Real Managed Print Services is NOT a technique. It is not a product. It is not a marketing campaign.

Managed Print Service is a process. A process that reduces costs, over a period of time, and enhances the overall, business process and workflow of any company/organization.

This leads me to a simple list of qualifying questions:

If you sell only toner, are you in MPS?
If you sell only Ricoh's, are you in MPS?
If you sell paper, are you in MPS?
If you sell data storage, are you in MPS?
If you sell marketing materials and production of those marketing materials, are you in MPS?
If you sell single-function laser printers, are you in MPS?
If you sell and service only one hardware manufacturer, are you in MPS?
If you sell power control and monitoring devices for the data center are you in MPS?
If you sell directly, exclusively, and strictly to the Purchase Agent of any company, are you in MPS?
If you sell fax servers, are you in MPS?
If you sell laser printer service, are you in MPS?
If you sell contract negotiations, and bid management, are you in MPS?
If you sell office supplies, are you in MPS?
If you sell archiving software, are you in MPS?
If you sell leasing and financial services, are you in MPS?
If you sell into a CRD environment, are you in MPS?
If you sell your business expertise and cost reduction acumen, are you in MPS?

Any one of the above, indeed perhaps a score or two more, can qualify as a component of MPS - that is of course except for one. There is one item in the above list, that completely, unequivocally disqualifies you as an MPS provider and negates your membership as one who plays in the MPS niche.

Care to take a guess at which one?

For us on the "inside" the definition of MPS, of course, is complex. Because MPS can be any one of the answers from above - MPS, true enlightenment in MPS would include ALL of the above and more. But once this is achieved, it no longer is MPS it becomes MIS.(back to the beginning, again)

The ultimate One Throat To Choke.

Back to my original question, "Does it really matter how WE define MPS?"

NO, it does not.

I am reminded of a statement made by Randy Elliot from Dow Chemical at the recent MPS conference. For him, he really didn't care how we defined MPS - it is unimportant to him, as a customer.


That should truly sum it all up - what matters isn't how we define MPS, what matters is how our prospects and clients define MPS.


  1. Amen Brother!

  2. So which one item does not qualify as a component of MPS?

  3. Anon -

    "If you sell directly, exclusively and strictly to the Purchase Agent of any company, are you in MPS?"

  4. Just like the definition of document management, MPS means different things to different people.

    MPS is a concept, and is achieved by aligning with, and complementing the users applications.

  5. Great, interesting list!
    I see several criteria that wouldn't qualify as MPS to me ... and some that would dis-qualify. But the big jolt for me was your "most significant issue" in ID'ing true MPS: that "true MPS" strives to reduce print volume and reduce machines in force. Your own definition, that MPS is a process that reduces costs and enhances overall work-flow, sets a couple of excellent parameters. But that "most significant" criteria essentially -- or at least frequently -- contradicts your own definition.
    Reducing print volume may save dollars, but at what cost to productivity?
    Reducing an imaging fleet could reek havoc with a work-flow.
    Actually, that's the "defining MPS for their own purpose" that you refer to in the post. It's the standard BTA pitch we all heard prior to the death of the copier (to borrow a phrase): "Get rid of all those inefficient laser printers and replace them with a single, decked-out, centralized connected copier."
    Of course in certain work-flows that's a good fit. ... but definitely not in ALL ... and most probably not in MOST.
    Anyway, if we can define MPS so differently, I guess we'll have to continue to cry out with Shawn, "What the hell is MPS?!"

  6. "Primum non nocere"

    Bob - very good reflection.

    And gives me an opportunity to expand and hopefully clarify.

    First, yes I agree that removing equipment for equipment sake is wrong and when harmful to productivity should be avoided - and to be clear, by "Machines in Force" I am referring to both "copiers" and "printers/mfps".

    What I see in the field, is after decades of rampant growth and unchecked procedures, one can practically fall into saving dollars around the office print/document environment in nearly(not all) every prospect out there. (not surprising)

    Hard dollar cost reductions.

    And believing that one of the goals of MPS is to reduce costs, today, most costs are associated with over sold copiers, expensive desktops and arcane procedures - this all before getting into real productivity enhancements.

    And this is today; the future is not what it use to be.

    All the gymnastics going into a hard definition is simply an exercise.

    My personal definition of MPS is whatever my prospect says it is to him.

    And I clearly explain to my prospects that MPS is a process - not a product.

    As MPS is a process, so too, is the "definition" of MPS. And I fully expect that someday, the "P" in "MPS" will be moot, which should give the MPSA fits.

    One last thing - I like the tone of your comment as it points out possible "harm" of the misdirected MPS engagement - I shall give away another golden tid-bit.

    When approaching a new prospect/client/project/engagement, it is important and I set this mentality with myself each time, it is important to internalize this phrase -

    "First, Do No Harm..."

  7. Max - correct, a concept that must match the prospects needs...


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