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Monday, October 26, 2009

Managed Print Services is Like a Box of Crayons

2009 -

Forest had a box of chocolates - we have a box of crayons.

And by "we", I mean all of us in the business to business, office automation, document management, Managed Print Services/etc., industry.

And by "crayon", I am not making some left-handed swipe at the ColorCube or Phaser.

Look at what we've got to work with:

Copiers, toner, service, printers, fax machines, fax servers, EDM, scanners, electronic work-flow, monitoring software, automatic fulfill, email, email servers, telephony, readers, the cloud, production, facilities management, BPO's, sales managers, software specialists, leasing specialists, service managers, accounts receivable specialists, MPS specialists, consultants, advisers, coaches, vendors, manufacturers, distribution, training specialists, lease agreements, SLA's, service technicians, sales managers, quota's, owners, on-site service, assessments, help desk, CPI, CPC, copiers, single function, multi-function, color/black and white, tablets, on and on and on...

It's a big box with lots of crayons - some are prettier than others, some have been dulled by years of use, a few still sharp and still others have had their name changed.

Either way, everyone is in the same "box" - I like to think our box is one of those that has the sharpener in the remember.

Look, don't start thinking I am having some kind of MPSA, kumbaya moment, I'm not. There is still friction, there are still those who try to influence others; manufacturers do all they can to make sure "boxes" don't sit in any of their warehouses.

And there are still plenty of areas for improvement and plenty of flawed approaches and beliefs - so be it.

Carbon 6, Digital Gateway, LMI, MWAi, Supplies Network, Synnex PrintSolv, Toshiba Encompass, HP, PagePack 4.0, Okidata Total Managed Print, Konica Minolta OPS, on and on - each program an attempt to coral a bunch of "crayons" for you. Worthy attempts from accomplished leaders, yet has anyone fashioned a crayon'd Mona Lisa or Starry Night?

And here's the rub - they are ALL good.

Every MPS infrastructure package, approach and process from the manufactures to the toner/supplies guys, is a good one.

They're all the same. (What?!)

I have been kicking this issue around for a bit- it seems that the MPS world has all the right ingredients, the correct crayons.

Now It's coming down to that person who decides to use Fuchsia instead of pink. The ones who either stay in the lines or draw new ones.

It is coming down to execution - execution in the field.

This phenomena is nothing new. From industry to industry, the best infrastructure and supporting processes, the prettiest marketing slick, website or Value Statement can't sell on it's own and never could; never will.

My point is this - successful MPS isn't about all the infrastructure, remote meter reads, toner yield or page coverage - these MPS tools will evolve all on their own - successful MPS, just like everything else in life, is all about you.

You, the MPS/Toner/Copier/Printer/VAR selling professional, it is all about you. This is no simple thing because as the center of attention, not only do you get the spotlight, you get the responsibility. Uh, oh.

That's right, just because, as an example, it isn't your fault that your A/R department keeps trying to collect on an invoice raft with bad meter reads - it is your responsibility to get it settled.

All those colorful crayons are for you. The trick is finding your blank sheet of paper and beginning to color, inside or outside of the lines.

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Greg Walters, Incorporated