Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Managed Print Services, MPS Training and Best Practices: I'm Calling Bullshit

Ok, we all know anyone who claims to have been "doing MPS for 15 years" is nothing but Bravo Sierra - how was anyone trying to reduce costs associated with output back in 1995, re-inking ribbons on an Epson LQ-1050?

Really? Copiers were not even DIGITAL in 1995! Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot!

And if one more ding dong sales consultant tells me that "...MPS is all about TCO..." - but doesn't include costs incurred in the Third Stage of MPS, I may just hurl right then and there.

Do not even get me started on re-hashed IKON Circa 1990 leasing, "Image Management Plus", customer for life, schemes - exactly how many law suits did IKON fend off back then?


So this is what we've come to: years of usage statistics, decades of observed business behavior, so much data about how the world prints, stores and creates documents yet we still do not have any real world benchmarks. No guideposts.

Hell, we don't really have any Guides.

Correction, "guides" do exist. Most just don't know shit about shit and keep telling us they do - that is if you pay them. And the more we pay, the more horsepucky comes out.

Welcome to MPS.

I often get this question, "Greg, why are you so hard on the consultants? Haven't they "been there, done that"? Aren't they the ones that have done all this before, years ago, and been successful at MPS?"

My answer, "No".

There was no such thing as MPS 15 years ago.

There was no such thing as MPS 10 years ago.

Yes, there was CPC, and leasing and FM and TCO and even some EDM software - back then, all this was poised to leverage more gear; more hardware; more printers; more copiers. Increase the MIF, Period.

Current MPS is different from MPS 12 months ago and will be leagues behind MPS of 2011.

MPS is moving fast, outpacing most's ability to contemplate let alone predict.


So today, we take time away from selling MPS to sit in the rooms, listen to the bunk, nod our heads and fight the urge to roll our eyes.

Afterwards, a strange thing happens. In the halls, against the bar, or out by the pool - the real stories are shared.

Phrases like, "I'm sure glad I didn't pay for this..." or "can you believe that guy? I didn't realize FM was MPS...", "15 years!...doing MPS for 15 years!?...I need a drink."

I ain't kidding - un-prompted.

But all is not lost.

The guys who are still in have more battle scars than Rambo. Twenty four hours before the show, we were out selling or supporting or assessing honest to goodness MPS deals - not cut and pasting 14 year old PoWeRPoInT presentations.

And this is my point, again - if you define MPS as CPC, then there are plenty of good consultants.

If you believe that MPS is simply a marketing ploy to move more equipment, there are plenty of good consultants.

If you think MPS runs just fine in SLED accounts, the RFPs are falling out of the trees, go get em.

But if your conviction tells you there is something more, something bigger, something better; if you are making a profit in ways you haven't read about or seen in a slide show, congratulations, you're on the right track. And you're not alone.

Our Best Consultants Are Our Peers - Unfortunately, they are also your greatest competitors.

Yup - those who are making a difference, blazing new trails, 7AM to 6PM, M-F, we are the experts; future guides.

Wouldn't it be grand, if there were some forum, and organization that represents MPS Purity, a place where all could share and benefit from each others experience?

A collection of forward thinkers, not hawking billable sessions - Hell, maybe it is billable, but worth it.

Your MPSA. So far, Your MPSA has not been overwhelmed by yesterday's failures. We struggle with balancing between effective exposure and "Selling Out". We consciously re-focus on the end user, on our membership. You would be surprised how difficult it is to remain "pure".

Go there. Sign up. Fight for the Future. Forgive me, I diverge.

Dirty Little Secret: The 30 to 50% savings Effect.

As we implement MPS, cost savings of up to 50% are not that unbelievable. Even a 30% savings scenario is remarkable. Can you think of any other cost center in business(commercial, not SLED) that could possibly shed 30%?


I look at it this way - any place that has a opportunity to cut 30-40% reflects not only cost reduction, but illuminates processes of great waste, resulting in paying 30% more than required.

Decades of over selling.
Decades of stunted purchasing ideals.
Decades of ignoring the growing waste.

And who was out there a decade ago over selling?
Today's selling consultants.

And who was out there grinding down equipment lease payments as real TCO skyrocketed? Today's CPM's and Facilities Managers.

And who was out there buying the latest Intel processor, virturalizing everything and ignoring the growing toner closets and printer sprawl?
Today's, CIOs and IT Directors.

So, who is responsible for today's 30-50% cost savings/yesterdays waste?

All of the above. All of the above.

That's right. The problems MPS addresses today are the results of sins of the past.

There are a few advisers that I know of and I am guessing some I do not, who do get this. Who understand their position in the MPS Ecosystem.

I think of one guy who has changed his process and training content to realistically match the needs of MPS Selling Professionals.

Another guy who was actually in MPS before MPS - he has a firm grip on everything from commission structures to infrastructure.

And I personally know of a person who is and always has been researching and studying the ever changing, global MPS Ecosystm from the very beginning. His company never researched or trained copiers.

I know there are more, I just don't see them yet.

Am I saying don't go to every MPS seminar you can? No.

The point I am trying to make is simple. It's time to recognize who is guiding us from experience versus those trying to feed us rubbish and calling "bullshit". If we don't, things will never change.

Talk between a couple of in the field MPS Explorers, here.

Click to email me.


  1. I've never attended any MPS training, never been something that I needed....But your article speaks to something very near and dear to me....End User confusion....Clarity is perhaps the most lacking of all services being provided to end-users and customers. I've heard some very interesting conversations from different MPS providers/OEMs/ executives/and so on. One provider focuses on MPS as he put it "focusing on not hardware, not software, or toner carts, or EDM sales, but focus on the pages....pages, pages, pages" and I struggle with understanding how that type of mindset, can ever actually provide ongoing optimization and active management of a print and document process environment? How can a MPS provider focus on reducing customer pages and improving document-centric processes, if their main focus is on getting more pages? The other executive, mentioned something I've rarely heard (other than in my own MPS environment and experience), they don't necessarily approach their potential MPS customers as a cost savings program. They in fact focus on the customer's pain points around print, and removing them. Saving money becomes simply just another added benefit! eh?! WHA?! Those two mind-sets are COMPLETELY different. and for customers trying to stay competitive, and ensure their pain points and print environments are managed, will struggle with understanding the difference unless someone helps them through strong principles and well-defined guidance, standards, and best practices. I believe that the first method can help businesses reduce costs, and may be all some companies need/want. Finding creative ways to remove current print costs, redesigning the customers expenses into a flat rate, that's more transparent to their costs, brings awareness and helps them track their spend. But that doesn't mean it's MPS....The MPSA definitely has the capability to help gather the Best of the Best from those companies in the industry who are leading, and ensure that end-users understand the terms/methodologies/and solutions that will best meet their needs. Clarity.Principles. Tendentiousness.Independence. should all be expected from the MPSA

  2. When you boil it all down MPS is total bull$hit. Its just re-marketing what we have always done in the office equipment business. Its nothing more than the latest buzzword.

    There is something even more hideous about the MPS contracts I have seen out there.....its just a rebranding of the worst practices of our industry.

    I've got one on my desk right now where Xerox put a gullible medical practice with a fleet of relatively new Ricoh mid and high volume equipment under an "MPS" agreement. 6-months into the "MPS" agreement some of the equipment began to need things other than toner and the customer quickly realized they had been screwed as Xerox MPS neither had the parts or the expertise to service the equipment they had put under contract. Unfortunately the customer is now locked in on a long term "MPS" contract where the vendor can't perform and their only answer is to pull machines out of the field that are one year old and roll the financing. The customer likes their Ricoh equipment and feels totally violated by Xerox and the lies they were told regarding their ability to maintain the current fleet of equipment at a reduced cost.

    Ultimately the "MPS" dust will settle and the charlitains of our industry out there will once again be forced back underground till the next new industry buzzword/scam comes around. Kind of like the old 3/5 lease programs from years ago.

    When you boil it all down, hardware has costs. Parts and supplies have costs. Quality, timely service by qualified technicians has a cost. These costs do not go away regardless of how a desparate MPS salesman tries to package the "Solution". Quality never comes on the cheap.

    "It is unwise to pay too much - but it is worse to pay too little.

    When you pay too much, you lose a little money -that is all.

    When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was supposed to do.

    The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot - it can't be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that, you will have enough to pay for something better.

    John Ruskin, 18th Century Economist"

  3. It's not managed copier service, it's Managed PRINT!
    Yes, there were companies selling all the components - assesment, installation, service, consumables. But client server wasn't at the lead, it was IBM mainframe and midrange systems along with DEC, Prime, etc. Printers were mainly impact as they were the lowest cost of operation, and lasers were struggling to exceed 30 pages/minute. But many hospitals and manufacturing organizations had their printer fleets outsourced back in the 90s.
    The copier companies were the last to the party - both in IT relationships and technical capabilities.
    It's interesting to see the situations repeated again and again, with new buzzwords and packaging :-)

  4. Hi larryu - Thanks for reading DOTC.

    I see you have a deep, IT, pedigree - xlint.

    I agree, old is new, but slightly askew this time.

    And yes, for now, "managed print" is the easiest catch phrase to understand...but print is going away.

    I know, I know..."never" - Not paperless, less paper.

    Thanks again, and keep coming back.