Search This Blog

Friday, December 26, 2014

10 Timeless Managed Print Services Truths - "I Wanna Get Better"

This piece first appeared in December of 2014, on The Imaging Channel.

After five years of managed print services, one would imagine a standard set of MPS rules would rise out of the fog. (I know, you’ve been doing MPS for 25,000 years) The debate over what exactly MPS stands for — not the acronym, but the vision and real value of managed print services - rages on.

Do you remember the great device-to-technician-ratio discussion of 2008?

Copier dealers had well-established ideas developed and honed for decades, but they didn’t apply in MPS. There are a number of “rules” associated with toner yields as well, but have they made you money or did they cost the last MPS manager his job? It is easier to see guidelines take shape rather than hard rules. Benchmarks are almost the same: MPS benchmarks are difficult to establish, and best practices simply hold us accountable to somebody else's model.

Four years later, at the 2012 Lyra Imaging Symposium, vendor scorecards showed lower profits and a majority of the industry OEMs have been utilizing the same rules since 1979. Today, they find themselves 41 percent behind Q4 2007 numbers. Stunning, isn’t it? What’s it called when one plays by the same rules expecting different results?

Roll in the evolution of less print: From 1991 to 2001, printing paper shipments increased 27 percent, but from 2000 to 2009, they decreased 27 percent; it is not that difficult to see.

MPS contributes to shrinking print and copy volumes, which in turn reduces the prospects’ need to buy OEM toner, parts, and machines, resulting in fewer printed pages, fewer printers, fewer copiers, and fewer virgin cores.

This has been and remains the biggest Catch-22 with MPS — the one issue OEMs can’t seem to get their minds around quickly enough: MPS contributes to the reduction of machines in the field, yet every single OEM has an MPS program in hopes of reducing the other OEMs’ machines in the field. Suicidal? No. Madness? Indeed. Transformative? Absolutely.

MPS moves fast

Time is accelerating as well. Yesterday’s enterprise was about print, copy, 60-month leases, CPC contracts, locking customers in, flexing, selling more capabilities for the same price, auto-renewals and built-in obsolescence — and that was less than 36 months ago.

Back in 2013, World Expo presented managed print services to a hungry audience. We were re-exposed to the MPS basics of toner, service, remote monitoring, and cost-per-image billing. Back then, discussing VARs and "managed network services" was fresh and new.

MnS is nothing more than managed services.

Technology evolves faster than we comprehend. It took a decade for everyone in America to have a car, a phone, and indoor plumbing. In only 12 months, back in 2010, Apple sold 14.8 million tablets and then matched that entire year in one quarter on the way to 40 million units in 2011 — which already seems a decade ago.

Everything converges and accelerates into the future at a dizzying pace.

There is barely enough time to breathe, let alone establish a set of rules. The good news is there are natural laws that — when recognized — can help us keep our bearings as we boldly move through this unexplored space.

Consider the following a few suggested guideposts along your MPS journey and business transformation.

1. Be aware
2. Be adaptable
3. Be a partner
4. Be lean
5. Be a leader
6. Be open
7. Be defiant
8. Be basic
9. Be the ruler

10. Stand or fall

1. Be aware

The first rule is simple: Know who you are, your world, and your place in it. Self-awareness is the foundation of all change. For example, if you are strong when it comes to delivering toner, use this as a foundation to grow on.

When you look at your client base and see a vertical, use that information as an additive to your business personality and value proposition. Take a deep dive and perform an assessment of your entire business operation.

Are you flexible, open, and adaptable enough to look at how you have been running your business and then change it?

Caution is recommended here; there are just a few full-scale business assessments in our industry. “Full-scale” refers to every facet of your business: finance, sales, inventory, infrastructure, partnerships — everything. This is different than the standard “How are you selling?” and “How does your service desk work?” evaluations.

This transformation from copiers to MPS to managed services is a magnifying glass. If your current systems are flawed, adding a new process will turn cracks into crevasses.

Also, get to know your customer’s environment outside of printing. Look at the workflows, recognizing choke points and other areas for improvement from a business perspective — not a toner, services, or print perspective.
  • Are they looking to move to IP phones or tablets? 
  • Check to see if they are outsourcing their IT support today and how much they pay. 
  • Do they feel the money is well-spent? 
  • Do your customers use Twitter? 
  • Do they write or read blogs? 
  • Be aware of your world and the world around you. Open your eyes.
2. Be adaptable

The days of churn and burn are nearly at an end; this option is a dead end, but that doesn’t mean doom and gloom. The opportunities and directions are endless, but flexibility in all phases is necessary to survive and thrive. Compensation, for instance, has been reasonably stable over the decades.

Can you look at paying for performance differently? Are you flexible, open, and adaptable enough to look at how you have been running your business and then change it? For instance, if you are under the traditional toner supply model with notifications coming directly to you, consider and be open to a different model. If you see more documents heading toward screens instead of paper, would you consider reselling or partnering with a tablet's OEM? Adapt or die.

Join us over the coming weeks as we review the remaining "Timeless Truths".  Oh, the fun we will have.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Contact Me

Greg Walters, Incorporated