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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Never Go Out of Style: Managed print Services Inside a VAR

"You come and pick me up, no headlights
A long drive,
Could end in burning flames or paradise..." - T. Swift 
Mps Practice Managers, salespeople, BDMs, specialists, consultants, experts, evangelists, directors, principals, planning managers, and vice-presidents - I got a question for you:

If you had the chance to build an MPS practice, today, from scratch, inside a VAR,  how would you do it?

Where would you start?  Building a team? Compensation plans?  Assessment tools and DCAs?

What's your visionary statement?  Would you put together another, two-dimensional, old-school, top-down, business plan?  Really?

What about legacy accounting systems, dispatch, vendor relationships, existing BDM mentality, corporate philosophy/culture,  probes, NOC, SLAs, BDR, MS, and customer transformation off paper?  Can you lead or will past mistakes haunt you like the phantoms of Macbeth?

Inside this turbulence,  I'm sure some ask,

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Building an Managed print Services Practice: LA to Oconomowoc #MPS #copiers

By David Cameron; CEO, Cameron Consulting Group, March 27th, 2012

Greg Walters is a well-known blogger, rebel, truth-seeker, and now a consultant in the managed services field for print and IT.

This article focuses on his leadership and—at times—exasperating experiences in building an MPS practice inside a large West Coast VAR. Adding managed print services (MPS) was an uneasy fit that didn’t demonstrate its value until after Walters took over. As the MPS practice grew more than $1 million, the plan shifted and the practice was folded into the much larger managed services group to leverage common processes and resources. It is an open question whether the MPS practice will retain its edgy personality and strong growth rate as it goes mainstream as part of the VAR services portfolio.

Greg Walters took over the immature managed print services practice

Build a SuperTeam for Managed Print Services - 2013

First posted, 2013, here.

I’ve spoken to many successful managed print services providers over the past few months who have said that commitment is the key to success in MPS.

As a foundational step, I agree.

Yet to fully achieve that, organizations need a team of MPS specialists, which may either be created outright or grown organically out of necessity. Today, I outline six basic players in a successful MPS SuperTeam:

“The Hub” – This person is all-knowing, all-seeing. She understands vendor relations, sales, dispatch, warranty, invoicing, meter reads, monitoring, technicians—and can manage them all. She handles customers, runs the books and knows CRM inside and out. She works within the rules, but is not afraid to stretch them.

“The Face” – This is the internal MPS evangelist. A true believer, he sees the value of MPS in his world and in the customers’ realm. He typically does not “throw all the services against the wall” in an effort to see what sticks. He can carry an MPS conversation almost up to business process outsourcing and knows how to gracefully bring in The Knight.

“The Knight” – This team member knows more about MPS than anyone else. He understands the corporate MPS vision because he helped create it and continues to support it. The Knight could sell MPS on his own and one day just might. But he is a team player and knows his position on the field. When the practice makes money, presents a 48 percent GP/19 percent in Net Income, he credits everyone else. When the practice burns a slow, terrible, painful death he alone takes responsibility and the long walk.

“The Master Mechanic” – The ultimate technician; a tech’s tech. He knows how to handle EVERYTHING and keep the promises made by The Face. Experienced, tested and seasoned, this person is customer-centric, not afraid to learn the new technology and can dissect an old Konica blindfolded. The “Master Mechanic” can show a rookie how to install fusers or remove misfeeds. He is the rare technician. We all know one.

“The Majordomo” – This person is part of executive management and an MPS believer. He understands the impact of MPS on the entire organization in all areas: gross profit, service revenue and customer retention. This person will sell internally and run interference when ownership wants to “improve” the MPS process or assimilate the practice into the “bigger picture.” He’s a straight shooter who knows what battles to fight and how to address the King.

“The King” – This is the one person who can defy logic. It is his vision that “your” practice supports. If he feels MPS no longer fits the vision, you’re out. No matter the margin, market, or how much blood you’ve put in, it is his decision. He can say “yes” or “no” all on his own.

In my opinion, these are the primary positions. You will certainly have more than one tech, and you will engage a team of salespeople; possibly midlevel management, department heads and fellow practice managers. Your team is the core of the practice.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Managed print services in 2017: PSO is the New Mps

"Pro-actively optimize devices and processes associated with presenting information in the form of documents, regardless of medium." - GRW
If you understand the above definition, you quickly see the traditional MPS definition as stunted, restrictive.

I submit to you, the active MPS practitioner, a vision, philosophy, strategy and tactic that will expand your horizon beyond toner and service.  Print Server Optimization(PSO).

Stated simply, PSO delves into:
  • End user data - you remember them, right?
  • Less network traffic - compression, encryption and the like...
  • Mobile print - like anyone really prints reams from their phone/tablet/LT
  • Secure/pull/follow you print - 'nuf said
  • Optimized print driver management - look into this...
  • Fewer print servers - NO NOT A UNIVERSAL PRINT DRIVER
  • Easy to execute, end-user installations - with maps n stuff that show what printers are available
  • and more...
I double-dog-dare you...I TRIPLE DOG DARE call your best IT contact(you have one of those, right?) and ask him how he feels about managing print servers.

Go ahead, ask.  Ask him what happens when a print server blinks out.  Ask him how long it takes to manage all the print drivers on his network and if the automatic configuration of printers would be a good thing.

Here's a delicious suggestion, find a prospect with a print policy designed by your competitor(you have one of those, right?) and ask him why they didn't include print server optimization.

Go ahead. Ask.

I've gotten behind a few programs in the last seven years or so, this one - the reduction of print servers - I see as the next big wave to hit not just our niche, but the entire technology landscape.  Why not get into the movement today and leverage the talk track into a deeper IT relationship?

Would you like to know more?

This is a wave we can celebrate.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

ITEX 2015: Copierville is a Fireball

"Everything dies baby that's a fact
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back" - BS
"Mr. Worldwide to infinity
You know the roof on fire..." - Pit
This year's ITEX show was one of the more interesting versions.   Fewer attendees?  I don't know the numbers, but maybe.

Was business conducted?  Yes.  Was the location right?  Yes.  Did the sessions stir thought and impart ideas? Yes.

Was it obvious that Managed print services as an offering, is waning. Yup.

This time around, I was fortunate to help the good people at ITEX  document the show through video.  If you were there, you probably some guy walking around with a mic and a video guys in tow - asking all the 'tough' questions.

I talked with many and worked the floor an entire day - booth to booth, person to person - and in those travels, I was able to glean some interesting thoughts and hear directly how some in the industry feel the niche is transforming.

Change is constant, here are some of my observations
  1. Less toner focus but the big guys are marketing.
  2. IT services providers are solid with an entire row dedicated to managed services
  3. New Hardware announcements and products were on parade but it just doesn't matter and that's a good thing.  Consumers of devices care less about logo's and ink versus toner than we.  

The ubiquity of Managed print services is about as exciting as wallpaper.

If you're truly ready to venture out into the IT realm, Mps is your gateway. Connectivity, conversations with IT departments and relieving them of a headache issue, are all part and parcel of a visionary Mps.

Companies like PrintFleet(Artificial Intelligence), Print Audit(Per Seat billing), MWAi(real, copier based accounting systems) and AVG(flexible, proven, managed services offering) offers opportunities beyond the pubescent toner and machine management.

There are dealers making the visionary decisions and moving beyond OEM, MPS, and quotas
"We love the show, this is our second time and we are definitely coming back next year..."
Every show attracts criticism - it is a tradition. This year, the negative observations say less about show content, venue and PowerHours and more about the niche.  Our relatively small industry is contracting not expanding - the most revered and longest running conference(Itex) is reflecting these changes, not projecting: another Sign.

Itex will be back next year at the same venue, but will copiers survive beyond 2016? Sure, of course.  At this very moment, somebody, somewhere is manufacturing and selling buggy whips.

Monday, March 16, 2015

ITEX 2015: "Mount Gay"

The best conversations occur after the show, around a bar, cold, adult beverage in hand.  This year, the drink of choice, pour moi, was the historic Mojito.

The best Mojito's were made with Mount Gay rum - and yes, when ordering, "Mount Gay" should be said with gusto.  Mucho Gusto, my friend.
"I may not always drink rum, but when I do, its Mount Gay..." - B.R.
What copier-goodness conversations flowed as we climbed Mount Gay?


Print servers -
I've been ringing this bell for a while now:  Mps should include all the devices and process involved with moving information within and between organizations regardless of medium.

Print servers have long been the bane of many IT Directors - so why don't we help them control, managed and optimize their print server fleet?

I know a great company that has a very lucrative dealer program.  Contact me and I will get you connected.

Decreasing toner sales, cores and companies -  Dive a million dumpsters and you'll surface empty handed.  Cores are hard to find.  Are you surprised or simply choosing to ignore another sign?

True to every other evaporating industry, consolidation of the largest players foretell the end. That's what we talked about - the big toner remans getting together, colliding cultures, marketing talk tracks and managed print services programs.  Big Bang.

The passing of an niche - 
Around the bar, we all agreed that managed print services as it was and as it once was to be, is dead. The reasons are too many but paramount in its demise are the OEMs and their disingenuous talk tracks about savings and optimization.

We all see customers reducing the number of devices, both A3 and A4, as more optimize 'in-house' without manufactures.

As Itex 2015 fades in the rearview, I think the lesson taken home is more about smaller, focused, dealerships than big, broad, hardware mass marketing.

To be celebrated, not feared.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Eight Characteristics of a Growing Managed Print Services Practice


After five years of managed print services, one would imagine a standard set of MPS rules would rise out of the fog.  And yet there is still debate over what exactly MPS stands for — not the acronym, but the vision and real value of managed print services.

I remember the great device-to-technician-ratio discussion of 2008.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Stealth Sale: Print Server Elimination. Why don't you understand?

Managed print services was suppose to be about helping clients reduce the number devices and printed documents, saving them "30%".

Although clients are indeed reducing their numbers, it's had little to do with our hardware quotas; their reducing all by themselves.

  1. Eliminate headache and costs - ask your IT how much time they spend managing print servers.  I dare you.  I can tell you, they hate it.
  2. Acquire end-user, print behavior patterns - DCA's collect machine data, server elimination software organically collects user data.  Figure it out.
  3. Raise the level of conversation - stop talking about toner, but if you must discuss hardware, why not discuss print servers.
Like 'plastics' in the 50's and 60's, print server elimination is the next big thing. But like our stealth bomber few see it coming.

Can you?  Need help?  Reach out to me.

The B2 flying towards the Rose Bowl, 2015

  Click to email me.

If I Had a Heart: Drop the "Print" from Managed print services. The World According to Greg

March 2015 

Heartbreak and glory - the times are changing universally. One turn in my personal metamorphosis is stepping down as President of the Managed Print Services Association.

My involvement with the MPSA started at the very beginning, back when a room full of folks voted to form the association at  Photizo 1.  I am honored to have served and proud of all the accomplishments we've achieved - it has been a great time.

Congratulations to the new Managed Print Services Associations executive board:
President: Kevin DeYoung, Qualpath - owner, managed print services visionary, leader
Vice President: Doug Bies, Canon USA - new, passionate, cutting edge philosophy
Secretary: Sarah Henderson, West Point Products/Clover Technologies - stalwart, foundational, dedicated
Treasurer: Lou Stricklin, Muratec America - solid, fresh, tactician
Today, as I exit the Oval Office,  relegated to a Board of Director, I am free from the yoke of compliance, broken are the shackles of other's stunted and spun opinion, open to express my opinions based on observed behavior, not Survey Monkey or the corporate drawer statement.

I am unencumbered by concerns about how a potential sponsor or customer might feel. 

Free to ignore conversations geared around the ROI of donating $10,000.00 for a corporate membership.  

We were not lying when we said your ROI is measured by your contribution to the industry, not shelf space, or tossing our membership into your sales funnel.

The shackles of self-censorship have fallen away...


My managed print services observations or better yet:

The World According to Greg

Managed print services is Dead and the OEMs killed it -

That's what I said.  

It was called 'managed print services' not 'managing printers & service'.  Leveraging the 'services' model to increase MIF is disingenuous and prospects see right through the scam.

Customers do not care -

Speaking of customers, they don't give a rip about the toner remanufacturing process.  They don't care about the seven steps of xerography, and their eyes gloss when you speak of ink vs. toner; color vs. B/W, or mobile print.  Stop doing that.

Find something else to talk about - say business-oriented, like employee morale, the impact of BYOD, and managing print servers.

My advice to the incoming MPSA Executive Board - 
  1. Change the definition of managed print services and the direction of the MPSA.  Move away from toner, printer, and hardware - to a "Managed Services Association".  Expand the horizons, and blow the minds of millions.
  2. Do not fall victim to the procedure, meeting paralysis, Roberts Rules of Order planning on how to do something without ever doing anything.
  3. Once a member proclaims, "...that's not the way I operate..." they've volunteered.  The association, like our industry, is at a crossroads.  Like times in the past, both glory and ruination await.
Ideas are bulletproof -

Not only is the world on a path to less paper, but the new world will be populated with self-healing devices - no need for as many service technicians.

Managing services for your clients is the future.  This core idea is unflappable in a turbulent sea of rhetoric, incorrect research, and marketing talk.

The world of MPS, like life,  holds promise and doom - fortune, glory, and tragedy.  False promises? Yes.  Self-interest? Of course.

When haven't we experienced both?

To make a move, a real move, we've got to take that leap of faith...again and again, and again.  Heartbreak, then Glory.  Glory, then heartbreak.

Always.  All ways.

Click to email me.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

"Managed Print Services? Never heard of it. I sell machines and disaster recovery..."

pariah |pəˈrīə|
1 an outcast: they were treated as social pariahs.
2 historical a member of a low caste in southern India.
It wasn't long ago, the darling of the dance, managed print services, was filled with wonder and promise. Like Carrie's senior prom, that bucket of toner came crashing down spoiling mood and prom dress alike.

Yes, it is true - managed print services has become the industry pariah - oh how the mighty have fallen. Supplanted by help desk, email, and disaster recovery the lowly printer has left the stage.

Managed print services has ended up meaning little more than service and toner delivery leveraged to lock customers in, expand shelf space and drop more machines in field. But that wasn't what MPS should have been.

It had the potential for so, so much more but we couldn't handle it.  True mps is huge, expansive and all inclusive; a concept including printers and wireless routers, scanning, digital workflow, and the paperless life.

Too Big for Most People's Mind -

They invited managed print to the prom, put her on stage. Then, in a pre-planned scheme, they attempted to shame and belittle.  Unlike Carrie's story, the devious ones here understood the overwhelming power of a new business model.  Instead of simply embarrassing the concept, the sought to destroy it.  They've succeeded.


"...And the raven was called sin..."

The prom is over.  But there is always another dance, another Carrie.

Let's try something that isn't tied to OEM hardware. Indeed, let's start proposing and selling ideas that ROMOVE hardware from the equation(one possibility derived from mps). The scary truth is your prospects and customers are doing it right now, with or without you.

Would you like to learn more about how your business could move away from OEM driven quotas?

Reach out to me.

Contact Me

Greg Walters, Incorporated