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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Missed Opportunities in Managed Print Services

Managed Print Services (MPS), or the act of supplying and servicing printing devices, originated before 2007. MPS engagements promise supplies and/or service delivery, billed by usage.

For example, for every page printed, a provider will charge as little as 0.0120 for each. Invoicing is periodic and covers supplies along with any service calls required to maintain the devices under contract. At the base level, when an end user requires toner or a service call, the provider sends supplies or dispatches a technician with the goal of meeting defined Service Level Agreements (SLAs).

The promise of MPS was the continuous management of an unmanaged resource – which would ultimately reduce costs. Some programs promised as much as a 30% reduction in printing costs, but for many MPS clients, these costs were never realized.

From banking to healthcare, every industry has explored the many facets of managed print services and experienced false promises.

There are three basic missed MPS opportunities:
  1. Device reduction and fleet optimization, resulting in lower costs
  2. Support for paper-to-digital workflow transformation
  3. Enhanced customer relationships
Device reduction and fleet optimization

For decades, printers have been purchased and installed ad-hoc. It was assumed that every new employee required a PC and printer to fulfill their assigned duties, so the number of printing devices grew exponentially. The transmission of information shifted from paper to screen, but the production of printers and copiers did not slow.

Overcapacity in print environments was institutional. For example, consider all the copiers capable of reproducing tabloid-sized (11” x 17”) documents. These machines must be physically large enough to support the paper size; rollers, fusers, glass, output trays, and the like. Yet, when analyzed, less than 3% of ALL business output is in the tabloid format, but nearly 90% of copiers were built to support the larger media size.

Today, companies have more print devices than they need, which has generated a pool of underutilized assets and avoidable costs. Though net new device installations are decreasing, a significant increase in operational productivity around the print is still nebulous.

Support for paper-to-digital workflow transformation

As the idea of MPS grew and more assessments were performed, companies started examining the reasons employees print in the first place. (The least expensive image is the one that is never printed.) Additionally, as tablets and smartphones invaded the corporate space, information began to flow from screen to screen more often and businesses naturally started printing less.

For MPS providers, this presents quite a quandary: promoting a reduction in print (one of the marketing pillars of MPS) means shrinking revenues. Presented with the choice of either moving into digital workflow solutions or continuing the old ways of contractual service and supplies management, most providers chose the latter. Regardless, organizations are organically discovering ways to move and present the information faster than the speed of paper: without (and some might say in spite of) printer and copier manufacturers’ MPS programs.

Enhanced customer relationships

Many organizations feel they can better manage cost reduction in-house, without an outside vendor. Aligning internally-managed MPS goals with an overarching organizational vision is easier accomplished without conflicting intent. A provider usually is serving an equipment quota whereas IT departments serve end users.

The missed opportunity for most MPS providers is the chance to become a technology partner. Because printers and the management of output assets fall within the IT realm (an area unfamiliar to most MPS providers) the chance to build credibility with IT in addition to procurement was inherent to the assessment process. Unfortunately, managing to status quo became the norm as breakout opportunities for deeper relationships slipped away.

Today, organizations might be implementing their third or fourth MPS engagement. But what have we learned?

  • Who’s responsible for measuring cost reductions?
  • How are results measured?
  • How do you manage a new MPS program?
  • Do you mix copiers and printers into the SLA?
  • What are the results? Have costs been decreased and goals met?

Here are some basic recommendations:

  • Treat output devices as endpoints.
  • Define and implement clear assessment protocols
  • Initiate asset tags and an asset management program
  • Design refresh strategies similar to PC/laptop
  • Define output goals (for example, paper reduction, enhanced patient experience, etc.) that are supported by executive management

There are around 30 relevant points to consider when looking to reduce the costs associated with moving information within and outside your organization – and the cost of toner is just one. The five recommendations above represent the beginning of a Print Policy.

Stay tuned for my next post, where I’ll share more on how to design a realistic and sustainable Print Policy.

Click to email me.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Don't Buy Another Printer, Copier, Toner, or Managed Print Services Unless You Have One of These.

"Roll the Dice"

I often describe the office print environment in one word, "overcapacity".

Even as manufacturers (Ricoh, Xerox, Canon) start to make smaller footprint devices - it wasn't that long ago when copier reps would mock those little devices - businesses have more print and copy capacity than they need.

It is like the Tragedy of the Commons.

My point: we've been over-purchasing (or over-sold) print devices for decades and it's because the decision process has been unmanaged.

Well, that's not one hundred percent accurate - copier acquisition, printer procurement, supplies fulfillment, and service request procedures have, for the most part, been managed - they've just been managed by VENDORS AND SUPPLIERS.

Not customers.

Think about it -
  • Who tells you the lease buyout figure?  
  • Who determines the "best" device for your needs?  
  • Who conducts the 'agnostic' assessment?  
  • Who interfaces almost daily with your end-users? To you they are end-users, to the vendors, they represent 1,500 images a month.
Expecting your copier, printer, or toner supplier to build a program that supports your cost reduction program is like expecting the wolf not to eat the rabbit.

It is worse than you think.  It usually is.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Not enough people are making a difference in Managed Print Services. There is a Silver Lining.

ENX is celebrating the people making a difference across the document imaging industry.  Every two years, a few notables in the copier and printing industry receive kudos from their peers.

This year, I received a request from Scott Cullen, asking for input.

I've known Scott for a while - interviewed me, many years ago.  I was impressed, I still am, with his ability to draw out relevant information (like a good assessment) and present an easy to identify story(like a good proposal).  He is good people.

I've also known Susan Neimes for a long time.  She's managed to stay among the top of the media heap, through the turbulence.  Good form.

I am often asked for input on a variety of subject matter.  Here is Scott's request and my response:

Hi Greg,

I'm pretty sure I sent you an e-mail about this already, but just in case, here you go again. As someone who has been around the document imaging industry for awhile, I'd appreciate your input. I know you're busy preparing for ITEX (I'll see you there.), but hopefully you have a few minutes before or after to give this some thought.

The May issue of ENX is celebrating the people making a difference across the document imaging industry...

Here’s the criteria to help with your suggestions: The thought leaders and individuals from all corners of the industry (hardware, services, solutions, supplies, associations, analysts and consultants) whose knowledge and opinions their peers and others in the industry value. Some may be doing a terrific job of leading their organizations and building a business, or in some cases, multiple businesses. 

Others are front and center at industry events, participating in panels and seminars, and networking with other document imaging industry professionals. Some are active on social media or contributing content to industry publications.

You can recommend as many or as few as you would like.

Thanks in advance for your help...


Scott Cullen
Editorial Director


My answer is simple: no more usual suspects.

  1. Any thought leader would have nothing to do with manufacturing hardware, so that removes a grip of people.
  2. Real visionaries see OEM enforced quotas as oppressive, this negates others.
  3. Analysts/consultants pontificate based on rearview data and parrot spec sheets as analysis, nothing there either.
  4. Finally, an "MPS program" is no longer innovative and barely relevant.
Nothing from OEMs, the standard copier model participants, analysts, or program managers.  "We've always done it this way..."

There is, however, a collection of luminaries:

Mike Stramaglio - Ignore for a second, battling the monopoly, Mike is compelling channel players re-evaluate their entire accounting system and business model.

Kevin DeYoung - Kevin refused to play the OEM-shuffle-for-shelf-space game long ago and continues to expand the minds of his clients.

Jenna Stramaglio - The Family knows technology and Jenna is great at conveying bold messages.

Kevin Morris - Kevin Morris is running the best MPS model in the industry, he has no peers.

Jennifer Shutwell - For those ready to see, Jennifer, through her work with your MPSA and end users, has illuminated relevant facets of the MpS ecosystem.

Milton Bartley - Milton is an example of successfully pivoting from the status quo, copier model.

Andy Slawetskey - Media aggregator supreme, he gets the words out consistently and has toner in his blood.

Seven points of lights in a crowded, cluster of normalcy.


There you have it.  I may not be a 'difference maker' in 2017...but, I'm good not being on a list.

Click to email me. 

Friday, May 15, 2015

Is Your IT Vision Hung Up on the Past?

Need a new love, yeah I'm ready
Want my time, yeah I'm willing yeah
'Cause I'm the one who's gonna show
When there's nobody

I'll be your man

Yeah, I'm the one who's gonna show
When there's nobody

I'll be your man

I'll be your man

What if one day, while staring out your parent's window, watching retirees water their lawns, you realize that after everything, all the adventures, meetings, and journeys of the previous years, you've become a cliche, irrelevant?  The world stops and you're alone - moving through a bad dream, in slow motion.  Stunned.

Nobody wants to be forgotten, cast aside, wounded, not even dead.  But it happens. Has it happened to you? Hurts? Don't it?

For CIO's and IT Departments, this could be your future.  Irrelevancy.  Once you see 'the  retirees watering their lawns' can you adjust your unit, make the changes and move through the worst?


If you've made the jump from ambivalent ignorance, also known as "bliss", to hard, 12 degree below freezing, self-recognition, reality, here are some ideas that might warm you up:

Help formulate the organization's long term business goals.

Back in olden-times, knowing the difference between EBCDIC and WYSIWYG meant something important. Today, its EBIDA.

Look for 'partners' instead of 'vendors'.

'Partners' are shoulder to shoulder with you during tough times; 'vendors' sell out of a hotdog cart.  Search out deeper relationships, not discounts.

Walk a mile in your end-user's shoes.

Cross training doesn't only refer to athletic programs - consider spending time at a nurses station or in Revenue Cycle. Insight is guaranteed.

Three simple ideas that promise significant impact for your staff, executive management and end user community.

Give them a chance and take your time.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Managed print services, per seat billing. "I have two guns, one for each of you."

It's time to chime in on a subject that's been part of my Mps discussion since 2008 - per seat billing for toner and supplies fulfillment.

By now you've been reading or have heard the buzz around the idea; instead of billing in a 'usage model' or per click, we bill monthly for the number of users.  Benefits for the customer are about the same: supplies and service inclusive. For providers a steady revenue stream, regardless of decreasing print volumes.

Not a bad bargain.

"...that's the rumor..."

I've been a proponent of per-seat billing since 2008 when I was cutting my MPS teeth with Edgeline, inside a VAR.  Billing help desk and other services on a per-user basis was the norm.  Back then, I thought that someday, managing print devices would fall into the same scheme.

Of course, this hasn't happened.

"...that's just my game..."

Two sides of the same coin, arguments for and against, with no clear winner, I put together three reasons 'against' and three reasons 'for'.  Enjoy.

  1. Risk Avoidance - Assessments may be more important than ever, adding another 30 days to the cycle.  It is difficult to convert CPI or toner out costs into a per seat figure.
  2. Implementation - Can your system bill per seat?  How about three different types of seats? Who will handle adds and deletes?
  3. Ignorance - If you're doing Mps, by optimizing a 1:1 scheme, delivering toner/service only, there is little chance you'll understand the complexities and nuances of presenting to an IT professional.  Don't try per seat billing.
"'re a Daisy if you do..."

  1. Easier to bill - Once you determine the SKU(gag), billing is simple.  No meter reads.
  2. Easy to understand - Again, simple billing is a value.  So is an easy-to-understand pricing structure.
  3. Your customer does not care - And your client doesn't care how you bill.
"...I'll be your huckleberry..."

My personal belief is that by the time BTA-types figure out how to confront their fears and live outside the shadow of equipment quotas, there won't be any printing - no matter how we bill, per image, per scan, per seat, or per whim - the cheapest image is the one you don't print.  Ever.

"I was just foolin..."
"I wasn't..."

"....poor were just too high strung..."

Click to email me.

Greg Walters tapped to Reimagine "Managed Print Services"

Alert the Authorities...

Oconomowoc, Wi, May 9, 2015:

Your Managed Print Services Association has asked former MPSA President and current MPSA Board of Director, Greg Walters,  to lead the charge in redefining Managed Print Services.  Greg will be forming a Blue Ribbon task force of MPSA members to collaborate in this effort.

"The time has come to once again press the boundaries," said Walters. “We're stuck in the past if we allow copiers, printers and marks on paper to define us. They do not. Everything the association takes action on supports our definition of the market. As the only, independent, free-thinking, non-profit association in our niche, it is our responsibility to lead into new and dangerous frontiers.”

Greg is issuing a "call to arms" for all MPSA members interested in directing the future of the association, to volunteer and become part of the coterie.

Reach out to him at

"It's pretty simple.  Everything the association takes action on, supports our definition.  That's just it.  It is OUR definition of the market.  As the only, independent, free-thinking, non-profit association in our niche, it is our responsibility to lead into new and dangerous frontiers.  Join us,"  adds Greg.

About the Managed Print Services Association

Founded in 2009, the MPSA is a global, non-profit organization that provides independent communications, collaboration, education, standards and success MPS professionals. The mission of the MPSA and its members is to address and optimize business’ office document management while enhancing the growth, efficiency, and profitability of the MPS segment through advocacy, marketing, education, research, standards and a general community of interest.

About Greg Walters

Greg Walters is an entrepreneur and founder of the notorious destination site, TheDeathOfTheCopier where he comments on all things imaging, the rise of managed services and the advance of business technology. A prolific writer and frequent speaker, Greg shares his passionate, unique—and provocative—view of technology and people addressing the digital impact on 21st century business, the new way of work and society. His book, Death Of The Copier, published in 2014, offers a controversial summary of the early days managed print services and the not so distant future of the hard copy industry. Greg is currently with a regional VAR, building an MPS practice within the IT Lifecycle model. He lives in Oconomowoc, Wi.


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

HIMSS 2015 and Print(?)

HIMSS is a national, yearly show promoting technology in healthcare put on by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society. One can find providers for everything from hospital beds to billing software; from business intelligence to prescription printing.

When I first heard that my new company was attending the HIMSS conference in Chicago, even though I wasn’t even officially yet a member of the team, I elbowed my way into the fold. It was to be the company’s first appearance, which is both odd and timely. You see, we specialize in healthcare and have built solid book of business and stellar reputation in the niche, so it seemed a natural occurrence.

This year, the show hosted thousands of exhibitors and many thousands of attendees – at times it seemed every bus, taxi and hotel in Chicago was inhabited with HIMSS people. The locals were at a loss to explain the sudden spike in population. It gave me great pleasure to explain the show over deep-dish and beer — how every healthcare technology provider in the realm, from software to beds and nursing stations was planting a stake in the ground.

I expected HIMSS to deliver more than any of the shows I typically attend — which it did. If I combine the shows I’ve attended over the past 36 months, HIMSS blows them all away. In scope, in depth and scale of solutions, the event is a tidal wave of technology goodness.

The biggest draws were the software providers, yet a small contingent of managed print services providers managed to land a spot or two.

I knew PrinterLogic was attending and figured the OEMs would be there plying their solutions, but didn’t expect to see any more of the usual suspects. This expectation was proven correct with one surprising exception: FlexPrint.

Who was at HIMSS:

Xerox, Ricoh, Konica Minolta, Lexmark, Canon, Samsung and HP were displaying workflow, scanning, and mobile print. Only Lexmark placed “MPS” on their marquee, but even they had to track down the MPS person.

Konica Minolta has a nifty, Troy-like prescription print solution. Samsung had copiers, scanning, and with the help of Ringdale, follow-me print.

Biggest impressions:


It’s no wonder Big Blue commands attention. The booth was always filled and comprised of multiple solutions — not a printer in sight. The future is all about intelligence and healthcare presents an almost insurmountable amount of raw data. Churning through streams of live metrics and discerning a plan of action is front and center of IBM’s strategy.

Imaging OEMs

Lexmark, Xerox, HP, and Ricoh have sizable portfolios of healthcare solutions. Primarily supported by their direct teams, each is betting heavily on healthcare as a growth area.


I was surprised to hear that FlexPrint was exhibiting – a familiar entity in a sea of strangeness. The ladies of the booth were amicable, posing for pictures and everything, although they saw me as a competitor.

They were there representing the copier niche as a national provider of managed print services. Commendable.


Over the past 12 months, I have shared all I know about this company. I’ve banged the drum and tried to explain to copier dealers the overwhelming significance of this specific offering within an advanced MpS practice. No takers. It is my contention that this sophisticated and elegant solution neutralizes one of the most frustrating managerial issues IT departments face. My opinion isn’t based on a training session or marketing material – paying clients, more than one, have expressed this to me. Enough said. If you’re interested, googlitize PrinterLogic.

What can we learn - three things:

1. In healthcare, print isn’t the most crucial issue, but it is important. For most, finding ways to eliminate inefficient paper-based processes is primary.

2. Our OEMs are small players in this ecosystem.

3. There is little room for an indirect channel. The expertise required is deeper than equipment surveys and toner delivery. Basic MPS engagements in healthcare are living on borrowed time.

Personal Observations:

When I think about MPS practices and copier dealers selling into the healthcare niche, I am concerned. For all the training and customized solutions the OEMs bring to the channel, they seem to barely simply scratch the surface – the print environment is more that simply print servers and cues. There is a world of CITRIX print

Print is a topic of discussion - it was odd, most of our OEMs were talking about digital workflow while the rest of the vendors were talking follow-me print. I spoke with more than a few attendees about follow-me/PIN/cloud/mobile print solutions. Other than access to the network, the biggest concern I heard was errant print jobs remaining, unclaimed, in the output tray. They were shocked to hear this solution has been around since the early 2000s.

Without ringing the doom and gloom bell, again, I’ve seen a slice of the healthcare universe the indirect channel doesn’t know about. I was completely overwhelmed by the relatively insignificant position our OEMs hold – they aren’t the “big boys” in this field.

The opportunity is huge, but the commitment is bigger – three days of technical training and a day of sales classes will not prepare you for the multi-faceted, extremely dynamic nature in healthcare.

My recommendation is to secure as many contracts as possible with clinics, hospitals and networks providing toner and service only. Don’t try to play in the software arena – the existing providers are seasoned, clients savvy and you’ll find yourself competing with your OEM. Get in there and grab the clicks for as long as you can.

Original post, here.

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Greg Walters, Incorporated