Thursday, March 16, 2017

Is Seat Based Billing the Next MpS Boondoggle?

boondoggle |ˈbo͞onˌdäɡəl| or activity that is wasteful or pointless but gives the appearance of having value.

In 2007, I traversed the sun drenched thoroughfares of Southern California - from the 'Bu to the Border, Laguna Beach to Victorville.

I was part of a new movement, "Managed Print Services", working for a big VAR, part of HP's flex into the copier niche(sound familiar?) with an MPS program and a new copier-killer, Edgeline.

Like most VARs, we were built on value added services attached to hardware sales. Unlike most, our newly built NOC helped the move to services based revenue streams. In addition to classic T/M contracts, email hosting, backup/disaster/recover, remote management and remediation, and help desk were part and parcel of our value proposition.

At the time, managed print services fit well into our portfolio; the notion was to integrate all services and bill per user, per month.  I didn't consider this a 'good' or 'bad' idea, it was simply the established method.

We folded our per click model into the per user or 'seat' amount and soon ran into challenges -
  • What if we calculated the per seat cost but users printed MORE than we anticipated? 
  • Could we discern between "high-volume" users and provide tiered billing?
  • How do I get EAutomate to bill by user?
There was risk.
“...A good friend of mine(Greg Walters), talked about SBB back in the olden days, and I told him it wasn’t going to work - but when Print Audit and West started bringing in high powered guys like Luke Goldberg, I knew it was going to fly”.
"If dealers don’t jump on this, they should just call their bankruptcy attorney today. "
- Anonymous
Unfortunately, back then, SBB for MPS, found few advocates.  In 2008, industry know-it-alls labeled managed print services a fad; the latest scheme by some to remake the copier industry.  The successful copier dealers could barely spell 'MPS'.

Since then, I've been inside VARs, across the country learning one thing - even if an MpS program is 'out of the box' easy, or well established, most IT providers treat print like 'fly-over' states.  Separate in practice, structure and billing.

Has the time come?  Is per user invoicing the second coming?

Yes and No.

Boon - "Cause your's is the best in the county, isn't it 'mam?"

Billing per user is easier for the client.  No meter reads, or confusing invoices.  When faced with a quote of $9.00/emp/month, prospects find the decision to move forward, easier.

Imagine a business with 150 employees; 75 are knowledge workers.  This account would generate $675.00 each month, no matter how much they print/copy.  (Not sure if that is big or small for you.)

Indeed, as prints decrease, and head count remains constant,  costs fall against steady revenue.

This fits nicely in the true goal of a solid, contemporary managed print services engagement: reducing output.

Boondoggle - "...and you sir, in the yellow shirt, come on up on stage..."

Across industries, the best sales people rarely, if ever, discuss pricing.

Converting cost per image into cost per user and presenting this idea as a 'value-add', reduces(once again) the conversation to price, moving away from business solutions, focusing on cost as a primary motivator.(I know, I know...)

Same race to the bottom, different vehicle.

So what can you do?  More importantly, who do you go to for real world advice?  A sinner.

"Who can lead you off that crooked road?  You need real sinner, people. A sinner of such monumental proportions that all your sins wrapped up in one couldn't possible equal the sins of this King of Sins..."

Listen to A Sinner - "...I have danced with the demon satan..."

How To Implement a Per User Model for MpS

Create SBB in-house

Our industry either builds or subs out services - MpS and Managed IT can be provided by aligning with outsourced programs like Collabrance, Continuum, PrintSolv, and others.  Soon there will be SBB programs sponsored by toner remanufactures.

Is this right for you?  I'm not sure.  I once believed the only way to offer SBB was to rely on distributors.  Only they can spread the perceived risk over large amounts of devices/toner.

But today,  the risk isn't in toner delivery.  Aligning with toner suppliers for SBB my be as counter productive as partnering with transactional copier dealers when designing a print reduction program.  The motivations are diametrically opposed.

So do it in-house.

Work closely with your managed IT services practice. MpS is IT.
Approach through IT, present as a managed program, not "toner and service just like your copiers"(upchuck).  If you're not providing any IT services, stop reading this now and go feed your pet dinosaur.

Sell one more service(IT).  MpS and Trees.
Embed MpS with backup disaster recovery or remote monitoring and management.  Expand your current MpS services to include "remote output monitoring" or something similar, utilizing the full capacity of your data collection agent.  If you don't know what I mean, stop reading this now, and go feed your dinosaur.

Line of business integration? Forget 'bout it.
Of course you want to integrate your even existing CPI billing structure with the new managed IT and SBB programs.  But it isn't easy.  All it takes is a spreadsheet and a separate P/L - your MpS practice has its own P/L, right? Tsk, tsk.

In the end, SBB is a good idea to protect your revenue from the continued reduction in 'clicks'.  But per user billing is a temporary fix - nothing is going to stop the decrease in placements and clicks. 

Not even the Supercharged Grenade Launcher of Love...

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Three Reasons to Sell ITAM with MpS

IT Asset Management

As our world moves beyond toner and service, managed print services slip into the mundane, boring, and commoditization.    Once there were no providers, today, thousands of practitioners scour the landscape in search of disgruntled MpS clients and new prospects.

MpS drives business as many successful, full-service practices have evolved and thrived.  But the well will run dry, the print will reduce - nobody is copying like it's 1969.

For those who derive a living through MpS, how do we remain relevant, build relationships and keep the revenue flowing on the downside of the curve?

We jump the curve.

We add services, transform our portfolio and stay on the cutting edge of innovation, right?

In this effort, many are looking toward the IT realm. This sounds great but the journey is proving formidable - investing in a NOC or help desk is expensive and retraining existing or hiring new sales talent takes time.

Wouldn't it be nice to find an offering that builds upon your existing tools and processes, requires little sales training, and helps IT departments everywhere?  How about providing service customers naturally recognize as valuable and are willing to pay for, monthly?

I suggest we "Jump the Curve" with IT Asset Management(ITAM).

What is IT Asset Management?

“IT asset management(ITAM) provides an accurate account of technology asset lifecycle costs and risks to maximize the business value of technology strategy, architecture, funding, contractual and sourcing decisions” - Gartner

Sounds complicated, but I believe "If you can sell a copier, you can sell anything.”  I’m not suggesting you become an ITAM expert, complete with certification and 10,000 hours of learning under your belt.  I am proposing you offer services to fulfill one component of a successful ITAM program: inventory mapping.  With the right tool, the process is as simple as a print assessment.

Three reasons to sell IT asset management-

  • Relationship
  • Relevance
  • Revenue
Relationship -

  • In the ’70s, we sold the strength of our “Product”.
  • In the ’90s, we sold our “Product” bundled with “Services".
  • In the 2000s, we sold with a "Customer Centric” spin.
  • Today, coming full circle, we're in " Relationship Centric” selling cycles.
The best “relationships” are built on honesty and exceed two dimensions.  Providing toner and service on a monthly bill is the best two-dimensional and more likely one dimension to your client.

Why not open up to a more enriched affinity?  Knowing that ITAM causes heartburn for IT Directors and understanding how to relieve that pain, raises your conversation and advances your relationship beyond the toner cartridge.

When you provide a listing of IT assets alongside your print devices, your IT contact need only review one source - you - when looking to refresh assets.  Map BOTH print and IT assets when performing an assessment and deepen your relationship.

Relevance -

The current battle for the office is not about capturing more ‘clicks’, it's about remaining relevant. You're not the only party struggling for the spotlight - your customers are scrambling as well.  IT departments across the globe are looking for seats at the big table; they want to be part of the decision process helping guide the company.

The days of ‘pulling cable’ are long past.

How can an IT Director be a visionary, when his staff is out counting desktops and tablets?  Toiling over pivot tables and Crystal reports restricts the ability to innovate and evangelize the strategic benefits of IT.  When providing IT asset inventory services, we free up the most valuable resource; time.  More time to dedicate to strategic, relevant, IT issues.

Revenue -

New revenue streams.  Everybody wants some, I want some too.

Our unscientific studies show that for every output device, on average, there are five to ten IT assets. If you’re writing MpS engagements and performing assessments for accounts with 200 or more devices, you are walking past 2,000 revenue-generating assets.

Revenue with one cost component; no toner, shipping, service, or mileage costs.

One More Thing - Don't be a tool, use a tool.

Originally posted, October 26, 2016, at Atlas.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

#ManagedPrintServices: "I feel a lot of love in this room..." just not A3&A4

March 8, 2017.

"All Roads Lead to MpS and MpS Leads to All" -  I'be been saying it for years.  At first it was a joke.

I drop phrases like, "You know, copiers were the first devices on the internet of things.(MWAi)"


"On my world, voice mail is a document..."  In a room full of IT-types, the response is silence.  Yes, that is a third eye growing out of the top of my head.

Here we are, March of 2017 and not much has changed since 2007.  Everyone 'does MpS', but few understand the expansive realm.  

Are you stuck in the 'Mps is toner and service billed by click...' morgue?  Is that all you got?

Do you, as a provider, consider A3(11x17) to be separate from A4(8.5x11)?  Your prospects don't. As a matter of fact, they resent you over-selling the bigger devices. 

When performing an MpS assessment, are you collecting two or three cost components? There is so much more, don't be waif, ask.

Back to the beginning: What is Managed print Services?  This is Managed print Services:

Managed print services is the proactive management of document output devices and related business processes.

As Michael Keaton said in Night Shift, "You know a lot of times it'll help you to understand a word if you break it down, so let's do that now, shall we?" Let's do just that.


We service your device before you call us.  This IS NOT scheduled, air-bottle cleanings.  This is monitoring devices for repeated error codes and reaching out before the device shuts down.

This capability has ALWAYS been possible even before the days of PrintAudit, PrintFleet, or the DCA of the day.  I know this, I did it back in 2008.

If you're not proactive, you're not MpS.


What is a document?  Any vehicle which transports, presents, or stores information or data.  A video, letter, three part invoice, bumper sticker or .mp4 file are examples.  This doesn't mean I manage every output device, it means I understand the entire ecosystem.  

You can too.

"Output Device..."

Printers, copiers, speakers, kiosks, and large format video screens are all output devices. 

Maybe you don't offer end-point management, but one of your clients prints PO's and clips a copy next to the monitor for easy input - wouldn't TWO monitors make more sense?

Big screen kiosks are all the rage, information streamed to these panels are hosted in a cloud and presented, on demand. 

It doesn't matter what vehicle is used to convey information, it can be managed.

"Business Process..."

In the MpS Gospel according to Greg, business process optimization is a central theme in an evolved program.  We don't stop at the printer - no.  Why do you print in the first place? 

If I were to create an MpS Covenant, one requirement would be that all practitioners ask these type or questions:

"What happens before and after the device?"
"How do you process accounts payable?"
"Share with me the process in place when generating pick-tickets."

These are great questions to get the ball rolling and separating fake-MpS from Evolved MpS.  But there's more:

  • "How do you determine to upgrade or replace a device at lease end?"
  • "How did you established device standards?"
  • "How do you support your existing devices?  What is the process?"
  • "How many print servers and cues do you manage?"
  • "How do you decide which devices to replace or remove?"
These questions begin the journey into a deeper understanding of your clients' decision making process and fall into the "related business processes" section of the definition.

Just don't separate A3 and A4.  What, do you ride a dinosaur to work?