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Showing posts sorted by relevance for query managed IT services. Sort by date Show all posts

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Are You Considering Managed Services ? - What You Should Know and What your Service Provider Should Know

Today, July, 2020, I replaced each mention of "MPS" and "managed print services" with "Managed IT Services", just to see if the content would still be relevant.

What do you think?


Managed Services is still being defined - or is it?

I am a firm believer in "the best advice is the advice you ask for...", please don't give me any advice - unless I ask.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Level Platforms Delivers Converged Managed Print/Managed IT Services

Below is the press release from Level Platforms, talking about managing imaging assets.  At first glance, not all that mind-blowing.

Until you research Level Platforms.

"Agentless Remote", "power management", and "Cloud management".

I had the honor of speaking with Peter Sandiford, CEO Level Platforms, last week.  We had a very interesting conversation about IT guys getting into MpS.  A good conversation.  Yes, the MSPs are seeing potential in the MpS arena, and yes, this software will work great for both IT VARs and BTA types.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Death of A #CopierSale - Birth of a #ManagedServices Engagement


There we were, sitting shoulder to shoulder with a freshly minted copier rep talking to a prospect. The rep was leading the team in monthly revenue and looking to lock it all up with this opportunity.

 The five of us, three on the provider side, and two on the prospect were discussing the benefits of managed services. Our prospect was lamenting the many challenges with the current IT services provider:

- "Never hear from them"
- "Whenever they come out, they charge us. And they always come out."
- "I asked them if our backup was secure and found out it wasn't last week when we lost power"
- "He only does hardware and knows nothing about printers"
- "What are we paying for, again?"

The pain was there waiting for us to isolate and trial close. We knew how much they were paying and they wanted to work with one company, for all their technology needs.

Yes - we could have closed right then and there...

But we didn’t.

Out of my mouth came the following words,

"Well, we can certainly remove all your current issues. Our managed services program is designed to address everything you mentioned...but for now, let's concentrate on getting your copiers squared away, and then talk about managed services...don't let a managed services decision get in the way of new copiers..."

Wait...what did I just say?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Okidata - VARs/BTA/PSA/RMM - and Agiliant

I just read the press release from Okidata announcing a relationship between Oki and Agiliant.

You'll remember Agiliant is a newcomer to the MpS space(sorta, they pretty much invented MpS back in the day before flipping out to Pitney) - Agiliant is looking to provide third-party IT services to MpS providers, rounding out any managed services portfolio.

Not a bad model.

Okidata adds yet another dimension to their VAR strategy.  Again, you'll remember back in the summer of 2011, Oki announced a re-vamping of their Total Managed Print portal that included interfaces to many of the popular PSA's.(Connectwise, Level Platforms...)

The VARs are coming, and their infrastructure partners are leading the way.  All this is fine and grand.  But software does not an MpS Practice make.

How are these new VARs going to SELL this new service?  Just like helpdesk and the NOC?

It ain't that difficult, so we should see thousands of VARs embrace and prosper in this new realm, shouldn't we?

It's our ecosystem all over again - let's call it the MpS ExoSystem.

Press Release:

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

New to Copier Sales: What’s This Thing Called Managed IT Services?

Managed services is referred to by various names — managed IT services, managed network services, MNS, etc. But no matter what you know it as, managed services is the hottest thing since managed print services.

As a new copier rep, you may not initially hear much about managed services, but it is the next evolutionary step in the copier industry. The industry has developed repeatable revenue models around hardware, and for those who wish to survive, we’ll shift this model into different areas, or “anything as a service” (XaaS). Down the street copier reps should get familiar with MS basics.

Let’s start with a definition of managed services. According to Wikipedia, managed services is “the practice of outsourcing on a proactive basis certain processes and functions intended to improve operations and cut expenses. It is an alternative to the break/fix or on-demand outsourcing model where the service provider performs on-demand services and bills the customer only for the work done.”

Thursday, March 17, 2022

The Stages of Managed Print Services, 2007. The Model Still Works.

Back in the olden days, 2007 or so, I came up with three stages of managed print services.  This model was designed for my MPS practice, not necessarily for the industry, and I used it to help explain the MpS procedure to clients and co-workers.  In less than five minutes, the prospect had a basic idea of the stages, procedures, and expectations of our program.

As time went by, every OEM, MPS dealership, and software provider had their version of the MpS process. 

HP had a similar idea but the one from Photizo matched and improved upon my vision of the stages.  Photizo even came up with a more detailed approach reaching into a Fourth stage.

I'm not saying this is the ONLY managed print services model, it was mine.  There are just as many MPS models as there are definitions. All of them are good, each has shortcomings.

Ideally, I was trying to design a process that could be applied to more that managed print services like workflow solutions and business process optimization.  I figured every opportunity can be broken down into three stages, Control, Optimize, Enhance.

That makes sense, right?

Unfortunately, many of the models ended up being pure marketing as deliverables rarely matched the original plan.  Like most innovations in the industry, we first argue “it will never work for me…” then jump on the bandwagon. We then focus on price, commoditize the service into a box and accelerate the race to the bottom, dumbing down the concept and cutting pricing.

MPS became little more than automatic supplies delivery and on-site service, billed per usage.  Managed print services devolved into “managed toner delivery, at the lowest price…”

Regardless, today the industry seeks out pivot points with many players getting into managed services - something I've been a proponent of for a decade.

Naturally, because I was building an MPS practice inside a VAR, I was looking for a way to ease copier dealers into the IT realm, to include IT salespeople in the MPS equation, and fold managing output devices, business processes, and IT assets in one agreement. 

MpS deserved a screen in the N.O.C. Managed services was the future and MPS was the way to get there. 

The MPS Model.

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...

Monday, December 18, 2017

22 Suggestions To Save Your Managed Print Services Practice

Kill it.
Chop it up.
Let it dry out.
Use as fertilizer.
Deja Vu: 
a : the illusion of remembering scenes and events when experienced for the first timeb : a feeling that one has seen or heard something before 
You're not fooled, are you? You've heard the talking heads. Like those who claimed Trump "would never, ever occupy the White House" - the copier industry has similar know-it-alls.

The establishment talking points are pretty clear:
  • "Talk about the decrease in images only when necessary and in most cases quote decades-old data."
  • "Say anything to make your machines relevant - fabricate rationalizations."
  • "Keep the same processes and 1970's business plan while promoting your new and different business model. "
I know, I know the above doesn't apply to YOUR dealership, does it?  You've been expanding while the rest of the industry tanks.  You're on a 'growth through acquisition' trajectory and your culture is second to nobody's.
  1. Then why do you still consider A3 and A4 different?
  2. Why don't you commission service contracts?
  3. If you're so cutting edge and ahead of the curve, why do you sell MNS or MIT instead of Managed Services?
They're just questions.  

If you're looking to resurrect your MpS, the good news is you recognize a problem - you're not ignorant.

The bad news is, you are probably too late:
  1. Treat A3 and A4 volume the same in every MPS engagement
  2. Comp reps on combined A3/A4 volume
  3. Find the best MPS vendor for your company. HP, LMI, SNi, PrintSolv, whoever.  It doesn't matter, partner with somebody who matches your definition of managed print services.
  4. Roll the MPS infrastructure into Managed IT services
  5. Rename the practice "Managed Services"
  6. Stop calling it 'Managed Print Services'; start referring to Managed Services - even when the only assets under the agreement are output devices
  7. Incorporate an Output Study in every, single network assessment
  8. Rename 'network assessment' to 'Technology Assessment'
  9. Always bill for Technology Assessments
  10. Embed your data collection agent into your network assessment tool
  11. Employe/support a separate team of technicians to service ALL output devices
  12. Separate COMPLETELY, from the existing Service Department
  13. Intake all copier/printer support calls through your IT help desk
  14. Train the Managed Services Team to sell
  15. Fully engage your vendors
  16. Establish Managed Services 'revenue gates' in your sales commission structure
  17. Pay the Managed Services team salaries which make it difficult for them to consider leaving
  18. Pay a monthly residual, for the life of the engagement 
  19. Give the MS manager P/L control and responsibility
  20. Compensate the Managed Services Practice managers based on profit(P/L)
  21. Forget about ALL the copier dealership business models
  22. Establish a direct link between the Managed Services practice and your software/document management division.  This means incorporating end-user, workflow-oriented questions inside every Technology Assessment. (MpS is BPO)
a : a severely disordered state of the mind usually occurring as a specific disorder
b : doing the same thing, expecting different results
Twenty-two suggestions, points of light in the night sky.  

How, or even if, your organization can connect the dots, is the biggest query.

- DOTC, 2017

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Managed Print Services vs. Managed Services Providers

A Day at #CompTIA: 8/2014

It was billed as the "great debate."

On one side, "Managed Service Providers(MSP's) Should Get into Managed Print Services", on the other, "MSPs Shouldn't Bother." I didn’t get the hype - maybe because I’ve done it from the front and behind - saved an MpS practice inside a VAR/MSP and created an MSP within a copier dealer.

Still, I was intrigued...

From the imaging side, I believe if you can create and run a profitable MpS practice, you can handle an MSP.
I thought to myself, "Maybe there was something to this…perhaps the MSPs in the room DO want to learn more about MpS and are thinking about getting into the realm." I started to pay attention.
From the IT side, I’ve felt adding printers to a screen in your NOC is no big deal; I’ve done it, and you can too. Indeed, in the beginning, I wrote about how we on this side should beware of the possible invasion of our little niche by all those independent VARs.

It didn’t happen that way, did it?

Why So Crowded?

Based on the number of people in the room, it was apparent others were interested in this subject. For a managed print services meeting at a computer convention, there were more people than I had anticipated. I thought to myself, "Maybe there was something to this. Perhaps MSPs want to learn more about MpS and are thinking about getting into the realm."


"...a Konica technician asked my customer how they were handling IT..." with a waive of his hand he dismissed a meager attempt to take HIS customer. 
The debate attracted a cadre of MSPs more to support their MSP leader, less to explore the possibilities. Like every VAR/IT/MSP/ITOEM I’ve ever talked with about managed print services, their mind was made up. Anything to do with printing "is below them” and getting into MPS would be “a step backward”.

Yes, those are quotes, and here are some other talk tracks uttered by the MSP dude:
"Not going to add to my already full plate of vendors…"
"The market is not that big…"
"My customers are reducing print, why would I get into a diminishing market…"
"I don't like printers. Should I be selling huge systems or filling a 'toner quota' - thanks HP…"
Have you ever been to an event or party and at some point, realize you're not in the right place?  Sure, you've received an invitation, but you feel completely outside the discourse.  Not because the conversation is over your head, but more due to a crystallized moment in time when you can clearly see everyone else off on their own voyage - apart from you.

Well, that's the flavor of epiphany I experienced - that and a bit of deja vu.

These IT guys just do not like printers and think copier folks can't compete with their real computer expertise.  One MSP mentioned how "...a Konica technician asked my customer how they were handling IT..." with a wave of his hand he dismissed a meager attempt to take HIS customer.

"How droFor IT Providers: Managed Print Services Could be the 24th Chromosomele..."

They do not respect printers and the people who derive a living from this industry.  If you think about it deeply, you know what I say is true.  Seasoned MPS reps are numb to IT people talking down to us but it is there...always has been.

I am done trying to evangelize to the IT community about managed print services for three, basic reasons:

1. They are too prideful (snobs)
2. Print is declining
3. The IT/VAR/MSP niche will decline FASTER than office print
Call Great America, today or buy out one of the smaller MSPs in your neighborhood.Today. Now. Stop fooling around. This is one of those cases that supports the, "go out and sell it now, we'll figure the rest out tomorrow."
Pride goeth before...

Sure, there will be a few VARs/IT/MSP organizations who dabble in MPS if HP takes the deal and the paper, but for the most part, they are not going to deploy an ‘engineer’ into the field to clear a jam. This is a cost and emotional issue.

Going, going...

Dave Ramos, a colleague, and friend presented interesting findings about print decline, sighting one of our favorite slides from International Paper and linking the latest paper plant closing in Alabama. A4 paper is in such decline IP had to close a plant whose primary output was 8x11 - this one location supplied 8% of the office-sized paper.

They've Got Their Own Kettle of Fish...

Here's the big reason - the IT world is going through a much bigger transformation than we are. The 'cloud' represents a move away from hardware - Zero Client and IAAS both support the realization that organizations DO NOT NEED HARDWARE-CENTRIC VALUE ADD. Today's IT providers are blind to this and in no position to adapt. The biggest shift is going to be elimination and evacuation. For example, they're talking about 'moving to a service-based' business model with 'recurring revenue streams' as though they've just heard of it.

Don't expect to see copier techs badged up by your local MSP anytime soon. They're not coming to the MPS party.  Just like retail computer stores dissolved overnight, so too, will your trusty down-the-street VAR/MSP.

Bottom Line...

What about you, the copier dealer, the toner supplier, and the printer organization? Think of it this way, managed print services manages the decline in print, managed services helps customers manage down their dependence on local servers, software, hardware, and the people(local) who provide value-add.

Now is the time to get into managed services - the low barrier of entry and distracted fragmented competitors. Don't overstudy. Forget about heavy evaluation.

Call Great America, today or buy out one of the smaller MSPs in your neighborhood.

Today. Now. Stop fooling around. This is one of those cases that supports the, "go out and sell it now, we'll figure the rest out tomorrow."

One more thing...

Forget about getting all your reps trained on "IT Services", like it's different from managed print services - well, I should say, the offering is different, but the approach is similar.  There are too many managed services sales experts who have never sold, proposed, or closed a complex, all-inclusive engagement.

The outsiders from the IT realm coming into the copier world don't get us, they've hired the wrong 'advisors' to help them grow their share of our wallet and some are increasing their value for the next round of VC or prospective buyer.

Go out there and learn it the best way - in front of prospects.

Your reps don't need some other guy's super secret sauce and you shouldn't measure yourself against somebody else's benchmarks

Get out there and solve.

If you need help, reach out to me.


It's funny, no?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Managed print Services and Managed Services

Originally post, 9/2013

Too consider one better than the other is to miss the point completely.

Reminiscent of the way some consider MpS and copier service agreements as separate, it seems most regard managed (IT) services and managed print services as two, unique arguments.

Along the same line, this leads me to ponder:

Why isn't Big Data, simply Data?
When will virtual reality, become reality?

Why is social media not simply media?
Why isn't Cloud computing, just computing and mobil print, simply...print?

Smartphone or phone? Hardcopy or copy?  Things that make you go, "hmmmm".

If you think about it, all of our offerings are silo'd in some manner.

Monitoring software like PrintFleet is separated from monitoring software from Preton which is separated from N-Able.  Copiers are separated from printers.  IT services are separated from business services.  BPO is different than BPM - "basic" MpS is apart from "advanced" MpS....on and on.

But here is the challenge: Do our prospects and clients think like this?

Today, in the field, Jennifer and I run into these degrees of separation at nearly every turn and we can tell you this: customers don't want to be in the middle of our separation anxieties.

Some of your prospects are telling us they do not understand why their MSP doesn't monitor printers. Indeed, more than a few MSPs won't allow a DCA installation, on 'their network'.  What the heck is THAT ? You DO NOT monitor printers and will "not allow" any 'data collection' software on your clients' network?   Time to get a new managed services provider.

It's the old story - clients want one throat to choke (I dislike that phrase). They want one invoice and even more, they want one person to talk with regarding their business challenges and answers technology may provide.  

They don't care about your quota, the logo on your 'thing', your month end, volume discounts or how many years you've been in the business.  You know this.

So, do you have one invoice for both copier and printer usage?  Are you calling all this "MPS"?

Great.  But when are you going to start referring to your entire offering as "Managed Services" instead of managed print...manage network...or managed IT services?

It's all the same to the ones who really count - your clients.


Tuesday, March 8, 2022

The Managed Print Services Renaissance is here.

Managed Print Renaissance

"Whereof what's past is prologue; what to come,
In yours and my discharge..."

The die was cast a decade ago; the rise, fall, and rise again of managed print services was foreseen. Even as office printing wanes, and withers, we are amid a Managed Print Services (MpS) Renaissance and age of enlightenment.

"Remote work is accelerating the A4 shift at lightning speed, ransomware and bad actors heighten the need for analog backups (paper), user authentication and print tracking/control are becoming normal, and that all adds up to new ways of doing business and new opportunities to manage that print."
Those survivors stand at yet another precipice:

Do we move forward with managed print services, or do we leave it in the dustpan of history?  

Monday, August 25, 2014

#Copier Sales People: Three Tips to Selling Managed Services


It isn't that sell managed services.  As a matter of fact, selling managed services is a lot easier than convincing a 'board of elders' to lease your new color device...with saddle stitch, no less.

First things first,  if your leadership is so wrapped up in themselves they think:

A) copiers will be around forever or
B) Managed services is akin to adding a duplexer or fax board

- keep your resume up to date.

Unless you're in some backwater market where they still lease copiers for 72 months, hardware sales are about to fall off a cliff (slight exaggeration).  Maybe your guys don't see it coming - it is already here, so the sooner you get your personal act together about services, not hardware, the better.

Just between you and I, there are hundreds of hints and tips around selling managed services.  In the end, the advice is nothing more than a shuffle of what you've already been told.

There isn't ONE training course, consultant or "MNS" expert who will mention any one of these tips:

1.  Stop being afraid
2.  Forget everything you know about hardware
3.  Ignore your quota and in some cases...Ignore your boss

Your Fears

If there's one thing I've seen from coast to coast is whenever somebody on the copier side starts to talk about Managed IT Services,  they backtrack into, "well, I need to know more about that business before I dive in..."  Horse Pucky.

Who would buy a product which openly insults?

We're taught to believe that the computer guys know so much more than we. We've got memories of feeling dumb because we called IT only to have them come up, reboot and head back.

"Reboot?  That's it????!...arrrrg..."

IT folks were strange, anti-social, and difficult to understand.  They fixed our problems and they made us feel like dummies.

Stop worrying about what you think you don't know, stop Facebooking and use the inter-web to learn about what CIOs think is important.

"You know what Mr. Prospect...every, single, copier is exactly the same..."

Yeah, we used that line all the time at IKON.  Of course, we sold almost every brand back then...

The same goes for servers, cloud, backup disaster recovery, switches, firewalls, help desk, anti-virus - your prospect does not care how many awards your hardware has earned.  They do not care how much you've invested in R/D or how long you've been in the industry.

They don't...and when your OEM rep tells you to build credibility by dropping their name, let the words go in one ear and out the other.

Tell your prospect how your stuff solves problems.  Printers, copiers, luxury submersibles and can openers solve problems.  If you can find a problem duplexing solves, I'm sure you can find an issue BDR(googlitize it) addresses.

Stop Selling and Start Solving.

Ignore Your Boss  - "On the 1st of the Month we Sell Solutions. On the 20th, we push boxes..." 

Careful here.

If I had a dime for every sales manager I've met, that wasn't worth a dime, I'd have a lot of dimes - a March of Dimes, actually.  I'm not saying ALL sales managers are worthless...and I know YOUR manager is Fortune 100 material.  I am not recommending you blatantly mock your boss - not overtly - just understand his perspective.

Here's the deal, typical sales managers are compensated on the team's hardware sales and most dealerships are driven to quota by their OEM - it is the way of things.

When you hear your manager say things like, "Everybody better start learning MNS, because these copiers aren't going to be around for long...""its a numbers game, kid..." or "you can't sign deals on the phone..." or "...why don't you get a new car/suit/wife/credit card/house..." take it with a grain of salt.

Don't get me wrong, if this style matches your core values, stop reading and get back to those 100 dials, 10 contacts, 1 appointment - there's a church out there dying to buy a copier!

Otherwise, let's talk about you.

I've always said and felt that pure managed print services has little to do devices and nothing related to logo's - its a service, not a cartridge or machine.  Managed services is an extension of the same ideal, its a service not a server or firewall.

Most managers do not understand this because they are not compensated for services.  Indeed, some ignore services all together figuring that's "the service department's responsibility" - point, missed.

I know you didn't grow up wanting to be a copier rep - NOBODY DOES.  I understand how difficult it can be describing what you do to your parents - been there, done that, got the therapy to prove it.

And here we are, in the heart of the jungle...

Do anything to improve yourself every, single day.  Polish up on your knowledge of the Cloud, nod during your next sales training session, and then go buy my book.  Write in the margins, read it from your iPad on the bus ride home...(?).  Cut and paste passages into emails and Tweets - put the cover on your desktop.

Cloud stuff here.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Channels to Managed Print Services Success


For the past few months, I like a few of you, have been reading MPS articles over at the site authored by Louella Fernandes, Principal Analyst, Quocirca.

She has a great article written today that pretty much summarizes the current state and challenges of MPS.

It is a great read and I have, with permission, re-printed it here.

Enjoy -

Louella Fernandes By: Louella Fernandes, Principal Analyst, Quocirca
Published: 16th March 2009
Copyright Quocirca © 2009

Current economic pressures have put renewed focus on technology consolidation within businesses. Although often overlooked, the print environment can be a source of huge cost which can be easily be brought under control through using a managed print service (MPS).
The printer and multifunction (MFP) market is characterised by falling prices and shrinking margins. In this increasingly commoditised market, selling services is the key to capturing new revenue for both manufacturers and resellers. For customers, an MPS is a way of reducing capital investment and lowering the ongoing costs associated with inefficient printing practices, such as the cost of purchasing and storing consumables, costs related to high paper usage, as well as reduced productivity as a result of printer downtime.

Managed print services range in depth and scale and may be offered either through the reseller channel or direct by the manufacturer. An entry level MPS offers a way to purchase printers combined with supplies, maintenance and support through an all-inclusive contract. This type of service is typically offered through the channel and, dependent on their capabilities, resellers may also offer print environment assessments and device consolidation consultancy.

At the other end of the scale direct programmes from vendors like Xerox and HP offer a range of services to assess, optimise and manage the print environment. Whilst large enterprises are the focus of manufacturers' direct MPS programmes, it is the lucrative mid-market served predominantly by the channel where resellers have most to gain.

The channel opportunityDownward pressure on printer hardware prices means that resellers need to differentiate their offerings by selling more software and services. This allows resellers to add value through initiatives like offering print assessments or document workflow solutions. Entry level MPS contracts are often cost-per-page contracts where customers sign up to a contract that includes consumables, service and support. So, rather than the traditional purchasing model where a customer may purchase consumables from different suppliers, an MPS approach allows the reseller to benefit from an ongoing supplies revenue stream.

The printer market is served by a mix of traditional copier and IT-driven printer resellers. The transition to selling MPS is different for each of these. Copier resellers typically have the infrastructure in place due to the traditional financing models for copiers, often sold on "click" contracts. Whilst copier resellers have often sold via the facilities or procurement departments within organisations, an MPS offers them the opportunity to connect with the IT department. IT departments may be more familiar with certain brands such as HP, Lexmark or Samsung and also expect strong networking integration expertise.

Meanwhile printer resellers are characterised by extensive product ranges and IT expertise, but may not have the service capability or infrastructure to sell cost-per-page contracts. It is attracting these resellers to the MPS fold which is probably the most challenging for manufacturers.

Vendor channel programmesThe channel convergence taking place is a market driver for printer manufacturers, and many are actively developing their channel programmes to help their resellers navigate these often unchartered MPS waters. Unsurprisingly, vendor programmes are usually focused on managing their own devices, with inherent limitations for multi-brand resellers, but it can provide resellers with a simple and straightforward packaged service which enables them to make the switch to MPS reasonably quickly.

Many printer manufacturers are packaging their managed print service tools for the small and medium (SMB) market. Some programmes require remote monitoring for automated meter reading, which has traditionally been a manual task carried out by the customer. As well as enabling regular billing, automatic meter reading also enables supplies replenishment to be proactively managed meaning that customers can receive consumables before they notice the have run low, and before productivity is impacted. Remote monitoring also enables proactive maintenance. Ultimately MPS should make sense for any reseller that wants to enhance its customer relationships, whilst building annuity revenue streams and bringing in higher margin business.

Two of the most advanced vendor programmes are those from HP and Xerox. HP Smart Printing Services (SPS) uses the resources and skills of its HP partners to supplement its own. The SPS offering consists of two different blocks of services: break/fix support and supplies are delivered by HP under a proprietary agreement. Hardware, financing and other service elements required are delivered by the partner under a linked, but separate, contractual agreement. In the EMEA region HP is aiming for 60% growth, illustrating the importance of MPS to its channel efforts.

PagePack is Xerox's principal channel service offering in Europe, based on cost-per-page model. The contract covers hardware support, maintenance and supplies (excluding paper), 24/7 access to consumable ordering tools, Smart eSolutions (automatic meter reading) and hardware support and maintenance. It also offers Office Productivity Advisor tools which calculate document costs and it's SAVE (Self-Assessment Value Estimator) which enables resellers to promote the benefits of PagePack contracts over traditional non-contract purchasing.

Other vendors are also increasing their emphasis on managed print services for their channel partners. The Lexmark Value Print programme provides certified resellers with a range of tools, support and training to help them sell an MPS. Meanwhile Kyocera UK has launched KYOprint Pack which is an all-inclusive service that enables customers to purchase a device with all hardware, consumables, and service included. KYOprint Packs are valid for a specific number of pages, and expire when that number of pages has been printed. This is unlike some other MPS contracts where the customer is charged for a certain number of pages per month regardless of whether they are printed.
Ricoh UK launched its @Remote partner programme in Autumn 2008, and since then over 30 dealers have signed up for the programme which offers automated meter reading along with supplies management capabilities.

Multivendor managementWith many companies operating a heterogeneous printer fleet, those resellers hoping to truly exploit the opportunity of managing a customer's complete print environment must use generic print management tools which offer consistent functionality across printer brands. PrintFleet, for instance, offers a hosted and reseller-hosted remote print monitoring solution. The benefit of using this type of tool is that resellers do not need to invest time in learning and installing a range of different vendor proprietary tools.

Meanwhile, the need for resellers to be able to connect with IT decision makers as well as offer service capability has led to the emergence of the "hybrid reseller" which combines the service skills of copier resellers with the technology expertise of IT resellers.

XMA Solutions is a good example. XMA is a specialist supplier of IT hardware, supplies and services, and has been focusing on managed print services for five years with customers predominantly in the public sector and education markets. XMA offers print management consultancy such as document assessments and hardware and software deployment for a range of printer brands. XMA is also an HP Smart Printing Services partner and is actively embracing the managed print services opportunity.

When it comes to the IT infrastructure, managed services have already been accepted as the way to reduce the cost and time of managing IT in-house. Printing is as much an integral part of the IT infrastructure as other networked devices, and using a third party to manage any element of the printing environment is a start to making efficiency gains and reducing costs.

Nevertheless, there is still a significant learning curve for resellers who are yet to make the shift to a service-based approach. The MPS transition requires new skills and resources, and printer manufacturers need to nurture existing channel partnerships as well as develop new ones to compete effectively in a market where MPS is the key to reviving their fortunes.

Whilst vendor proprietary tools are certainly a good way for resellers to get started with managed print services, generic tools should also be considered by those resellers who have the resources to manage multivendor environments.

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Why Don't You Pay Reps Residuals on Service Contracts?

"It is time to pay sales people commission on copier service agreements.  It is time to combine all volume under one agreement, on a single invoice and pay the sales person residuals for the life of the engagement."

January, 2013

One of the first rules of managed print services is consolidating the decision making process for printers with the process for copiers, bringing IT and Purchasing(or facilities) together.  This usually meant getting the copier decision out of the hands of purchasing or facilities and into the realm of IT.

It was a big deal at the time and a qualification of a real managed print services opportunity - if we can't speak to the person in charge of both copiers and printers, we did not move forward.  On the other hand, once we befriend an IT director, one of our guiding principles was to shift the copier decision process into IT.  If the device was connected to the network, it should fall under management of the IT department.

It was a good idea and contributed to most every successful managed print services engagement.

But a funny thing happened on the way to managed print services nirvana - in an effort to fully understand managed print services, we, on the provider side,  chopped up all the elements of the ecosystem. We saw managed network services as separate from managed services(?).  We decided to propose MpS for printers and continue writing separate service agreements for copiers.

We dumbed down managed print services offering "advanced toner delivery services" in its stead. The printer & toner guys laid claim to MpS defining it as "printer service and supplies on a cost per image billing" sliding right into their existing model.

And the copier folks were just fine with this approach, they didn't want to change either. They didn't need to adjust the way they leased and serviced copiers, or tamper with decades old billing and invoicing policies.  No need to upset the apple cart here - service departments have been running just fine - fueled by 36 to 72 months of predictable and untouchable service revenue.

It doesn't stop here.

Read the rest...

Thursday, May 5, 2022

New and Improved Managed Print Services Model, "Z22"

Managed Print Services has been around for decades and as a concept offers the opportunity to expand beyond the printed document.  It always has been.

Things change, they always do, and this is true for managed print services.  I was involved with developing an MpS model back in 2007 and again later, twice, with the MPSA.

There is no wrong model - there's just a more 'right' model.  Mine.  Which is now yours.

The typical, status quo MPS model stands on three basic phases, "Control", "Optimize" and "Enhance" and is progressed sequentially, with a Beginning and a Terminus.

I never liked it as a step-by-step process.  Managed print Services is an ongoing system - what today we call a "flywheel".  

So when looking at the above illustration, you'll notice there are no arrows.  Sure, the hexagons sport numerals, and yes, you must start with Hex"00" and bounce through the remaining areas, but the process can move from 02 to 01 to 03; non-sequential.

Here is your new and improved MpS Renaissance Model, Z22: 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The End Of MPS, The Beginning of MpS

Recent market data for the global hardcopy peripherals (HCP) market saw a 10.6 percent yearly decline, though MPS growth has continued across the world. HP shows an 18.6% decline in unit shipments, Y/Y. - IDC, 2016

It doesn't need to be said, does it? The office environment has been moving away from print for the past decade. I know it, the OEMs know it, and in your heart, you know it too.

Managed print services is a trailing indicator, 'growth' is a statistic anomaly - expanding in a shrinking pool - there are no new clicks.

You want to survive and thrive in the technology industry. It's easier to sell copiers and implement a managed print services practice than it is to bring a managed services practice but the IT world represents growth and opportunity.

What should you do?

"...Come With Me Now..."

Years ago, I preached the coming of managed print services as the wave of the future.

Then, I saw managed print services as an on-ramp to business process/workflow optimization, teaching simple, workflow analysis embedded in the standard assessment.

Next, evangelizing managed services as the new frontier for copier/printer providers, I recommended third-parties like Collabrance and Continuum.

Today, I've come full circle and looking at managed print services basics. The tools I've seen, and I've seen or worked with almost all of them - are impressive.

Here are some of my observations:
  1. Heavy - cumbersome to use, demand time from MpS practitioner
  2. Print-data, intense - print only, some end-user, but no outside asset data
  3. Sales static - the 'map' and client data remain in the sales silo, or not easily transportable into contracts or service
  4. The Tool 'does the thinking for you' - plug the data in and out comes a current and recommended state in a 300 page Word doc
I see lots of TCO tools, column reports, graphs, and dashboards and I think we can do better. I'm looking at how I conduct assessments and the tools I would use in the field. Additionally, I'm taking a holistic view - I'd like to know how the fleet is performing in terms of service calls and profitability. 

Finally, I'd like to be in a position to offer my clients an engagement that includes ANY asset type.

With this in mind, we've designed a tool that:
  1. Collects data from multiple databases: DCA, service desk, dispatch, accounting system
  2. Helps you easily conduct assessments and present mapped proposals
  3. Enables you to create, and doesn't do the thinking for you
Point #1
Real management software displays ANY asset; printers, copiers, desktops, laptops, phones, projectors, oxygen bottles. But more impactful, is our ability to draw together related, yet disconnected data. For instance, we show the number of service calls placed on an asset, the install date, the number of toners delivered, revenue and profit generated; for the universal MIF, client fleet, or individual asset.

The solution must work within your managed print services ecosystem - the 'map' not only supports new sales, but integrates through sales to service to management to ownership; salespeople engage and asses, service utilizes mapping, and management looks into real-time financial information with the tap of a screen.

Point #2
With or without a DCA/Thumb drive, a practitioner conducts interviews and records findings. Manual entry of device data(manufacturer, model, volumes, etc.) is achieved through the use of the onboard survey tool. Machine data files may be uploaded or directly integrated, but is not necessary.

Point #3
Some existing systems deliver everything from a prospect's total cost of operation to a final proposal in Word leaving the "specialist" with nothing more to do than email the proposal or deliver pie.

I cannot tell you how often I’m asked for an ‘assessment’ or ‘mps contract’ sample. I’ve conducted assessments on paper, laptops, and in my head but I still use a basic outline of questions. 
“We interviewed 25 employees and 62% of them responded that service calls are not being completed within 72 hours. 87% felt ordering toner required three to four hours to complete.” 

Atlas - MpS. Assessment Logic*
We’ve incorporated a survey function that can be administered for each asset. In the case of a non-integrated - no DCA software - simple machine data collected on one screen. This isn't a data dump, the questions included collect relevant information you need to create a compelling proposal. I’ve also included basic workflow questions and sales related queries.

Once the survey is completed, the data is attached to that specific asset - the answers can be used as analysis. For instance, “We interviewed 25 employees and 62% of them responded that service calls are not being completed within 72 hours. 87% felt ordering toner required three to four hours to complete.” could be one of your compelling arguments for change.

Atlas - MpS. Contract Completion*
The sales and service teams rarely communicate but an integral part of a great customer experience is the effortless transition from proposing to implementing. One important issue is to correctly communicate data proposed, like existing device serial numbers, location, point of contact, beginning meter reads, CPI, etc. The information is captured during the assessment and proposal stage - why not simply populate a .PDF of your engagement?

Why not have the digital version of your contract available for signature immediately after the presentation? Atlas - Mps has this capability to complete your contract. Print it if you like, or have your client digitally sign right then and there. Email the completed form to your contracts department and have the account set up before you get back to the office. Ring that bell.

Atlas - MpS. Print Policy Framework*
Ultimately, a fully engaged, high level managed print services engagement results in a Print Policy.
Atlas - MpS, will create the blank Print Policy template and present data to support the generation of content.

Once the print policy is in place, Atlas - MpS helps you managed the engagement against the goals set forth in the policy. The information is real time, specific data points are monitored and statused as either “in or out of policy”.

No more quarterly reviews - review the fleet and goals of the program at any time.

One More thing…

Atlas is adept at integrating disparate databases and managing IT assets. Once you begin to utilize Atlas - MpS, the door opens into the IT realm. We’re not suggesting you invest in a data center, or engage with a third party to provide help desk, end-point monitoring services. We suggest talking with your IT contacts about “Asset Lifecycle Management”. You help track their IT assets, manage technology upgrades and equipment refresh with Atlas all for a monthly subscription. We can help you.

Atlas - MpS is different, simple and dynamic, helping managed print practitioners solidify their position in imaging, while opening opportunities outside of print.

Find Your Way.

Reach out to me.


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.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Three Ideas for Copier People Selling Managed Services

The move into managed services is well on its way and traditional copier reps are getting caught in the middle between selling boxes and selling services.  Pundits and consultants lament "copier people cannot sell managed services" unless they attend a day of specialized sales training.

It is true, I've seen plenty of managed services or IT sales destroyed by copier sales reps - from Cali to N.C. I've written about a couple of instances.

The thing is, for all the challenges and failures, the rep is not to blame. We train them to always be closing, find pain and twist, to hunt, take-down, close, trap and "increase share of wallet" - armed with this mentality, its a miracle anybody sells anything, let alone a nuanced offering like managed services.

So, as a copier rep, what can you do to secure more managed services contracts/agreements?  Should you heed your sales manager's advice and  treat help desk like a fax board?  Does your OEM offer any clues? How about a few days of off-site training followed up with a phone blitz?


Monday, September 21, 2015

The Next Managed print Services Event

“Wrath”- One of my favorites

Another stage, power point, round table, expert panel and cast of hundreds looking to commune and see the “new MPS” …again. I've witnessed multiple iterations and others broken promises since 2007. I’ve attended many such gatherings and presentations: Lyra, Photizo, ITEX, ReCharger, MWAi Executive Summit. I’ve spoken with thousands of customers, hundreds of resellers all the OEMs and countless dealers about MpS, copiers, printers, toner, managed services and the like.

Now, a new effort is in town. The "Top 100 Summit" focusing on the future of managed print services; "MPS is Changing" is the tag-line.

In the beginning, managed print services was mocked for being nothing more than facilities management or copier-service on laser printers. Something the more “forward" thinking copier providers and OEMs had ‘been doing for decades’ - not really.

But even back then, in the frenzied years of possibilities, there were those who saw managed print services literally; a service that managed print. Some of us understood ‘print’ to be any media - from 8.5x11 to voice mail. Further, we recognized this managed service as a path to higher thought, more relevancy and a foundation for a sustainable business model not increased shelf space, capturing clicks, or trapping clients in 60 month contracts.

We knew the future of print had less to do with copiers, printers, ink or toner hitting paper. We eagerly embraced the talk tracks and value props around ‘more efficiency in the office’, reduction in costs and optimizing the print environment - and we meant it.

We attended new and interesting shows. In April of 2009, Photizo ushered in this bold new concept and talked about managed print services well before ANY other pundit, consultant, training house, OEM, toner remanufacturer or copier dealer - yes there were a few true managed print services providers but most of the traditional imaging industry either explained away the movement as ‘just another gimmick’ or claimed to have been in managed print services for “25 years”.

We believers "...gave the Future to the winds and slumbered tranquilly in the Present, weaving the dull world around us into dreams.” Designing a future of connected devices, less print and optimized business environments. Yet, like most promises, our dreams were burned away by the reality of equipment quotas and dogma; more specifically, in toner and ink.

Spin the dial six years into the future and it seems who can spell “MPS” can sell “MPS”. Bags of ink are the new MpS. Analytics are the new MpS. Copier service is the new MpS. Despite consistently declining equipment placements, shuttered paper plants and industry lay-offs, increasing print volumes are the new MpS. It is an upside-down world.

 The Universe according to Greg:

  • Print Analytics - Who Cares? We do, but do our clients?
  • Ink vs. Toner - Who Cares? We do, but do our clients?
  • Print is not dying - Ignorance is bliss.
  • Managed (IT/Network) services is the future - Oh, really? Even the IT guys understand MS is short term - look up Software Defined Workspace.
  • Print volumes have been going up - rearranging the deck chairs, nobody is creating new "clicks".
So what about all this?

Is it still the doom and gloom era? Not really. But no matter how many round tables, expert panels, sales classes, consulting services, or business transformations our industry attends or participates, we’re all simply talking to ourselves; alone in the dark. Until we stop looking at our prospects as ‘targets’ to be ‘trapped in an agreement’ or design ‘sticky’ marketing schemes and start ‘solving’ instead of ‘selling’ those who do survive, will wander the the abyss; shadows of the once might ‘copier industry’.

Which brings me to the Top 100 Summit. Will we usher in a new era? Will the sins of our past support positive change or drag us into the depths of irrelevance?

Big questions and unseen answers.

I suspect we’ll have a great time. I see us sharing new ideas and expressions of hope. Ultimately, what really matters, is how everyone feels 72 hours after the show; sinful and atoned or raptured ignorance.

Get more, here.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Water Training Institute Set to Launch Its Certified Managed Print Services Seller(TM) Sales Training and Certification Program [CMPSS(TM)]

It was only a matter of time. 

I have never heard of the Water Group. For 2 years now I have been scouring the internet looking for any mention of "managed print services" and today is the first time this group pops up. 

No surprise, "where the is mystery, there is margin...". 

Today's mystery is MPS and as much as I believe there are a few "unique" aspects to selling MPS, selling is selling. Well, "solution selling" is "solution selling". One thing is for sure, this group is not short on content. 

And although the content looks and sounds good, I still can't help but be skeptical about anyone claiming to be in MPS for more than 11 years - that would be...since when, 1996?

Somebody help me out, were copiers even digital back then? Wasn't Apple running "ads" showing the difference between an Apple and PC user?(see above) 
Was I using a Palm Pilot back then? 
Didn't Office 97 ship on 45, 3.5-inch floppy's back then? 

And don't remember anybody offering to manage a fleet of IBM-Pro Printer; service and ribbons that is. And as I read through their squeaky new, freshly painted website, I could not help to think "HP"; it has the look and smell of SPS, which pretty much, well...smells. 

And then there is this, 

"...The team of Water Training Institute associates whom have designed and will deliver the Certified Managed Print Services Seller(TM) program curriculum have collectively sold nearly $1Billion in MPS business...Collectively, our brain-trust have more experience and success in sales and selling MPS than probably anyone in the world...” 

Wow...I Go ahead, divide $1billion by 0.0120 and then divide that by 11 years...whaddya get? I don't know, I ain't doing it. Of course, these numbers are accurate, you can't put it out there like that if it ain't true - but then again, it all depends on how one defines "MPS", doesn't it? 

According to their documentation, there are 5 separate modules of training - one is webinar-based and the test module is $500.00 and must be attached to Module #3, "In-Class Certified Managed Print Services Seller Program" If taken individually, the total cost is $4,975.00 - but act now by enrolling for September's classes, and the price goes to $2,490.00. 

These guys know how to market. 

At the recent MPS Conference, the most popular "off-line" conversational subject was "...can someone tell me how to effectively put an MPS Practice together?" Maybe this can be a great first step for rookie salespeople - or maybe even old "salts" of the copier world can get trained on moving "solutions" instead of boxes. Or better yet, perhaps some "Sales Reps" with IT VARs can get acclimated to real solution selling by attending and getting certified. 

But I keep going back to what one of my old sales managers once told me, "...sometimes we just overcomplicate what we do..." - FIVE modules? Oh well, if I could get HP or CISCO or VMWARE to pay for it, I would go. 

Here is the Press Release: 

Voorhees, NJ, May 07, 2009 --( Beginning September 16, 2009, The Water Training Institute (a division of Water, a New Jersey-based Professional Services firm) will offer the Certified Managed Print Services Seller(TM) Sales Training & Certification Program, designed for sales professionals that sell and promote Managed Print Services solutions. 

Managed Print Services (MPS) is a solution that bundles office printers, copiers/MFPs, fax solutions, software, services, supplies, consumables, usage tracking, support, and management all for a single monthly invoice. 

The CMPSS(TM) program is designed to provide sales professionals with a thorough understanding of MPS, comprehensive MPS sales training, a tailored MPS sales acumen evaluation & development plan for each participant, and a Certification Exam that – combined with the other aspects of the program - would substantiate that the successful candidate has demonstrated a certain standard of MPS sales performance and comprehension. 

 According to Jon Reiser, a Principal at Water, “Our customers tell us the Managed Print Services sales training seminars they send their sales reps to are ineffective and don’t really prepare the reps to effectively sell MPS solutions. 


So they hire Water to come in, re-train the sales reps properly, get them prepared, and give the managers a written analysis of each sales rep’s preparedness to sell MPS. In the end, the customers end up paying twice for something they should have gotten in the first place.

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Greg Walters, Incorporated