Seeking Nirvana

The Managed Print Services Community hosted an engaging panel on the business assessment process, titled "Integration Nirvana." In the session, industry experts Sarah Custer of Supplies Network, West McDonald of Print Audit and Jeff Bendix of Bendix Imaging shared their insights on how to reach Managed Print enlightenment by following the three major process steps – Assess & Design, Implement & Manage, and Measure.

According to McDonald, the process goes beyond tools and technology; rather the customers' needs must be front and center. "It's about finding where the pain points are," said McDonald. "It's not just selling … it's learning about the customer through business assessment processes."

According to McDonald, it's important for sales teams to include the assessment process early in the sales cycle. Quoting data that showed sales close rates increasing from 30% to as much as 70% provides a powerful motivator. "It's because you're finding out customer needs ahead of time…customers are blown away when they see the improvements," said McDonald.

When it comes to implementation, Sarah Custer was the session's guru. "It's really about being completely organized and streamlining the implementation process," said Custer. However, it is not a one-size-fits all approach. "There's never an environment with one brand," said Custer.

By understanding which devices are good candidates for fulfillment, Custer noted, MSPs can accurately estimate and manage their inventory, and supply & service are the big elements of effectively managing print services. There are a lot of errors that can be made on auto replenishment, if not all brands and models are known.

In terms of how MSPs can help their customers see the value of service, the panel agreed that it is important to have regular updates. "Our customers aren't using tools yet to understand profitability," Custer continued. "However, Quarterly Business Reviews are a good event to use as a way to ensure customers are seeing the value." Inserting a service desk is another way to drive down costs, rather than sending out a technician each time.

The business axiom of managing what you can measure came through in the Measurement portion of the panel. According to Jeff Bendix, eliminating waste is an obvious way to gain efficiencies for a customer, and measurement is the process by which to achieve this.

"Measuring overall how many pages we delivered versus how much we considered, is an important element to determine costs and revenue," according to Bendix. "We do an annual assessment with each of our customers."

The key to reaching effectiveness as a Managed Print Services provider is to have an efficient and repeatable process. As McDonald put it, "You can resell really good cupcakes – you don't need to turn on the oven every time."

Workflow automation was one of the highly requested topics and the Community also was treated to an overview by Robert Palmer, Chief Analyst, BPO Research.

In his presentation, Palmer highlighted how print has been impacted by newer mobile technology. However, it should not be viewed as a separate or standalone function from other business processes, he noted. As with other businesses, it is part of a new paradigm – using a mobile device running a cloud-based solution – within an existing process. And although this enables greater flexibility, it also requires new ways of managing.

"With printing, the mobile world has really impacted the process. It's not ubiquitous, and often requires a special solution," noted Palmer.

"The new digital ecosystem… has no common start or stop point," continued Palmer. "[Content] can begin in the cloud, be sent by a mobile device, to output. That creates new challenges for service providers." These challenges include document access, privacy, content integrity, and content security.

And security goes way beyond print – it goes to access of content. Mobility is simply the 'glue' that ties it all together, according to Palmer. In fact, "the paradigm has changed from bringing your own device to bring your own process … finding ways of working that suits [individuals] own needs," said Palmer.

For Managed Print Services, this highlights an opportunity to take a broader leap to Managed Content Services (MCS). While MPS always has been seen as a staged process, today that is different, according to Palmer.

For example, where MPS traditionally touted cost savings (and efficiency, reducing energy, devices, moving to digital, etc.) it is less of a big issue for small and medium size businesses. "SMBs want help solving pain points," said Palmer. "What we're talking about is an evolution from managed print to managed content services.  Your business today is vulnerable if you are basing it on a cost based sales value," noted Palmer.

What Managed Print providers need to do is find a way to become more ingrained in customers' workflows. Luckily, it is a clear path to move to, because basic MPS elements map to MCS. Things like assessments, identifying redundancies, optimization, setting targets and delivery.   The requirements include engagement, sales strategies, go to market, etc.

Palmer highlighted two Community webinars – August 27 and September 24 – that will highlight how to make the leap to managed content services and how to move to implementation.