MPSA Commentary

MPSA Member & MPS Industry Commentary
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  • 14-Mar-2017 10:51 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Patricia Ames

    We sat down recently with Bill Melo, chief marketing executive for MPSA Platinum member Toshiba America Business Solutions to discuss what Toshiba is doing, what’s new in the MPS space and advice for MPSA members.

    Tell us a little bit about what Toshiba is doing in the market with managed print services and how you're differentiating yourselves. There is a lot of discussion around the commoditization of MPS and you are a strong player in MPS - what is Toshiba doing that is working?

    BM: I think when it comes to services especially, there are two ways that you can differentiate yourself. One is very obvious and easy to appreciate, which is that you offer something that other people do not. And then the other way of differentiating yourself, which is more subtle and requires a bit more insight from the eye of the beholder, is that you simply execute better than other folks. This could be because of better systems or more experience or the degree to which you focus on something. The second method is harder to prove out, but I think we differentiate ourselves a little bit on both elements.

    I think we have a unique product set. When it comes to laser MFPs, we pretty much have the same thing as everybody else does, but what we have that is unique (and which we started to put into our MPS program) are thermal barcode printers. Barcode printers are used a lot in logistics and manufacturing operations for labels, and pharmaceutical scenarios for printing labels on prescriptions and wristbands and those types of applications.

    We’ve come up with a way of remotely monitoring those types of devices. So the same way you would use FM Audit or any kind of utility for getting meter reads from MFPs, we can deploy our solution to secure usage totals off those barcode devices. In that world, you measure by the linear inch, not by page. So we measure with linear inches, and we can offer MPS to incorporate not only the laser printers and MFPs but also these devices on the server/barcode side. I think we are the only ones that have this.

    Another good differentiator is to offer some solutions that appeal to corporations that have a sustainability or good corporate citizen initiative. Has Toshiba focused at all on this?

    BM: Encompass is the cornerstone of our larger MPS applications and implementations. Encompass is the cloud-based utility that we use for capturing what the customer is currently doing as well as designing an optimized fleet.  The insights gained through Encompass allow us to then offer solutions that can lower their printing costs that are very transparent. One of the updates we've recently included is building PrintReleaf into our MPS program. It's not only available to offer to customers, but it's actually embedded in Encompass. That makes it easy to incorporate into the overall story.

    PrintReleaf is a platform that ties paper consumption to reforestation. PrintReleaf allows companies to certifiably reduce the environmental impact of using paper products by automatically planting trees across a global network of reforestation projects.

    What would you suggest MPS providers focus on in 2017?

    BM: The most important thing they can do is make sure that their implementation and execution is solid.  If you are not just going in and completely replacing the existing fleet with one brand and selling it on a cost-per-copy model, then it's still a complex process of managing a blended customer-owned fleet. You need to optimize what they already own, augment it with new equipment and solutions that meet their needs and then put it on a really simple billing program. That’s complicated. If you're making it easier for the customer, essentially what you're doing is taking on that complexity yourself. That means that you need to be really good at assessments, pricing, implementation and reporting, or else all you've done is taken on somebody else's problem and probably made it worse. And made it your own.

    The MPSA has spent a lot of time helping build guidelines to do this properly. One of the latest trends we are seeing is a migration from MPS to MCS, or managed content services. The providers that have become adept at offering MPS seem to now be pushing into the workflow arena. Are you seeing any of that?

    BM: Yes. Toshiba has been offering workflow products for a while. We’ve recently launched our Nuance relationship with AutoStore and Equitrac for imaging. These solutions will be incorporated into our front panel on our MFPs. I believe that the “managed” model is really around using your expertise to relieve the customer's burden on an area that they're not expert at. We're just expanding our offering set logically to offer clients solutions to their current pain points. We have been offering managed workflow, security, scanning, digital and hardcopy to digital, etc., for a while.

    What are some of the biggest challenges you're seeing the channel right now?

    BM: Well, you mentioned commoditization at the beginning of this interview, and that is a real issue, because when we first started we were educating customers and for a long time were almost alone in that, at least in terms of the offshore manufacturers in the SMB and mid-tier space. Now everybody is offering managed print services. If your prospect is not very knowledgeable, all the offerings can look the same even if they are intrinsically very, very different.

    It is very difficult to show how you are different in a simple-to-understand fashion that captures the prospect’s attention. This is where you have to demonstrate your experience, and the toolset, and the knowledge of your salespeople, analysts and implementation folks. It’s tough. It is no longer a blue ocean – it is a very crowded pool.

    Is there anything you're excited about right now? Something new coming up, new opportunities or new technologies?

    BM: At LEAD, our dealer and end user educational program in May, we'll be demonstrating what I believe is an industry leading technology product customization and integration.  Our new Elevate platform is designed to make it easy to deliver a fully customized user experience from front panel design to workflow integration.  For our dealers, we've also developed a set of educational tools and sell-through programs tailored to seven different industries.  It's very exciting and I know that our dealers and end users will love it.

  • 20-Feb-2017 8:12 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Brian Dawson, Print Tracker

    The mission of the MPSA™ and its members is to address and optimize document management while enhancing the growth, efficiency, and profitability of the Managed Print Services (MPS) segment. In an effort to reach these objectives, the MPSA provides community-driven print management best practices – like those contained in white papers to help its members make informed decisions to assist in developing their MPS strategies.

    As managed print services offerings mature, the definition of MPS changed. In early 2016, the MPSA published the following:

    “Managed print services is the active management and optimization of business processes related to documents and information including input and output devices.” – MPSA (Managed Print Services Association)

    The MPSA Standards and Best Practices Committee
    Over the past several years and through collaboration with numerous subject matter experts within the MPSA Standards and Best Practices (SBP) Committee and those outside the organization, the MPSA has compiled a set of MPS best practices. 

    Built on the foundation of the SBP Committee’s earlier work, "MPS Provider Best Practices: Supplies Management," the group’s efforts have culminated in the production of a comprehensive new break/fix service white paper. The work identifies standards MPS providers can employ to mitigate risk factors while providing world class customer service for their print management offering.

    Focus and Scope
    As part of a broader body of knowledge, this specific set of best practices offered by the SBP group centers on break/fix service.  The prepared document is offered as a guide for the MPS provider’s leadership to help them choose the best business model for designing, managing, and improving its break/fix service delivery. The information suggested should be applied broadly to form the basis of a well-run MPS business.

    While the scope of the prepared document includes best practices for break/fix service in MPS engagements, the processes and business model options presented focus on cost containment and customer experience. The SBP committee suggests benchmarking offerings against Specific, Measurable, Aligned/ Achievable, Relevant, and Time Bound (SMART) standards to provide the best service in the most affordable manner.

    After reviewing the ideas suggested, MPS providers can use the break/fix white paper recommendations to implement a wide array of break/fix strategies based on the business model they have established. The document takes into account three common break/fix business models where the MPS provider:

    1)    has their own technicians;
    2)    utilizes and manages third-party technicians; or
    3)    invests in an all-inclusive page, that includes break/fix services from a servicing agent. 

    Break/Fix Offering Components
    The MPSA’s break/fix service white paper promotes a pro-active service and support model rather than a reaction based program. The white paper includes seven high-level break/fix service components for each business model.  Each section includes segments for best practices, impact on profitability and customer experience and defines program offerings for each of the three business types in the following areas:

    Service Level Agreement (SLA)
    1)    Flexibility
    2)    Scalability

    Technology
    1)    Collection
    2)    Reporting and Processing
    3)    Customer portal
    4)    Technician portal

    Technicians
    1)    Criteria and Sourcing
    2)    Geo Coverage
    3)    Certifications
    4)    Ongoing Training
    5)    Technician Benchmarks, Reporting and Review Process
    6)    Incentive Program
    7)    Technician Resources

    Parts
    1)    Distribution/Availability
    2)    Warehousing

    Service Desk

    1)    Communication method
    2)    Dispatch

    Contract Management

    1)    Invoicing
    2)    Profitability

    Customer Satisfaction
    By way of content example, the MPSA’s Break/Fix White Paper includes the following excerpt:

    Best Practices: Break/Fix Service Offering

    Impact
    A break/fix service offering is one of the most basic and fundamental building blocks of an MPS solution.  Providers should define their solution and how it will be delivered. Offerings may cover areas like billing models, products covered, service level agreements (SLAs), and software solutions. MPS providers may start with a very defined and limited offering or have several options for their customers.

    Considerations
    A break-fix service offering will vary because of billing model factors, such as Cost per Image (CPI), time and materials (T&M), user based, monthly by model, and length of agreement, and each component should be aligned with how the program will be administered. There are three different break/fix models for MPS providers to consider.

    Provider’s Own Service/Managed Third-Party
    Billing model factors are very important to profit and customer experience. For example, exposure to profit on a billing model would be a risk if offering CPI or user-based billing. Impact to cash flow could also be a consideration if the dealer, valued added reseller (VAR), or IT service provider bills these charges in arrears because of up-front costs. If the MPS provider bills monthly or annually, this would be less of a factor, as billing would usually be done in advance. The MPS provider would have risks in each of these models because they are all-inclusive billing models. T&M billing offers the least exposure, as the provider bills actual expenses plus a mark-up amount. However this model offers the least value to the client and is far less profitable for the provider.

    Wholesale Page/Solution
    This approach offers the least impact to profit exposure for the MPS provider because they have a set price and are not impacted by additional costs. Although this arrangement is more predictable and safe, the provider could have the potential to make more of a profit if the process is self-managed. In addition, the customer expectation for greater value-added services is increased to justify not going direct with the contracted break/fix provider.

    Customer experience is an exposure in the wholesale page/solution model. The provider will need to place tight checks and balances in the process and how it might impact their customer. Ultimately, the partner engaging the client is solely responsible for the service delivery and upholding the relationship, even though the MPS provider has contracted the service.

    … In Summary
    The "MPS Provider Best Practices: Break/Fix Service" white paper produced by MPSA SBP committee members dovetails nicely with its earlier work "MPS Provider Best Practices: Supplies Management."  MPS providers can use the information offered in both white papers to develop the foundation for a sound print management program.

    Each business and reader must determine which set of best practices apply to their specific situation. Ultimately, the success of any MPS program relies heavily upon application throughout the entire lifecycle of the provider’s MPS program.  As with all information, readers must determine a set of goals and objectives to be achieved and solved with the implementation of the white paper’s suggested best practices.

    Join the MPSA today to gain access to full reports: http://www.yourmpsa.org/Membership.  The MPSA is an active organization that offers monthly webinars to its worldwide membership.  The MPSA offers a LinkedIn forums for the exchange of ideas as well: Managed Print Services Association

    Brian Dawson, Sales and Marketing Director, Print Tracker, LLC, is a productivity specialist, sales coach, mentor; offering managed print solutions world-wide with Print Tracker software.  He is a Co-chairman on the MPSA’s Standards and Best Practices where he has been a participating member since its inception. View profiles at www.linkedin.com/in/briandawsonid and www.linkedin.com/company/514661. Contact Brian at bdawson@PrintTracker.net, (866) 629-3342 x7 or through Print Tracker.

  • 31-Oct-2016 1:07 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Amy Weiss

    There are a lot of things to be scared of this Halloween: ghosts, zombies, vampires, political ads (sadly, those won’t go away on November 1). We like being scared by most of those things; it’s fun, harmless entertainment. But there is one thing that strikes fear into the hearts of many in the managed print business, and that’s the constant talk of declining print volumes.

    We hear it all the time — “print is dead. Page volumes are declining. End times are here.” And while there is some truth in a few of these statements, they don’t represent the whole truth. Don’t be scared — hope remains.

    Printing is Still Alive

    Ironically, one of the best indicators for this comes from AIIM’s annual report leading up to World Paper-Free Day on Nov. 4. Their report this year, “Paper Free — Are we there yet?” demonstrates that paper is far from being a ghost in the office space. In it, 25 percent of respondents indicated they run a paper-free environment; while that number is up from the previous study, it’s far from 100 percent. Likewise, earlier this year Xerox published a study on “Digitization at Work” in which more than half of respondents said their organizations’ processes were still largely or entirely paper-based.

    Processes Are on the Rise

    What these studies do indicate, however, is that there is a need and a desire for digitization and less of a reliance on paper. Fear not; this is not a bad thing for managed print providers.  Let me quote from the MPSA’s fearless leader, President Kevin DeYoung, in a recent blog: “This industry was founded on business processes and information distribution in the most efficient, accurate least burdensome way. … A solution could be one where it results in less prints, more automated workflows. It also could be one that results in more prints.”

    Yes, managed print is evolving — so much so that the MPSA updated its definition this year. In case you missed it, the current definition of Managed Print Services is: “… the active management and optimization of business processes, related to documents and information including input and output devices.” It recognizes an evolution in the nature of MPS, and a shift in the focus to processes. Partners who are able to provide the technology and services to help enable this workflow will be sought after as businesses struggle to make the shift to not necessarily the paperless office, but the “paper-light” one. Xerox’s study showed that three-quarters of respondents have identified areas for automation, including accounting, expense reporting and accounts payable. Conducting workflow assessments, understanding document infrastructure, providing process modeling and offering solutions are all valuable tools that can be a natural expansion for MPS providers.

    Contractual Print Models Survive

    Things aren’t all bad for traditional hardware managed print models either, however. IDC reported in its Worldwide Quarterly Hardcopy Peripherals Tracker that for the first quarter of the year, although hardware shipments have been declining consistently (down 10.6 percent year-over-year in Q1 2016), the “contractual” sector grew in every major geographic region – Asia/Pacific, Japan, Western Europe, and the United States – with year-over-year growth ranging from 3.9 percent to 41 percent. IDC also noted specifically that more than 1.8 million units were shipped for managed print services. 

    So on this Halloween, don’t be scared by doom-and-gloom headlines. While printing may be past its heyday, it’s not dead and buried just yet. Opportunities abound as long as you’re not afraid to embrace change. And just remember, everything ends eventually (even the 2016 election) – you just have to be prepared for what’s next. 

  • 26-Sep-2016 6:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Patricia Ames

    In Part 4 of our interview series, we speak with MPSA President Kevin DeYoung and Vice President Doug Bies, and take a look at the current MPSA membership base, new member recruitment, and what kind of companies the MPSA is seeking to have join the association. Read Part 1Part 2 and Part 3.

    What does the current MPSA membership base look like? Describe it to us.

    Kevin DeYoung: The majority of current members are resellers, while many of our other members want to sell to the resellers.  This past year we looked at how we were set up operationally and we subsequently created a committee resources area. Kim Louden from GAFS has been very generous with her time and efforts to build that up. Now we have volunteers that want to participate.

    One of the first places we identified as an area of need was our membership committee. It is in the process of building up resources, so instead of going after new members immediately, we decided to devote our efforts into determining how we can deliver greater value to the current members. We formed a membership value committee that Ron Alphin of Parts Now heads. We came up with a hit list of things that were recommended. One of the primary benefits that the members want is networking.

    The next thing that we did is start working on how to onboard members better so members know how to maximize the value of their membership. For the individual members, we created a comprehensive member resource guide and then for the corporate members we created a one-on-one guided experience. We don’t want a situation where corporate members come on board after writing a check and we give them a webinar and then forget about them until it is time to renew again.

    We always want to be recruiting new members. This is really not about building a lot of cash, this is about migrating the contributions into value for the membership. Leveraging the knowledge and expertise of our corporate members can help make all our members more successful and that is part of our charter. The corporate members have a message which is valuable to our overall membership, and we want to make sure it is heard.

    Conversely, we want our corporate members to know our individual members because maybe they can do business with each other and that will be good for those that are sharing their educational content. In every case, the first step is to take care of our existing members, because we’ve been very good when we wanted to get new members.

    Doug Bies: Even on the smaller side of things, when it comes to individual memberships you could be working at a large, 500-person organization and be on the IT staff and your manager might want you to get more involved in MPS and implement an MPS program. What better place to go to learn than here at the MPSA? Why not make that small investment that will then allow you to collaborate with OEMs, resellers, MPS infrastructure providers, IT VAR’s and other end users, and learn what you should be looking for in an MPS provider?

    We’re better in terms of delivering value this year than we were in previous years. That makes it easier to attract new membership; it’s one of the reasons why the membership committee has grown because now they have something to build upon, a greater value to work off of and leverage, and a story to tell. It’s easier to onboard organizations now.

    When we onboard new members now, we encourage them to join a committee. It’s one of the best ways to ensure membership value.

    For new member recruitment, what are you looking for? Do you have a specific type of member that you’re looking for — are they in certain sectors, are you looking at verticals? What do you think are the best routes to attract them?

    DeYoung: We want more end users. End users are difficult to manage as long-term members, because an end user’s membership within the MPSA is typically an event-driven membership. End users are going to say “We need to do MPS, we want to do MPS, how do we find out how to do MPS?” They’ll discover us in their research. A couple of years ago Purdue University joined the MPSA. I remember thinking how cool it was that Purdue University was a member. I asked them why they joined and they told me that they were in the process of evaluating an MPS solution for the entire campus.

    We held a conference call for Purdue, and we walked them through the Standards and Best Practices Committee papers on how an end user should evaluate managed print services both internally and externally. We had created great material and we walked them through it all. Purdue loved it. I believe we delivered a great value to them.

    Reaching out to end users to educate them on our association can be difficult. Most of the events we tend to participate in are geared to the reseller and not the end user. We’ll need to focus on attending more end user events in the future.

    I would love to see people from the legal industry get involved, certainly the end users. I’d love to see more OEMs. I would love to see organizations from the software side like DocuWare or Square 9 or other document solutions companies.

    As we begin to look at workflow and what happens when you’ve evolved within an organization to the point where you’ve already optimized, you’ve rationalized and now what’s left? How can you make your business process more efficient? That gets to be workflow. You need to know what the game is if you’re going to retain a client, if you’re going to have stickiness. We’ve brought in some great new companies like YSoft. Very interesting business model compared to its competitors, they bring a lot of value to the industry in the way they’re approaching the market — very novel, but that’s what you want. You want more of that in the MPSA too.

    Read Part 1Part 2 and Part 3 of the series.

  • 14-Sep-2016 10:47 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Lisa Person, Director of Member Communities, CompTIA

    Most everyone in the MPS field understands the role and value of these services to organizations of every shape and size. It’s a regular topic of conversation in our community, from the efficiencies and cost savings of a well-developed program to the ease of implementation for providers. That is what many might call the fun part of MPS.

    Managing the customer-facing side of an organization is by no means easy, but many providers would rather help end users work through issues and options rather than spend time improving their own business processes. Of course, that scenario isn’t unique to the print and IT industries: it’s simply human nature. Most prefer the interaction over process development.

    The CompTIA Managed Print Services Community collectively strives for the improvement and development of the industry as a whole. Members who attend our conference calls and live meetings, like our gathering in August at ChannelCon, leave armed with business-building advice and new strategies for growth. Nothing fuels the mind like insightful discussions with peers around the issues and opportunities MPS professionals face. Those activities are what drives providers to spend more time working on building and honing their businesses rather than working “in” their businesses.  

    At ChannelCon, our presenters discussed crafting competitive compensation plans and consultative selling tactics, and we offered a primer on how to use data analytics in an MPS business. Each was focused on helping providers grow their managed print practices.

    Compensation plans for sales staff have long been a challenge for print and IT providers selling services. Jeff Bendix of Bendix Imaging and Kevin Morris from OneDOC Managed Print Services shared their experiences and took away some of the mystery and uncertainty on that area.

    For instance, a managed print sales staff may be compensated based on a range of outcomes. The possibilities include long-term managed print contracts, hardware sales and leases and transactional sales of supplies. “What behavior are you trying to encourage?” Morris asked. “Think about your end-goal and design a plan around it.”

    Attendees were also advised to bite the bullet and make a habit of holding quarterly business reviews (QBRs) with their customers. The most successful organizations meet regularly to discuss problems with their clients to not only keep potential problems to a minimum, but to discuss future projects and service opportunities. But many providers still don’t follow that advice. “QBRs are a pain,” said David Brown of PrintFleet. “They are monotonous to put together. They are time consuming. But you have to be out there talking to your customers because if you aren’t, someone else is.”

    What should you address in a QBR? The most successful customer conversations are the ones that “create a winning narrative,” Brown said. “Always talk about the future. Talk about what their objectives are and talk to them about how you will help them get there.”

    The New MPS Standard

    The key to a successful managed print practice? Policies and procedures. Tawnya Stone of GreatAmerica Financial Services and chair of the community directed attendees to the new CompTIA Channel Standard for Managed Print Providers as an industry resource for providers. These are guidelines successful MPS professionals have used to build and improve their businesses over time. The standard covers four critical business functions: business generation, delivery and operations, customer relations and business direction.

    CompTIA created a workbook to serve as a guide and self-evaluation for managed print provider organizations. It combines all of the content from the CompTIA Channel Standard for IT Solution Providers and the Standard for Managed Print Providers, providing insight into the best practices and policies of each type of organization. It’s a “go at your own pace” program, so time is not a factor (though quicker implementation has its own rewards).

    Those are the types of activities the CompTIA Managed Print Services Community does on a regular basis. If you’re interested in these resources or looking for others, sign up here and open your mind to even greater success in the MPS space. 

  • 24-Aug-2016 4:28 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Patricia Ames

    In Part 3 of our interview series, we explore the effort the MPSA is putting into ensuring “membership value” with President Kevin DeYoung and Vice President Doug Bies. 

    What are some of the biggest challenges for the leadership of the MPSA?

    Doug Bies: We’re trying to get the members more involved. It’s not just about giving the association money and saying, “Look I’m involved in this organization, buy from me now because I’m part of the MPSA.” It’s more about starting with an individual membership and getting involved in a committee. You have the opportunity to learn; you can collaborate with other bright minds in the industry and that delivers value back to you.

    Kevin DeYoung: There’s an incredible wealth of information available to members. Some of the white papers from the Standards Committee are great. I remember one white paper looked at the different MPS variants and business models that exist in the industry. When I looked at the final white paper, I remember thinking I wished I would have had this when I first started to do MPS because I had to learn all this the hard way.            

    There are many different variants of MPS with pros and the cons to each model and each needs to be evaluated in terms of execution, customer retention, customer value. The Standards Committee has done these evaluations and it made me realize that when MPSA members have access to this information it is really going to enhance the learning curve for so many different organizations.

    There are challenges, though. What we always need to keep in mind within an association is that you have varying levels of expertise within the membership.

    Some members are very advanced and will think most initiatives are already outdated, while others are just starting to learn and it’s over their head and you’ve got to slow down to allow them to catch up. That’s always the challenge in this association — the varying levels of expertise that everybody has and trying to fit that.

    Doug: It’s also the value as well. You have some members that don’t understand something as simple as conducting an assessment and a white paper or webinar on that topic appeals to them. Then you have other deliverables that are at a higher level that may appeal to a more advanced organization that’s involved in MPSA. Whether you’re new to the industry and just learning how to sell devices, or you’re at a much higher level and offer managed services or more complex products and services related to workflow, there are different areas of the MPSA that appeal to you.

    Leadership within the actual committees has evolved over the past year. We have good leadership driving new initiatives forward so MPS-focused deliverables are accomplished

    Kevin: Another challenge is depth. We’re building depth because ultimately we have to build depth to ensure solid leadership going forward. We have new chairs and co-chairs.

    We could have a little bit more bandwidth. It is good now, I think it is set up and I feel better about it currently because there are more people that are taking leadership roles as opposed to in the past. Previously there were only a few people taking leadership roles, now you have a very involved board. Each of the board members are leaders in whatever they’re driving and sits very prominently at the table in our meetings.

    The board members really own what they’re doing and that’s exciting from my standpoint because I feel like it is really one of the things that has improved. I know that in my role as president, I need a lot of help and I think that it’s silly not to take advantage of all of the talented people on the board. They want to help, they want to be involved, they want to drive the organization. We are now taking advantage of that, getting that kind of involvement, and it makes the association better, it broadens the span. I think it’s been good that way.

    Read Part 1Part 2, and Part 4 of the series.

  • 28-Jul-2016 8:38 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Patricia Ames

    In Part 2 of our series of interviews with the MPSA's president and vice president, we ask VP Doug Bies to outline how the MPSA is going to incorporate their new definition of MPS into the activities the MPSA does as an association.

    How do you incorporate the thoughts behind your new definition into the actual work done at the MPSA? Do you see that happening on the committee level through white papers and webinars?

    If you look at the Standards and Best Practices Committee, that’s what they do. They’ll go into a think tank and they really think things over and then they’re going to come out with two outputs. They’re going to come out with the presentation for the industry in general and then they’re going to come out with their white paper, which is very reasoned and thoroughly vetted. There will be something for the public and something that has value to the membership — they’re very, very good at that.

    The Education Committee right now is in the middle of creating a blueprint for how to do a proper assessment and when I look at what is being created, it is impressive. If you take a look at the framework of it, it is also applicable to workflow. It’s amazing how much of what is relevant now just keeps going back to Six Sigma. Six Sigma really wrote the book on how to look at a process. You start with “How do I examine what an organization is doing?” and you can leverage that in a lot of different areas. I see it here with the MPSA in white paper outputs and webinars.

    One of the new MPSA initiatives that we have come up with is because of this change in the definition and change in where the demand is going. We are going to survey our membership and ask them what they consider to be most important right now. The other thing that we want to talk to our membership about, since we have such passionate advocates of managed print services, is to ask what they’re doing and what they consider to be a priority.

    We have all of these people that are involved in this particular industry, in this particular discipline, and they’re experts. They live it, they eat it, they breathe it, they talk about it. We need to go to this base of experts and ask, “Okay, what’s the most important thing about managed print services, what’s the second most important thing, what’s the most critical to do, what are the most important aspects, what are you doing, what do you think is important, what do you think is just not important?”

    We need to know that because we want to turn that around and go back out to the association and say, “This is what we’re finding from all of you — what is considered to be the most important, the second most important, the third most important — what’s strategic, what’s really just a waste of time.” We want to take that knowledge base that we have and turn it around and then educate the association on the association. That’s something that we’re going to do this term.

    We have such a wealth of knowledge that is immediately apparent if you sit in these committees. It was the reason why I joined the association. I joined the association because I was in managed print services and I thought, “This sounds like a really good idea for $149, I can maybe join a committee.” That was the idea, “Let me see if I can join a committee and just listen to what these experts are doing and learn from them and try to figure this thing out.”

    I think it’s one of the reasons why you have the advocates for this association. Because people like myself joined it, sat in these committees, started exchanging ideas. Some of the ideas were goofy — you sit there and sometimes think, “You have got to be kidding me.” Some of them were really great ideas and I would think “let me try it” and then it would work or it works better than you thought it would work. Then all of a sudden you begin to build your business and make it better and you have this environment that is not prejudicial. It’s one of the few areas where you can go where somebody is not trying to prejudice an idea.

    I think there’s a culture within this organization that’s very neutral, very objective. Initially you will have some of the executives trying to press their idea but within the committees you have to have consensus, you have to be patient. It’s a volunteer organization, but if you can build the right culture and atmosphere within the groups you’re going to learn a lot — you can get a ton out of this association if you’re involved. You can walk away with a lot of good things.

    Read Part 1Part 3 and Part 4 of the series.

  • 18-Jul-2016 1:28 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Kevin DeYoung

    Perhaps you looked at the Managed Print Services (MPS) Model, studied it, tried it, maybe even think you are doing it, only to find out there is a Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3 and a Stage 4. It seems arduous doesn't it? Or does it?

    MPS is not for everyone. Just like hardware sales are not for everyone.   The personality of an organization goes directly to whether or not the adoption of the MPS Model will be successful. We attempt to profile salespeople relative to their MPS acumen without considering the organizational and executive personalities of the companies offering or considering MPS.

    Many try but fail. A high percentage of the BTA channel tries and exits. Why? Send me all the benchmarks, and statistical reasons as to why these failures exist and I will tell you that for them MPS is dressed in overalls and looks like work. For them, each new success in MPS buys an admission ticket to a more difficult problem. This is why those that enter are stalled developmentally in Stage 1 or 2. These same organizations will attempt to apply commoditized transactional models to what should be a customized solution, only to consequently complain that their margins are suffering and their clients aren’t satisfied.

    Instead of appreciating the spirit of the solution, they may seek outside help; hire a “specialist” or consultant. There’s nothing wrong with that but just remember an amateur built the ark and experts built the Titanic. In order to be successful at anything one has to first appreciate a premise for what it is and what it is not.

    There are those that love this model, use it, provide it, advocate for it, study it, work at it, help others do it. They debate passionately about what it is and where it’s going. They push the envelope of reasoning and will engage whoever will listen to them on topics as general as fundamentals to behaviorism related to end-user printing. Jennifer Shutwell will articulate going 24 hours on coffee theorizing about configuring a client just right. Greg "the leopard" Walters will talk about eliminating prints altogether, Ed Crowley will tell you it's evolving to BPO/ITO/MS happily, as if it's Christmas and there are new presents under the tree.

    It’s more than a model to them, to me, to others. It's appealing, plays to our desires and provides relevancy to our efforts.  MPS is the opportunity to offer a solution that finally enables an organization and salesperson to differentiate on a level that exists through the flexibility and customization that only a provider can deliver. It’s a solution that hasn’t been manufactured on an assembly line. You don’t have to figure out how to hide the products weaknesses and espouse its strengths. MPS doesn’t have a brochure with specifications that can be reduced to the lowest common denominator.  It’s different and overcomes the perception of functional parity.

    If you are a principal, sales professional or executive reading this and this solution doesn't ignite your creativity, energy and passion it's probably not for you.  Are you making money?  Is your business growing?  Are your clients satisfied?  Most importantly, are you happy with what you are doing? If the answer is yes, you don't have a problem.  MPS is not speaking to you and it really doesn't matter what the metrics and facts are, it's not for you. I submit there is nothing wrong with that.

    David Maister, author of the book “Strategy and the Fat Smoker,” opines that there is no such thing as a best business strategy. The only strategy that counts is the one you will commit to and execute. A lot of this boils down to how you are “wired.” Cross country runners do distance, sprinters do speed; they are physically and mentally gifted to be effective in those disciplines. Doing MPS is not about business survival, it’s about satisfaction. Engage in a business that is satisfying and you’ll execute the model. Engage in a business that is not satisfying and you’ll try to form that model into something you know but probably doesn’t fit (CPC Leases on printers with no go forward evolution for the client is not MPS, it’s a copier lease without the scanner and you will experience deterioration in margin).

    There are no wrongs or rights. It’s important to be true to yourself and never forget who you are.  If reading this affirms that MPS is not for you find something that is. If your primary business model is MFPs — then the clock is ticking.  One word: “iPad,” and that is a probable game changer. So you’ll have to figure out (now) how you will evolve your product offering. Here’s a suggestion; do what feels right. Oh, and if you’re truly committing to MPS — maybe dig in and appreciate those worn-in, dirty overalls!

    Kevin DeYoung is the President & CEO of Qualpath Inc., a Florida-based Managed Print Services (MPS) provider. Qualpath has been recognized as the Top MPS Indirect Provider by the Managed Print Services Association and Entrepreneur Magazine as one of the fastest growing companies in the USA. Kevin has 32 years of experience in the Managed Services and Office Automation Industry. Previous to Qualpath Kevin served as President of Kodak Latin America and CEO of Ameritrend Corporation, an Inc. 500 Company. Currently serving as President of the Managed Print Services Association, Kevin advocates for the Industry at both the end user and provider levels. Kevin is a  graduate of the Florida State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business.

  • 30-Jun-2016 9:37 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Patricia Ames

    We recently had a chance to sit down with MPSA President Kevin DeYoung and Vice President Doug Bies and get an update on MPSA goals and objectives one year into a new term for the leadership. Given the dynamic state of the industry in general right now, it is not surprising that the conversation was broad ranging and fluid — so much so that we have had to create a multi-part series to provide you with a good overview. Let’s begin!

    You are about one year into a new administration at the MPSA – how is it going?

    Kevin DeYoung: I feel really good about the association. It is amazing that this administration is already over 12 months into things. When we started a little over a year ago, we developed a hit list of things that we felt were very important from an association standpoint, and all of those initiatives are now in play. 

    Can you highlight one for us?

    Kevin: How we define MPS as an association was a major initiative. We decided to update the definition to more closely mirror the changes in technology and the offerings our members are providing. I think that was really important because that’s going to start to steer our committees in a different direction. The committees traditionally within the association have been focused on the outputs or infrastructures as related to traditional print. The new definition now incorporates inputs and business process, which forces the dialogue to start to go to workflow. We’re moving towards business process optimization, or BPO.

    The discussion around business processes is becoming more and more important for our organization, my company — we need to position for BPO; we want to have that conversation because we’re out there in a market, and we may not have a solution for all the needs presented. We’re asking “where’s the pain?” We are back to doing what I did when I first entered this industry. I started in this industry in 1983, and we would ask back then, “What are the most important documents that you have, where do they go, how do they work, where do they flow, what does it mean to your business, what happens when it doesn’t work right?”

    The MPSA committees have to start to steer towards this emphasis on asking what is being done with the inputs and questioning what companies are doing with the workflow because if we’re going to drive value to our association membership and keep the members active, this is where we need to be. This is a sweet spot in this industry. Our members have to start to take that into account as part of their business models, whether they are resellers or an infrastructure provider or involved in finance. Everybody has got to start to take a look at that.

    For example, Great America Financial Services would have to look at the product portfolio and ask questions like “how do I finance software, how do I finance these different types of inputs?” Resellers are clearly looking at all the business processes and looking for ways to leverage products. Then there are the infrastructure providers. We have a lot of infrastructure providers in the association that are focused on break-fix and consumables, but what about software, what about consultancy as it relates to the new definition of MPS?

    We have tweaked the definition, but now we have to stimulate the association. We have to start to provoke our members and go back to the standards and best practices committee or education committee and some of these other groups and say, “Can we start talking about inputs, can we start talking a little bit more about software, can we start talking about business process, can we talk about processes in general?” That’s really where the leadership of this organization now has to go back to its membership and start to educate them and start to bring that into the dialogue.

    Now that you have a new definition, how are you going to ensure that it stays relevant? 

    Doug Bies: It was difficult to change it, considering so many of our members still continue to make a majority of their revenue through supporting printers. Then you think of the future, as actual print output declines. What’s the MPSA going to turn into and do we go more progressive with redefining it? We may have to come back every two years and redefine it, redefine it, redefine it.

    Kevin: We have to keep peeling back on the initiatives and making them more current. This is something that should be considered a living definition.

    Doug: One of the tough things too is I think is that the definition evolves. It has to stay in line with the Managed Print Services Association and the whole branding behind our association. If that definition evolves too much, we almost have to re-brand our association in a way. We always have to be thinking of that.

    Read Part 2Part 3 and Part 4 of the series.

  • 27-Jun-2016 12:58 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Kevin DeYoung

    So much of this industry seems to be focused on prints. “Prints are decreasing, Cost per prints are degrading”, “the paperless office is coming”, “color volumes are growing”. 

    Somewhere down the line these aspects of the office automation industry became monetized and a point of focus. We do assessments to figure out how many printers, print volumes, output capabilities, downtime, uptime, etc. Transaction models are created that substitute better output devices that will lessen burdens, costs and increase productivity.

    It was never ever about that. 

    This industry was founded on business processes and information distribution in the most efficient, accurate least burdensome way.  We followed the most important business documents, how they were pathed; timing, errors, burdens and the evaluation of whether or not we as resellers could improve the actual business state of our customers.

    There was no thinking or prejudice to prints. No one in 1980 thought about how many copies were going to be made; the thought was about how quickly and accurately information could be distributed.

    One of the greatest minds in the history of the world Cai Lun in 105 AD invented paper. Before that, kings and emperors had to travel and read their orders and laws. China invented the mass production of paper and for over a thousand years closely guarded the paper creation process. The concept of copies, prints and outputs is old and for some reason has been confabulated into an important issue.

    We as an industry need to remember what started all of this in the first place. The need to disseminate, control, reference, process and accurately act on data. The devices that do that are only relevant to the extent that they facilitate these actions in the most cost affordable least burdensome way. 

    A true MPS Provider operates without prejudice to prints. The word print is poorly defined; we think of that word as toner on a piece of paper as opposed to data presented as an image. This image certainly can be on a piece of paper but it also can be on a monitor, cell phone, tablet, phablet; whatever. We are not in the business of getting companies to print more or less. We are in the business of improving business processes; we always were, we always have been. 

    How sad is it for a person to sell a “thing” on the basis that it prints faster, is cheaper and therefore the basis for the transaction is a cheaper faster thing than the older slower more expensive thing? Where is the relevancy for the salesperson, reseller or customer? We ponder, debate and theorize new transaction angles as opposed to expending that same energy on how to make the customers’ processes better.

    A solution could be one where it results in less prints, more automated workflows. It also could be one that results in more prints. 

    What matters is did we as an industry make the customers’ business processes better?  The reduction in burdens, increases in process accuracy, decreases in costs, and improvement in our customers’ profits and competitive strategic market positioning is all that counts. The money doesn’t know where it comes from. We should re-center our temperament and focus on improving our customers’ important information distribution in the best way possible. If this results in more or less prints—who cares?

    Kevin DeYoung is the President & CEO of Qualpath Inc., a Florida-based Managed Print Services (MPS) provider. Qualpath has been recognized as the Top MPS Indirect Provider by the Managed Print Services Association and Entrepreneur Magazine as one of the fastest growing companies in the USA. Kevin has 32 years of experience in the Managed Services and Office Automation Industry. Previous to Qualpath Kevin served as President of Kodak Latin America and CEO of Ameritrend Corporation, an Inc. 500 Company. Currently serving as President of the Managed Print Services Association, Kevin advocates for the Industry at both the end user and provider levels. Kevin is a  graduate of the Florida State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business.

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