MPSA Commentary

MPSA Member & MPS Industry Commentary
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  • 29-Aug-2017 8:22 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Recently, the MPSA announced its new board of directors and executive committee. To welcome them, we'll be doing a series of Q&As with each new member.

    President Doug Bies:

    Q: How long have you been involved in the MPSA and in what role/s?

    A:  I’ve been involved in the MPSA for about four years.  I initially got involved as a member of the education committee to learn more about MPS from the experts, then in time became the co-chair of the education committee. From there, my position evolved into additional committees, then vice president, and now to president.  Just like at our paying jobs, skills you develop within the MPSA open the door for advancement. 

    Q: What experience do you bring to this role?

    A: I’ve spent 100 percent of my time in the print industry post-college, including the last 11 years being highly involved in MPS with an OEM and independent dealership.  Having spent my previous MPSA term as the MPSA vice president, it in some ways was an internship for the president position. Ideas, thoughts, connections, and an understanding of the MPSA logistics will enable the MPSA to be successful again this term.

    Q: What changes or opportunities are you seeing in MPS that excite you the most?

    A: I’m excited to see MPS providers become more like consultants for their customers rather than just providers selling a commodity. With MPS far along in the innovation adoption curve, providers need to do more to deliver value to their customers.  Digitization, and IT services tie in with MPS are short-term opportunities for MPS providers to do more for their customers. 

    Q: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time when you’re not at work?

    A: When I’m not working, I enjoy traveling to breweries to learn more about brewing beer and of course, sampling all they have to offer.  Travel, photography, sports, and comedy are other passions of mine.  

  • 23-May-2017 12:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Mark Schneider, Y Soft North America

    It’s difficult to pick up an industry magazine, view tech websites or attend a conference without hearing about Digital Transformation. The media hype and analyst predictions can leave one feeling behind the curve if not actively engaging with customers on the topic.

    The important thing to remember is that most companies are not nearly at the point of true digital transformation. According to IDC’s Digital Transformation (DX) MaturityScape Stage Overview, most companies are still stuck in stage 2. The fifth and final stage is still a long way off for most.

    Your customers are still on a journey and many are looking for solutions that help them progress to stage 3. As an MPS provider who makes a living on the printed page, is this a threat or is there opportunity for you?

    What is Digital Transformation?

    Using IDC’s definition, Digital Transformation (or DX) enables enterprises to drive changes in their business models and ecosystems by leveraging digital competencies. A quick summary of the five stages they’ve identified:

    1) Ad-Hoc where paper-centric workflows dominate.

    2) Opportunistic where scans are image only capture and connected to ECM or document repositories.

    3) Repeatable is intelligent scan capture where content can be extracted, indexed and categorization is automated.

    4) Managed which uses third platform technologies (think AI, AR, VR) to support real-time access and use across digital devices.

    5) Optimized is the ultimate level where automation crosses all departments and adjacent workflows are triggered through use of innovation accelerators such as IoT, cognitive systems or robotics.

    The business outcomes possible under each stage become more and more compelling. But only a small percentage of companies are at the forefront with associated budgets and resources to get past stage 2. By taking more practical steps, you can help them progress to stage 3.

    What’s in it for me?

    It’s a healthy sign for any industry to evolve and MPS is no different. Today, MPS is evolving to include MCS, Managed Content Services. Living in the paper world gives you insight into your customers’ paper based processes, in other words, stage 1 of digital transformation. And perhaps, some of your customers are scanning documents as image files and storing them in document repositories, stage 2.

    According to Gartner1, “The digital imaging and printing equipment, supply and service market is steadily declining… To survive, technology strategic planners of print and imaging providers need to make further inroads into MCS, (Managed Content Services) which optimizes customers' business processes and helps them reduce their dependence on printing and paper. MCS brings mostly new revenue and is a less mature business.”

    Stage 3, intelligent scan capture, delivers the value that customers understand and appreciate i.e. cost reduction and faster productivity. Intelligent scan capture offers you a new revenue stream and positions you as a trusted supplier that can help organizations on their digital transformation journey.
    Y Soft is helping MPS providers do this every day.

    My colleague recently shared tips on what to look for in a document capture solution in a MPSA webinar. The recording is available to members. I’d be happy to chat with you about it. Whether you offer scan workflows as a stand-alone solution or as part of  print management , you will drive value for customers who are looking to MPS providers to help them move up the DX curve.

    Be part of the evolution, drive value and increase your revenue! When your customer is ready to move on to stage 4 and 5, ….well we can’t say that AI, AR and VR technologies are ready just yet in the print and imaging industry. But we’re keeping an eye on them.

     1Gartner, January 2017, Exploit Print Market Dynamics Primer 2017, Document # G00318293

  • 26-Apr-2017 5:54 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The MPSA had a major presence during the ITEX 2017 show in Las Vegas April 18-20, hosting a networking reception the first night of the show.

    Held at Hussong’s Cantina on April 18 and sponsored by corporate members Clover Imaging Group, Muratec and Print Audit, the MPSA had a blowout reception complete with margaritas, guacamole and plenty of networking opportunities for current and prospective members. Here are some pictures of the event.

         

    Left: MPSA President Kevin DeYoung and Membership Chair Kevin Morris. Right: Attendees network at the event.


    Hussong's was packed with current and prospective MPSA members.


    Print Audit's West McDonald and BPO Media's Patricia Ames.


    A rousing game of flip cup hosted by Print Audit.


    Partygoers pack the room.

  • 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.

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