MPSA Commentary

MPSA Member & MPS Industry Commentary
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  • 26-Mar-2020 3:38 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    To our members,

    To say that we are living through strange days would be an understatement.  The office equipment industry and managed print services channel are clearly having to flex and adjust to a new reality that is still in flux — social distancing, reduced in-person contact, more people working from home and folks simply doing their best to survive. The MPSA understands just how challenging this time is for your business and for the businesses of your customers and want you to know that your well being is our primary concern.

    In light of the current business climate and uncertainty, we encourage you – now more than ever –  to come together as an industry. The MPSA is a perfect organization for those who believe rising tides raise all ships, and there has never been a more important time for us to serve not just our customers, but our channel. The health of ALL businesses is important right now, and whatever we can do to that end, the sooner we can do it, the better. We are stronger together.

    The MPSA awards will clearly be delayed as we typically do them in conjunction with the BTA; we had planned for the awards to take place during BTA’s June event in Chicago, which is now scheduled for early October. The MPSA will be closely watching for other events as these activities eventually return to in-person events.  In the meantime, we will be working hard to find virtual solutions for things we typically handled in person. We are learning as we go and want you to know that we’re as committed to our members as ever in our 10 year history. Events will simply have to wait.

    On behalf of the MPSA executive team, I wish our members and non-members all the best during these upside down times. Let’s use our collective wisdom to not only survive but to come up with ways to be stronger on the other side. Visit our committee page and email the chairs to find out how you can help to make a difference. If there is anything we can do to help, we’re as always, at your service.

    Best wishes

    West McDonald,
    President, MPSA

  • 23-Mar-2020 2:25 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Gregory Brisco, Vice President, MPSA

    Over the course of the last few weeks we have witnessed our entire world transform right before our eyes. Not that long ago I was serving with my DFW team at the North Texas Food Bank, and later that night hosted a customer appreciation suite at the Dallas Mavericks game. Yet, before the end of that game we learned that the NBA season was suspended indefinitely due to players testing positive for COVID-19. Over the course of the next 12 hours the country awoke to school closings, businesses shutting down, and everyone trying to understand this foreign concept of “social distancing.” I’m sure my story is no different than anyone else reading and we’re all trying to learn how to cope. How do we navigate in this world amidst a constant state of paranoia and hysteria that is completely foreign to our usual way of life?

    My first recommendation is to not panic. I live in Houston, TX, and we had three “1,000-year” flooding events that devastated the region over a course of about 18 months. Although that had a regional impact as opposed to global, one thing I learned is that crisis brings communities together more than any other phenomenon. We just have to remain vigilant on where we are getting our information from during this crisis. I’d certainly recommend taking precautions that are recommended by the CDC and other reputable sources only. So practice common sense, good hygiene, and adhere to the precautions set forth by the professionals. We all have a responsibility to do our part to reduce the spread of this virus and ensure that we continue to thrive as a global society.

    Next, we must understand that we have a social responsibility to each other and the companies we represent. This is an unprecedented time in business right now. Organizations within the office equipment channel and all over are making strict cuts.  Employees are being furloughed and businesses are shutting their doors because they simply are not prepared to handle such a tragedy. And the true “casualties of war” are the families being affected by these actions daily — the families that thought they were stable, until a couple of weeks ago when their world was turned upside down. We are currently all in survival mode. How can we help ensure that our families and colleagues have the supplies they need and are not exposing themselves or others to this virus? How can we ensure that our clients and partners are safe and that the well-being of their families are intact?

    There is a human component here that must be addressed at the center of our organizational strategy. So how can we help the people behind the organizations become prepared to face issues like this? One lesson I’ve learned from an innovator in the human capital industry, Scott MacGregor, president and CEO at Something New, is that, “as leaders of an organization it is essential to have a people strategy. Not just a hiring strategy, but a people strategy.”

    Once we establish our people strategy, we have to reflect on this “new normal.” What does it mean for the future of our business, industry, and the world as a whole?  I have come to a few conclusions, the first of which is the world as we knew it before is extinct. Obviously, some elements will resurface, and I’m not proclaiming that social distancing will become the norm going forward. Yet, I am saying that COVID-19 has forced us to examine how we live and thus, how we do business. More importantly, in my personal opinion, there are some positive changes that will come once the dust settles.

    Historically, the office equipment industry has done a poor job of adopting new technologies and incorporating them in our current offerings. Yet, the present landscape has forced us to embrace some of these new technologies that increase efficiencies. For a lot of dealers, e-mail is the most popular way to communicate and lots of projects are driven by spreadsheets, yet we tell our customers about robust document management systems that will allow them to streamline their workflows and maximize productivity. A lot of us are still printing and scanning our own expense reports in to our managers each month for approval, yet we sell automation services. Maybe it is time for us to adopt the same technology we are providing for our clients to run our own businesses.

    How many of us reported to a brick and mortar office Monday through Friday and made phone calls and sent e-mails trying to convince someone to buy an A3 copier? If more companies are going to adopt a remote strategy, how will that impact the type of devices they need? More importantly, how can companies ensure the integrity of their data amongst these remote employees?

    How many of us are still using cost per print as the ideal billing model and complaining about competition increasing while margins are decreasing? What issues does this model present if more employees are working remotely, and how do you resolve them?

    Historically, most people in our industry agree that overall page volumes are decreasing anywhere from 1%-6% (depending on who you ask) per year. So the common conversation has been, how do you protect your margins in the long-term? COVID-19 has shifted this conversation to, how do you mitigate 50%-70% of volumes decreasing in a matter of 30 days (numbers that are projected)? That’s swift disruption at work and a real-world problem that we are all currently adjusting to.

    COVID-19 is forcing us to become innovative to address these questions and several others, not only during the “social distancing” phase of our response, but even afterward. How do we look at our business practices now and how will that differ going forward? Can we confidently say that we have a continuity plan in place to protect us from a future crisis?

    These are some of the matters that we are discussing in executive board meetings within the Managed Print Services Association (MPSA). How can we look at our current state and better equip ourselves, our families, and our businesses to navigate the waters of uncharted territories? How can we facilitate discussions among OEMs, software providers, leasing partners, and the dealer community during and after this crisis? We are in a world that has changed very rapidly and continues to on an hourly basis with new findings concerning COVID-19.

    It’s an honor to serve with some of the brightest minds in the industry as we tackle these and many other issues that are relevant to our quality of life. The MPSA is experiencing the same rapid change and evolving to serve the needs of our members. We are a community of trailblazers that readily embraces change in order to lead us in the future. I echo our president and visionary West McDonald, “This is Not Your Father’s MPSA,” and I’ll add that it is a totally different world as well. I welcome anyone who accepts the charge of tackling the most challenging issues and collectively solving them in ways that may not have even existed in the past. We understand that this is an uncertain time and we strive to be a resource to everyone in the industry.

    So first and foremost, please stay safe and take heed of all of the recommended precautions: meticulous hand hygiene, sanitizer, cough/sneeze in your elbow and social distancing.  I genuinely believe that we are all better collectively than any one of us is individually. We just have to “connect” through several alternative mediums for now. Undoubtedly, together we will come out of this much stronger on the other side.

  • 26-Feb-2020 9:44 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    It’s been a decade since the MPSA was founded, and my, how much has changed in the office technology industry. In this series, we hope to catch up with a few of the industry experts involved in helping the MPSA get its start and learn through reflection. We spoke with one of the original members of the MPSA, Brian Stevenson, footprint Managed Services, Inc., to gain some perspective of where we were 10 years ago, how we got here, and his thoughts on where we’re headed. Read on.

    When the MPSA started up 10 years ago, what do you remember about the office imaging space? 

    I remember the overall lack of information and awareness across the channel.  For the first generation of MPS providers, we knew very little about each other and were still educating customers on the benefits of printer-fleet management and what we meant by “Managed Print Services.”  

    What was the popular go-to-market for MPS? 

    For many of us, we had developed through the manufacturing of remanufactured toner – and were still manufacturing our own toner. The era of a laser printer costing $0.05/page for mono was real, as were the challenges IT departments were experiencing in managing the continued decentralization of their print environments.  The benefits for our customers were obvious: improved peace of mind around supporting the print infrastructure while also saving money.  

    What was your role then?

    I was the president of LaserNetworks. At that time, we were one of the largest providers of MPS in North America, with our Canadian head office located near Toronto and our primary U.S. office located in Raleigh. Two years later, we had sold to Xerox and the next generation of MPS was beginning.  

    Who were the major players in MPS 10 years ago? 

    It was dominated by the independent resellers. Flo-Tech (Leo Bonetti), Printelligent (Mark Crosby), and LaserNetworks were three of the largest independent dealers. Along with us, Supplies Network had brought on Doug Johnson and Ron Alphin to build out an "enablement" model for the next wave of MPS providers.  

    Who was leading the charge?

    Nobody, really. The mega-dealers of today didn’t exist in 2010.  Back then, there was truly a lack of knowledge of the size, scope and makeup of this industry. The major OEM players of HP and Xerox were still dismissing the movement. It wasn’t until the early Photizo conferences that I met with Leo Bonetti, Mark Crosby, Doug Johnson, Ron Alphin, and several others that had a similar interest in growing this market. 

    Looking back, how has managed print evolved? 

    As a large MPS dealer, we had built our own ERP system, MPS sales model, and toner remanufacturing. This was built in a bubble, and through significant trial and error had created a fairly successful business. However, it was a people-intensive model, not easy to scale or pivot, and very difficult to compare against other options in the market. Today, the barriers to entry are significantly lower and many of the newer entrants into MPS are choosing to outsource the lower-value back-office applications to a supplier partner.  

    Another evolution is with supplies.  Most of the large MPS resellers have shifted from being a manufacturing company to a services company and have spun-off, sold, or simply closed their toner remanufacturing facilities.  For LaserNetworks, we ultimately believed that we could grow faster without the distraction of toner manufacturing.  This timing also aligned with HP moving into MPS with supply pricing that made for an appealing transition from remanufactured to OEM.

    Did it take shape like you and others in MPSA leadership thought it would in 10 years’ time?

    Tough question! I always thought MPS was best delivered by the provider that understands how to deliver a great "last mile" experience to the end customer. In virtually every case, these companies are the independent dealers. Many of the OEMs have attempted to build out their own solution, only to realize there are some speed and flexibility challenges with their model.  Today, these OEMs are rethinking the strategy, outsourcing to proven experts in the space, or slowly migrating out of the MPS services business. So, in a roundabout way, I think it’s in the shape that we thought it might be once the early evolution was complete.

    What is surprising in looking back in that time?

    The number of companies and individuals that have entered the space and believe they understand MPS.  It’s difficult. It’s a "get rich slowly" business, and you can’t cookie-cut your MPS practice. To me, this ignorance has resulted in a lot of slow learning, a sale that is more price-based, and the continued growth of enablement partners.  The other surprise to me is how the large A4 OEMs rebuilt their supply pricing strategy to win in this space. Ten years ago, the large MPS dealers either had a remanufacturing arm attached to their business or purchased most of their supplies through a remanufacturing vendor. Today, that is simply not the case, with most of the MPS dealers having an OEM mix that exceeds 80%.

    Fast forward to today – what are the most important lessons imaging dealers should take away from managed print’s journey?

    For me, I think there are three core lessons:

    1. Know the experts. There’s a lot of noise from people that profess to know MPS, and many of those people do understand MPS and can provide you with some terrific insight. Unfortunately, many also don’t. Seeking out a peer group that looks similar to your business could be a great start. Had I known Leo Bonnetti, Mark Crosby, and Doug Johnson years earlier, my business would have been more successful.  

    2. Know where you provide value. For many of the legacy MPS providers, the value we provided to our customers focused on our knowledge and experience related to printer fleet management. To do that, we had to "own" everything. Today, many of those functions can be outsourced. Is it necessary to manage your own DCA? Do you need to warehouse supplies? Do you need a help desk? Do you hire your own technicians? Every provider will answer these questions based on the value they deliver to their customers. From my perspective, if it fits to outsource, there are some extremely capable partners that understand MPS and can help support your model.

    3. Change is cool. This industry has evolved so dramatically over the past decade yet feels like it’s been controlled change with frequent pivoting. Independent dealers understand how to evolve and it’s no surprise that we’re seeing mega-dealers win at MPS. One thing is a near certainty: MPS will continue to grow over the next decade and we’ll continue to experience an equal amount of change – from new pricing models to an expanded focus on security.  We’ll continue to see web-based growth for MPS, and no doubt the OEMs and our "traditional" copier channel will continue to consolidate.  Stay nimble and engaged – and enjoy the ride!

    Looking forward, where do you see the greatest opportunities for dealers as it relates to MPS?

    This is tough because there are a lot of options. First and foremost, I’d recommend being great at what you currently offer. There are often benefits to both your customers and your financials if you can improve some key areas within your business.  After that, I do believe it’s based on how your company is set up.  For an independent dealer, it might mean a further shift into workflow software or IT services. It could mean a shift to the more transactional online model. If your business offers breakroom and Jan/San supplies, then a shift to contracting those supplies and including a data collection agent for auto-fulfillment seems like a potential growth area. Or, for the fastest growing MPS dealers, it’s sticking to your knitting.  It may not be sexy, but you’re great at selling MPS and your win rates are strong.  Keep it going as there are millions of unmanaged printers still being filled with transactional supplies. 

  • 20-Feb-2020 9:39 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Eric Crump, Ringdale

    Since 2018, global organizations have been subject to more stringent data privacy protection regulations and are now open to significant non compliance penalties. In particular, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has had a significant impact on the international compliance landscape, and has been the “blueprint” for a number of new or updated regulations in North America including CCPA (the California Consumer Privacy Act) and PIPEDA (Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents act, for Canada).

    Even though these data privacy regulations are being put into place, and over $475 million in fines issued, there appears to be no reduction in the number of data breaches in relation to consumer information. In fact the latest figures on the number of reported data breaches in 2019 will be a cause for concern for many healthcare and public sector CIO’s and business leaders. According to research from Risk Based Security, the total number of data breaches reported stands at 5,183. This is an increase of 33% from the same period in 2018, and has resulted in 7.9 billion individual records being compromised.

    The insider threat

    The changing compliance landscape has incentivized organizations to review their data security plans. However, I believe that many business and public sector organizations may have left themselves vulnerable by concentrating too much attention on malware protection strategies. According to Quocirca’s Global Print Security Landscape 2019while the top perceived security threat is malware attacks at 70%, in reality, accidental actions of internal users are the most likely cause of security incidents, equalling 32% of all reported incidents.


    Interestingly, HP’s recent “Creepers and Peekers” study backs up Quocirca’s stats too, showing that 34% of data breaches last year are caused by insiders (internal users). Staggeringly, the HP study even revealed that 75% would look at unclaimed documents they find left in the print tray. In addition, 40% who see confidential documents in the printer admit they wouldn’t just ignore it, but rather look at it and even save it by taking a picture, making a copy, or taking the document. 

    This suggests that organizations, now more than ever, need to focus on the growing insider threat, including how they can safeguard against confidential documents getting into the wrong hands, together with protecting their overall print environment. 

    MPS providers are the solution

    The challenge most midsize to enterprise organizations now face is an overstretched IT department and a lack expertise in securing documents and printer fleets.  A growing number of end-user organizations are actively looking to work with MPS providers to support their operational needs.  In fact, according to the Quocirca report, “Over 62% of organizations are now using an MPS provider to gain access to print management and security skills, which are often lacking in house.” 

    With 68% of organizations suffering at least one data breach through unsecure printing last year, MPS providers should not ignore the opportunity to differentiate their security services in 2020.  Secure print services need to go well beyond pull printing and MPS providers should consider providing differentiated print management services that include:

    §  Providing access management for user authentication/authorization to print, copy, and send information electronically from printers and multifunctional products (MFPs)

    §  Protecting documents across the network by using industry-standard data encryption at rest and while in motion

    §  Forensically inspecting and protecting content including personally identifiable information (PII) — for example, identify credit card and bank routing numbers, social security identification and account numbers

    §  Providing accurate activity tracking and document archiving for ongoing audits such as data protection impact assessments 

    §  Providing comprehensive reporting while leveraging data anonymization to maintain user privacy

    I believe independent MPS providers are well positioned for success in 2020, especially if they make security a priority within their MPS portfolio of services.  MPS providers can be the trusted provider that secures print environments, protects against the growing insider threat and helps ensure their customers are ready for the evolving regulatory compliance landscape.

  • 23-Jan-2020 11:55 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by West McDonald, MPSA President

    When the MPSA (Managed Print Services Association) was founded in 2009, the world was a very different place than it is today. The world was in the midst of a financial crisis that began in 2007 and trillions of dollars were pumped into economies globally by their governments to stave off what could have grown into a depression. Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States of America, and for those who don’t know, he was the first African American ever to run that office. Michael Jackson, the king of pop, died under strange circumstances. The European Union was formed, and 16 countries decided to use the same currency. 3G technology made surfing the web on phones really, really fast (Ha!). The office equipment space was different too. MSE was still competing with Clover Imaging; Samsung was not a part of HP; PrintFleet, Print Audit and FMAudit were still competing with each other; ECi and MWAi were partners; and Managed Print Solutions providers were still popping up everywhere like mushrooms.

    2020 looks a whole lot different. Brexit saw at least one member of the EU decide to use their own money again. The economy in the U.S. is bullish, NATO and other allied strongholds are being tested, Artificial Intelligence is here to stay, TESLA and other automotive giants like GM and Ford are pushing electric cars to near price parity with those run by gasoline, smart watches and smart home technology are everywhere, and the division between those who believe in global warming and those that don’t has become more contentious than ever. The office equipment channel has changed and become a little more contentious too. Equipment sales are flat, users are printing less, independent dealers are being gobbled up by megadealers left, right, and center, and major remanufacturers have either disappeared or are under extreme pressure to deliver on growth for their shareholders. An expression I’ve heard in the past really rings true today: “May your enemy live in interesting times.” We certainly do.

    2020 is also the year I was elected President of the MPSA. It’s a tough time to take these reins as the very channel and dealers I’m looking to help are under great pressure. But I’m not a quitter, and I know you’re not either. I’ve been a member of the MPSA for as long as I can remember, through three or four different companies that I’ve worked for. I’ve always enjoyed the resources and, more importantly, the members that I got to work with. Now that I’m at the head of this organization, I have the same love and expectations for it that I always have. I fully expect this organization to do what it has done so well for so long: to “provide community, education, research and best practices to help organizations actively manage and optimize their business processes and related document output devices.”

    The things that we have done as an organization, the specifics, are however, going to be very different. They have to be. Managed print as an offering in “Cost Per Page” format is mature. Most of those who are looking to do managed print already are. Managed print contracts, assessment methodologies, and delivery mechanisms are all established. We’re not going to repeat those things or fine tune them. We’re going to be doing new things, bold things, things that might raise an eyebrow or two. In short, the MPSA that I am leading is not your father’s MPSA. As our website URL (www.YOURMPSA.org) states, it’s YOURS. And your business and business challenges aren’t the same as those who came before you. Cost per page is under threat. Megadealers and OEMS are offering flat rate programs and you don’t know how they could possibly do it and not lose money. You are thinking about adding managed services to your mix but have heard horror stories from those who have tried and failed (and crickets from those who are rocking it). As users print less, OEMs are at war with each other to hold on to pages that remain. You might want to better understand how to prep your business for sale to a larger provider and maximize what you deserve. You might be a second-generation leader looking to modernize and grow the business that your elders left in your care. These are the challenges and adventures that concern the MPSA in 2020 because they are the ones that affect you most.

    Why change? The reality is that the MPSA is a much smaller organization today than it was even five years ago. Guess what? Our channel is shrinking too, and so are the number of providers of managed print. The choices for our organization, and for our channel, are to change and grow or to stay the course and diminish. As the President of the MPSA in 2020, I give you my commitment that if you are concerned about growth, if you believe that things are changing and you want to profit from those changes, if you think that more of the same simply isn’t good enough, then I encourage you to join us. The MPSA is an association of members, and without you, well, there is no MPSA. You deserve to be a part of those that craft the future. Help guide the future of managed print and other services. Make our channel a thing to be reckoned with. Let’s build the future of the office equipment channel together. Let’s have a say in that evolution and not simply watch it happen. The time for change in our industry and in the MPSA is now, and I for one am excited by the opportunity to help direct how that unfolds. I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and working with all of you out there that are excited about directing the future too! The challenge I put to everybody reading this: Join us. Be an active part in crafting the future.

  • 30-Sep-2019 12:59 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Earlier this year the MPSA held a webinar titled “MPS — What Went Wrong?” which discussed the idea that every dealer is different in many ways including the geographies they serve and the services they provide. The one universal though seems to be that, for most, selling copiers is easier than selling MPS. There are many factors behind this, and a panel of MPSA members discussed these challenges and the opportunities that exist for those who do it right. It yielded a no-holds barred, open conversation with more questions than we could field in the hour allotted to the webinar, so we went back to a couple of the panelists to address those questions. Thanks to Bradon Beckerle and Kevin Morris for taking the time to answer these additional questions:

    Will a solid MPS operations and MPS market share contribute to a higher price when a dealer wants to sell his company

    Bradon Beckerle: Yes it should. MPS business is much more sticky than traditional and therefore will make for recurring revenue that is much more consistent and more desirable by the buyer and a higher sale price for the seller.

    Kevin Morris: I believe so.  When you considering the guaranteed revenue stream for up to 60 months, this is a great value for an acquisition company.

    How important is software solution specialism for a MPS dealer? 

    BB: It is very important.  MPS is a solution-driven sales model that requires a technical resource to assist not only on the technology side but also with the sales leads.  Ideally, if you could include this resource in the sales process it would also make for a better overall proposal to the customer.

    KM: It is important.  It is simply another way to protect your base of customers by tying in an extra level to your customer agreement.

    Most of the salespeople think that MPS is hard and if the deal is closed then they are not going to get any business from the customer during the duration (3 or 5 years).  They are interested in selling copiers. How we can change the mindset of these salespeople? 

    BB: MPS has a much longer sales cycle than a hardware (copier) sale, but if done right can lead to other revenue streams such as managed IT, document management and user management.  This moves the sale from a hardware sale to a solutions and workflow management sale.  This should be a better experience for the end user and instead of just a copier guy selling you a copier, you become a trusted advisor with their best interest in mind. 

    KM: First of all, it is harder than a straight copier sale.  However, we typically add on to EVERY contract we sign with additional products and services over the duration of the agreement.  The only way to change the mindset is to train these people with real world examples and not that of an average copier dealership.

    Would compensation on all pages (copiers and printers) drive the MPS engagement and more MPS contracts? Most MPS plans only include single-function printers.

    BB: It is definitely to a dealer’s advantage to try and cover both for obvious reasons, but it also reduces the number of vendors the end user has to work, with which can be attractive as well.

    KM: Yes.  I cannot imagine only compensating on single-function devices.  Our comp plan has included both for 20 years and it works!

    Does compensating reps on all pages printed help keep reps more involved in an account? 

    BB: It is important for reps to look at all the pages, whether A3 or A4, to see what they can capture or convert.  How the rep is compensated will dictate their focus.  So, yes compensating on all pages makes sense if you capture them all under a contract.

    KM: Absolutely. However, the compensation plan needs to be structured to eliminate simple farming by the salesperson.

    I hear that copier reps just move on ... do what's easy, so why not have dedicated MPS specialists? People who are paid to do this?

    BB: Sales reps are coin operated, so if you want to focus your business on recurring MPS revenue, then you need to have reps focus on selling it by compensating them accordingly.  Also, having them specialize in MPS is definitely worthwhile as it is much more to learn versus a traditional product sale.

    KM: I firmly recommend dedicated MPS specialists.  Only a small portion of copier reps can do this at a high level.  It comes down to the salesperson’s abilities.

    MPSA members can catch the recording of "MPS — What Went Wrong?" along with the entire archive of webinars in the members-only section. Not a member? Find out what you're missing.

  • 24-Aug-2019 4:24 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by West McDonald, Tigerpaw

    I’ve been involved in the Managed Print Services (MPS) space, in one form or another, for more years than I’d care to count now. I’ve worked with a ton of office equipment dealers and office print providers that provide incredible managed print for their end-user customers. I’ve also had the experience of working with others that say they offer managed print, but really, well, ummmm, yeah. Unfortunately, the term MPS is thrown around rather loosely, often to the consternation of customers who expect more of the “managed” piece.

    I also have the good fortune of having done a ton of assessments for end users looking to acquire MPS. Whenever I’ve worked with them doing an assessment, I make sure they ask the following 5 questions when deciding on a provider:

    Question 1: “Are you an MPSA member?”

    Anybody can put MPS on their website, but the providers who really offer it are members of the Managed Print Services Association (MPSA). This organization has done more, and continues to do more, than any other industry association when it comes to refining and improving how MPS is delivered. It is comprised of volunteer members who care about improving the delivery of MPS and helping the entire industry to do a better job.

    Question 2: “How do you approach auto-toner fulfillment?”

    This one is a base-level MPS requirement. If a provider only supplies toner when a customer asks for it, well, move on and talk to somebody else.

    Question 3: “Other than for billing, what do you do with meter information that you collect?”

    Billing by page is NOT managed print: It’s billing by page. The information available from meter collection is much more powerful than that. A few examples of how true MPS providers will use this meter information in their quarterly business reviews to uncover:

    • Devices being over or underutilized: A true managed print provider helps customers to understand how effectively they are using their fleet of devices and can make recommendations on improving this.
    • Color reduction strategies: Considering color is 6 to 10 times more expensive per page than monochrome, volumetric analyses can help customers to uncover areas for reduction. The good providers use user-based software tools to dig as deep as which applications and users could use help.
    • Workflow improvements: Many things are being printed in workflows that could benefit from printing alternatives like document management and process automation. Is the same PDF document being printed and signed 500 times a day? A good MPS provider will provide more cost-effective and time-saving workflow options to replace those pages. Helping customers improve workflows, save time and reduce cost: That is management.

    Question 4: “Who are your MPS ecosystem partners?”

    What on earth is an ecosystem? No, I’m not talking about an interaction of plants and animals. In the MPS world, an ecosystem is a defined group of partners that make the benefits of an offering stronger. These ecosystem partners aren’t just providing software or hardware, they meet as a group on a regular basis to tighten up overall interaction of MPS components specific to their ecosystem, entirely for improved experience by end-user customers.

    Question 5: “What key things will you do to help me reduce our print spend?”

    If the answer is “We’ll provide more cost-effective equipment and less expensive toner” RUN AS FAR AWAY AS YOU CAN! This is not MPS, it’s a dangerous race to the bottom. True MPS providers can save a customer money while maintaining healthy profit levels on the things they sell. True MPS providers understand that workflow improvements have a far deeper impact on costs than the cost of the box and the cartridge. True MPS providers will have managed IT services offerings and be able to bill in different ways like device-based or seat-based. If all a provider offers is CPP, they are a print provider, NOT a Managed Print provider. Period.

  • 29-Jul-2019 6:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by David Brown, ACDI

    Here’s a shocking fact: Over the last 10 years, our society has become increasingly driven by data. OK, maybe that’s not so shocking. We all know data utilization is pervasive in both consumer and business-to-business technology.  Decisions, processes and actions are all propelled by data analytics. This is no longer an opinion, but an undeniable fact. It’s the world we live in.

    In those same 10 years, office print management has also become a data-driven industry. Some businesses have evolved better and faster than others. The point of this humble blog is not to rehash the early vs. late technology adoption argument or provide some pithy cliché about status quo. That’s what LinkedIn is for. The point is, if data is so crucial, how good is your data?

    I’ll admit that good is a somewhat subjective term. We tend to look at data in terms of accuracy, reliability and actionability. In the early days of GPS, the highway data wasn’t as accurate as it is today, and it wouldn’t be uncommon to look at your GPS screen and see your car icon driving parallel to the road instead of on it. You would immediately look back at the road to make sure it was still in front of you and that you weren’t driving through a cornfield.  Accurate? Somewhat. Actionable? Sure. If my car icon is parallel to 75 northbound on my screen and my actual car is on 75 northbound at the same time, I can make decisions on where to navigate based on that data even though it isn’t 100% accurate.

    But what if we expand our current thinking around good data to include the concept of accessibility? How immediately accessible is the mission-critical data in your infrastructure? For example, one of the early instances of data accessibility was flowing meter data from device management platforms like FMAudit and PrintFleet into ERP systems to help automate billing processes. This created a tremendous amount of process efficiency. 

    How has data-driven managed print evolved from this? 

    Supply and part vendors can now access device supply data from disparate systems to provide supply fulfillment programs. They can then associate that with a reseller partner to produce customized shipping labels and return ship status to the reseller and customer. 

    Leasing companies provide solutions that can automate credit checks and lease documents by reconciling customer data with creditworthiness databases. 

    Service departments have remote access to device status and critical errors as well as online libraries of parts and remediation techniques. 

    If you’re a managed print reseller, you’ve invested heavily in building the infrastructure to provide a competitive program or you’ve partnered with a vendor or OEM partner to do so.  Either way, you need reliable data to efficiently automate billing, place supply orders and provide service. You have good data – is it as accessible as it needs to be? If the answer is no, ask yourself these questions:

    1.   What processes do we currently have that, if automated, would help drive growth without additional personnel?

    2.   What processes do my team spend the most time with each month?

    3.   Are their parts of our customer’s experience that could be improved through automation?

    In today’s competitive market, you can’t afford to be running an expensive, inefficient operation. Taking an honest look at the accessibility of your information and the efficiency of your day-to-day business processes might just uncover new opportunities to increase your bottom line and improve customer satisfaction.

    Thank you MPSA for allowing me to contribute! I’m very interested to hear your comments around data automation and the next evolution of data accessibility in the managed print space. 

  • 24-May-2019 11:39 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    by Ann Priede, Canon Solutions America

    I have been hearing a lot about Spirit Animals lately and wondered just what a Spirit Animal could bring to the business arena. For those of you new to the Spirit Animal world, a Spirit Animal represents your inner personality with respect to your personality traits and skills.

    According to spiritanimal.info, the top five Spirit Animals are the wolf, owl, bear, hawk, and fox. Each one of those animal totems has characteristics that can be applied to the work environment. The Wolf represents intelligence, instincts, and social awareness, while the Owl offers access to intuition and wisdom. The Bear signifies strength, confidence, healing, and grounding, and the Hawk provides focus, clear vision, and perspective. Finally, the Fox is discerning, responsive, agile, and smart.

    While any one of these animal spirits is a strong candidate for a successful work style, the true strength lies in building a team that can blend these traits in a spirit of collaboration and cohesiveness. Then you can harness the power of this team to tackle any manner of projects and challenges, with each team member leveraging his or her strengths.

    Spirit Animals may just be the latest New Age distraction, but I will say that after taking the Spirit Animal Quiz, my Spirit Animal is pretty spot on – the Deer: highly sensitive, strong intuition, power to deal with challenges with grace, can be determined and gentle.

    Regardless of whether you believe in Spirit Animals – and I’m not convinced myself — the self-reflection needed to take this type of quiz is helpful to think about how you best interact with others and identifying your traits enables you to  put your strengths to work in your personal and professional lives.


  • 11-May-2019 3:11 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


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