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Manage to make money

01 Apr 2010

Minimising costs and maximising productivity Over the past 18 months, many non-critical IT projects have been put on hold while companies entered a wait-and-see mode during the economic recession. However, many companies are now more positive in their outlook, and IT projects previously shelved are getting the green light. A more positive outlook should provide an opportunity for IT departments to move forward with projects that can demonstrate immediate business benefits and have a favourable impact on the bottom line. Introducing managed print services (MPS) is one area where an organisation can experience immediate tangible gains in productivity and cost efficiencies, and have an added bonus of being able to contribute to a company’s sustainability practices. As customers’ demand for managed print services continues to grow, resellers should take advantage of the many vendor programmes in the market, which are designed to increase resellers’ specialisation in this area. Below is a simple overview of managed print services and suggestions of how resellers can best sell them. How MPS works Managed print services allow a company to transform its business processes by optimising and more effectively managing its total imaging and printing environment, at the same time as improving and streamlining document workflows. MPS provide tools to assess, deploy and manage an organisation’s imaging and printing environment that are specifically tailored to meet the business’s needs, reduce costs, conserve resources, simplify document-intensive processes and reduce an organisation’s environmental footprint. The approach can be summarised in three key steps:   Optimisation of infrastructure by achieving a balance between the total cost of printing and the organisation’s needs for user convenience and productivity;   Management of the printing environment by working together to help businesses maintain their optimised infrastructure while also improving business efficiency and tightening security; and   Improving workflow by streamlining a business’s document-intensive processes to help deliver a more efficient environment for capturing, managing and sharing information.   Why implement MPS? Initial demand for MPS was driven by businesses looking for immediate cost-cutting measures, as they offer an easy way for businesses to gain transparency and set standards to reduce cost (in print and in support) on their printing infrastructure. IDC’s recent Managed Print Services – Global Market and Provider Analysis survey shows that cost cutting is still the primary motivator of adoption for MPS, with optimising the printing infrastructure and environmental sustainability being other key motivators. In the same survey, about 15-20% of all organisations interviewed stated that they planned to implement a document-related solution or service in the next one to two years, which presents a real opportunity for resellers to drive these projects. The benefit of print specialisation programmes Vendors are increasingly offering print specialisation programmes, which provide channel partners with the ability to sell contract-based printing solutions to the mid-market and the opportunity to build long-term service relationships with their business customers. These specialisation programmes operate on different levels, and resellers can choose a model that suits them best. At the most basic level is a packaged solution for partners that have historically only sold printing hardware, allowing them to provide additional value to their customers through a usage-based contract which covers maintenance and consumables and is managed and billed via the vendor. Taking a step up, channel partners can engage in contractual selling with their customers across hardware, consumables and maintenance, and make their margin on the hardware and customer click charge. The channel partner manages the customer relationship and acts as a front-line helpdesk for customer support, with the vendor providing channel support. At the highest level, channel partners with advanced service and fleet-management experience can purchase hardware and consumables from the distributors and take advantage of selling customised managed print services to their business customers. Customisations include service levels, predictable print budgeting, print audits, environmental solutions, flexible service and warranty support, and many other tailored print solution options. The channel partner owns the customer engagement and management end-to-end, delivering support and consumables, and invoices the customer directly. NZ companies benefit from MPS As outlined by IDC, the value of environmental savings from MPS, combined with cost and productivity improvements, can be a powerful motivator for customers. In New Zealand, there are a number of businesses that have realised the benefits of implementing managed print services. For example, by developing a strategic model for its printing investment and deploying managed print services, AgResearch has been able to enjoy much greater business benefit from its printing fleet. A consolidated approach to printing investment has provided AgResearch with greater control over its printing, leading to dramatic reductions in administrative time and cost, and measurable environmental benefits. AgResearch’s print requirements continue to be assessed as part of its ongoing print service, to ensure its fleet is optimally matched to meet the evolving business needs. These advancements have also enabled AgResearch to include its printing policy as a cornerstone of its sustainability effort. Print specialists – the way of the future An MPS contract will create ongoing revenue for resellers and an opportunity to highlight their value through ongoing consultancy services. By developing a closer relationship with your customer’s business over time and conducting regular reviews of its printing needs, you can continue to find cost savings and productivity gains, thereby reaffirming the importance of the MPS partnership. It’s a win-win situation on all sides. As demand for managed print services increases, resellers should be thinking about how they can market themselves as MPS experts. Improving business efficiency has been at the top of business decision makers’ lists of priorities for a number of years now. This is unlikely to change in the near future, so resellers should consider whether becoming a print specialist will help them continue to grow their business, and protect their revenues both today and in the longer term.

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