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Mission 2016: Gap Analysis for MPS

23 Feb, 2016 By: Sarah Henderson, Dir., MPS Operations, Clover Imaging

I recently met with a group of leading independent dealers to discuss Managed Printer Services and facilitate a conversation on how dealers can get more from their current programs. Those conversations led me to better help equip our customers to address key areas of MPS to be more successful in 2016.

Managed Print Service is defined by the MPSA as “the active management and optimization of business processes related to documents and information, including input and output devices.” I have discovered that how that is implemented varies greatly depending on the dealer’s go-to-market, how they position MPS within their core business, and what their customer asks them to do.

Working hands-on with dealers in the field who are successfully growing and becoming more profitable via MPS programs, I have realized a “one-size-fits-all” article of “how to” doesn’t cut it anymore. While I often remind peers and customers to keep it simple and not overcomplicate MPS, it takes disciplined leadership to dig in and identify key areas for program improvement. As a result, one of the proven ways a business leader can address this is via gap analysis.

Gap analysis is defined as “a technique that businesses use to determine what steps need to be taken in order to move from its current state to its desired, future state.” It’s also called need-gap analysis, needs analysis, and needs assessment (www.businessdictinary.com).

For the purpose of addressing the gap analysis related to MPS within a dealership, you will need to list out your current state, desired state, then plan to fill in the gaps in between. I realize that is easier said than done, but within the work of this analysis your management team will gain key insight into your MPS program performance and functionality.

What State Are You In?

The first step in the gap analysis is identifying your current state and your future state with your MPS program. This can be done by describing your current State of MPS. This is where you really need to be open-minded and get real. Listen to your key departmental managers and front line employees – what is working well? What’s not?

Also determine key areas of program performance that are measurable versus situational; the number of deals closed per month, machines/pages under contract, customer service hours dedicated to supply order/fulfillment, etc. If you need to map out a process, take the time to do so. This is an important step in helping you to know your baselines.

A key MPS program analysis should focus on your sales team performance, sales process, customer onboarding/retention, service management, supply fulfillment, and contract management/billing.

Your Future State of MPS

The future state represents the ideal condition you’d want your organization to be in. This state may be highly specific (i.e., close 40% of MPS proposals that involve an assessment or reduce toner waste average to less than 15%) or generic (create an MPS culture, train all sales reps in the new assessment process). Your gap analysis should record all the desired attributes as they line up to the current state. This can also be a time to think outside the box – just because you don’t know how to get to your ideal state yet doesn’t mean you should not document your goals.

Sample goals specific to MPS may be to implement an enhanced sales process, refine your recruitment and hiring of MPS sales staff, close a higher percentage of MPS proposals, use MPS software more efficiently and effectively, implement a streamlined supply fulfillment process, drive higher service triage rates/service call avoidance, understand your true MPS profitability at the program, contract, and/or machine level.

Time to Bridge the Gap!

Your next step in this process is to conduct your gap analysis to record what gaps may exist between the current and future state. Next, take the time to describe this gap and record the elements that make up the gap. Make your descriptions consistent with the current/future state. It can be qualitative (any lack of a clear MPS sales process for all team members) or quantitative (20 “lost” toners in field each month on MPS contracts). This should only serve as a description, not the solution.

Data for this discussion may not come directly from your senior management team but from your front line employees. Have conversations with them about existing business processes with this step in mind. Seek feedback via an employee survey if you are a larger organization. Let employees know that this is not a time to place blame, but rather to understand how the dealership may improve.

Now You Can Factor & Action

This is where it gets real for your management team as you identify the factors responsible for the difference between your current and future performance. You can then use this to draft an action plan to tackle the performance gap.

Key to this process is identifying the factors that are responsible for this gap. This is not a time to point fingers or place blame; this is the time for an honest conversation about what is happening with aspects of your MPS program. This list should be specific, objective, and relevant.

Examples specific to MPS dealers that I have worked with include: comp plans don’t drive new sales, reps lack confidence in MPS, reps lack support from subject matter experts. On the operational side, examples include: inability to move data from one software platform to another, order keying errors, lack of staff resources to track order notifications.

The last step in the gap analysis is to list out all the possible solutions for filling the gap between the current and desired state. These solutions should directly address the issues previously identified in your steps. Be specific and have something that can be done, such as “implement new sales training in second quarter” or “implement new software to further automate supply ordering.”

Don’t Forget to Plan

Taking the time to work on your business is important to not only grow your MPS program, but your overall performance. Gap analysis can be an effective tool if you are looking for a new way to address key areas for improvement.

If you would like an MPS specific gap analysis template, please contact the author or attend session C3: Analyzing the Sales & Operational MPS Performance Gap at the National ITEX Expo & Conference held in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, March 7-9, 2016 (www.itexshow.com). 

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