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Some Things to Know Prior to Proposing MPS

30 Nov, 2011

This article spins a different angle on MPS. For starters, I’m a buyers’ consultant not an industry consultant to the industry. Point  blank, I buy MPS, copiers, printers and electronic document systems while sitting daily across from sales reps and their managers, listening to pitches and proposals. Yes, the surge of MPS proposals has increased exponentially over the past year, but so has some misinformation about these systems. Rather than
 roll my eyes at the common mistakes I see in some proposals, I want to reach out with ideas to help improve MPS offerings.
The average customer looking at MPS will have at least three proposals so know going in the following:
1. Know Your Limitations and Strengths

 If you ask ten people what MPS means you will more than likely get fifteen
 answers.  MPS is more frequently defined by a vendor’s capability and a
 customer’s preferences.  Don’t assume that all vendors will walk in and tell the
 same story about Managed Print Services.  Make sure that you know what your
 limitations are and what your organization is best at doing.  You can actually
 gain some credit with a knowledgeable buyer by telling them that you have
 limitations and why.

Conversely, you need to know your strengths and make sure
 that the buyer understands them and why. Do you provide better printer call
 response time because all of your technicians are printer trained? If a buyer
 can perceive an advantage from using your service they will take it. Lastly, you
 need to ask what the buyer thinks Managed Print Services is.  A buyer is likely
 to think that their opinion is most important and there is a good chance you
 actually might be able to sway that opinion. The buyer’s education on MPS is
 going to come from the press articles they read, associates and from vendors.
 That last piece is very important because the first two areas do not tell me
 what my vendors are capable of doing well.
2. Survey Like a Winner

 The big difference between a winning survey and a losing proposal is the
 complete nature to which the survey is done.  Bad surveys do not touch all
 equipment and do not have enough information to implement.  If you are going to
 go through the effort, make sure you are doing a complete survey and that means
 two things:

First, make sure that you complete a physical survey of every location.
Although it is possible to do a survey without actually  completing a physical
survey of all locations, your results will always be suspect.

By skipping all or some of the locations you run the high risk that
 your results will not take into account specialized needs or challenges in the
 building layout. Nothing kills even a great survey faster than getting the facts
 wrong. If you are talking about eliminating, moving or consolidating devices
 make sure that you can actually eliminate or move the device.  My favorite story
 surrounding this issue came from a utilities company client of ours. A vendor
 had put together a study and recommendations that included elimination of
 devices within what was called the control room.  Although there were devices
 nearby the issue was that this was a secure room on an isolated network. So when
 the client saw the recommendation they immediately knew that carrying this
 recommendation out would mean that no one in the control room would ever be able
 to print. 

Second, the typical survey targets the equipment placement
 and not much else. If you find yourself having to go back and resurvey prior to
 implementation, then you did not do right the first time.  Make sure that you
 have looked at power, space and network requirements prior to implementation. It
 lets the buyer know that you are serious not just about placing new equipment
 but also how well the system as a whole, will run.  Taking that next little step
 of assuring that implementation is a known factor prior to proposal, ensures not
 only your success, but also your level of commitment to the process and to them
 as a customer.
Article by Bill Frankel who is the Managing Partner of the Ascher  Group, LLC a Document Management and Procurement consulting firm.  Bill works  with clients to design, bid and operate Managed Print Services systems  throughout the US.  Bill is best known as the chief architect and co-author of  the Western States Contracting Alliance (WSCA) copier contract.

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