Some Things to Know Prior to Proposing MPS30 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
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
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.