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More on Managed Print Services: The Professional Services Component

26 Feb, 2008 By: Gordon Hawkins imageSource

More on Managed Print Services: The Professional Services Component

I am convinced the rapid evolution of Managed Print Services will require
service providers to offer clearly defined, enhanced service offerings and value
propositions to capture their prospects’ business. I pose the following

Will prospects engage with you if your competitor has a significantly greater
value proposition?

Will you capture more hardware or supply sales without other benefits clients
will be seeking?

A strong Professional Services component can be that differentiator! These
high-margin services focus on management, the missing component within most
corporate print environments. A robust suite of services enables the capture of
a much larger percentage of the client’s document output expenditure – not just
a little more than you have now.

In general, Professional Services components within MPS can be grouped into
three areas: assessment and analysis, design and implementation and maintenance
and management. The “document assessment” has become ubiquitous with dealers
employing them as a marketing strategy to develop hardware placement and printer
aftermarket proposals. While these assessments provide value to the dealer,
clients realize little from them.

I am finding many clients with the greatest potential understand the value of
a well designed and executed assessment.

They require more than a selling proposal as the final outcome; rather,
seeking detailed analysis and reports that enable them to bring their unmanaged
print environment under control.

Organizations will invest in projects that meet these criteria, but are not
willing to pay for you to deliver a selling proposal – that is a marketing cost
you are expected to bear. A value-laden consultative assessment can lead to
increased hardware and aftermarket revenues, but one focused on presenting a
proposal will not drive PS revenues.

Most assessments that I see (and the tools used to perform them) focus on
locating network print devices and their monthly page volumes (ideal for
hardware replacement and laser cartridge sales). While vitally important data,
it is not enough for an effective print output strategy.

My print output assessments typically find
local desktop printers represent from 40 to 50% of the office printing expense
and the greatest potential to identify savings.

A print output assessment should provide the
client with a technology refreshment strategy that considers effective use of
current assets and mid-to long-term technology refreshment.

I question the value of identifying usage volumes
and costs without understanding the underlying user behaviors that drive them –
the assessment should provide the data that allows us to develop print output
strategies that maximize productivity at the minimum costs.

Are you performing a document assessment or a
print output assessment – are you considering the workflows associated with the
document lifecycle and looking for opportunities to improve productivity,
quality and production cycles and to reduce costs and resource utilization
including network bandwidth and storage?

What is your final deliverable; a proposal,
software generated report or one developed from analysis of the data &
environmental knowledge?

Robust and quality data from a well-executed print output or document assessment
enables us to provide our clients with additional value-laded professional
services – to architect and implement an effective solution to improve their
print output environment.

With in-depth knowledge of their environment, we can develop justifiable
hardware, software and aftermarket solutions that account

for clients’ current situations and address a shared vision of their future
environments. Solutions should include considerations for their business models,
physical plant including user placement, and current investments.

Technology replacement and refreshment

User behavior modifications and asset utilization

Workflow improvements and training

Business process improvements

This is where the belief part comes in! By providing your clients with a
solution developed independent of hardware and based on open standards, you
still have the best opportunity to fulfill it. What competitor has a better
understanding of their environment and needs or has established and demonstrated
a trusted partnership rather than a supplier/buyer relationship?

Let us go back and consider the causative factors behind these service
opportunities – lack of management on behalf of the client! This in

itself creates an opportunity for us to extend PS offerings to maintenance and

You have an intimate understanding of your client’s business and business
document environment. Working as partners, you have influenced or even
implemented a strategy to improve this environment and possibly reduce costs.
You may be the supplier and servicing agent for their equipment. Who is better
equipped to provide management of their strategy and environment? Chances are
the client does not have the resources in place to effectively do this, or they
would not have been talking to you in the first place.

Provide long-term measurement and reporting of
usage and trends

Update technology replacement and refreshment

Identify improvements, challenges and

Keep client informed of new technologies

Maintain and update software and hardware

Identify and fulfill training needs

If you follow a well-planned process there are a number of strong selling
points for these management services:

You have the expertise to provide them with
less cost than the client themselves

You are aware of their environment, objectives and

You can prove your effectiveness; you documented
their original state and will provide measurements showing improvements and
effectiveness of your services

You can bundle all of these costs into a long-term
contract to spread out costs and create an immediate month-one return on

Did this discussion make sense to you and catch your interest? Your question
is “how do I make it happen?” Obviously it will take some planning and
investment in resources and tools:

Define and develop your PS offerings

Create value propositions, marketing collaterals
and training

Identify or obtain necessary knowledge resources

Establish reseller agreements for missing
hardware, aftermarket and software solutions

Purchase or license necessary software tools (&
use a combination of four or five)

If this seems like a lot, consider the offsetting opportunities for
profitable PS revenues and the add-on hardware and aftermarket revenues they can
drive – what would be your return on investment? What about defending your
client base from those who are developing these types of services – what is your
potential for loss?

If you are a dealer or service provider with limited time or resources, there
are opportunities for you to partner with others who provide these services.
This relationship provides you with several benefits:

Time for you to build critical mass before
investing yourself

Share in the knowledge and investments your
partner has developed and made

Maintain or upgrade your current accounts rather
than lose to a better equipped competitor

Share profitability and revenues from individual

I am not suggesting that you will not be able to compete in the Managed Print
Services marketplace without professional services offerings, but am convinced
you will see diminishing results and less profitability as this market matures.
I would encourage you to take some time at ITEX 2008 to attend some of the
educational sessions on MPS and visit with some of the industry participants.

Gordon Hawkins can be reached for comments or questions at

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