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Step Back to Move Forward in the Right Direction

16 Jul, 2008 By: John Manley imageSource

Step Back to Move Forward in the Right Direction

Imagine you’re a successful service dealer with about $5 million in total
revenue, and with 5 techs who serve a broad geographic area. You’ve done well. 
But you don’t know how to grow beyond where you are today.  So you invest in
what you think is the answer to your future:  a full-blown print management
program.  After plopping down $100,000 plus the salaries of those now involved,
you start the sales cycle.  Six months later, you realize that there are more
hurdles here than you bargained for – the sales cycle is extremely long, the
product is complex, and nothing helps you close deals.  After another year goes
by, you finally admit it:  failure.

Should you wipe the slate clean and start with a whole new software program?

Not so fast. A workshop full of professional tools doesn’t make you a master
carpenter. A kitchen outfitted with chef-grade cookware doesn’t make you a chef.
And having Windows 2003 servers doesn’t make you, well, Microsoft.

Likewise, buying the right print management software isn’t the final step
toward achieving the benefits of print management.

If you’re like many companies, you headed down the print management path, and
then stopped short. Sales are stagnant and the staff is more confused than ever.
And you’ve asked, “Did we choose the wrong software?” Perhaps. But before you
change course, Is now that many companies who invest in print management
software fail to take the necessary steps to leverage it. They neglect proper
planning, lack a business strategy and forget to integrate with IT. They end up
with a really robust tool that essentially sits un-used or under-leveraged.

As long as your software is the right choice for you, success may be right
around the corner, and that learning from your miss–steps could be the first
step in the right direction for your program. 

Roadmap to Avoid Common Miss–steps

Simply put, all print management programs that die on the vine start with a
failure to plan or a failure to communicate.

To break it down further, the most common miss–steps occur in one or more of the
following areas: Planning, Documentation, IT Involvement or Follow Through.

Never forget that the print management program you’ve chosen for your
business is a revenue-generating system. Despite how you market the program to
your customers, any program that you’ve developed to add value, drive product
sales, or ensure customer retention is directly tied to revenue and should take
priority when you integrate.

There are a lot of print management programs out there and each one will have
a unique method of integrating into your current infrastructure. You need to
understand the unique integration needs of your software.

Miss-step 1: Failing to Plan

Step Back to Move Forward: Re-approach and re-plan the program

It’s been said that, “No one plans to fail. They fail to plan.” It’s no small
task to re-approach and re-plan your program. But it can immediately shift your
organization in the right direction.

First, don’t assume anything. Question everything. Create a proper plan,
document it and communicate it to your team. When everyone clearly understands
where you’re going and how things will be done, they become integration assets.
Remember that your greatest resources will be the champions of the program that
truly embrace and understand it.

Miss-step 2:  Lack of Proper Documentation

Step Back to Move Forward: Re-document your structure & your success

One of the hallmarks of a successful organization is a solid structure with a
well-documented foundation or framework that they can examine and improve upon.
It doesn’t mean they don’t change. It means they keep track of what changed,
what worked and what didn’t. So should you.

Re-examine what you’re doing and what you’ve done in the past to be
successful. Then use it to your advantage when it comes to IT integration. For
example, have you gotten every process and procedure nailed down and documented
within your organization, as well as how it’s impacted by your print management
software? If not, you may have just identified your problem, and can take a step
back to move forward and fix it.

“Some of the biggest documentation mistakes that companies make include
rushing, having no documentation at all, or failing to make their program a part
of the business and documenting how this will happen.

Proper documentation doesn’t mean a dissertation. All you need is a solid
foundation, not the full structure. Detail will come from trial and error in the
field, outside of a controlled environment.

Trace your steps. Write it all down. These processes and procedures will
become an internal manual for the program and help solve problems when they
arise. It is also documents internal business rules to govern the internal
workings of the program and external business rules for your organization as a

These measures can help reduce hard-dollar and soft-dollar costs and improve
the timeframe on your ROI.\

Miss-step 3: Ignore IT

Step back to Move Forward: Re-engage IT

You may be thinking, “Engage them? I can’t even understand them!”

You’re not alone. Unfortunately, too many people ignore IT instead of making
IT an ally, only to regret this decision later. Your IT staff members are key
partners in the building of your program. While only a basic IT understanding is
required to sell a program, thorough IT knowledge is going to get the program
running, and keep it running properly.

The two biggest miss-steps involving IT occur when:

A. IT is unaware of how the program truly works

B. .IT is outsourced and they are unaware that the program is a

Print management programs today revolve around software and hardware, and
these programs have fallen, much like the print devices you want to capture it,
to the IT staff. They will be the gatekeepers so their roles are critical. If
you don’t have an IT staff, notify your outsourced IT staff of any changes.
Remember, that although your program may be “turn-key” or hosted by another
company, there will be situations that will warrant system work, Web work, or
some help with understanding the IT side of the program. Your IT staff will need
to be involved.  You'll need to motivate them to come to the table every time. 
And teach them to communicate with your customers. The latter may involve
extensive training.

Miss-step 4:  Post-Integration Distractions

Step Back to Move Forward: Focus on Follow Through

You’ve already made the investment and you’ve already dedicated the time. Now
comes the follow through. Focus and avoid distractions.

This program, just like any other program that you’ve built, is dependent on
how you structure it. Failure is a learning process and best practices come from
trial and error.

Proper-follow through long after installation is the final step to ensure
that you realize the full benefit of a print management solution for your

You can only learn from your miss–steps and mistakes if you’re willing to
take a step back so that you can move forward in the right direction. Taking a
step back, to re-direct your miss–steps to move forward, will ensure that you
have the right print management tools, and that you will leverage them

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