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We didn't buy a Copier, but a Process

6 Mar, 2008 By: Carla Nasse imageSource

We didn't buy a Copier, but a Process

My company had decided to replace the “copier” and asked me to oversee the
process and get the best deal.  Having worked outside the industry for two years
now, I was curious to see how much it had changed.  I was about to get an inside
look at how IT certifications relate to the document imaging industry.  The
difference was that now I’m on the other side of the decision – a buyer’s

The company had bought out the 36 month lease about 10 months ago and it
still had a maintenance agreement on it.  Sales & administration were the two
departments using the copier, mostly as a printer.  Zero staff members even knew
about the scanning, and we were, alas, starting to get many repair calls.  It
was definitely time for a change.

The budget was then approved and management was committed to improving the
productivity if it was cost effective.  My goal was to complete the process in
one week. 

Week 1 – Tuesday:

I called our current vendor.  I had to ask to find out the name of our
Account Representative.  I’ve been with our company for over a year, and the
current rep had never contacted us in that time to check in or suggest a
replacement.  Not in person, not with a phone call, letter or even an email. 
Now I had her on the phone to explain that we were interested in replacing our
equipment. Well, now I had her full attention.  Without sharing that I’ve been
in the industry awhile, I told her that we mostly print but also do some
copying.  “Okay, we’ve got a great solution for you.”  Yet instead of asking
questions or coming to our office to see what we were doing, she checked our
average volume and sent over a quote.  It wasn’t a bad choice if I was just
looking for a box. 

If our account rep had come out to the office, she would have seen an older
model scanner at the receptionist’s desk,  an all-in-one that was purchased at
Staples much too long ago.  The company has grown a lot since then.  If sales
and service talked, she’d have been prepared for the sounds she would hear
coming out of the overused, under appreciated, and ready to be replaced
machine.  What she wouldn’t have seen without asking some questions is the very
old color printer in the production department that runs about 100 copies a
month.  The supplies cost a fortune so we send out most of our color printing. 
But unfortunately,  all I received was an email with a quote. She took the easy
way out not knowing what was possible.

I asked about scanning and choices of document management software.  She said
she would have her Systems Engineer call me in the morning.   This is Tuesday &
our rep has to have her Systems Engineer call me tomorrow so that I can ask any
questions about scanning and document management software, or anything that goes
beyond pricing.  The clock was ticking.  While waiting, I checked out a couple
of other dealers and pieces of equipment.  Was this what it had come to?  Was
office equipment just a commodity now?

I called a mid-sized dealership for a quote on another brand.  I was talking
with their IT Field Specialist.  He’s actually an MCSE (Microsoft Certified
Systems Engineer).  I was feeling better already.  He asked  what kind of output
we do and how we handle our documents.  He wanted to know what the life cycle is
for our documents, both paper and electronic.  At that point, I was really
feeling better. After discussing the details, he emailed me a quote and
scheduled a demo.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that some companies still
do that. 

Week 1 – Wednesday:

Upon calling a third company, that rep invited me to come into their office
and take a look at their equipment.  That wasn’t a good start.  Their office is
about 15 miles away.  With the traffic, it would take me 45 minutes just to get
there!  It just was not fitting into my calendar.  I’m glad I didn’t tell them
the name of our company before that offer was made.  I don’t need to be on their

The systems engineer from our current vendor did call.  We talked about some
of the new developments in document management.  I found out that the “systems
engineer” was a company job title, not necessarily a validation of a high level
of IT knowledge and skills, and that he was not a certified IT professional.  He
may know networking and may be competent, but it took me more time than I should
have spent to find that out.  The next day I received an email from our rep with
“an even better solution.”

Week 1 – Thursday:

The second company had the demo out that morning as promised.  The driver
who delivered the new equipment had earned his CompTIA Network+ certification. 
Our IT Manager provided him with an IP address and the driver had us printing in
no time.  The sales floor and administration department couldn’t believe the
difference.  On a smooth installation, the customer is always ecstatic.  The
Customer Service Rep was out that afternoon to key-op people, meet the “admin”
staff and provide the phone numbers, email addresses and website information for
anything that may arise.  But their IT Field Specialist was there for some
fine-tuning and to meet our IT Manager. 

Week 2 – Wednesday:

The paperwork was signed and we did get the best deal.  Workflow improved,
the staff didn’t complain, & the company started saving money. 

Week 3 to 4:

The product arrived and our new install went smoothly because there was no
waiting for the systems engineer to come out and connect the machine.  Features
and abilities of the equipment have advanced.  To maintain a competitive
advantage, a dealership has to be able to talk to the customer’s IT people. 

There are probably more things that haven’t really changed.  Customers still
rely on vendors to advise them of new ways to handle their documents. There was
a time when auto duplexing was like doing magic so it had to be demonstrated. 
Today, most everyone takes automatic duplexing for granted.  It’s even included
as a standard on most of the equipment I considered.  Now it is document
handling software that customers may not be aware of yet.  A CDIA+ certification
certainly would have helped the now previous sales rep understand more to be
able to talk about better solutions. 

From the other side of the buying decision, IT certifications in the document
industry do make a difference, adding real value and a higher level of service
and customer satisfaction.  And since these individuals have the expertise, they
will be the first people/company we call when we expand our network next month. 

Things didn’t all get done within one week, but overall my mission was
accomplished. Everyone here is happy with the new equipment especially as we
save money.  We didn’t buy a copier.  We bought a process that made it easier
for the employees on the sales floor.  The installation and ongoing support with
IT certified service and support people has made this change a painless one. 
From the other side of the buying decision, it was a pretty easy decision to

Carla Nasse is a former Senior Marketing Manager & Regional Sales Manager
in the document imaging industry & now Director of Corporate Sales for
Specialized Solutions, an IT training company. She is one of the original
Cornerstone Advisory Committee members for CompTIA in developing the PDI+
certification. At 800.942.1660 X 286/

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