Top 5 Managed Print Take-Aways Of 2009


As a way of paying tribute to some of what we learned during this tough year, we asked the editors of The Business Transformation Center to list what they felt were the Top 5 most important managed print issues of 2009. Here’s what they came back with:

Asset-Optimization

This subject was perfect at the beginning of the year, when we asked managed print providers: “How do you stay in business during this recession if you’re not selling anything?”

One answer turned out to be asset-optimization. In an interview with Gary Gillam, Xerox’s vice president of channel operations for the North American Reseller Organization, we saw how a more consultative approach to selling via asset-optimization could keep business moving with managed print customers through 2009 and beyond.

“When the transaction business is way off, there’s a tendency for solution providers to want to boost sales by getting a customer to refresh all of the print assets. But that’s not going to happen in this economic environment,” Gillam said in early 2009.

A more successful approach is to understand the difference between “asset consolidation” and “asset optimization,” which can help successfully guide solution providers through the downturn and beyond, Gillam explained.

Asset consolidation attempts a significant reduction of a client’s overall hardware footprint, typically by replacing stand-alone printers, copiers and fax machines with fewer numbers of high-margin networked printers and MFPs for workgroups. But the more surgical asset-optimization approach tries instead to align a customer’s still-reliable existing printing assets with select additions of new equipment and services.

The larger goal: Maximize productivity and reduce costs with a minimum initial investment. Although there’s less chance for an immediate payday for the solution provider, the optimization strategy plays better in today’s market and offers hope for more returns in the future.

Leasing

This one rescued many a customer in 2009. One important way to balance a customer’s current and future needs is print hardware leasing, which when combined with managed-print services (MPS) contracts, can keep revenues flowing for solution providers as customers upgrade where necessary without straining their capital budgets.

Full Fleet Management

Full fleet management is what Xerox delivered to the channel this year with PagePack 3.0. Built on the concepts that printing in color (not B&W) should be the standard, and that pricing should be calculated by page, not by toner consumption, the arrival of Xerox’s PagePack 3.0 gave the channel three new ways to deliver managed print services.

The first of the three offerings is PagePack, the flagship managed print platform for Xerox managed print solutions. PagePack NX introduces a second flavor that allows you to extend your managed print service outward from Xerox units to HP printers. Finally, there’s PagePack FM, which delivers to the channel the Holy Grail of managed print: the ability to monitor, manage and supply toner to any printer running on a customer network.

The combination of service management automation tools in 3.0, and Xerox’s environmentally friendly solid ink system, came together to reduce waste, save money and vastly simplify toner and supply management for Xerox partners and their customers.

Print Contract Follies

Halfway through the year we saw how poorly written per-page managed print contracts can lead to unexpected or unrecovered costs, which can cut into a managed print provider’s margins and expose them to unnecessary risk. Two of the major contract follies had to do with the coverage equation, and consumables management.

First, not getting the coverage equation right in a managed print contract can cost you a lot of money very quickly. Think about it. Toner cartridge pricing is typically based on 5 percent coverage, which gives us an industry average toner price per page based on 20 percent coverage (20 percent being the multiple of 5 percent each of red, blue, yellow, and black [CMYK]).

Contracting your managed cost-per-page print on this standard coverage cost can get you into a lot of trouble very quickly if your customers suddenly begin to exceed 20 percent coverage on a regular basis, which is all too often the case.

In many instances, customers who enter into a managed print agreement will immediately see the value of having a new, high-end multifunction printer available for use and task it with printing work they previously may have sent outside, such as full-color marketing material. In this case, your pre-contract managed print assessment designed to tell you how much on average a customer prints will suddenly be way off, and if you based your contract on 20 percent coverage, you’ll likely find yourself buying a whole lot of toner, out of your own pocket.

To avoid this pitfall, work with a print vendor who offers coverage-independent managed print programs.

Now, when it came to consumables management, the big question remains: How do you ensure that the customer won’t order more toner than they actually use for printing? Just like most of us, customers do not like to be surprised by a sudden lack of toner when a big print job needs to happen right now. So it’s very tempting for managed print customers to purchase and stow away excess toner.

The fix? Make sure your contract spells out that you are in control of toner management by giving you final say on toner and supply orders. This wise move can help you create contracts that are less prone to abuse, and help avoid the day when all that unused toner you bought for a customer gets put up for sale on eBay.

Green

This year, we learned that Xerox has been a green company for much longer than the term has been in vogue. Xerox’s green efforts reach far beyond the company’s solid ink systems and fleet of Energy STAR printing and imaging products.

Xerox’s biodiversity efforts embrace the importance of the world’s forests, and of finding ways to create a sustainable paper cycle and promote smart use of paper. Xerox has also partnered with The Nature Conservancy, a global conservation organization working to protect land and water. Founded in 1951, The Nature Conservancy has protected more than 119 million acres of land and 5,000 miles of rivers worldwide. This kind of partnering is what helps Xerox reach further to accomplish it sustainability goals.

“When we talk about protecting the planet, you really have to partner with all the stakeholders involved, be they a global organization, or our local channel partners. Being green is really a part of our DNA at Xerox,” said Xerox Community Manager Elissa Nesbitt, adding that the company has put sustainability policies and practices in place to engage all parts of its supply chain. This helps ensure that partners are aligned with Xerox’s commitment to sustainability.

Xerox also monitors manufacturing processes and its operations in an effort to exceed compliance efforts and do its part to reduce toxins and ensure that they’re being smart about water use. It’s all about knowing your business, understanding what you can do to help, and then taking action, explained Nesbitt.

“We are in the business of putting marks on paper, and we realize we have a responsibly to support that in an environmentally sound way,” she said.