This guest blog was contributed by Michael Rich | 2/3/14
In my last blog post, I wrote about the need for MPS providers to move beyond print as a way to drive incremental revenue and create a more sustainable business model. Document workflow is a natural extension of MPS, but it is not always an easy step to take. For many MPS providers, the move to document workflow raises a host of additional questions.
To begin with, how are managed document services (MDS) different from traditional managed print services? The reality is that in today’s corporate environment the two are very much tied together. Managed print originated first, and as customers sought to squeeze even more savings from their hardcopy fleet they looked to improve the efficiency of other document workflows—both paper and electronic. As a result, MDS was born.
Today, it is widely viewed that MPS should be implemented in tiers, which have increasing scope and strategic value to the customer organization. This phased migration path for MPS typically begins with basic fleet management services, which involves an up-front assessment of the environment with the focus on hardware, supplies, and total costs of printing.
These tiers tend to be viewed as a means to migrate customers further up the MPS adoption curve. In other words, engage a customer in basic fleet management services before moving them further up the value chain to other non-print-related managed services. Many in our industry tend to view document workflow solutions as part of an advanced MPS engagement. But regardless of where you begin with your customer approach, document workflow should be a cornerstone of your MPS solution.
So, when is the best time to engage MPS customers in the topic of document workflow? It can be a daunting task to consider, especially if you have limited experience selling document solutions. The best approach is to introduce workflow at the earliest possible time. Pre-sales conversations can set the stage for success, and in many ways your initial customer discussions will determine how you are positioned against competitors.
Also, make document workflow a part of your MPS assessment services. To do that, you must look beyond issues such as device ratios, utilization rates, page volumes, and printing costs. Why limit your assessment services to simply monitoring network devices and device usage? Instead, work closely with management, employees, and the IT department to understand what applications are used and how documents move throughout the organization.
Be prepared to ask your customers the most important questions. What are your strategic goals? What efficiencies are you hoping to create and where are your current workflow bottlenecks? Addressing these questions early on can help set the foundation for the MPS program. Managed print services should help customers drive process efficiencies and improve productivity. Document workflow optimization is key to meeting those objectives. A clear understanding of your customer’s document workflow will help you make better decisions around deployment of MPS, while providing a clear avenue for advancing other document services later in the customer engagement.
Michael Rich was named senior vice president and general manager of Nuance Communications Document Imaging Division in April 2012. Prior to that, Rich served as senior vice president of worldwide sales for Document Imaging and Dragon. Previously, he was president and chief executive officer at Equitrac Inc.