The ability to offer managed print services (MPS) is becoming ever more important for printer resellers, IT service providers and office
For printer resellers, growing demand for MPS and associated services is reason enough to develop a services capability, but there is also the risk that if you don’t get involved you will be operating in a rapidly shrinking market, locked out of future MPS engagements by long contracts and high renewal rates.
Telling resellers to get into MPS is easy, but for them to acquire and develop the skills needed to plan, sell and deliver MPS takes time and resources that not all resellers have. Resellers know they need to get into MPS, but many don’t know how to do it.
The same is true of IT services providers. Moving into MPS makes sense from a business perspective, especially the later stage involving business process optimisation and transformation. However, the idiosyncrasies of printer hardware and the additional support requirements mean many IT resellers have struggled to make the transition.
So what is the solution? Short of taking over a company specialising in MPS, what can a reseller do to gain the necessary skills to compete in managed services?
Expert helpOne option is to draw on the expertise of a third party like NewField IT. Its three lines of business include consulting services for end users and the channel; the development of specialist MPS toolsets like Asset DB, widely used in the industry; and Systems Integration and Support.
The Systems Integration and Support division sells, implements and supports third party software, which it distributes almost exclusively through the channel.
These include print managementsystems (Equitrac, SafeCom, YSoft SafeQ); scanning and workflw solutions to streamline business processes (eCopy ShareScan and Nuance Autostore); mobile printing systems (EveryonePrint and Xerox Mobile Print); and fax products (RightFax and MPSfax).
As a Xerox company, NewField IT also carries a number of products for Xerox ConnectKey MFPs, including Xerox Secure Access, Scan to Sharepoint and Scan to Cloud.
Jack Enthoven, Systems Integration and Support Director at NewField IT, says that their services are particularly useful for resellers entering unfamiliar territory. “If an IT reseller is moving into the print world, they run into quite a lot of diffiulties in dealing with devices and their peculiarities,” he said.
“Unlike servers or workstations, print devices don’t all have nice well behaved, well understood Microsoft operating systems. All the manufacturers’ hardware is completely different: within a manufacturer’s range, you will get product families that are totally different and even within a single model, each machine can be quite different depending on its fimware and what’s been installed on it before. It’s a more complex world than IT resellers are used to, and they appreciate help from a team that really understands embedded software and all the different MFD platforms that are out there.
“On the other side of the fence, a traditional copier company moving into the managed print world has a different type of diffiulty. They are very familiar with the hardware and clicks and feeding and watering these devices, but have much less familiarity with the IT side. They have diffiulties talking to the customer about infrastructure, architecture, planning deployments for resilience/disaster recovery and all the complexities of working with databases and networks that are much more familiar to an IT reseller. They benefit from talking to a company like us that has a strong IT pedigree and can help manage those discussions with their customers. They can remain focused on the devices themselves while we look after the IT and systems side of things.”
NewField IT’s seven-strong team of UK technical consultants offers help with both pre- and post-sales consulting. Consultants will talk to the customer to understand what they need and then build a customised proposition based on market-leading solutions that deliver value for money and concrete savings. Post-sales, they will implement the solutions and integrate them tightly with a customer’s single- or multi-vendor environment.
Flexible engagementEnthoven says that NewField IT is very flxible in the services it offers and can accommodate diverse needs.
“There are a lot of different sorts of channel partner out there, so we have a flxible engagement model. Some partners are new to solutions or are trying to work on a solutions opportunity with a piece of software they don’t know and they want us to do everything – all the pre-sales type of work, scoping and specifying and designing a solution; the implementation; and the on-going support. We will very happily do all of that.
“Other partners we work with have skills in solutions; they have their own technical team, their own help desk and they just want to use us as a distributor; they want to buy licensing and software and that’s it. That’s fie too. And we do everything in between.”
Enthoven adds that NewField IT has a well documented, ISO 9001-certifid methodology for doing deployments and that responsibility for delivery can be divided between its consultants and the reseller.
“We have a very structured approach. A document called the Systems Assurance Form flws all the way through the process, from the fist stage of gathering requirements, through the design stage, through implementation and sign-off, and on to on-going support. We have a lot of flxibility; we are quite happy to train people up to do parts of the work that they want to take on. We have our standard set of roles and responsibilities that we assume at the starting point, but people can flx that up or down. Some customers want to take more responsibility, some want to take less.
“The same is true for our post-sales support. We have lots of different service levels. Some partners just want to take the manufacturer’s maintenance package, which typically has no SLA and requires them to be certifid to be able to log tickets, and others want us to supply an SLA to the customer using our own technical expertise, which we are happy to do. We have support levels ranging from next day up to 24-hour, one-hour response. And we also have arrangements in the middle where partners do their own support but want to be able to call on us in a crisis. For them, we sell a service pack, which gives you a pack of credits that you can use as and when you need them, for support calls or for unplanned pieces of implementation work.”
This flxibility extends to therelationship NewField IT has with the reseller, which can be overt or covert, depending on the reseller’s preference. “We are very happy to work as a seamless part of the reseller’s team, white-labelled, or as our own standalone entity,” explained Enthoven. “We have a good reputation in the market that we have fought hard to achieve and many partners are happy to benefi from that reputation, reassuring customers that they are bringing in top industry experts for their software deployment. Other partners want to take more control themselves and be seen as the sole delivery partner for their customers, in which case we act as if we were part of them.”
Impartial and secure
Where there is no flxibility, says Enthoven, is in NewField IT’s impartiality, which it safeguards assiduously to allay any concerns a reseller might have about working with a Xerox company. Although it does a lot of work with Xerox resellers, it also works with resellers for other vendors, such as HP and Konica Minolta, and vendor agnostic IT service providers.
“We are trusted to work with nonXerox parties,” said Enthoven. “We are still held as a separate entity. We have our own separate IT systems. And we are very careful about security. We are ISO 27001 certifid on our security policies. We have a very strict code of conduct on how we behave and how we treat our partners and their data, because we do regularly get into competitive situations where multiple partners approach us about the same opportunity. When that happens we still have to serve both partners, because we are their supplier for software, but we flg it as a potential conflct of interest to both parties. We treat them absolutely fairly; we keep their data separate and no information flws across that barrier.”
Another line Enthoven says he won’t cross is competition with the channel.
“We are not an MPS provider. We don’t sell hardware; we don’t sell click; we don’t sell break-fi support, supplies or any of those things. We just sell software solutions and hardware associated with them e.g. card readers and terminals or cash-loading kiosks.”
NewField IT is not an MPS provider. But with its help you can be.
The next step
As their MPS expertise grows, Enthoven says resellers can take the next step and use NewField IT solutions, notably its CompleteView business intelligence platform, to gain greater insight into data captured by print management solutions.
“One of the applications within our CompleteView business intelligence platform is called User Analytics. This hooks into print management systems that gather all kinds of information about what’s going on in a business – who’s printing what, how much is being released vs. deleted, and where all the costs are. Information tends to get a bit trapped in these systems; each one has its own reporting mechanism; they are very static; and it’s hard to get really useful information out,” he said.
“User Analytics pulls data out of those system and presents it in a really intuitive way so you can see immediately who your worst offending users or departments are and where the costs are going in terms of devices and users and processes. You can click and drill down into these areas very quickly to identify exactly where things are going wrong and where you can put them right. That’s very, very powerful and quite unique to us.”
Enthoven adds that User Analytics is very useful not just for delivering the continuous improvements that customers expect but also for demonstrating innovation. “Many MPS contracts have clauses that relate to innovation. Innovation is quite a diffiult thing to pin down, but User Analytics fis the bill for that very nicely,” he said.
“It has a real Wow factor when you show it to an end customer. They have often not seen anything like it before and are very keen to work with a partner who can offer them that.