Data Collection is NOT Managed Print Services (MPS)

January 28, 2011

It has been said that “you can’t manage what you don’t measure”. Which is true, but it doesn’t mean that simply collecting data (measuring) is the same thing as managing. Managing means analyzing the data and making informed decisions that put in place best practices.

Define – Measure – Analyze – Improve – Control is a cycle of improvement used for process improvement. When we attempt to apply this to MPS by traditional Copier dealers it usually starts out fine with define & measure.

Define – The traditional copier dealer wants to move into Managed Print Services (MPS), and offer this service to their customers.

Measure – The dealer acquires a Data Collection tool or process, such as… Printfeet, or FM Audit, or even uses the old fashion “Print Wise” study. In a Print Wise study an MPS specialist does two walk throughs (separated by 30 days) of a clients office and prints out config pages for each printer, manually gathering a months worth of print data. Each of these tools or method gather the desired data needed to move to the next step of MPS.

Analyze – The Dealer can either hire an experienced MPS specialist or try and train their Sales force to sell MPS (Not an easy task).

Here is where it gets more challenging for the traditional Copier Dealership and it falls between the transition from Analyze -> Improve. Once you have a client’s printer data it needs to be analyzed and a proposal needs to be developed to show how you can “improve” the client’s printing environment.

And finally “Control” – a system needs to be left in place that continues to monitor these improvement and ensure that the effort expended to bring about the improvement was not wasted on a short lived improvement. Things left to themselves often return to their previous level.

These last two areas “Improve & control” are the most challenging and require either an investment in staff & technology or a partnership with a company that specializes in MPS that has already made the investment that you can leverage (for a price).

I believe that too many dealerships try to wing it on Analyze & Control trying to “make do” with the infrastructure that they have. This is a mistake, and will retard the dealers ability to be successful in the MPS arena.

That’s My $0.02
Vince McHugh



  1. Vince, we advice clients 100% vendor independent. I would like to add a stage to your steps:
    Strategy Development. Use your knowledge and measurements to discuss the available strategies. Use the found information to support this discussion. Als add important business trends. How does a CFO react if a device is only used for 3% of the time? By defining a strategy, required service level and a unified approach the Design of the new infrastructure will fit much better.

    Often only the first stage of imrovement is executed, realising the right infrastructure . Why? The contract is signed and the sales guy moves on. The second stage of improvement: using all the functionallty (routing, follow-me, scanning) is not looked at. I understand why, it improves for the customer but will reduce revenue.

    Interesting fact: we start advising with office infrastructure end clients ask to continue to look at other business communication processes. We save again and deliver a more innovative infrastructure

  2. Dear Vince:
    Let me add some thoughts to your article based on my ten years experience as MPS provider and MPS technology manufacturer.

    As you mention MPS can’t be based on just two walk through to collect data. It is as much as saying that you can identify the argument of a movie by just watching two frames taken in minute 22 and 41 of the movie. Let me go farther. Not even watching all the frames of the movie during this period of time will be of great help. This is even truer in the sense that the universe of a company is alive and changing every day. But lucky we are if we assume that the activity of a company is yearly seasonal. Therefore the analysis (and recommendations to adapt print resources to needs) based on measures of a period of time lower than 6 months is, from my point of view, subject to such an uncertainty that it may not be ethical to use it to propose any improvement to the customer.

    But I do not mean that improvement can’t be done before month 6 of measuring. A well designed tool (the one built by my company does it, but of course I am not here to make publicity), when implemented, shall immediately identify and solve inefficiencies of the current process of the customer. Example: such a tool that is measuring is also doing real time analysis with which it (the tool itself) takes decisions; such a tool is from that moment on the driver to send consumables to each printer based on real needs and at the proper time, identify any technical assistance… We all know that more than 75% of the printing costs correspond to consumables; therefore by just implementing the right tool, the customer’s printing process gets improved generating immediate savings of around 30% (this figure is the outcome of an analysis in a real environment with 120 customers and more than 6000 printers). And still no “formal” improvement recommendations have been sent to the customer.

    A medium term registration of measures allows the performing of an analysis of trends, real needs versus actual resources, underused or overused printers, cost of ownership, … This kind of info is part of the proposal to be sent to the customer. To make a good job on this a tool is needed. For each copier/printer the system has accumulated thousands of data pieces, making impossible for a human being to analyze. I do not mean that a system does it all; but the proposal that is sent to customer is strongly supported by the conclusions of mathematical models embedded in a tool. An experienced SalesRep is the best person to match these conclusions to his/her customer and fine-tune the proposal before it is presented to the customer.

    By the way, I liked your article a lot.

  3. You have articulated something that has been percolating in my thoughts for quite a while now. It was short, sweet, and to the point. I am one of those “MPS Specialists” you speak of and I work in an environment of “traditional Copier dealers”. My dealership got that part right! However, just having the resource on hand is not enough. They need to be engaged. I have been at this for almost two years and I understand the frustration of the salmon swimming up river to achieve the goal! Thing is I thought it would be the customers that would be the tough sell! Come to find out, getting the MPS message to the Sales team, contract administration, operations, and management can be the more daunting task. You have written a simple statement that may help me in my endeavor! Thank you for the well put thoughts!

  4. Hey… your classes at Ricoh Univeristy paid off… this is like boiler-plate from standard “copier sales” training.

    Good job!

    • We use to say that the thing that was great about Ricoh was all the training, and the thing that sucked about Ricoh was all the training. LOL!

      But I do think the Sales Management training classes were very good! And I will always appreciate what I learned at Ricoh U.

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