Archive for the ‘Sales’ Category

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CUI – Confidential Unclassified Information

August 22, 2017

I had one of my Sales people bring me in to see a customer who wanted to solve their Confidential Unclassified Information issue. They are a Federal Government Contractor and need to be able to demonstrate that they are in compliance with 32 CFR Part 2002, Controlled Unclassified Information. The IT Manager correctly identified that they only need to add a cover sheet to alert users to CUI documents in the printer or MFD tray. The Cover Sheet needs to have specific information on it to identify CUI and show how it is to be handled.

I told him that I could definitely modify a Banner \ Separator Page that could have all the CUI identification and instructions to print out on top of each document that prints to a particular printer or print Queue. A nice low tech solution!

But I have a passion for solving my Customer’s Business problems by combining software, hardware, and know how! So I asked him if he had any concern that someone might simply lift the cover sheet either accidentally or on purpose and see the CUI Document. He asked what else we could do and I told him if the documents get marked “CUI” anywhere in the name of the electronic file, we could use that to trigger a workflow that would re route that CUI Print Job from the Printer Queue the End User selected on the Print Server to a Secure Input Queue and then send the User an email that would tell them that their print job had been re routed and where to pick it up. It doesn’t matter what application they are printing from. If it has CUI anywhere in the name it triggers the CUI Secure Printing workflow. Using this Rules Based Routing workflow with Secure Follow Me type printing they can pick up their CUI print job at any MFD in their company by logging in and releasing the CUI job from the Secure Print Queue, A real nice high tech solution that requires no change in the printing behavior on the end users part!

Let’s take this a step futher and combine the low tech with the high tech solutions and get the best of both. By adding the CUI Separator page to the secure output printer that receives the re routed CUI print job you have the CUI print job inaccessible to anyone except the person who printed it. And even when THEY release the CUI print job it prints with an appropriate CUI Banner \ Separator Page over it. So even after the Authorized User picks it up no one else can casually look at the information in passing. I am now comfortable that we have done everything we can to help our Customer meet their Federal requirements for Controlled Unclassified Information.

That’s My $0.02

Vince McHugh

vince.mchugh@yahoo.com

WWW.NECS.BIZ

 

 

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The Nine Month Trial

February 14, 2016

I am not a big fan of on site trials. Usually when a Sales guy tells me that their Customer wants to do an onsite demo I ask why? What can they see on site that that can’t see in our demo room. Maybe they have some custom application or a Host system that they want to see print correctly. In those cases I ask the Sales person to write up a conditional sale. They negotiate an acceptable price and we set some very well defined conditions. These do not include “if we like the machine” or “If our users are happy with it”. These are two vague and capricious. A conditional like “it must print form our AS400 system and format the pages like our current printer does”. Or maybe “It must be able to scan to email from our Office 365 email server”. These are well defined and achievable conditions that once met we will get the deal. If a customer refuses to sign a conditional sale, be ware, their commitment level is probably not where it needs to be to risk doing that much work.

There are of course exceptions, but it is generally based on the risk reward ratio. If we spend the time to set up an MFD, that’s not that time consuming. But if I have to set up am  UniFLOW, Papercut, or Biscom Server for a trial that takes just as much time to do it for a trial as it would for a real installation. And that’s fine “IF” there is a big enough return on investment. I am very confident in our ability to make our MFDs work with most systems. I like to tell people if your running Windows, Mac, Unix, Linux. AS400, we can and have integrated our devices with these systems. Pretty much anything except Banyan Vines :-). And if you know what that is you’ve been doing networking for a very long time.

About nine months ago one of my top sales woman got me involved in a presale opportunity where the potential customer was currently using Equitrac with Konica Minoilta MFDs to print from a host system processing medical billing. The customer has the need to occasionally reprint jobs for the end users if they didn’t print correctly or at all. The KMBS Branch added some separate software called Phoenix Dispatcher to add this functionality that Equitrac could not accomplish. It did however require the Customer’s IT Dept to do the reprinting of the jobs based on a date and time range.

NECS believes in team selling. Having both a seasoned Sales Parson and a Pre Sales Systems Engineer to better define not only the customer’s needs but what would be the best solution to satisfy that need. You may have heard me say in the past that I believe a true solution is a combination of Hardware, Software, and Know How used to solve a Business Problem. The Pre Sales SE needs to not only understand what the customer is trying to do but why and then consider all the different options available to best meet this need. Sometimes a good SE can help a customer revamp or reinvent how they do a particular process or workflow saving them significant time and money. But that only happens when there is a certain level of trust and a good working relationship between the vendor and the customer.

When we first met with this customer they told us the basic functionality they had was working “OK” but they were unhappy with the reliability of the Konica Minolta MFDs and even more so with the lack of support from the KMBS Branch. They were interested in replacing the KMs with Canons but not all at once. And here is where it gets complicated. After understanding what they were doing now, what they liked and didn’t like, and what they were hoping to accomplish we gave them a couple of options:

  1. Keep using your current Equitrac System with your Phoenix Dispatcher System and we will simply add Canon MFDs with embedded Equitrac MEAP apps to replace the Konica Minoltas that are failing. We would need to order RFIDead Card Readers and do some testing to match the current HID OmniKey Card readers on the KM MFDs. But a number of our vendors (Nuance, Cranel, RFIDeas) said “no problem” we will be able to match the card numbers read by the OmniKey Reader.
  2. . We also proposed replacing the Equitrac System in three  possible ways:
    1. Add a UniFLOW System to run alongside their current Equitrac System and it would eventually be replaced as we replaced more and more KMs with Canons.
    2.   Completely replace the  Equitrac System with the UniFLOW system and use the UniFLOW Universal Release Stations (URS) to release the print jobs on the KMs and the Canons would use their built in UniFOW MEAP app.
    3. The third option we considered was Papercut but we dismissed it early because while it has a nice Archiving feature, there is no mechanism currently in place for mass reprinting or even reprinting a batch of print jobs.

When the KMBS Branch found out that the customer was talking to us and that they were considering replacing some of their Konica Minolta MFDs with Canons they said “You know that you wil need to have two separate input queues for secure printing. One for the KMs and one for  the Canons”. They asked us if this was true and we confirmed that Yes, this is how Equitrac does it. We did tell them that with the Canon UniFLOW System you could have a single secure input queue for BOTH the Canon & the KM if they used the UniFLOW Universal Print Driver.

The first option failed to be satisfactory when we could not get the new RFIDeas Card Readers to read their HID cards exactly the same. We worked with RFIDeas, Cranel, and Nuance and the only solution that they came up with was to dumb down the readers to read a 5 digit card number. This was unacceptable to the Customer. So we moved on to a UniFLOW System.

When we installed the UniFLOW system we loaded UniFLOW MEAP apps on the Canon MFDs and set up UniFLOW URS (Uninflow Release Stations) near each of the Konica Minolta MFDs. While we recommended that NECS take over the service on all of the KMs as well as the Canons the fact that we didn’t actually have to load any software on them or modify them in anyway to use the UniFLOW Release Stations they could if they want to still have the Branch continue to service them until we replaced them with Canons. Two of the things that the Customer REALLY liked about the UniFLOW System were that you could not only use a single Secure Input Queue for multiple MFD manufacturers BUT the End Users could reprint there own documents WITHOUT any third party software (like KM’s Phoenix Dispatcher) on either the Canons or the Konica Minoltas becasue they both show a new print job queue and a previously printed job queue (if activated). This was a big deal for the IT Department because it meant they no longer had to reprint users documents.

So we worked hard, and worked through the different challenges to deliver the perfect solution to this customer, right? Well, not so fast. All that I described above with the UniFLOW System worked as advertised BUT this particular user had two more requirements. The first requirement is  all documents had to be printed in the exact order that they were sent to the Secure Print Queue. And the Second requirement is they all had to print at the rated speed of the Engine (Canon or KM). These two requirements were BOTH do able but NOT with the Universal Print Driver. Technically that’s not true, The Universal Print Driver can print in order and at rated speed unless you print a very large number of single page jobs, which, you guessed it, that is what this customer does. We have never seen a slow down before because we had not dealt with a customer that would print 200 – 500 single page jobs and then release them all at once.

We worked with NTware & Canon for over a month to try to get this resolved and finally had to tell the customer that the only way we could get them to print at rated speed and in order for 200 – 500 single page jobs we would need to use the actual Manufacturer’s Print Driver, which would mean in this case UniFLOW, like Equitrac, would need to use a separate secure input queue for the KMs and the Canons respectfully. The customer was not happy and asked us to keep working on the Universal driver to accomplish all three functions:

1. Print at rated speed

2. Release all the Print Jobs in the same order that the user sent them

3. Use one secure input Print queue for both the Canon and the Konica Minolta MFDs.

We exhausted all of our technical resources and ultimately had them have to pick two. They chose the first two and after all the work we did decided to keep the KMs  on the Equitrac System until they got to the point that they wanted to replace them with Canons. At that point we would move them over to UniFLOW. And when the last KM MFD was replaced they would decommission their Equitrac Server. I know that we proposed this months and months ago but Customers want it all, and to tell you the truth I want to give them it all, whenever possible. But sometimes technology has limitations. I am not sure why this customer didn’t kick us out, except to say I think they were REALLY unhappy with their current Vendor. It took us finally saying “no” we can only do two of the three requirements to get them to say OK. We can live with that. So we did a nine month trial and we won the deal. This felt like a bare knuckle 15 round fight. When we hit the road blocks that we were not able to completely overcome my very Seasons Sales Person was beside herself, and not happy with me because it had never happened before. But when all was said and done and we won the deal she understood just how difficult the technical requirements were to meet. I think the Customer stayed with us because we demonstrated a commitment to keep working with them to give them the best possible solution that was available.  And that is what they got!

It was a tough, challenging nine month trial, but we won the deal. And somehow that makes it as I look back on all the effort it took, worth it!

That’s My $0.02

Vince McHugh

vince.mchugh@yahoo.com

 

 

 

 

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NECS Fax Anywhere brings Faxing into the 21st Century!

March 21, 2015

How would you like to turn every one of your Canon, Samsung, or Konica Minolta MFDs into a 21st Century Fax, WITHOUT adding a fax board, or a POTS (plain old telephone system) phone line or even an analog to digital convertor. You won’t need any of these with the NECS Fax Anywhere functionality.

The NECS Fax Anywhere enables all your MFDs to be able to fax! We can provide 800 numbers or local numbers, and there are no long distant charges. Sound pretty good, doesn’t it? It gets better. With this new NECS Fax Anywhere functionality you also get an Audit trail. You can prove that you sent or received a fax on a certain day, at a certain time.

The NECS Fax Anywhere functionality comes in three flavors:

1) Completely Cloud Based (no software or hardware required on your network).

2) Hybrid Cloud Solution (a Small Software Package is loaded on a Windows Server on your network).

3) On Site Fax server (can be enabled with redundant fax server support in the cloud).

We can also provide Smart Device (iphone, Android) Fax apps, and Fax via email and even fax enable your core applications with our NECS Fax Anywhere solution. Let’s face it faxing is still a part of business in our modern offices. Sometimes faxing is either the right medium or the only medium to deliver certain documents. NECS Fax Anywhere gives you all the convenience of faxing without the old fashion fax machine, or fax board, or expensive phone line.

Fax Servers are better than network (print to fax) faxes because you get better reporting and audit trails. But you also can get advanced routing, or direct inbound dialing. Do you want each of your sales people to have their own fax number that comes directly to their own email? NECS Fax Anywhere can provide this. But do you want that same sales person to be able to walk up to an MFD or Digital Copier that has no fax board or phone line and be able to send out a fax that will come from their personal fax account? NECS Fax Anywhere can provide all this functionality.

We at NECS are excited about offering Fax Anywhere Functionality to our customers!

That’s My $0.02

Vince McHugh

vince.mchugh@yahoo.com

 

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NECS Integrates Biscom SFT Server with Canon ImageRUNNER Advance!

August 17, 2014

IR-Adv Biscom SFT Integration

I spent last Friday afternoon at Biscom’s headquarters working with their Systems Engineers. My initial goal was to set up the Canon ImageRUNNER Advance MFD that we had loan them to integrate with their Bisocm Fax Server. We used UniFLOW to accomplish this integration. When it comes to integrating Fax Servers with UniFLOW “I have stood on the shoulder’s of giants!” Men like Erick Miller (Ray Morgan) and Joe Lucas (NTware) who pioneered UniFLOW \ Fax Server integration.

We got the Canon IR-Adv MFD set up so that it would send emails through their email server, but when an end user would type in JUST a fax number where the email usually goes the UniFLOW system was smart enough to route it directly to the Fax Server, bypassing the email server altogether.  Since the end user was “logged in” at the Canon IR-Adv MFD, Uniflow knew the email address of the logged in user. This allowed the Fax Server to show that the Fax came from them, and the fax sent receipt would also show up in their email. I had just set up this same functionality at a private school in the morning, So it only took me all of about 30 minutes to do at Biscom.

We had blocked off the entire afternoon so we had some time to kill. I got to talking with the Biscom Engineers about also setting up the Canon IR-ADV MFD to send emails via their Secure File Transfer Server. There wasn’t an easy trigger (like a fax number) to allow the UniFLOW Server to differentiate a normal Scan to Email from a Secure Scan to email. So I set up a different button on the Canon (see picture above) to ALWAYS send to the Secure File Transfer Server. It worked great!!!

Think about what this means to an office. We can set up a single Canon ImageRUNNER-Advance MFD to Scan and send a file via

1. Scan to Email

2. Scan to Fax Server

3. Scan to Secure File Transfer

The first two can be done by the standard Canon Universal Send when we enhance it with UniFLOW. The third option can be done by either a separate MEAP Button, or I am confident we will also be able to set it up via a UniFLOW Advanced Scanning Workflow Button (we are still working on this).

In practice this means that the average end user can send an email to their own email (Scan to myself) or their Home Directory (Scan to MyFolder) or someone else in their company (Via an LDAP Address Book tied to their Active Directory). Most corporate email servers are set up to allow users to Scan “to” the server but not allow them to scan “through” the email server to an outside email address. This is often done for security reasons. Since Our Canon ImageRUNNER-Advance is set up to allow Ad-Hoc Secure File Transfer via the Biscom SFT Server, when an End User needs to email a file outside of the organization they choose the Biscom SFT button which will send a link to the documents via email, but the recipient needs to login to the Biscom Secure File Transfer Server to actually download the files.

Finally an End Users can send a Fax by simply typing the Fax # or selecting a Fax # from the Address book and sending it as if it were an email. Giving them the simplicity of sending a fax from the MFD, but also giving them all the benefits of a Fax Server, like fax receipts being emailed back to their personal email account, and improved reporting, allowing them to prove they sent a particular fax two months ago. Limited reporting capabilities is one of the greatest limitations of faxing from an MFD or stand alone faxes.

This new Canon \ UniFLOW \ Biscom integration will empower End Users to deliver documents inside or outside their organization in the most secure manner possible. That will make both end users and the CSO happy, Not an easy task to do!

That’s my $0.02

Vince McHugh

vince.mchugh@yahoo.com

 

 

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Welcome Back!

July 28, 2014

A little over 3 years a go we lost an account to a Global (Xerox) Branch selling Konica Minolta. It was a school that by all accounts they said that we were doing a good job supporting the equipment, and that our Canon equipment had run well. I think part of the problem was they asked us to include in the bid a price for a Document Management system with an AP Workflow. Our price was about $10K higher than the Global quote. Which I think pissed them off and made them think we were gouging them. We weren’t!

Global put in some Konica Minolta MFDs for a demo and the feedback we got was that it didn’t work well during the Demo, but they came in with a half dozen “Suits” and wowed the customer with promises of what they would do to make it “right”. We asked if we could put in our new equipment for a demo and they told us that there was no need because they knew our equipment. We truly thought that we had earned their business by what we had done to support them over the life of the lease. We did not realize just how upset they were over our DMS \ Workflow price. So they went with Global and their Konica Minolta proposal.

My sales guy was livid, beside himself that he had lost this good customer when he \ we had done such a good job supporting the customer. He resisted the urge to say bad things, and he sent an email to the customer’s key contacts and said he really appreciated their business in the past, and was sorry to hear that they had chosen to go with the competition. And If there was anything he could ever do for them, please don’t hesitate to call (a true sales professional). He did get a call six months into the new 3 year Global lease, and the customer was asking if there was any way he could get them out of their lease (2 & 1/2 years remaining). This school is 98% MACs. Mac boxes and Apple stickers were all over the IT Department’s office. Well the school updated there Mac OS from 10.5 to 10.6 and all there printing broke. They called us because the Global Branch was not able to get them printing (other than the Generic Print Driver) for six months. The Branch management finally sent the school a letter saying that the problem was the schools fault because they (Global) never knew that they were a “MAC House”.

I also found out that the DMS \ AP Workflow solution that Global proposed for $10K less than our proposal was never brought to an actual functional state. They had only booked 1 week of time for their SE that came in from Florida and when it wasn’t functional at the end of the week the SE still left to go back to Florida. THe local Global Branch apparently didn’t have any local SEs to finish the project. We were told that the school ended up spending tens of thousands of dollars more on this DMS \ Workflow solution and they never got it to work to the schools satisfaction.  When all was said and done the school ended up paying more than twice what I had proposed. I thought to myself that I too could have come in $10,000 cheaper if I didn’t have to make it work too. But that’s not how we do business!

We couldn’t get the customer out of their Global lease two and a half years early, but we stayed in touch and we did get the business back at a price we could all live with just recently. The customer said that they thought that they would get everything that we had provided PLUS all of the new promises that Global “Said” that they would provide. But that is not how it worked out. Sometimes customers take good service & support for granted. They think anyone can do it. But the truth is it is more rare than you think. And good service & support cost a little more. We never try to be the cheapest because even if you win the deal everyone loses! The sales person loses because he can’t make an honest profit on the deal. The Service department loses because they are not taking in enough money to provide the proper level of service to keep the customer happy. The customer loses because the sweet taste of a “cheap price” quickly fades in the face of poor service and support. Everyone SAYS that they have good service, or great service, but not everyone actually does! I think it is more the exception than the rule in our industry. But it is puzzling that a current customer would leave what by their own admission was good service & support on equipment that they said ran well for the “Promise” of the same from a company that has yet to prove anything to them. All because they were a little cheaper. Their is an old proverb that states “Well Done, is better than Well Said!”

This is not the first customer that we have let go, only to get back after that lease is up. And when we do get them back they don’t ask us to be the cheapest bid, because they have seen the cheapest and decided that’s not what they want!

That’s my $0.02

Vince McHugh

vince.mchugh@yahoo.com

 

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Xerox MFDs are changing number 6 to a number 8? Seriously?

August 7, 2013

I loathe to call an MFD a copier, because it does so much more than make a copy. BUT, at it’s core the essence of an MFD is a “Copier”! Which means by definition it makes a copy! Even when it Scans or Faxes an original the goal is for a copy to show up somewhere that is an accurate representation of the original. A copy means a duplicate – a replica –  a transcript – a reproduction. What a copy doesn’t mean is a modified image or document so that while it may appear at a casual glance to be the same it is in fact NOT an actual representation of the original, and hence NOT a copy.

Here are just a couple of URL links to the Xerox news story. You need to read this for yourself and pay particular attention to Xerox’s response to the issue.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2013/08/06/technology-xerox-copiers-change-text.html

http://www.theverge.com/2013/8/6/4594482/xerox-copiers-randomly-replacing-numbers-in-documents

What are the legal, or financial ramifications of the Xerox producing an interpretation of your original document? Legally “A “duplicate” or copy of a document, produced by methods ensuring accuracy and precision, is given the same status as an original unless there is a question as to its authenticity.” Does this now mean that since Xerox has admitted that sometimes there MFD changes a 6 to an 8 (and maybe other characters as well) that documents scanned on a Xerox MFD are not admissible in court?

Can you imagine the person who get’s arrested on a DUI charge because they blew a .08 on their breathalyzer test. And when they get to court their lawyer challenges the documents because all they have is copies made on a Xerox MFD and we can’t be sure if that was a .06 (= not guilty) or a .08 (=guilty).

What about financial institutions or accounting firms? What are the day to day ramifications of not being able to trust that your Xerox MFD is accurately reproducing your original documents. And once you or your firm knows about this issue do you become responsible if you take no action? I guess you could proof read every document that the Xerox scans.

What if you are building something, a high tech part or even an office building. What are the ramifications of the dimensions being off, so instead of an 6 foot opening for your windows your builder puts in an 8 foot opening. And then the 6 foot windows show up! Normally the manufacturer blames the builder, and the builder blames the manufacturer, maybe they should blame the Xerox copier?

There is “good news” from Xerox though! Xerox already advises customers of this possibility in its software, describing results from normal compression settings as “acceptable” That makes me feel soooooooo much better! Xerox says changing a 6 to an 8 in your business critical documents is acceptable! Did they actually say it with a straight face? Do you think its “acceptable”, because I don’t!

Yes, I rarely call an MFD a “copier” these days, but that is because we all know and expect it to be able to make accurate copies of original documents. And Purchasers have been saying for years now “ALL MFDs are the same, they All COPY, PRINT, SCAN, & FAX the same”. Well maybe MOST MFDs can do an accurate job on these 4 functions. If you can’t trust your Xerox MFD to make an accurate copy of your original document, that (IMHO) makes them unfit for business use. I was going to say they should just use them in Kindergarten but even in kindergarten you have to be able to tell a 6 from an 8. Maybe Xerox should take ownership, and fix the problem, there’s a thought!

That’s my $0.02
Vince McHugh
vince.mchugh@yahoo.com

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“Retread”

July 25, 2013

The Oxford Dictionary defines “Retread” as:

  • a tire that has been given a new tread.
  • informal a person retrained for new work or recalled for service.

I have had the good fortune to to work with a seasoned salesman who use to work for my competition. He moved to Florida but didn’t like living there, so he returned to New England a few years later and reapplied for a job at his old company. It was a Xerox \ Global Imaging Dealer that has absorbed two local dealerships.  The Global Dealer interviewed him for a sales position, but one of the top Sales Managers said to him “we don’t need any retreads”! In New England we call that “Bulletin Board Material”!

That same salesman came to work for NECS, and he came motivated, and committed to CRUSH the dealership that called him a “retread”! He has been pretty damn successful. He has gone after a vertical market that they had dominated and that we had all but ignored and has beaten his old com padres in deal after deal. Initially they were pleasant, even friendly towards him. But the more successful he became the colder his reception at his old company became. That’s OK, they have no one to blame but themselves. It’s gotten so bad that even people that I consider friends at that dealership don’t call any more. I blame my retread 🙂

I have often said that the primary job of management is to get and keep good people!!!! I truly believe this!

The Xerox \ Global Dealer’s Sales Manager had an opportunity to rehire this very talented salesman with a great work ethic. Did I mention he has a great work ethic? But pride or stupidity took over and he not only didn’t hire him, but totally motivated him to work extra hard to beat his old Xerox \ Global Dealership every chance he gets. He has been so successful doing just that, that I told him he should start watching his back. Because pretty soon they are going to take out a contract on him. LOL!!!

I am a “Retread”! I have worked for my current dealership for 16 years, left for two years, and came back to my current position. So I have a soft spot in my heart for retreads. One of the great things that “Retreads” have is Perspective! Have you ever heard the phrase “How can I miss you if you don’t go away”? Very often when you leave an organization for greener pastures you realize that the grass is NOT always greener on the other side, especially when YOU have to mow it. Some sales people who have never worked anywhere else except their current dealership have nothing to compare it to.. While their loyalty is to be commended, it limits their perspective.

When you work at more than one sales organization you get to see what is great, or good, and what is bad, or terrible. I have had the privilege to work at two major corporations (3M & Ricoh) and one large Regional Dealership; NECS (twice). The sales person who works at a great Dealership thinks that ALL DEALERSHIPS are the same. S/He would be WRONG!

Enter the retread! Bringing back or bringing in someone who has worked for another Dealership and REALLY appreciates what your dealership does well helps the rest of the Sales people who have not worked elsewhere appreciate what’s great about your dealership!

Now the retread has to be someone who has been successful selling for your organization in the past. If they have not been successful selling in the past there is no reason to believe that they will be as a retread. This particular retread that I am writing about (You know who you are) has been so successful that maybe I need to look for a few more retreads! It takes one to know one!

That’s My $0.02
Vince McHugh
vince.mchugh@necs.biz
WWW.NECS.BIZ