James Goulding hears how Fiducia Strategic Consultancy can help businesses maximise the benefits of managed print services
In April, after many years working for printer vendors and channel partners in the UK and Europe, John Gifford set up Fiducia Strategic Consultancy to fill a gap in the market for truly independent advice on managed print services (MPS) and document workflow.
Fiducia provides small and medium-sized businesses, enterprises and public sector clients with consultancy and guidance on all aspects of MPS, from assessing requirements and designing a vendor-agnostic solution to verifying a proposal that is already on the table or resolving a problem with an existing contract.
It can come in at any stage of a project and even provides project management services to help organisations (and resellers) avoid the challenges and obstacles that can occur in any implementation.
MPS is often marketed as a win:win solution for all parties, and while that sometimes is the case, Gifford told Managed ITthat not all implementations are successful.
“One of the things I have found is that although there are some good quality print and document technology implementations, there are still too many bad ones that don’t meet customer expectations. Sometimes this is because the customer doesn’t know what they want in the first place and sometimes it’s because, in designing a solution, the reseller puts its portfolio or OEM rebate scheme before the needs of the customer,” he said.
Gifford adds that it is common to encounter contractual problems caused by a lack of customer understanding or attention.
“One example is how pricing is structured. The most common method is a cost per copy (CPP), but sometimes there are over-charges that aren’t documented well enough. Another is lack of clarity around hardware ownership rights when an end user organisation is paying a click or CPP. That all depend on how the contract is constructed and whether there’s a separate lease for the hardware.
“Then, there are areas such as scanned images – some charge for scans, others don’t; some make this clear, others don’t – and the technical aspects of proposals, especially where software is involved that isn’t able to do everything that was expected of it. Automatic renewals also regularly crop up as a problem,” he said.
This suggests that end users are not taking enough care when reading contract terms and conditions, but it is also true that in the dozen years that MPS has been mainstream, implementations have become more complex and now often involve an element of workflow automation. This, warns Gifford, has created more room for exaggeration and misunderstanding.
“There is a tendency in the industry to talk a lot about document workflow, but I have found that only a minority of technology resellers understand and properly deliver document workflow. A lot say they provide document workflow solutions when what they actually mean is pull printing. Pull print solutions are pretty much a commodity these days and are not true document workflow solutions. I have seen examples of end users being caught out by that, so there is definitely a need to educate the channel just as much as end users,” he said.
“Clients require a document journey from A-Z rather than just A-L. By that I mean they want a managed print solution that doesn’t just provide cost savings but also delivers efficiency gains by optimising document workflow and business processes. End users are slowly becoming more demanding, rightly so, and they need suppliers to see them through the whole journey.”
Consultancy is one way Fiducia helps clients go from A-Z. Another is to raise standards amongst MPS providers themselves. So, while Fiducia’s primary focus is end users, it also supports MFP vendors, distributors and resellers with everything from training to the development of sales and marketing strategies.
One constituency that could benefit greatly from its service are IT resellers that might be new to print, but recognise how developments in MPS, including digitisation of document workflows and greater emphasis on security, play to their core strengths in IT and managed services.
“IT VARs still regard print as a source of hassle and are generally reluctant to get involved. We try to remove some of their objections, for example by encouraging them to look at alternative pricing models. The cost per page model used in the MPS world is a no-no as far as IT VARs are concerned; they just don’t like to bill in that way and prefer the seat-based billing common in managed IT services. Rather than trying to shoehorn a traditional MPS into an IT VAR, we talk about how you can integrate seat-based billing into a managed contract that includes print,” explained Gifford.
MPS used to be relatively straightforward – for end users and the channel. Today, it is more complex to implement and to supply, but the rewards are potentially even greater. Fiducia can help you navigate the potholes and obstacles littering the way to a successful implementation and ensure you complete the journey from A-Z.
To find out more, please visit www.fiduciaconsultancy.co.ukor call 0203 910 4698