Managed print services (MPS) is not a one-size-fits-all solution because no two businesses are identical. Fortunately, there are a wide variety of solutions and programs available with different features and functionality. Finding an MPS provider that meets most, if not all, of your needs can be challenging. This is why it’s important to complete both internal and external evaluations during the decision-making process. This article provides some helpful steps you can take to find the best MPS provider for your business.
Before you start shopping for providers, you should know what it is you want in an MPS solution. Your internal evaluation will determine your overall objectives and goals for implementing a managed print solution. There will be some key differences between products, and depending on your business model, these may be nice-to-haves as opposed to must-haves.
An external evaluation will help you match your needs to the features and functionality of available MPS solutions. You will be able to do some of this research online, but at some point you should reach out to service providers on your short list for in-depth demos of their products.
Here are some questions to ask prior to doing research on available solutions. Your responses to these questions will help you to eliminate providers who cannot meet your needs early on, create a short list, and simplify your decision-making process.
1. How many customers/machines in the field do you currently have? What percentage, if any, are currently under an MPS contract?
2. If applicable, what does your current MPS contract(s) include?
3. What are your overall goals and expectations for your MPS program? What processes do you expect to streamline or improve (e.g., meter collection and billing, sales prospecting, supplies fulfillment)?
4. Rank the following departments and processes in order of priority:
• Meter collection and billing
• Sales prospecting (e.g., assessments)
• Supplies fulfillment
• Service fulfillment
5. Are the applicable departments aware of how they will be impacted? Which departments have displayed the most excitement and readiness, and which have displayed the least?
You should have your responses to these questions on hand when you speak with providers as they will likely ask similar questions to determine how their solution can help you. In addition to preparing answers for the questions above, consider using a decision matrix to help guide your conversations with providers.
Using a decision matrix
Choosing an MPS provider is a decision that requires analyzing multiple factors, from pricing to implementation and onboarding, to scalability. A decision matrix is a good tool to use when completing an external evaluation of available MPS solutions and providers because it allows you to compare several vendors based on the features and functionality you consider important.
A decision matrix typically consists of four components:
• Attributes – These are the features you are looking for in a managed print solution or provider, such as security, training, support, and scalability.
• Score – This is the range you will use to compare the attributes of each solution (e.g., 1-10, 1-100). For example, Provider A may only score a 3 on security based on your requirements, but Provider B may score a 7 because they are able to provide you with the security features you need.
• Weighting – The weight is the importance you assign to each attribute. For example, security may rank higher in importance to your company than scalability. In this case, you would assign security a higher weight than scalability (e.g., scalability = 1, security = 3). Weighting is what your score will then be multiplied by for the total weighted score.
• Weighted Score – The final score takes into account the relative importance of each feature you are looking for in a solution, as well as how well the vendor can deliver on those features.
Despite the data-driven process of scoring and ranking your options using a decision matrix, there is still a lot of subjectivity involved in making the final decision. For this reason, it is important for you and your team to agree on the attributes you are looking for and their weighting, as well as your scoring methodology.
Here are some questions you can ask yourselves in order to ensure that everyone is on the same page:
• What must an MPS solution have in order for us to be successful?
• What features and functionality are most important for our use case?
• What features and functionality are less important?
• How will we score each attribute? What will the lower and upper bounds be of our scoring range?
• How will we determine the weighting of each attribute?
If you and your team are struggling to come to a consensus or you find your first attempt does not produce a clear leader, you can revisit and refine your weighting and scoring approach as necessary. Ensure whatever changes you make to the decision matrix are agreed upon as a team, as this will provide you with the necessary strategic alignment to implement a solution that effectively benefits your team and improves the processes you intend to streamline and optimize.
Looking for additional resources to help you find an MPS solution that meets your unique business needs? Download our free Guide to Choosing the Right MPS Provider!
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