How Sustainability Can Breathe Life Into the MPS Business Model

30-Sep-2014 8:38 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

by Robert Palmer

I have concentrated my most recent blogs on the need to identify and correctly position key components of an effective MPS solution. Thus far, I have focused primarily on the value of print and the overriding principals for change management. With this entry, I would like to step back and talk about the importance of sustainability -- an area that for many MPS providers is often understated, misrepresented, or simply completely overlooked.

Businesses today place a growing importance on environmental friendliness, sustainability efforts, and the need to become better corporate citizens. At the same time, MPS by its very nature is a program that is inherently eco-friendly. For these two reasons, an effective sustainability component is imperative to driving long-term value from any MPS solution. For many providers, identifying measurable sustainability milestones can breathe new life into the MPS business model.

There are many aspects of MPS that can have a positive impact on the environment. Consolidating print devices alone can result in dramatic reductions to energy consumption, waste, and carbon emissions. For many organizations, simply moving to long-life supplies can significantly reduce materials waste. And of course, reducing paper consumption can have a positive impact on the environment, while also serving as one of the most effective means for lowering print costs.

Nevertheless, an effective sustainability program should expand far beyond reducing print volumes. Printing fewer pages is an outcome that results from a change in process, but it is important to complement that with a broader set of tools and procedures to help customers clearly identify the sustainability components of your MPS solution -- along with the benefits provided.

Sustainability assessments

The first step should be to assess the environmental impact of transitioning to a managed print solution. Many providers shy away from this approach because they lack a homegrown solution for conducting a sustainability assessment. Yet there are numerous third-party software solutions available that can be easily deployed to assess factors such as energy consumption by device, overall carbon footprint, paper usage, and waste generated.

These tools add value to the MPS solution, while helping customers evaluate their existing environment to understand how optimizing the print infrastructure could improve sustainability across all metrics. Of course, providers should also encourage recycling practices as part of the overall environmental messaging.

The areas that I have identified thus far are very well recognized and for the most part easily understood. But when it comes to driving real environmental change, workflow and business process are two critical areas that should be addressed. Interestingly, these are areas that most MPS providers tend to ignore. Simplifying and automating workflow not only reduces operational costs but also translates to significant environmental benefits by reducing time, workload, resources, and assets associated with existing business processes.

Sustainability as a differentiator

The benefits of MPS are well documented, especially when it comes to optimizing the fleet and reducing print costs. But a good sustainability program can drive additional value into your MPS solution, leading to increased revenue and improved customer retention. Customers are willing to pay more for services that offer higher value, especially if that value is tied to measurable outcomes in the SLAs.

A strong environmental agenda backed by a complete set of tools, policies, and practices increases the inherent value of the MPS program. Let’s face it; organizations are waging a constant battle between the need to reduce environmental impact with the need to work more effectively and efficiently. A well-structured MPS solution can help customers meet all objectives: improved efficiency, greater productivity, reduced environmental impact, and lower overall print costs.

Sustainability should be positioned up front as one of the most compelling benefits of managed print. Not only could it help you land new business but it will also separate you from the competition. Unfortunately, many providers are so focused on CPP and pages that they fail to see the real value of sustainability, and opportunities are lost. 

Robert Palmer is chief analyst and a managing partner for BPO Media, which publishes The Imaging Channel and Workflow magazines. He is an independent market analyst and industry consultant with more than 25 years experience in the printing industry covering technology and business sectors for prominent market research firms such as Lyra Research and InfoTrends. In December 2012 he formed Palmer Consulting as an independent consultancy focused on transformation, mobility, MPS, and the entire imaging market. Palmer is a popular speaker and presents regularly at industry conferences and trade events in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. He is also active in a variety of imaging industry forums and currently serves on the board of directors for the Managed Print Services Association (MPSA). Contact him at robert@bpomedia.com.
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