most SMBs have little understanding as to how much they spend on print and document-related services - Robert Palmer

SMBs unsure of print & document-related services spend – Robert Palmer

The SMB market has become a primary target for growth in managed print services (MPS), and for good reason. Printing remains a critical business function for a majority of small- to medium-size businesses, but most have limited insight into the complexities of their document infrastructure. As a result, most SMBs have little understanding as to how much they spend on print and document-related services. At the same time, research suggests that upwards of 75 percent of SMBs do not currently have a managed print service contract in place.

SMB – fertile ground for MPS

Based on these two variables, the SMB space has been earmarked as fertile ground for MPS, but there are other, perhaps more important issues to consider. Among the many SMB success stories are several examples of MPS engagements that fail to meet customer expectations. The reasons are vast and often complex: poorly structured MPS contracts, improper or unreliable data metrics, lack of due diligence during the planning phase, and failure to properly consider strategic goals at the onset of the program are some of the common explanations.

Reshape the conversation

Often, the underlying problem can be traced to a simple disconnect between customer objectives and final program results. In other words, MPS is failing to meet customer expectations when it comes to cost reduction — likely because too much emphasis is placed on print optimization as the key variable for program success. In order to drive real penetration in SMB, it is imperative that vendors and MPS providers work diligently to reshape the MPS conversation.

Cost reduction just doesn’t add up

The basic MPS value proposition of “reducing print costs” is not necessarily all that relevant for smaller businesses — particularly those with fewer than 500 employees. In the first place, many smaller organizations looking for immediate cost savings from MPS may not see the kind of results they expect simply because their current printing costs are relatively low compared with other business expenses. With no real sight lines, a 20-30 percent reduction in print costs might seem compelling but would actually provide minimal impact to the bottom line.

Increasing adoption in SMBs

These are important points to consider when it comes to driving higher satisfaction levels and increasing MPS adoption rates in SMB. In the enterprise sector, MPS is deployed with specific print-related objectives in mind: consolidate devices, eliminate or significantly reduce printing, control color usage, reduce paper consumption, and develop an overall digital content and security strategy. But the needs of the SMB customer are vastly different.

As we have already indicated, there may not be an overwhelming desire to reduce the amount printing. Likewise, most SMB customers are looking to print more color, not less, which would indicate a need for more cost-efficient solutions that move color closer to the point of need. Basically, the focus for MPS needs to move beyond print into those areas that are particularly problematic for SMB customers.

SMBs have limited IT resources and yet are saddled with the same document-related challenges facing the bigger guys: the transition from paper to digital, cloud services, content security, and mobile technology integration. As a result, SMBs are looking for ways to increase productivity, proactively manage devices, automate workflows, reduce the burden on IT staff, and consolidate vendors. These are key pain points facing the SMB customer that are often overlooked in certain MPS engagements.

Selling to SMBs? Change the value proposition

Historically, we have looked at MPS as a staged migration that takes customers through different engagement levels — beginning with basic fleet management services and moving up the value chain into areas such as document management, process optimization, and workflow automation. But for the SMB customer the MPS value proposition should be squarely focused on these objectives right from the start.

This will not only increase the value of the service you provide but also strengthen your ability to meet customer expectations when it comes to reducing overall costs. After all, inefficient business processes could be costing companies much more in wasted effort and lost worker productivity than could ever be recovered by making output less expensive to produce.

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