by Emily Offshack
BusinessWare Solutions is an IT value-added reseller based out of Hutchinson, Minn., with several offices in the surrounding regions. In addition to managed print services and document management, BusinessWare Solutions provides network solutions, server and storage virtualization, security solutions, technology training, and complete outsourced IT department solutions.
Transitioning to MPS
As a traditional IT VAR, BusinessWare Solutions provided computer and server solutions for small to medium businesses. In addition to computer and server hardware, they also sold printers.
“We were constantly being contacted by copier companies to help them get their devices on the network, because they did not have the expertise to set them up and get them to scan to network, print from all computers, or send to e-mail,” said David Polzin of BusinessWare Solutions.
When Hewlett-Packard came out with their initial line of multifunction devices, BusinessWare Solutions decided that it was time to use the technology expertise they already had and start selling these devices on their own. They now provide both HP and Xerox machines under a traditional cost-per-page model, and hold HP Office Printing Solutions Elite Partner and Xerox Gold Partner designations.
MPS Program Components and Infrastructure
BusinessWare Solutions’ MPS program includes print assessments, supplies replacement, service, preventative maintenance, job tracking, and some hardware consolidation.
“We utilize Print Audit Facilities Manager for capturing meter reads and for supply replenishment,” said Polzin. After evaluating several software technology partners for their MPS program, they felt that Print Audit was the best fit for their business.
Although BusinessWare Solutions has had great success tracking and managing network-based devices using software technologies, they have had difficulties tracking and monitoring USB and parallel-based devices. They are now in the midst of rolling out Print Audit 6 to help overcome this obstacle.
“Print Audit 6 can be used in conjunction with Facilities Manager in order to track local devices,” said Trevor Hofer, marketing manager at Print Audit. Print Audit 6 uses a software application on each workstation to monitor all printing activity, including jobs sent to locally connected devices.
In addition to helping clients control their hard-copy printing with MPS, BusinessWare Solutions also provides document management solutions to help clients store and track their electronic documents. Together, the two services provide a comprehensive way to manage all the documents in an organization.
Corporate Structure and Strategy
When it came time to rollout their MPS program, BusinessWare Solutions decided to stick with their existing staff.
“BusinessWare Solutions focuses on true SMB customers, and because of that we have very strong relationships with our clients,” said Polzin. “We decided to use our existing sales staff and have them concentrate on leveraging relationships to go to market with our managed print program.”
The sales representatives at BusinessWare Solutions have designated geographies that they concentrate on, and each sales person is expected to have contact with every business in their designated geography. On the software front, the company employs network and print engineers that perform software installations.
“Over time, we had to add additional staff,” explained Polzin, “but we had an existing staff of people who were already doing the billing, and staff that was already doing the repair work for devices. It was not until our business grew to certain levels that we had to add staff.”
When they first rolled out their MPS program, BusinessWare Solutions set goals, and for the first two years, they were not met. “Since then,” said Polzin, “the program has really taken off.”
To be able to track the financial success of their MPS program, BusinessWare Solutions uses a separate profit and loss statement for this component of their business, even though it is not officially a separate department.
“Right now, about 15 percent of our revenue is coming from our managed print program,” said Polzin.
Polzin said that the company has been offering managed print services for about six years now, and that he feels that the program has allowed them to maintain their current staffing levels while having one of the better times, financially, in the history of the company.
BusinessWare Solutions uses a cost-per-page pricing model that includes everything other than paper—toner, service, preventative maintenance and parts are included.
MPS Tips from David Polzin, BusinessWare Solutions
- Get involved in a vendor program and leverage as much of the information they provide as you can.
- Have a plan and stick to the plan—this does not happen overnight.
- Commit to the program. If you are going to start a managed print practice, you commit to it; you do not just dabble in it. Make sure every person in your organization knows you are serious about it, and that every device that leaves the office will have a contract tied to it.
Initially, it was a challenge for BusinessWare Solutions to figure out the cost-per-page model.
“A few years ago, there were not the vendor programs that there are now,” said Polzin, “so it fell onto us to come up with our own program.”
Another challenge was getting the staff on board to sell under the new model.
“It is a completely different way of selling,” said Polzin, “and you have to talk to a different set of people than you traditionally would when selling IT products.” Polzin noted that to sell MPS, they had to shift their focus from marketing to IT professionals to marketing to the financial decision makers in client organizations, such as CEOs and CFOs.
As more and more companies enter the MPS market, the biggest challenge for BusinessWare Solutions today is to continue reinventing and altering their program slightly, so they can continue to differentiate themselves and stay ahead of the competition.
Among the clients that BusinessWare Solutions has had success deploying a managed print services program with is the Shakopee School District in Shakopee, Minn. Prior to working with BusinessWare Solutions, the Shakopee School District had mandated that all of their printer repairs be completed internally. This presented many challenges for the school district, because they had a lack of knowledge of the new printing technology available, a lack of time for personnel to deal with printing issues, and a problem with breakdowns occurring at the most inopportune times of the day.
BusinessWare Solutions contacted the Shakopee School District and talked to them about bringing in a contracted business solution for printers. They received an excited response, and the district relinquished the responsibility of performing service tasks for their printers.
“BusinessWare Solutions has been excellent to work with,” said Gary Pikal of the Shakopee School District. “When we have a printer that goes down, we just give them a quick call or an e-mail. We have an ID number associated with our printer, and at that point a dispatch of a service technician is made to our site, generally within four hours, if not the next day. Ninety-nine percent of the time the problem is resolved with the first trip. If it isn’t resolved, BusinessWare makes extra special effort to get the parts or the resolution to make our printer work again as necessary.”
The success of BusinessWare Solutions demonstrates that traditional IT VARs can use their technology expertise to help them make their move into the managed print services arena. By partnering with a vendor that offers a comprehensive managed print program, the transition can be made even easier.