Do you feel like you’re drowning? For many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the office print and document management industry, the answer is yes. The most common problems are:
- Too much manual work. It’s difficult to increase efficiency and productivity when your service operation is bogged down in manual, paper-driven processes.
- Too much software. Data is all over the place, scattered among numerous disparate software applications. These applications vary in age and flexibility and require multiple costly interfaces. In many cases the applications simply aren’t connected or integrated at all. This creates a lack of transparency, inhibits any useful overview of the business’s profitability, and makes the whole service operation hard and expensive to maintain.
- The wrong software. Most SMEs in print and document management are using generic enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems that lack the necessary customisations for such a complex and highly changeable industry.
The thing that exacerbates these problems is an industry-wide issue. Revenue is dropping while costs are going up. Print volumes and prices are declining due to a downturn in demand and a keenness to stay competitive. At the same time, print costs are rising due to better graphics and higher pixel counts, not to mention ever-increasing overheads.
This doesn’t mean the industry is dead or dying. It just means it’s changing, and providers have to change with it. The way to do this is by:
- Cutting out manual processes. Automated workflows reduce your administrative burden and enable your business to do more with less staff.
- Preventing losses on contracts. This normally happens when the customer uses more toner than has been accounted for, and where additional parts and service visits are not properly charged for. You need to capture and monitor all expenditure and charge for it accordingly.
- Moving from a reactive/break-fix maintenance model to a preventative maintenance model. You’ll save money on service visits if you anticipate problems with your MIF (machines in field) before they occur. Best of all you’ll please your customers because a more reliable machine enables them to be more profitable.
All of these things can be accomplished by implementing the right service management solution. So, what are the key things to consider when looking for one?
1. The bigger picture
Don’t just look at the areas where you have problems and specific pain points. You might think that your field service engineers would be better served by a paperless reporting process and be inclined to look at mobility solutions. Or that your customer contracts could be better managed and look at contract management software. It’s like sewing up holes in a worn-out jumper. The jumper itself is the thing that needs throwing out and replacing. In other words, your service management system — full of paper-driven processes, unconnected bits of software, data in disarray, and too many people doing too many things — needs an upgrade.
So, take a step back and look at your entire IT landscape. Focus on ways of making your whole organisation perform better. Focus on the opportunities for more profit as well as the problems that are inhibiting it. And when you’re looking at different software options, don’t just look at how much they cost. Look at how much they can bring to your business, how they can make your processes more streamlined, your people more productive, and your contracts more profitable. The true value of a software solution cannot be described solely in terms of cost and price. The true value lies in return on investment.
2. You need something industry-specific
Most providers of managed print services (MPS) and document management systems (DMS) are using generic ERP systems and horizontal (non-industry-specific) software to run their service operations. But MPS and DMS are very different to other industries in the field service sector, largely because of the unique pressures and challenges they face. This is why generic, horizontal software doesn’t cut it for businesses in this space. They need to be using software that is designed to meet particular MPS/DMS needs, e.g. remote monitoring of MIF, smart toner management, and automated meter reading and invoicing.
3. Integration is super-important
A common problem with using lots of different software applications to run different parts of a business is that those applications are often not integrated properly. This prevents any meaningful overview of an organisation’s profitability and increases scope for error because different arms of the business don’t know what the others are doing. It also requires an abundance of admin, manual processes and duplicate data entry to get the whole organisation onto the same page. In short, poor integration slows everything down.
You need a service management solution capable of integrating with your other applications and promoting a seamless flow of data across your whole organisation. You need something versatile and flexible enough to interface with your finance system, your fleet management system, your ERP and logistics systems, your CRM system and more.
4. Involve your key people
Designate the “process owners”, i.e. the key users of the new software once it has been implemented. Those who are going most reliant on the software in their day-to-day activities are the ones who need to be involved in the selection process. They are the people who understand the pain points better than anyone else, and will be able to discern whether a solution will do what it says it will.
Taking these four considerations into account will help you and your people select the right service management solution for your business. Of course, there are other considerations, but these four are a good starting point and will put you on the right track. The most important thing here is that you’ve taken the first step. You’ve decided that your organisation needs to change if it is to survive and you’re looking at ways of making that happen. You’ve proved that just by reading this article.
Specially designed to cater for specific industries such as MPS and DMS, Evatic is an all-encompassing service management solution that fully automates and optimises your service chain. With powerful IoT capabilities, user-friendly business intelligence tools and cutting-edge mobile technology, Evatic lets you provide a more proactive, more effective and more profitable service to your customers.