The acquisitions race in office print and how to win it

Acquisitions are a clear route to business growth in any vertical. In office print, they’ve become necessary for survival.

Consolidation remains a theme at every level of the documents and imaging industry, from manufacturers through to wholesalers, resellers and software providers. All roads point to a smaller industry with fewer people in it. Now the race is on to find out who those people will be.

Most of the consolidation in this industry has happened in recent years—Foxconn acquiring Sharp in 2016, HP buying Samsung’s printer business in 2017, and snapping up Apogee the following year. And consolidation is as rife in the SMB space as it is among the big players. Many of our own customers are securing their place in the market by making acquisitions. What they’re finding is that our flagship solution, Evatic, can help them do that. This article takes a closer look at how.

Why is office print consolidating?

Office print consolidation is driven, largely, by declining page volumes and changing end-user expectations. Although the resounding consensus among experts is that print is here to stay, we’re still seeing a reduction in printing from end-customers as they use more and more digital formats.

As a consequence, bigger companies are buying smaller ones to offset the shrinking revenues and grow in a saturated market. And we’re not just seeing print companies buying other print companies. Since end-customers these days want one supplier for everything, we’re seeing non-print providers getting in on the acquisitions action. A good example being the out-of-the-blue 2019 purchase of managed print firm DEX Imaging by Staples, a stationery reseller.

Experts are expecting this trend to continue: manufacturers merging, manufacturers buying channel partners, channel partners buying companies and services that will complement and expand what they do for their customers. Traditional managed print services (MPS) companies will acquire, merge with, or be bought by companies that sell IT solutions, stationery, office furniture, facilities management etc.

How service management software can help you make acquisitions

If you’re using old or obsolete field service management (FSM) software to manage your MPS operation, you may find it difficult to make acquisitions. This is particularly true if your system is beset with inflexibility, manual processes and a lack of visibility. If there are too many places your teams have to go to get information, it probably takes a long time to input it.

The key to a smooth acquisition is being able to integrate and manage the new company quickly, without too much upheaval. An FSM system where data isn’t centralised and processes aren’t automated or integrated is a barrier to this. Indeed, some of our customers have told us that they were unable to make any acquisitions until they had implemented our software. The process would have been too challenging and laborious with the systems they had in place before.

An FSM solution like Evatic can actually facilitate the acquisition process. Evatic gives you visibility of a new organisation really quickly. That’s because of how easy it is to input data about customers, contracts and machines. Also, recent improvements to our sales calculation module enable customers to add new machines to existing contracts instead of having to create new ones, making the process even simpler. And Evatic purposefully comes with unlimited users so that you can scale up freely.

What’s also important when making acquisitions is that you’re able to manage a number of different companies at the same time while, in some cases, preserving those companies as separate legal entities. This is where department management comes in.

The importance of department management functionality for company growth

When acquiring a new company, Evatic’s department management functionality harmonises how your company and the new company operate in certain key areas, while enabling each entity to operate independently in others. You’re able to create as many “departments” as you want, so there’s no limit to how many new companies you integrate into the system. You’re also able to control which users access which company.

Common structure

Evatic lets you first define a common structure for the management of all companies.

The common structure comprises your article base, an inventory of everything you sell—machines, consumables and parts—and their cost and sale prices. This is where stock management is carried out (although you can have different stock locations per department).

The common structure also comprises machine models, which contains more detailed specifications for each device and is linked to the article base.

Finally you have your settings and processes, which is essentially how everything is done across the business. This is where you define where parts requests go and what happens when you deliver a new machine, etc.

Separate structures

Evatic then lets you define separate structures for the management of each company independently. These structures comprise customers, contracts, machines, stock locations and service projects, all managed in isolation by each company. Invoices are also managed within departments, although it is possible to standardise invoicing authorisation across the whole corporate group.

Users can be common or separate, i.e. you can determine whether a user has permission to access all/some of the companies in the group or just the company most relevant to them.

The benefits of department management

The separation of companies within Evatic makes it easier to see what each company in the group is doing and how they’re performing. At the same time, homogenisation of key processes across the whole corporate group enables you to operate more efficiently.

For example, Evatic allows you to send a field engineer from Company A to deal with a service project for Company B, and track his/her time across both companies. You can also send parts from Company A to Company B, utilising more of your stock. In effect, integration promotes better management and utilisation of your resources.

Department management can also be good for legal reasons. For instance, in France, when a company purchases another, it is often desirable that they continue as separate legal entities. This is because companies with 50 employees or over have significantly more legal and regulatory requirements than those with less than 50. And larger companies have to pay more tax, so keeping them separate is good for profitability as well. This is a particularly important consideration for office print providers, whose profitability is under pressure.

How to grow with confidence

For the next few years at least, experts are saying that the super-fast consolidation of the office print industry is unlikely to slow down. The evolution of this market will continue to be shaped by mergers and acquisitions, as players at all levels seek to become stronger as combined entities.

But for office print providers to grow easily and with confidence, they need field service management software that is scalable. You should be able to create new users easily and without limit. You should also be able to pull in data from new companies without getting bogged down in manual or duplicate processes and red tape.

Evatic lets you do both. With unlimited users you can create as many as you like without having to worry about your budget. And with centralised data, automated processes and extensive integration capabilities, you can get visibility of a new acquisition straight away.

Evatic’s department management functionality is an important bonus for companies who want to harmonise their processes for efficiency while keeping certain legal and operational aspects separate and distinct. If you’d like a demo of how it works or you just want to learn more, request a demo or contact sales@asolvi.com

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