Unless there is an impending MPS contract expiry, or pressure on procurement teams to reduce internal cost or when the so-called “suppliers” extend free cost-savings assessments, most companies do not prioritize their print processes and often shrug it off as just another simple technology. Yet, they get perpetually stuck amongst the plethora of intricacies within the process that roots from having to manage multiple locations, OEMs, suppliers, contracts, and the lack of subject matter experts, and more importantly, the lack of usage data. Eventually, without clear information to map a relevant roadmap, their initiatives become a half-baked cake, destined to be dumped.
Even if companies do manage to reroute around these initial phases of hurdles, they’ve got a long way to go, from identifying potential suppliers to managing change whilst continuing to assess their current usage and taking strategic steps to future-proof the whole print management frenzy. Although managed print service providers promise to take away this herculean load off enterprise IT wings, for most companies, the output of MPS initiatives are only as good as a pixilated printout.
Given the razor-and-blade business model that printing relies on, the revenue model of manufacturers, partners, and MPS providers is proportional to the clients’ usage margins. Assurances of delivering significant percentages of savings on printing costs blatantly float around their marketing campaigns. On the other hand, companies want to print as little as possible at the lowest reasonable cost and ultimately want to reduce their reliance on printers.
Historic MPS Lock-in
“The higher the savings percentage, the more appealing it is for companies, but if it is not measured against an accurate baseline then how can the savings be quantified? MPS as an offering has reached the end of its lifecycle. It has been an underwhelming service in what it has delivered customers,” says Brendan Francis, the CEO of New York-based Fulton Francis Group (FFG), a team of vendor-independent subject matter experts in Managed Print Service with close to two decades of expertise in delivering all-round enterprise print solutions.
“Almost all prospective customers we meet with at Fulton Francis either don’t have category visibility (data) or do have data but it is incomplete or inaccurate. That shouldn’t be the case in a ‘Managed’ Print Service situation,” mentions Brendan.
The higher the savings percentage, the more appealing it is for companies, but if it is not measured against an accurate baseline then how can the savings be quantified?”
There is no one-size-fits-all solution or service that meets all of an enterprise’s needs, so a multivendor hardware and maintenance solution is often desired to support the customer’s specific needs across all business units and geographies. MPS is typically sourced by geography, so the solution design, commercials, and end-user experience vary significantly from market to market and supplier to supplier. OEMs cannot effectively manage their competitors so a customer ends up with part managed/part un-managed service until it is feasible to replace all assets—signing an MPS agreement does not mean the project is done. Companies want consistency in solution design, commercials, and the end-user experience. Furthermore, MPS providers contract as much software and minimum volumes as possible into their customers’ MPS contracts. This contractual model is designed to lock customers into their hardware and maintenance. As the likelihood is that their business will change significantly during the course of a four-to-five-year MPS contract, companies realize it’s not possible to terminate part of an MPS agreement without triggering prohibitive costs. Also, any client’s flexibility is going to reduce even more where critical software are embedded into their MFD hardware, which is a recent trend. Customers want a simplified contracting and billing model
In effect, with little to no visibility over their print assets, usage, contractual state, and spending, companies often wonder where the managed aspect lies within MPS. In not delivering relevant data and customer-aligned management service, MPS providers take an outdated transactional approach.
The Fulton Francis Approach
“It is very rare for us to kick-off a customer engagement before being provided with a detailed summary of their current state. We will contract and deliver as a utility, which gives customers one contract and relationship to manage. We can give them one platform to manage their assets irrespective of brand and location. At the end of the day, we are not a print company that has any ties to any manufacturer, and this saves our clients from vendor-lock-in,” explains Francis.
Fulton Francis’ solution stack encompasses assessment, solution design, sourcing, implementation, management, and continuous improvement while delivering quantifiable savings from an agreed baseline.
Fulton Francis works on behalf of its customers and closely with MPS providers to complete a globally consistent project that includes the establishment of project goals, baseline audit and assessment, analysis-based future-state design, and change and lifecycle management based on continuous improvement. With the immensely streamlined solution strategies that Fulton Francis brings to the table, their customers, in addition to reducing addressable baseline spends, gain a birds-eye view of print assets and their usage. This eliminates unnecessary replication of resource investments across departments. As a result, the company’s clients get to effectively optimize print solutions and service for their specific requirements, which may involve multiple brands of products and maintenance providers. In effect, this positively impacts the client’s procurement, IT, finance and legal teams, through the convergence of many contracts, invoices, and relationships into a single point.
"We can give them one platform to manage their assets irrespective of brand and location"
In a nutshell, Fulton Francis sets an example of how the MPS model ought to have evolved in tune to the changing enterprise landscape, by offering business commitments that ensure short, medium, and long-term visibility while reducing customer involvement. For many of its clients, Fulton Francis helped gain a clearer picture and insights on print expenditure, supplier relations, and resource allocations through global assessments. Clients were able to uncover millions of dollars in net savings whilst improving efficiency.
Humble Beginnings to Prideful Strides
The revolutionary approach of Fulton Francis has enabled them to attain an impressive foothold globally since their humble beginnings in Australia almost two decades back. As an entity that has mostly refrained from self-promotion, a majority of the company’s customer acquisitions channel in through word of mouth. Along with industry veterans with years of experience as resellers and OEMs, Brendan co-founded the company along with Brett Fulton who serves as the company’s CEO APJ. “Over the past 19 years, we have been fortunate enough to work for some of the largest brands in the world. Our core market is global enterprise; and we have structured our revenue model to rely in part, to the net savings that our clients achieve,” adds Brendan.
The “X-as-a-service” model which is a relatively newer solution delivery methodology widely adopted by several other technology providers positions buyers to pay for what is used and as well extends easy scalability. Striding forward, Fulton Francis packages the gist of the model into their multi-pronged solution delivery approach. Fulton Francis will employ cognitive and AI solutions to sharpen the edge of their technology stack further and enable clients to make quicker sense and meaning out of their printing stance. The company also plans to roll out a “lighter version”—as Brendan terms— of their solutions stack which will prove to be ideal for the SMBs in the space.