So you’ve gone through the long process of evaluating the different managed print solutions available and selected an MPS provider to partner with, but now what? Regardless of how you plan to use managed print services, whether it will be a value-add you offer customers who purchase devices or it will be part of a larger supply and service fulfillment solution, your next steps will involve building your program, finalizing the details and launching your MPS program.
Getting ready to launch an MPS program involves more than just planning the launch itself. It requires you to think to the first month of your program, the first quarter, the first year and beyond. Thinking that far ahead can be overwhelming when you're focussed on launching your program, but a successful launch can help prepare you for future MPS success and make long-term planning significantly easier.
The following steps will provide you with a structured approach to your launch so you can be confident that you have all the strategies, plans, processes and details of your program worked out:
- Start with your strategy. Before you actually start putting your program together, you should think about your strategy – what are your objectives for your program? How will you achieve these goals? Taking the time to develop strategies will help you set priorities, simplify decision making and create strategic alignment. Depending on your business model, you may have some combination of the following:
- Strategic plan – your overall business objectives, priorities and focus as well as available and/or required resources and implications for stakeholders
- Go-to-market strategy – an action plan for your launch that takes into account factors such as market trends, pricing and distribution
- Pricing strategy – what price point you will set your product or service at and how you will maximize profitability
- Marketing plan – details about your marketing initiatives prior to and post-launch
Your strategy is the foundation of your program; without clear objectives and plans for how to get where you want to go, your program will have no discernable direction and will likely be unsuccessful.
- Work out the details with the necessary vendors. You’ve already chosen your MPS provider and presumably, you discussed how their tool will fit into your overall strategy. Again, this will largely depend on the type of solution you offer, but you should establish relationships with any other supply and/or service providers you need to make your program work. For example, if you are going to outsource your break/fix service to a third-party in order to provide your customers with device maintenance and support as part of their MPS contract, you should ensure you have signed agreements with the partner(s) you want to work with. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind if you are outsourcing any services:
- Location – are you selling locally, regionally, nationally or globally? This will determine how many vendors you need and where they need to be located to support your target customers.
- Service level agreements (SLAs) – you will have to offer your customers SLAs, so ensure whatever terms you agree to with third-party vendors align with the terms that you will offer your customers
- Security and privacy – security is a growing concern for customers as more and more data moves to the cloud. While your solutions may be compliant with local and national legislation, you should also ensure any products or services you are using in support of your MPS program also adhere to these laws.
- Get your documentation in order. There is a lot of documentation you should have in order before you make your first sale, including SLAs and contracts. These documents will help you communicate expectations internally by specifying what the business is responsible for and, in turn, help customers understand what they can expect from you as a vendor. SLAs are used to establish the quality and availability of service as well as the responsibilities of both the provider and customer. Contracts such as purchase agreements, master agreements and non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) will establish pricing and availability, billing information, the specific terms of the purchase and legal terms around proprietary information and confidential materials. If you don't have the in-house resources to create legal documents, you should consider outsourcing this through a local firm.
- Establish internal processes. Your vision for your program will ultimately determine the processes are involved in managing your solution or service, but a fundamental aspect of ensuring your program runs smoothly is creating and documenting internal processes. These processes can include lead management, onboarding, technical and program support, billing, order processing, inventory management and distribution among others. Each member of your team should understand what their responsibilities are and how they contribute to the overall success of your program. Having documented processes is a good way to communicate this to avoid mishaps, fill in any gaps in knowledge and identify any outstanding concerns you need to address before officially launching your program.
- Ensure your team has the necessary training. Ensure that the individuals involved in the process of marketing, selling, supporting and administering your program understand their responsibilities and have the necessary training to use the tools and resources essential to your MPS program. It will certainly depend on the processes you have in place, but this may include an understanding of your remote monitoring tool or MPS solution, a customer relationship management (CRM) tool such as Salesforce, order processing and billing tools and necessary manual processes. The better trained your team is prior to launch, the less likely you are to run into serious problems once your program has gone to market.
- Identify how you will track and measure success. While it is good to objectives, unless you have a framework for measuring your progress in relation to these goals, you won’t have any insight into how successful your program is. Before you launch your program, you should identify key performance indicators (KPIs), set goals and create a process for measuring and regularly reviewing them. This will help keep your team focussed and motivated, and enable you to compare your current activities against your overall strategic plan to measure the success of your program.
For a more comprehensive to-do list for your program launch, download our MPS Implementation Checklist. It includes unique lists for your executive, sales and marketing, and finance teams to ensure that everything is ready to go come launch day.