P&G was able to expand its MPS project to the Far East through Xerox's Fuji-Xerox operation in Asia. Still, there are a few locales in the developing world, such as parts of Eastern Europe and Africa, where Xerox is not present. "That makes it a bit more challenging," Basyn says.
LeClair advises companies to pay for an assessment from an enterprise-class MPS provider rather than accepting a free evaluation from a vendor. "When you pay them [for an assessment], you maintain your independence" to seek bids from other vendors, he says.
Find a provider with a broad range of hardware products, from desktop devices to high-end office systems. The MPS contractor should also be able to offer maintenance on brands outside of its portfolio, either directly or through a partner, Boyd says.
Many MPS providers not only manage devices, but also offer advice on workflow and process improvements. For example, they could help you eliminate paper from the invoicing or expense reporting processes by suggesting that you scan documents instead of copying them, LeClair says. That way, he notes, "you improve cycle time, get rid of file cabinets and save employees time."
Make sure that the optimized environment doesn't sacrifice productivity in the name of cost savings, Boyd says. (It's possible to eliminate so many printers that employees have trouble getting their work done.) Toward that end, you could ask for two proposals: one that maximizes cost savings, and one that balances employee productivity and cost savings, she says. "Ask the provider how, through SLAs, contract components and rollout of the program, they are going to ensure that the productivity of employees is enhanced, not just maintained," she adds.
Breaking old habits
When a provider shows up and tells employees they'll have to relinquish their personal printing devices, expect a lot of resistance, MPS veterans say. Many providers offer change management experts and tools to help customers with the transition.
At P&G, people in some business units feared that the equipment reduction would hurt their productivity, Basyn says. "Interestingly, as soon as we did the implementation, those same leaders would say the opposite. They don't have to take care of any of the supplies, and the [equipment] is much more reliable. We have uptime of 99.2 percent."
P&G sold MPS to its employees with a combination of hard and soft arguments promoting a centralized operation. "We know the culture is different by person -- some people go with the soft arguments, others with hard arguments," Basyn says. P&G first promoted the overhaul as a "green" sustainability project and then sold it as a cost-saving project. The company also capitalized on the competitive nature of its business units by publicizing how each division was utilizing MPS and how units compared to one another.
Ideally, the MPS provider will also recommend policies that will help ensure that employees don't revert to old habits.
"If you don't have policies and enforce them," Boyd says, "department managers or employees will go out and buy personal devices, and before you know it, you're back to the old state of affairs."
Both P&G and Rent-A-Center consider their MPS providers to be strategic partners.
"The way we measure success with a partner is that once you're in discussion, the word contract never comes to the table," Basyn says. And with Xerox, he adds, there was no quibbling over the project's minutiae: "We're very much on the same page."