May 30, 2019
Offering Managed IT Services and Managed Print
Typically in the managed services space, we hear about the transition from break-fix to MSP. This can certainly be a difficult move because it requires a cultural shift within your organization as well as a complete rework of day-to-day operations.
However, if you are already delivering managed services, adding new services to your portfolio can be an easier task. Not to say that it doesn’t require effort—there’s a learning curve with any new technology, of course—but you won’t have to completely rethink your business. The trick is finding services that make sense among your current offerings.
Sometimes overlaps between services are obvious, but they can occur in areas that you might not initially expect. For example, we’ve recently seen interest in Datto’s business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) products among managed print services providers.
Print remains an important function among businesses today. According to a recent CompTIA report, 98 percent of U.S. workers printed at least once quarterly. However, the report also showed a slow decline in aggregate print volume year over year. So, managed print shops are diversifying their services to stem future print business losses. But why BCDR?
According to a Quocirca survey, security is the top issue driving the adoption of managed print services (MPS) today. IT security threats continue to rise and printers are as vulnerable as any other network device. 75 percent of respondents indicated that security was an important or very important factor in their decision to adopt managed print services, and 70 percent of respondents reported at least one printer-related data loss incident in the past year. If security is a top concern among clients, perhaps data protection is as well.
If you are currently delivering IT managed services, keep your eyes open out there. Today’s businesses have a diverse array of IT needs. You may find a business in unlikely places, and overlaps between service offerings can present opportunities for growth. Plus, your clients already trust your ability to deliver quality service, and that’s half the battle.
In this article, we are profiling two major Datto partners who have successfully integrated managed IT services and managed print services. Each partner is unique-- one from England, the other from the United States. One with beginnings in managed IT services, the other in managed print, but each with an equally unique story and valuable experience they generously shared.
Atlantic, Tomorrow’s Office
Atlantic, Tomorrow’s Office was founded in 1959. They are one of the largest independent copier dealers in the United States, and after years of organic growth in this business, they began to shift their core focus to keep the momentum going as the needs of their clients evolved. During this evolution, their managed IT services division was born.
According to John Manley, as they gained a market share, they began to develop their team and built a managed services business that best fit the needs of today’s clients. Manley has been at Tomorrow’s Office as the Business Development Manager. He wears many hats but is responsible for building out the managed IT business.
“A lot of MSPs struggled to go deeper and wider. As they build programs out, the biggest challenge is people. Finding the people who understand both sides of the industry when it comes to managed IT services and managed print to really drive that message home to the market is key,” said Manley.
The majority of their clients enlist Tomorrow’s Office for all three aspects of their business, including document management, managed IT, and managed print.
Advice for MSPs Looking to Expand into Managed Print
You can’t be subject matter experts on everything, but it’s imperative to have people who can cross both sides and understand the managed IT services side and the managed print side. Understanding and working with multiple vendors can be a major pain point, according to Manley.
Tomorrow’s Office has had success employing and finding the right staff, although Manley stresses there is no secret recipe or magic bullet. “It starts from a leadership perspective. If it is truly ingrained in your mission and what you are doing as a company, it will trickle down to finding the appropriate people. A lot of smaller MSPs tend to fail at this by not having the right people and tools in place to ensure their success,” said Manley.
Mirus IT Solutions
Mirus IT Solutions has been working in the managed IT services space for nearly 17 years, operating out of Milton Keynes and London.
Recently Mirus IT diversified its services by entering the managed print Sector through the acquisition of 2r Systems Ltd, who has operated in the managed print space for over 30 years. Mirus worked closely with 2r prior to the acquisition, providing managed print hardware and solutions to their client base, and have continued to build on this synergy through the new managed print division within the Mirus Group. They now offer hardware support and services including secure print and workflow solutions.
According to Pippa Loveridge Head of Marketing at Mirus, over the next few years, Mirus IT clients (who range from 3 employees to 500+) will be encouraged to employ both Managed IT Services and Managed Print. As no two companies are the same, nor are their printing requirements, Mirus Managed Print can assess potential cost savings through careful recommendations of device types (from Multi-Function Printers through to small executive Desktop Printers). They can also recommend user policy settings should you have confidential printing requirements or need to identify heavy users, and also assess consumption levels of paper, ink, toner, and ongoing maintenance to identify the right solution.
In order for potential managed print clients to understand the benefits of a managed print solution, Mirus offer a print audit service to record costs for ink, toner, and maintenance. This allows Mirus to calculate true print volumes and reduce overall running costs while increasing productivity and improved print security.
To calculate each clients usage, Mirus install custom audit software that monitors all print devices over a number of days to detail what the true cost is to the business, presenting a comprehensive report and highlighting potential cost saving
Overcoming Pain Points and Hurdles
According to Manley at Tomorrow’s Office, some of the biggest challenges and pitfalls are the core competencies. “What are you going to focus on? Managed IT services are so broad, so you have to determine what you are going to focus on. You have to build yourself a box, and live in it,” said Manley.
Once you choose that focus area, it’s crucial to communicate changes to clients. According to Loveridge, it’s imperative for providers looking to broaden services to make sure their clients feel safe with the shift and trust their MSP as an advisor. “As we expanded, our sales staff sent out personal letters to their clients introducing the managed print services. They knew it would be an additional bit of work, but it would help their clients feel more comfortable about service they may not fully understand yet,” said Loveridge.
After identifying your focus areas and communicating new services to clients, it’s important to keep in mind that you don’t have to say ‘yes’ to every new client or request that comes your way It comes down to learning to say ‘no’. Manley states that MSPs can’t just sell an off-the-shelf solution or a random piece of hardware that is outdated. While it may seem counterintuitive as you are expanding and growing your business, you can’t compromise in certain areas just to be an expert at everything and wear yourself too thinly.
Thanks to their experience and size, Tomorrow’s Office has the luxury of being able to formalize more processes. When they introduce a new product or service, they don’t simply start selling it. They design road maps, go-to-market strategies, and ensure their staff is well prepared and trained to handle every aspect and potential issue.
You need to figure out your baseline and do the basics 100 percent right, 100 percent of the time. You can’t do this successfully if you are taking everything under the sun and trying to sell it. As Manley says, that is NOT what true managed services are.
Whether you identify as a managed service provider or managed print provider, the same rules apply to scale your business and expanding your offerings. If you’re providing managed IT services and want to add managed print, you need in-house subject matter experts to help you get started. The same goes for managed print providers looking to offer managed IT services. Hiring people who have the skills and experience you may currently lack is key to strategically grow your businesses in both spaces.
Beyond hiring, mergers and acquisitions offer another avenue for growth. As we learned from Mirus IT, merging with a seasoned managed print provider has given them the ability to offer clients from both businesses a better overall experience. Mirus IT clients can now access managed print services via Mirus Managed Print. Clients from 2r Systems can now benefit from the auditing service offered by Mirus to better understand costs associated with the services they’re buying.
The last, if not most important, a piece of advice any MSP or managed print provider should take away from the experiences described above, is that defining your newly combined business’s core focus and effectively communicating changes to clients is key to success. Without a core focus, you may bite off more than you can chew. To succeed in bringing managed IT and managed print together, clearly define your offerings internally, communicate them externally, and start by mastering the basics behind the services you offer to give your clients the best possible experience. Once you’ve checked those boxes, success will follow.