This series discusses some of the key factors in selecting the right MPS solution for your organization. As an independent, time is precious. Having fewer resources than national service organizations and the OEM's, you need to quickly assess your options, make your selection and implement it. Hopefully, the questions we are posing help you in this process.
The goal of this series is to present a list of potential requirements you would have for a complete MPS solution. Some of the items on this list may not pertain to you at the start, but you should still consider them when evaluating and selecting the right solution. As we near the end of the series, our next item on the list is:
How detailed is the reporting?
Whatever solution you select, it will be gathering important data related to your customers' print environments. If there is an imbedded ticketing system, even more information is potentially available. What does the application do with this data?
If there is an embedded ticketing system, do you have access to reports that provide detailed service history per device? What about service response time, recalls and call duration data? Are there reports available to evaluate your internal service department, down to an individual technician? What about third party service providers? These are all elements of running an MPS program that are vital to analyze.
Print Device Activity and Utilization
Of course you should have reports that show the actual print volume for specific date ranges. Reports that contain model specifications can be helpful as well. Also important? Device utilization as measured by the percentage of duty cycle used. What about highlighting those specific devices that may be over or under utilized? Part of an MPS program should be evaluating the customer's environment and offering recommendations on device redeployment, retirement or acquisition to right size their environment, make the end users more efficient and extend the life of their existing equipment.
Billing, Cost and Profitability Data
Billing and cost reports should be included as a matter of course. Gross profit reports that provide data across the entire account, by program type and/or individual device gives you a clear picture on where you are making and losing money. How about reporting that pinpoints only those devices that are being managed at cost? How important is it to be able to identify exactly what devices are reducing your profit so that you can take steps to contain or element the problem?
Part and Toner Tracking
Another major component of your cost and profitability is associated with toner yields. Toner accounts for approximately 60-70% of the total cost to manage a print device. And if the yields fall below the manufacturer's stated yields, that percentage will increase. Does the system you are considering allow you to track actual toner changes (as opposed to making assumptions as to the percentage of yield achieved), calculate average yields and display this data to you? How about providing consumable saturation data to determine if devices, particularly color models, are printing "virtual pages" (for example, 2,000 pages printed on a 5,000 yield cartridge translates to 3,000 pages' worth of toner used but not billed for) and help you bill the customer for these pages?
Does the system offer pre-built reports? Are there a variety of filters to slice and dice the data as you desire? Do you have the option to either print or export the reports? Is data available through a report writer? Is this convenient for you or does it simply add another learning curve that must be overcome in order to get the information you need?
These are just a few of the variables to consider. What has been your experience with the reporting component of MPS solutions? What would your ideal reporting interface look like? Have they proved helpful in managing your business? What other factors related to your selecting an MPS solution should be considered?